Neoliberal Resilience: Lessons in Democracy and Development from Latin America and Eastern Europe

Aldo Madariaga

1. September 2020

MPIfG Book

Madariaga, Aldo
Neoliberal Resilience: Lessons in Democracy and Development from Latin America and Eastern Europe. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2020.


Since the 1980s, neoliberalism has withstood repeated economic shocks and financial crises to become the hegemonic economic policy worldwide. Why has it remained so resilient? What is the relationship between this resiliency and the backsliding of Western democracy? Can democracy survive an increasingly authoritarian neoliberal capitalism? Neoliberal Resilience answers these questions by bringing the developing world’s recent history to the forefront of our thinking about democratic capitalism’s future.

Looking at four countries once considered leading examples of effective neoliberal policy – Argentina, Chile, Estonia, and Poland – Madariaga examines domestic actors and institutions that defend neoliberalism. He demonstrates that neoliberalism’s political power is strongest in countries where traditional democratic principles have been slowly and purposefully weakened. He identifies three mechanisms that have propagated neoliberalism’s success: privatization of state companies to create a supporting business class, use of political institutions to block the representation of alternatives, and constitutionalization of key economic policies to shield them from partisan influence. Madariaga reflects on current pressing issues, including the influence of austerity and the rise of populism.



1   The Puzzling Resilience of Neoliberalism

2   Explaining the Resilience of Neoliberalism

3   Neoliberal Policies and Supporting Actors

4   Neoliberal Resilience and the. Crafting of Social Blocs

5   Creating Support: Privatization and Business Power

6   Blocking Opposition: Political Representation and Limited Democracy

7   Locking-in Neoliberalism: Independent Central Banks and Fiscal Spending Rules

8   Lessons: Neoliberal Resilience and the Future of Democracy


Aldo Madariaga

Aldo Madariaga is an assistant professor at the Center for Economics and Social Policy (CEAS), Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile, where he is also an adjunct researcher at the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies (COES).

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