Neoliberal Nightmares

Japhy Wilson


Neoliberalism died in the financial crisis of 2008. But it has risen from the grave. This uncanny persistence has coincided with an increased interest in gothic themes in the realms of popular culture and critical political economy. This paper presents a psychoanalytic diagnosis of this unsettling scenario. Gothic monsters are identified as symptoms of the Real of Capital as an abstract form of domination. Neoliberalism is then theorised as a form of obsessional neurosis, which evolves through its failed attempts to conceal the traumatic dimensions of the Real of Capital. This argument is illustrated through the strange case of the celebrity development economist Jeffrey Sachs, and his peculiar transformation from Dr Shock into Mr Aid. I conclude with some reflections on the nightmarish phenomenon of zombie neoliberalism.

Key Words: Neoliberal ideology, Spectres of Capital, Economics of Anxiety, Washington consensus, Financial Crisis of 2008

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