Still ‘like birds on the wire’? Freedom after neoliberalism

Nikolas Rose*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
718 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper I suggest that we might understand some features of contemporary populism by reworking the concept of ‘authoritarian populism’ first proposed by Stuart Hall in his analysis of ‘Thatcherism’. Following a brief review of my earlier analytics of ‘governing through freedom’, I suggest that while the political movements identified by the names of Trump, Wilders, Le Pen, the Austrian Freedom Party, the True Finns etc. may be ephemeral, it is worth considering whether they are beginning to articulate a new set of rationalities and technologies for governing ‘after neoliberalism’. I analyse some key elements of these movements, the new epistemologies that they employ and the ethopolitics that they espouse, and suggest that the key operative concepts may be ‘the people’, security and control. We may still be ‘birds on the wire’ as Leonard Cohen once put it, but perhaps what we are enjoined to seek in these strategies for ‘governing liberty’ is not so much freedom but security.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-323
Number of pages21
Issue number3-4
Early online date10 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • authoritarian populism
  • control
  • governmentality
  • liberty
  • security
  • the people


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