If you want to discuss positive and negative effects of any movement, you usually have to ask “for whom?”
To some extent neoliberalism can be defined as the doctrine that the only part of society which is of any value is established business, and the bigger and more successful the business the better. A person who supports or benefits business is valuable, everyone else is not.
Neoliberalism has had a large positive effect on the earnings and wealth of already wealthy people.
The income of CEOs and high level executives has increased massively relative to the median income, while the income of ordinary people, factoring in inflation, has remained pretty stagnant, at least when compared to the increases in prosperity that ran through the 50s, 60s and early 70s of the last century.
The share of corporate profit in the GDP has increased, and that of wages has declined.
How has Neoliberalism achieved this?
It has allowed those hyper-wealthy people to buy political parties to help structure the market to transfer more wealth to them under the guise of ‘market liberty’ and the supposed efficiency of ‘free markets’.
It has shifted the tax burden onto the middle classes, by regularly diminishing the tax levels of the already wealthy.
It has diminished the possibility of democratic control of corporations through the same mechanisms of buying politics and tax legislation, so there is little restraint on corporate profiteering, corporate damage, or corporate extraction of wealth from workers.
Jobs have been transferred from wealthy countries to places where labour is cheaper, and this has helped prosperity elsewhere in the world, by accident, but it has significantly lowered the prosperity, work conditions, security and power for workers in the West.
It has diminished the number of large companies, as big corporations have taken over many different smaller companies. There is now little in the way of market competition, just illusory competition between parts of the same company. It has also consolidated centres of wealth and power.
Neoliberal Knowledge and Propaganda
In neoliberalism, you only listen to the market and to established profit. That is the only recognised source of wisdom and knowledge.
It trivialises the truth of information as what counts is: what sells; what promotes sales; or what promotes neoliberal power.
It has allowed the wealthy to buy “think tanks” and media, which promote neoliberal common sense, and rationality, and dismiss alternate views.
Science is to be dismissed if it suggests some forms of established profit making are destructive.
It has greatly hindered any attempts to mitigate or adapt to climate change – this will lead to problems for ordinary people who don’t have the money to move somewhere safe.
Neoliberal Virtue and liberty
It has reduced all virtue and values to profit, and thus furthered corruption.
In neoliberalism the established wealthy are virtuous, by virtue of their wealth, which proves virtue. Ordinary people are talentless fools or scum who corrupt the perfect market through laziness and envy.
The only liberty in neoliberalism, is the liberty provided by wealth and corporate hierarchy. Liberty comes down to what you can buy – liberty is to be enjoyed by the virtuous.
The Neoliberal State
Neoliberalism breaks up the ‘Welfare State’ that is potentially helpful to most people, and makes the State helpful to wealth and corporate power alone. Remember non-wealthy people are scum who need to be disciplined . Social service becomes persecutory.
This is what is meant by ‘small government’ – government defense of corporations, and a government that holds people down and gives no help unless they are wealthy and thus have virtue.
Any power used to contain the corporate sector, is an interference in the free market. Any power which supports corporate freedom to harm is the free market in action.
Some people think the only way that neoliberals can keep flourishing in a democracy is to support fascism (neoliberals love hierarchy), and to break up working class unity through culture wars. This seems to be happening.
Neoliberalism is great for the corporate sector although it may lead to problems if mass markets collapse through lack of money in circulation amongst not-so-wealthy people. It is not so good for ordinary people.
At best neoliberalism, is an idealism, proposed by people who know what is best for you.. It is a failed “vision of the anointed”. At worst it is a massive intensification of class war by the wealthy on everyone else.