How can economics break out of neoliberalism?
Neoliberalism is the fairly successful ideology that the market can do it all.
Neoliberalism had one great advantage: its message was consistent with the main currents in society after ww2: the rapid rise of the corporations, increase in wealth and its concentration, and consolidated the story of market dominance with happy consumerism. Neoliberalism told a convincing story of what could appear to be happening.
Progressives are disadvantaged because society does not have a powerful current of progressive economic and political realities to align with. Neoliberalism could name and use powerful trends in society. Progressives have no such advantage.
Worse, progressives do not have a story that could be attached to progressive forces even if they existed. Progressives tend to want more taxes to support jobs and worker preparedness for an economy that won’t cooperate. Progressives tolerate bureaucracy and appear to be self-serving technocrats.
Many progressives want to increase governance to humanize the monolithic market. But government is easily co-opted by the neoliberals to “help” the market while it helps concentrate wealth.
At its worst neoliberalism sees society as made up of makers and takers and declares the large part of the population barbarian and useless and to be marginalized.
Unfortunately progressives have a strong tendency to believe that people are stupid, including fellow progressives.
An economic theory must have a place in some politics, and all economic theory has an implicit politics. If all economics is subordinated to a politics, then an alternative economics must build. Or wait for, an alternative politics
Neoliberalism has this, providing a clear picture of what js what: the market does everything better than the state, the state creates obstacles and friction to progress.
Progressives have no such point of view yet reducible to simple positive images of what to do to govern. The neoliberals havea simplistic view, but the progressives, facing a more complex society more realistically, have not been able to put this in a meaningful form.