Mini-Series on Foucault and Neoliberalism: Responses to Zamora

Around the New Year, AUFS will be hosting a 4day mini-series on Foucault and neoliberalism. What precisely is Foucault’s relationship with neoliberalism, particularly as expressed in Foucault’s writings/lectures on governmentality and biopolitics? In some ways, this is an old question; but, new answers have emerged, namely with Daniel Zamora’s recent contributions to Jacobin. Our tentative list of contributors includes Verena Erlenbusch (Memphis), Gordon Hull (UNCC), Thomas Nail (Denver), and Johanna Oksala (Helsinki).

For those unfamiliar with this particular topic, you may want to take a look at the following: Stuart Elden 1, Stuart Elden, 2, Foucault News, WP: Why Foucault is a libertarian‘s best friend, and Foucault and Becker (an older piece).

UPDATE: Here are links to all the relevant posts for the Foucault and Neoliberalism AUFS Event:

Verena Erlenbusch: Neoliberalism and the Genealogy of Biopolitics

Gordon Hull: Why Foucault is Still Helpful on Neoliberalism

Johanna Oksala: Never Mind Foucault

Thomas Nail: Foucault, Accelerationist

Daniel Zamora: A Reply

7 thoughts on “Mini-Series on Foucault and Neoliberalism: Responses to Zamora

  1. as I’ve mentioned elsewhere regarding this topic, the second half of Chapter 3 of Philip Mirowski’s Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste is a long consideration of Foucault’s engagement with neoliberals and ordoliberals, contextualized by Mirowski’s extremely thorough examination of the major figures of neoliberal thought. The Zamora piece, & the responses to it I’ve read, do not seem to me to be as thorough–even as analyses of Foucault–as is Mirowski’s work, which is among other things one of the more interesting and in some ways subtle discussions of the late Foucault I know of anywhere, bolstered by a solid account of neoliberal doctrine and its history in in the US and Europe.

  2. At the risk of self-promotion, I’d like to pose an intellectual challenge and counterfactual. In the early 1970s, there was a prolonged labor conflict at the LIP watch factory. From this extended “event” multiple strands emerge, as it forms a kind of retrospective reflection on May ’68.

    One response was Francoise Guery and Didier Deleule’s 1972 essay-book The Productive Body (Le corps productif). This has been recently translated and introduced by Philip Barnard and myself in a Zero books edition. The text is an unapologetically marxist, but anti-Althusser school, account of the conflict between information managers and the labouring class.

    In the Panopticism unit in Discipline and Punish (1975), in the paragraph on Marx, Foucault, quite exceptionally, went out of his way to recommend Guery and Deleule’s text to his readers.

    In the invitation-only seminar for the 79-80 Government of the Living College de France lectures, Foucault went out of his way to invite Deleule.

    So why if Foucault became a “neoliberal” in the 78-79 Birth of Biopolitics, did he unexpectedly invite an unwavering marxist to participate in his seminar in the following year? Surely there’s a basic incompatibility between Foucault’s actual publication and actions and the recent speculative interpretation about Foucault’s so-called sympathy for neoliberalism?

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