The basic premise of neoliberalism embraces individual freedom as fundamental and views state interventions of any kind as inhibiting individuals’ freedom of choice. Accordingly, as an economic doctrine that has grown worldwide since the 1970s, neoliberalism embraces free and open (laissez-faire) markets. Under the premise of making trade between nations easier, these policies support free trade in which the production, exchange, and consumption of goods relies on the forces of uninhibited supply and demand. Under neoliberalism, markets must function with minimal restrictions, such as tariffs and regulations. In addition to deregulation, neoliberal ideology also embraces the privatization of resources using the rhetoric of efficiency and individual responsibility. It has brought with it a decrease in government programs that provide a “social safety net” to those in need and an increase in policies, rulings, and agreements that champion the rights of corporations over the rights of people.
This openness to free trade on an international scale has given rise to free trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and supra-national governing bodies, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), among others.
Globalization refers to the growing worldwide linkages of economics, culture, and people, which yields a global consciousness. Thanks to recent changes in technologies related to communication, transportation, and finance, this interconnectedness creates a situation in which events that occur in distant locales have an impact on local circumstances, and vice versa. This increased interaction and integration of people, companies, and governments has been driven by neoliberal policies that facilitate international trade. People organizing for the rights of people and communities over those of corporations and capital have begun to conceptualize and work toward an alternative form of globalization, sometimes referred to as “globalization from below” or “grassroots globalization.”
Primers and additional resources
What is Neoliberalism? A Brief Definition for Activists – a concise summary written for an activist audience by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Neoliberalism Globalization and the Commodification of Global Culture – an article on neoliberalism that pays special attention to culture
The Consequences of Globalization and Neoliberal Policies. What are the Alternatives? – an extensive Global Research article by Prof. Claudia von Werlhof that examines the consequences of globalization and neoliberalism
Global Econ 101 – resources from Global Exchange about how the global economy functions and how ordinary citizens can fight for a more just world, including information on global rulemakers and trade agreements
Globalization 101: The Three Tensions of Globalization – a short piece that addresses issues of individual choice vs. societal choice, free markets vs. government intervention, and local authority vs. supra-local authority
Globalisation: Emancipating or Reinforcing? – article that considers the trends of global economic growth and the effects of global trade
Globalization101.org – a project of the Levin Institute at the State University of New York that provides a variety of resources that promote a greater understanding of globalization