EDIT: Originally, the post was getting very mixed feedback and I was worried that the neoliberal movement =/= neoliberalism distinction was too confusing. Thus, I thought it might be best to move the post back to drafts to not waste the reader's time.  Then I got some messages from people who want to read it. So I made it public again. Deal with this information as you please. 

There are already some ties between the neoliberal movement (not to be confused with neoliberalism the ideology) and EA. For example, Jeremiah Johnson (host of the neoliberal podcast & director/founder of the neoliberal project), has given an AMA on the EA forum and has promoted GiveWell on the podcast. I think the overlap between the movements is already substantial. Both movements want to make the world better by using science and rational thinking even if their methodologies are slightly different. Both movements have substantial overlap in their beliefs (I would, for example, expect that most EAs agree with most of “What neoliberals believe in”). 

However, I think the level of cooperation should be higher than it currently is. I think the movements should stay two separate movements and not merge but they could use their comparative advantages in lots of positive-sum cooperations. To state it in more intuitive terms, I think most EAs should know what the Neoliberal movement stands for and vice versa. 

There are also more practical reasons for cooperation. The neoliberal movement is probably larger than EA but EAs might have more influence on politics and philanthropy. The Neoliberal movement has figured out promotion on Twitter & Reddit much better than EA but EAs have better talent-to-job pipelines.

(All of the things I'm saying are also true for progress studies btw, they are just less organized than EA and the Neoliberal movement AFAIK.)

Here are some ideas for cooperation. Feel free to add more.

  • Podcasts: Rob Wiblin has already featured on the Neoliberal podcast but I think inviting Jeremiah Johnson on the 80K podcast would make for a fun episode. Also, both movements have grown a lot in the last 2 years, so I’d be up for an updated version of the 2019 podcast as well.
  • Local chapters: If a city has both an EA chapter and a neoliberal chapter they could cooperate. The neoliberals invite the EAs for an intro talk and vice versa. This might sound like a zero-sum game since people have limited time but I think it’s mostly positive-sum. In Tübingen, we have cooperated in a similar way with the debate club, and afterward, multiple people came to the debating and EA meetings.
  • Movement building: Obviously, both movements have been doing quite well and are growing fast. However, there are likely things we could learn from each other. If you haven’t done so already, some CEA folks (or other movement builders) might want to meet with the people running the neoliberal project and talk about their experiences. Even a 60-minute meeting could already have high value.
  • Conferences: Inviting some neoliberals, especially those who work in politics, to EAG could give some interesting perspectives. If neoliberals have conferences like EAG, they could invite some EAs to talk about politics, movement building, etc. as well.
  • Social media: I think there are some EAs who are really good at the Twitter game but we still have a lot to learn from the Neoliberal movement.

I'd be interested in further ideas and whether you like the idea overall. 


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I think that the term "neoliberalism" is used in a number of different ways in a way that can be confusing.

The post "What Neoliberals Believe" post that you link to says that:

The foundation of neoliberalism’s economic beliefs is a system that promotes growth and nurtures entrepreneurship, while also providing a safety net that shares those gains with everyone.

My bold.

You also link to Vaughan's post on the rise of the neoliberals, which covers thinkers like Milton Friedman, Fredrich Hayek, and Ludwig Von Mises. My sense is that these thinkers aren't always or even commonly associated with the passage in bold.

I think there's been a big debate within neoliberal circles about the usage of this term. I don't know the details of that, nor what the exact views of different historical thinkers were. But that might not matter enormously for our purposes. 

What I do think is important is to specify what meaning of neoliberalism one has in mind when one says that we should cooperate with the neoliberals. And I take it that you mean specifically the Neoliberal Project and associated thinkers. I think that's a subset of the thinkers that are sometimes or often called "neoliberals" in ordinary discourse.

Fair point. Just to clarify, my post is mostly about the NEOLIBERAL PROJECT and not about the neoliberal thinkers. 

Well but you start your post with the reference to Vaughan's post about the rise of the neoliberals, and they were not part of the modern neoliberal project (which is much more recent). That may lead people to interpret you as talking about something wider than the modern neoliberal project in particular.

Fair, I'll just remove the first sentence. It's too confusing. 

Thanks for pointing that out. Now updated!


Could you elaborate more on this "substantial overlap in beliefs" between EAs and neoliberals?

I think most EAs would agree with most of the claims made in the "what neoliberals believe in" post. Furthermore, the topics that are discussed on the neoliberal podcast often align with the broader political beliefs of EAs, e.g. global free trade is good, people should be allowed to make free choices as long as they don't harm others, one should look at science and history to make decisions, large problems should be prioritized, etc. 

There is a chance that this is just my EA bubble. Let me know if you have further questions. 

I personally disagree. I think EA should try appeal to many people across the political spectrum, from socialists to libertarians. Aiming to be apolitical (in most cases) is required for this. Neoliberalism, while I'm personally sympathetic to it, has a very negative name across the political spectrum so linking EA with it would probably hurt the EA brand a lot. Collaborating is possible insofar it's just asking each other for advice behind the scenes. I don't think people should be secret about liking neoliberalism either, I think the current state of overlap is around where it should be.