Current research: Conservatism, neoliberalism and resentment in Trumpland

By Ray Kiely

Ray Kiely is a professor of International Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London.

“Conservatism, neoliberalism and resentment in Trumpland: The ‘betrayal’ and ‘reconstruction’ of the United States” published online first Geoforum on 14 February 2020

This paper examines the relationship of the Trump presidency to both American conservatism and neoliberalism, and then uses this discussion to focus on the questions of populism and authoritarianism. It does so through a focus on the populist idea that America has been betrayed, and examines the similarities and differences between neoliberals and paleoconservatives over how the republican ideal can be revived through the promise of Making America Great Again. The paper thus explores how both theories explain this notion of betrayal and how they both promise the reconstruction of a betrayed nation. In doing so however, the article explores the tensions within and between the two theories and suggests that in the area where there is significant difference, namely (neoliberal) globalisation and (paleoconservative) anti-globalisation, these tensions are played out in specific ways, and specifically between populist promise and corporate reality. Ii is this tension which goes to the heart of the nature of both Trump’s authoritarianism and his populism, and the paper concludes that while the contemporary American populist moment is in some respect a backlash against neoliberal globalization, it is less a wholesale break from neoliberalism and more a shift to a renewed form of right wing neoliberal populism.

The article can be found at