Neo-Liberal Constitutionalism: Ideology, Government and the Rule of Law

Rachel S. Turner


This article explores the centrality of constitutionalism and the rule of law in neo-liberal ideology. It argues that neo-liberalism is not simply a one-dimensional set of economic ideas directed at promoting the free market, but is an ideology with broader political dimensions. At the core of neo-liberalism is a serious doctrine about politics and the proper role of government. Neo-liberals like F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and James Buchanan recognised that in order to have a functioning market order, a corresponding political order is a vital corollary. However, the article points out that a number of contradictions and tensions sit at the heart of the neo-liberal conception of politics: those that exist between freedom and the state, liberty and democracy, and law and legislation. The article suggests that one of the most daunting tasks facing neo-liberal politicians and theorists in the twenty-first century will be to overcome the constitutional ‘ignorance’ of Western democracies and institute a framework of rules, conventions or procedures through which the powers of government can be adequately constrained.

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Journal of Politics and Law ISSN 1913-9047 (Print) ISSN 1913-9055 (Online)  Email:

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