7: Authoritarian Neoliberalism: Embedding Capitalist Development in Non-Democratic Regimes

Chair: Bonn Juego, University of Jyväskylä (bonn.juego@jyu.fi)

Time: Friday 17th of February, 13:00-17:30.
Place: House of Sciences and Letters, room 405.

Democratization has long been the defining theme of development research and policy. Particularly since the post-Cold War period, neoliberalism has been promoted as the dominant development paradigm for capitalist modernization of what used to be known as the Third World. Through policies on state restructuring and market reforms, proponents of neoliberalism link—discursively, at least—the objective of socio-economic development with the normative for political democratization.

However, the political institutions of authoritarianism have endured in developing countries and emerging economies through the height of neoliberal globalization in the 1980s–1990s, the rise of China at the turn of the 21st century and the protracted Atlantic economic crises in recent years. Arguably, neoliberal globalization’s uneven and combined development processes have not made it impossible for the capitalist mode of production to be adapted to domestic authoritarian power structures.

This working group will examine how and why both neoliberalism and authoritarianism are—or have proved to be—conducive to each other. It will empirically and theoretically reflect upon the specificities of an emergent political-economic regime which can be referred to as “authoritarian neoliberalism” whereby capitalist development processes are embedded in authoritarian politics. Empirically, it will present actual cases that show how entrenched local elite interests represented by authoritarian states take advantage of the accumulation opportunities opened up by market-oriented development policies of privatization and liberalization.

Theoretically, it will review the ideological antecedents of the concept of authoritarian neoliberalism from the history of political and economic thought which have attempted to blend together the mutually reinforcing tendencies of capitalism and authoritarianism. By doing so, it will also highlight the structural contradictions and social contestations from which change may occur in these emerging varieties of authoritarian neoliberalism in the context of contemporary crises in the global political economy of development.

Session 1

13:00 “Neoliberal and/or authoritarian traits of law? Tanzanian street traders between legal empowerment and law enforcement”. Ilona Steiler, University of Helsinki.

13:40 “Ethics, politics and ideology in Africa in the era of globalization: From communitarian socialism to authoritarian afro-libertarianism”. Sirkku Hellsten, The Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala.

14:20 “China-Africa cooperation with authoritarian regimes and the growth of hybrid regimes”. Ruvimbo Natalie Mavhiki, University of Helsinki.

Session 2

15:30 “Damming legitimacy: neoliberalism and the state in India and China”. Marina Kaneti, The New School, New York.

16:00 “Authoritarian Neoliberalism in Thailand – making sense of the coup d’état of 2014. Wolfram Schaffar, University of Vienna.

16:30 “Authoritarian Neoliberalism: A conceptual Sketch from its Ideological Antecedents and the Political Economy of Carl Schmitt”. Bonn Juego, University of Jyväskylä.