How can one be a neoliberal while rejecting any position called neoliberalism? Neoliberalism is not so much an intellectual position as a condition in which one acts as if certain premises were true, and others unspeakable. It’s not a doctrine but a limit on the vitality of practical imagination. Acquiescing to it means accepting a picture of personality and social life that pivots on consumer-style choice and self-interested collaboration. This is the basis of the realism, so-called, that is the neoliberal trump. It implies that market-modeled activity—ticking off the preferences, going for the ask—is the natural form of life.


The naturalness of the neoliberal premises comes in the way that, in a neoliberal world, to act is to accept them.

Jedediah Purdy, “The Accidental Neoliberal”