Public meeting: How the Left turned neoliberal

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Cover Leftism reinvented

Tuesday 18 December, 2-5PM, Utrecht University, Drift 25 room 002

A public meeting with Stephanie L. Mudge , Ad Melkert, Duco Hellema and Sarah de Lange

Please sign up here

Stephanie Mudge

Stephanie Mudge

In this meeting, we will discuss the question if and how Social Democrats turned neoliberal. Starting point for the discussion is the recent book by Stephanie L. Mudge,  Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties from Socialism to Neoliberalism (Harvard UP 2018), in which she argues that Social Democrats in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA shifted from socialism to Keynesianism, to end up at the Third Way embrace of neoliberalism. In order to explain these ideological transformations, Mudge rejects electoral and socio-economic accounts, and points at the crucial role of economically trained party experts.

Ad Melkert

Ad Melkert

The meeting will open with a lecture by Mudge, focusing on the transformation of Social Democratic parties in Europe, and on the role of party experts. This will be followed by a public interview with a very prominent expert witness to these developments, former minister of Social Affairs, former party leader of the Dutch Partij van de Arbeid, and former executive director of the World Bank, Ad Melkert. Melkert will comment on the emergence and development of the Third Way within Labour, and the applicability of Mudge’s analysis for the history of the Dutch Labour party.

Duco Hellema

Duco Hellema

The final part of this meeting consists of panel discussion on the way to explain ideological change within political parties of the Left, and the place of the Dutch Labour party in the comparative framework Stephanie Mudge has proposed. A final, and unavoidable question in this context, is what is currently still Left, and what will be its future. The panel consists of:


Sarah de Lange

Sarah de Lange

  • Stephanie L. Mudge (associate professor of Sociology at University of California, Davis)
  • Duco Hellema (emeritus professor for the History of International Relations at Utrecht University)
  • Sarah de Lange (professor by special appointment at the University of Amsterdam, holding the Dr. J.M. Den Uyl chair for the study of democratic socialism in relation to science and society)

Moderator: Ido de Haan

Seating is limited, please sign up here.


2-2.15 PM Welcome and introduction (Ido de Haan, professor of political history Utrecht University and program leader Market Makers. The History of Neoliberalism in the Netherlands)

2.15-3 PM Lecture by Stephanie L. Mudge on Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties from Socialism to Neoliberalism

3-3.15 PM Coffee/tea break

3.15-4 PM Public interview with Ad Melkert and Naomi Woltring (PhD-researcher in the project Market Makers)

4-4.15 PM Coffee/tea break

4.15-5 PM Panel discussion with Stephanie Mudge, Duco Hellema and Sarah de Lange, moderator Ido de Haan

5PM Drinks

This meeting is sponsored by the NWO-funded project Market Makers. The History of Neoliberalism in the Netherlands, in collaboration with Rethinking Economics NL; Our  New Economy; and the Goldschmeding Foundation.