A specter is now haunting Indonesia: the specter of neoliberalism. I call it a specter, or ghost, because everyone is talking about it but few are really sure about what it is.
Neoliberalism is mainly referred to as a political economic system. However, for economists, it is not a common term to classify a set of ideas or policy orientation. One can find those claiming to be liberal, socialist, conservative, existentialist, Keynesian or neoclassical, who passionately defend the schools of thought they subscribe to, but I don't think there is anyone who considers her or himself a *neoliberal'. This is due to a feature of the so-called neoliberal philosophy: it is defined by its critics.
As the name suggest, neoliberalism is seen as the revival of Adam Smith's economic liberalism. The core philosophy of neoliberalism is that of liberalism: freedom for individual transactions, guided by market mechanisms where price is the signal to allocate resources based on demand and supply, minimum regulation and government intervention in the market, and the elimination of all barriers to exchange and trade.
So what is "neo" about neoliberalism? There is a spectrum of arguments raised by its critics. But they seem to converge on a couple of things.