After neoliberalism: 21st century liberalism and its critics


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Interdisciplinary study of institutions and society in the 21st century – politics, economics, technology, epistemology

Course code: 103

Year of Study: Without

Course principal:
Prof. Rado Riha, Ph.D.
Tomaž Mastnak, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes

Lecturer: Tomaž Mastnak, Ph. D. 


Course syllabus


Enrollment in doctoral studies


Content (Syllabus outline):

  • The supposed precursors of liberalism (Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, and the Scottish Enlightenment);
  • The emergence of liberalsm and the early liberals (Wilhelm Traugot Krug, Benjamin Constant, Alexis de Tocqueville, political economists, John Stuart Mill);
  • Early critics of liberalism (the Ricardian socialists, early socialists, the Young Hegelians);
  • Reformulations of liberalism after the defeat of the 1848 revolutions (August Ludwig von Rochau, Constantin Frantz);
  • Bonapartism
  • The crisis of liberalism, New Liberalism (J. A. Hobson, L. T. Hobhouse);
  • Neoliberalism (Ludwig von Mises and his followers);
  • John Dewey, Walter Lippmann, Louis Rougier, and the “Colloque Lippmann”;
  • Ordoliberalism (Franz Böhm, Walter Eucken);
  • The liberal world order (World War I and the Versailles Peace Conference, World War II and social engineering in Germany, the Cold War, the New Cold War).



  • Callison, William, and Zachary Manfredi. 2020. Mutant Neoliberalism: Market Rule and Political Rupture. New York: Fordham University Press.
  • Deneen, Patrick J. 2019. Why Liberalism Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Dewey, John. 1935. Liberalism and Social Action: The Page-Barbour Lectures. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
  • Drenovec, Franček. 2018. O blaginji in napredku: kratki vodnik po neoliberalizmu. Ljubljana: Založba /*cf.
  • Eucken, Walter. 1951. This Unsuccessful Age, or, The Pains of Economic Progress, with an Introduction by John Jewkes. Edinburgh: William Hodge.
  • Hayek, Friedrich August von. 1944. The Road to Serfdom. Foreword John Chamberlain. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Hobhouse, Leonard Trelawny. 1911. Liberalism. London: Williams and Norgate; and New York: H. Holt and Company.
  • Hobson, J. A. 1909. The Crisis of Liberalism: New Issues of Democracy. London: P.S. King & Son.
  • Keynes, John Maynard. 1972. “Am I a Liberal?”, in The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes. London and Basingstoke: MacMillan/St Martin’s Press for The Royal Economic Society, Vol. 9.
  • Landa, Ishay. 2010. The Apprentice’s Sorcerer: Liberal Tradition and Fascism. Leiden: Brill.
  • Laski, Harlod J. 1940. The Decline of Liberalism, L. T. Hobhouse Memorial Trust Lectures, No. 10, delivered on 24 May 1940 at Canterbury Hall, London School of Economics. London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press.
  • Losurdo, Domenico. 2014. Liberalism: A Counter-History, trans. Gregory Elliott. London: Verso.
  • Mastnak, Tomaž. 2019. Črna internacionala: Vojna, veliki biznis in vpeljava neoliberalizma. Ljubljana: Založba /*cf.
  • —. 2021. Bonapartizem: prolegomena za študij fašizma. Ljubljana: Založba /*cf.
  • McCloskey, Deirdre N. 2019. Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer More Equal Prosperous World for All. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Mill, John Stuart. 1859. On Liberty. London: J. W. Parker and Son.
  • Mises, Ludwig von. 1962. The free and prosperous commonwealth: An exposition of the ideas of classical liberalism, trans. Ralph Raico, Arthur Goddard (ed). New York: D. Van Nostrand Company.
  • Ruggiero, Guido de. 1927. History of European liberalism, trans. R. G. Collingwood. London and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • The Walter Lippmann Colloquium: The Birth of Neoliberalism. 2018. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.


Objectives and competences:

  • The ability to perform a close reading of sources, reconstruct arguments, and carry out concrete historical analyses, comparative analyses, and interpretation in the longue durée perspective;
  • The ability to develop a well-grounded theoretical and political analysis of the history of liberal thought and political practice;
  • The ability to become acquainted with the complexity, heterogeneity, and multidimensionality of liberal ideas and their impact on academic disciplines;
  • The ability to develop critical judgment regarding the prevailing trends in liberal societies.


Intended learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, the students should be able to ask, and offer answers, to the following questions: What is liberalism for the twenty-first century? Is it possible, or viable? If so, what role could it play in national and international politics, in culture and intellectual production? How is it understood by the liberals themselves, and what are the charges leveled against it by its critics? Who are the liberals and who are their critics? On the basis of what historical experience and programmatic visions they criticize liberalism?


Learning and teaching methods:

Types of learning/teaching:

  • Frontal teaching
  • Work in smaller groups or pair work
  • Independent students work
  • e-learning


Teaching methods:

  • Explanation
  • Conversation/discussion/debate
  • Work with texts
  • Different presentation



  • 30 % Short written assignments
  • 20 % Long written assignments
  • 30 % Participation in the seminar
  • 20 % Final examination (written/oral)