Both David Harvey and Noam Chomsky have done a lot to analyze and explain the rise of neoliberalism. Both agree that it should primarily be understood as a political project, aimed at discouraging and disfranchising 'ordinary' people, which started shortly after the events of the 1960s.* Harvey has frequently pointed out that the neoliberal counterrevolution was kicked off by the publication of the conservative 'Powell Memorandum'. Chomsky (who prefers to expose the conservatism of liberal elites) adds that they were equally outraged by what they termed "an excess of democracy". He's described the liberal Trilateral Commission's The Crisis of Democracy this way:
This is a consensus view of the liberal internationalists in the three industrial democracies. They—in their consensus—concluded that a major problem is what they called “the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young.” The schools, the universities, churches, they’re not doing their job. They’re not indoctrinating the young properly. The young have to be returned to passivity and obedience, and then democracy will be fine. That’s the left end.