Neoliberalism, Populism and the Postapocalypse: Competing (or Compatible?) Ideologies and Imaginaries of the Pandemic

Darren J. O'Byrne, Rafal Soborski

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It is widely accepted that the COVID-19 pandemic was a transformative event of major historical significance, but the ideational and ideological dimensions of it have been studied less extensively than its more tangible implications in terms of economic or human cost. This paper engages with ideological discourses revolving around the pandemic by relating interpretations of the pandemic-induced crisis to the discourse of endism, which includes such well-established themes as the end of ideology or the end of history. We explore debates around the concept of populism, which is at the core of the endist discourse today, and argue that it serves as a smoke screen that distracts from fundamental problems at the heart of global capitalism and its supporting ideology of neoliberalism. We argue that the transformations ushered in by the pandemic and the political response to it must be understood within the context of ongoing developments in the neoliberal project. The paper sheds some light on the failures of neoliberalism in confronting the virus while also considering the extent to which the pandemic may have paradoxically served to reinvigorate neoliberalism following its period of crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number89630
JournalGlobal Perspectives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023


  • COVID-19, neoliberalism, populism, ideology, endism

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