Cover image for The birth of biopolitics : lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-79
The birth of biopolitics : lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-79
Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984.
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Basingstoke [England] ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
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xvii, 346 p. ; 23 cm.
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Book BILKUTUP0302270 JC574 .F68 2008 Central Campus Library

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this liberal governmentality. This involves describing the political rationality within which the specific problems of life and population were posed: "Studying liberalism as the general framework of biopolitics."
What are the specific features of the liberal art of government as they were outlined in the Eighteenth century? What crisis of governmentality characterises the present world and what revisions of liberal government has it given rise to? This is the diagnostic task addressed by Foucault's study of the two major twentieth century schools of neo-liberalism: German ordo-liberalism and the neo-liberalism of the Chicago School. In the years he taught at the College de France, this was Michel Foucault's sole foray into the field of contemporary history. This course thus raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics. A remarkable feature of these lectures is their discussion of contemporary economic theory and practice, culminating in an analysis of the model of "homo oeconomicus."
Foucault's analysis also highlights the paradoxical role played by "society" in relation to government. "Society" is both that in the name of which government strives to limit itself, but it is also the target for permanent governmental intervention to produce, multiply, and guarantee the freedoms required by economic liberalism. Far from being opposed to the State, civil society is thus shown to be the correlate of a liberal technology of government.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Francois Ewald and Alessandro Fontanap. xiii
1 10 January 1979p. 1
Questions of method
Suppose universals do not exist
Summary of the previous year's lectures: the limited objective of the government of raison d'Etat (external politics) and unlimited objective of the police state (internal politics)
Law as principle of the external limitation of raison d'Etat
Perspective of this year's lectures: political economy as principle of the internal limitation of governmental reason
What is at stake in this research: the coupling of a set of practices and a regime of truth and the effects of its inscription in reality
What is liberalism?
2 17 January 1979p. 27
Liberalism and the implementation of a new art of government in the eighteenth century
Specific features of the liberal art of government (I): (1) The constitution of the market as site of the formation of truth and not just as domain of jurisdiction
Questions of method. The stakes of research undertaken around madness, the penal order, and sexuality: sketch of a history of "regimes of veridiction"
The nature of a political critique of knowledge (savoir)
(2) The problem of limiting the exercise of power by public authorities. Two types of solution: French juridical radicalism and English utilitarianism
The question of "utility" and limiting the exercise of power by public authorities
Comment on the status of heterogeneity in history: strategic against dialectical logic
The notion of "interest" as operator (operateur) of the new art of government
3 24 January 1979p. 51
Specific features of the liberal art of government (II): (3) The problem of European balance and international relations
Economic and political calculation in mercantilism. The principle of the freedom of the market according to the physiocrats and Adam Smith: birth of a new European model
Appearance of a governmental rationality extended to a world scale. Examples: the question of maritime law; the projects of perpetual peace in the eighteenth century
Principles of the new liberal art of government: a "governmental naturalism"; the production of freedom
The problem of liberal arbitration. Its instruments
(1) the management of dangers and the implementation of mechanisms of security
(2) disciplinary controls (Bentham's panopticism)
(3) interventionist policies
The management of liberty and its crises
4 31 January 1979p. 75
Phobia of the state
Questions of method: sense and stakes of the bracketing off of a theory of the state in the analysis of mechanisms of power
Neo-liberal governmental practices: German liberalism from 1948 to 1962; American neo-liberalism
German neo-liberalism (I)
Its political-economic context
The scientific council brought together by Erhard in 1947. Its program: abolition of price controls and limitation of governmental interventions
The middle way defined by Erhard in 1948 between anarchy and the "termite state"
Its double meaning
(a) respect for economic freedom as condition of the state's political representativity
(b) the institution of economic freedom as basis for the formation of political sovereignty
Fundamental characteristic of contemporary German governmentality: economic freedom, the source of juridical legitimacy and political consensus
Economic growth, axis of a new historical consciousness enabling the break with the past
Rallying of Christian Democracy and the SPD to liberal politics
The principles of liberal government and the absence of a socialist governmental rationality
5 7 February 1979p. 101
German neo-liberalism (II)
Its problem: how can economic freedom both found and limit the state at the same time?
