Gordon Hull is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Professional and Applied Ethics at The University of North Carolina Charlotte. His Hobbes and the Making of Modern Political Thought was published by Continuum in 2009.
The conceptual core of Daniel Zamora’s “Can We Criticize Foucault,” in which he argues that Foucault’s late writings end up advocating the same things neoliberalism does, seems to me to be the proposal that Foucault “seemed to imagine a neoliberalism that wouldn’t project its anthropological models on the individual, that would offer individuals greater autonomy vis-à-vis the state.” In a follow-up piece, Zamora concludes that Foucault “doesn’t advocate neoliberalism, but he adopts all of its critiques of the welfare state.” That’s clearly a problem, though I am aware that I’ve got the benefit of a generation of hindsight about neoliberalism. I also don’t know many of the writings in question, and so I’m reluctant to say anything about the (for lack of better terms) sociological and biographical questions at play.
However, I have no trouble saying that if Foucault thought neoliberalism wouldn’t project its models of subjectivity onto individuals, he was mistaken. I’m also not sure he (consistently) thought that: the Birth of Biopolitics lectures emphasized that one of the main innovations of neoliberalism over classical liberalism was precisely the awareness that markets weren’t natural, and had to be nurtured by the state (Bernard Harcourt underscores the point here), and he emphasizes entrepreneurship of the self as a neoliberal vision of subjectivity. Whatever he thought about social welfare programs, phrasing things this way allows us to focus on the important question: Foucault says that “writing only interests me to the extent that it is incorporated into the reality of a battle.” Does Foucault’s writing offer any weapons against neoliberalism, even if he didn’t realize it?
Continue reading “Foucault and Neoliberalism AUFS Event: Gordon Hull – Why Foucault is Still Helpful on Neoliberalism”
And now our AUFS Event on Foucault and Neoliberalism begins. -MWW
Verena Erlenbusch is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis. In much of her research, Erlenbusch brings to bear Foucault’s genealogical method on the phenomenon of terrorism. She has two noteworthy pieces forthcoming: “Foucault und die Realitätsbedingungen leiblicher Erfahrung” (Foucault and the Conditions of Existence of Embodied Experience) in Leiblichkeit und Politik, edited by Thomas Bedorf and Tobias Klass. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2015 (forthcoming) and “Terrorism: Knowledge, Power, Subjectivity,” in Terrorism as Practice: Using Critical Methodologies for the Study of Terrorism, edited by Jacob Stump and Priya Dixit. Routledge, 2014 (forthcoming).
Daniel Zamora’s edited volume Critiquer Foucault: Les années 1980 et la tentation néolibérale (Criticizing Foucault: The 1980s and the neoliberal temptation), published in November 2014 with Éditions Aden, has been hotly debated over the past few weeks on the philosophical blogosphere. My contribution to the conversation here has two main purposes. First, since the volume will remain unavailable for English readers until later in 2015, I want to give a brief overview of the chapters assembled by Zamora. Second, I’d like to offer some thoughts on an aspect that appears to me to be largely absent from discussions of Foucault’s relationship with neoliberalism, namely the hermeneutical salience of Foucault’s methodology. This is to say that Zamora et al.’s failure to engage Foucault’s methodology leads to a very specific reading, a misreading to my mind, of Foucault’s project. As opposed to their interpretation of Foucault as interested in the political claims made by neoliberals, I suggest that Foucault is concerned with the production of neoliberalism as a regime of truth (thanks to Andrew Dilts for his helpful comments here).
That Zamora’s collection has caused quite a stir has, I believe, more to do with Zamora’s interview with Jacobin Magazine, provocatively titled “Can We Criticize Foucault?,” than with the book itself. For many of the arguments presented in the volume are neither as revolutionary nor as provocative as the interview would make it seem. Continue reading “Foucault and Neoliberalism AUFS Event: Verena Erlenbusch – Neoliberalism and the Genealogy of Biopolitics”
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