Out and proud, the ASI are neoliberals now

Coming out as the first self proclaimed neoliberal think tank this week the ASI saw write ups across the media.

The Telegraph published an op-ed from Dr. Madsen Pirie:

Most neoliberals are optimistic, thinking the world is better than it was and will become better still. They have confidence that human ingenuity and determination can solve most problems if left space to do so.
Sometimes names become bywords for unpleasantness – it happened to Boycott and Quisling, and might yet happen to Corbyn. But sometimes insults become commonplace descriptions. "Tory" once referred to Irish bandits, but the party now embraces the name, and the same could work for neoliberalism. The Adam Smith Institute has just taken the first step by calling itself a neoliberal, free-market think-tank.

Sam Bowman wrote for Conservative Home:

It has become fashionable on the left to describe anyone who has a fondness for markets as a neoliberal. The fact that almost nobody calls themselves a neoliberal makes it powerful: if the world is indeed neoliberal, and nobody is willing to stand up and defend neoliberalism, then that’s a pretty damning indictment of the current state of affairs.
We at the Adam Smith Institute think that the world is an excellent, successful, prosperous, happy place. Incomes grew strongly for every income group in the UK over the period 1988-2008, most of all for the bottom 10 per cent, and we’re now returning to growth after the Great Recession. Violence is at an all-time low in the history of our species.

Guido Fawkes picked up on the news:

Guido’s friends at the Adam Smith Institute are re-branding as neo-liberals. Many decades ago when Guido briefly interned at the ASI they self-defined as “libertarian“, nowadays that is apparently too radical a term, or so argues executive director Sam Bowman. He argues “libertarian” in Britain has a rigid meaning – “someone who is opposed to all but the tiniest night watchman state in every case”. The dictionary says libertarians uphold the principles of individual liberty, especially of thought and action.
Embracing neo-liberalism as your ideological descriptor might be good marketing, given it is so widely used pejoratively by teenage lefties to save them having to think matters through. They view neo-liberalism as akin to the political economy of Satanism. Bowman rightly points out that the words Tory, suffragette and Whig all began as insults but were adopted and appropriated by the people they were used against. The ASI setting themselves up as the defenders of neo-liberalism will guarantee plenty of attention.

And Ben Southwood explained the decision to CapX:

The fall of socialism and the return of market-driven policies has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty across the world. In the West, we are repopulating our cities, and creating the wealth that allows for beautiful things. Free marketeers often deny responsibility for the system we live under because it is not their ideal setup – but they shouldn’t. They should take the credit, and do so ostentatiously, by embracing the insult, as Whigs and suffragettes did before them. Which is why, as of yesterday, the ASI officially calls itself neoliberal.

Read more on the thinking behind the ASI rebrand here, here and here.