Lessons for Liberalism in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Colloque Walter Lippmann


The term “neoliberalism” is on everyone’s lips. It is often used to criticize market-oriented reforms, the dismantling of the welfare state, skepticism toward democracy,and a roll-back of the state in general. This practice started in the 1970s and is now dominant. With its strong negative connotations in everyday use, the term serves above all a rhetorical function in political debates that cannot easily be reconciled with its earlier meanings. As former German President Joachim Gauck pointed out in a much-noticed speech, the term“neoliberal economic policy” was originally supposed to designate exactly the opposite: A reformed liberalism, very distinct from the laissez-faire of the 19th century, emphasizing the essential constructive role of the state in shaping and enforcing the economic order (Gauck 2015).

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3790/schm.139.2-4.177