Many influential voices have pointed out, with different degrees of optimism, that the COVID-19 pandemic might finally have ushered in the final days of neoliberalism. However, if we understand neoliberalism as a set of practices and institutional mechanisms that shield market relations from popular deliberation, we reach a different conclusion. In these terms, neoliberalism is not dying. If emergency measures are aimed more at safeguarding the profits of banks and large corporations than securing wages and welfare programmes, then this crisis is in fact an opportunity to increase wealth inequality, and not to address it as a problem.
Pedro Salgado is an International Relations scholar, working on the intersection between the fields of Historical Sociology and Global Political Economy. His doctoral research at the University of Sussex looks at the process of Brazilian state-formation from the colonial period to late 19th century.