The neo-liberal theorists: W. Eucken, F. Bohm, A. Muller-Armack, F. von Hayek
Max Weber and the problem of the irrational rationality of capitalism. The answers of the Frankfurt School and the Freiburg School
Nazism as necessary field of adversity to the definition of the neo-liberal objective
The obstacles to liberal policy in Germany since the nineteenth century
(a) the protectionist economy according to List
(b) Bismarck's state socialism
(c) the setting up of a planned economy during the First World War
(d) Keynesian interventionism; (e) the economic policy of National Socialism
The neo-liberal critique of National Socialism on the basis of these different elements of German history
Theoretical consequences: extension of this critique to the New Deal and to the Beveridge plans; interventionism and the growth of the power of the state; massification and uniformization, effects of state control
The stake of neo-liberalism: its novelty in comparison with classical liberalism. The theory of pure competition
6 14 February 1979p. 129
German neo-liberalism (III)
Usefulness of historical analyses for the present
How is neo-liberalism distinguished from classical liberalism?
Its specific stake: how to model the global exercise of political power on the principles of a market economy, and the transformations that derive from this
The decoupling of the market economy and policies of laissez-faire
The Walter Lippmann colloquium (26 to 30 August 1938)
The problem of the style of governmental action. Three examples
(a) the question of monopolies
(b) the question of "conformable actions (actions conformes)." The bases of economic policy according to W. Eucken. Regulatory actions and organizing actions (actions ordonnatrices)
(c) social policy. The ordoliberal critique of the welfare economy
Society as the point of application of governmental interventions. The "policy of society" (Gesellschaftspolitik)
First aspect of this policy: the formalization of society on the model of the enterprise
Enterprise society and judicial society; two faces of a single phenomenon
7 21 February 1979p. 159
Second aspect of the "policy of society" according to the neo-liberals: the problem of law in a society regulated according to the model of the competitive market economy
Return to the Walter Lippmann colloquium
Reflections based on a text by Louis Rougier
(1) The idea of a juridical-economic order. Reciprocity of relations between economic processes and institutional framework
Political stake: the problem of the survival of capitalism
Two complementary problems: the theory of competition and the historical and sociological analysis of capitalism
(2) The question of legal interventionism
Historical reminder: the Rule of law (l'Etat de droit) in the eighteenth century, in opposition to despotism and the police state. Re-elaboration of the notion in the nineteenth century: the question of arbitration between citizens and public authorities. The problem of administrative courts
The neo-liberal project: to introduce the principles of the Rule of law into the economic order
Rule of law and planning according to Hayek
(3) Growth of judicial demand
General conclusion: the specificity of the neo-liberal art of government in Germany. Ordoliberalism faced with the pessimism of Schumpeter
8 7 March 1979p. 185
General remarks: (1) The methodological scope of the analysis of micro-powers. (2) The inflationism of state phobia. Its links with ordoliberalism
Two theses on the totalitarian state and the decline of state governmentality in the twentieth century
Remarks on the spread of the German model, in France and in the United States
The German neo-liberal model and the French project of a "social market economy"
The French context of the transition to a neo-liberal economics
French social policy: the example of social security
The separation of the economic and the social according to Giscard d'Estaing
The project of a "negative tax" and its social and political stakes. "Relative" and "absolute" poverty. Abandonment of the policy of full employment
9 14 March 1979p. 215
American neo-liberalism (I). Its context
The difference between American and European neo-liberalism
American neo-liberalism as a global claim, utopian focus, and method of thought
Aspects of this neo-liberalism: (1) The theory of human capital. The two processes that it represents
(a) an extension of economic analysis within its own domain: criticism of the classical analysis of labor in terms of the time factor
(b) an extension of economic analysis to domains previously considered to be non-economic
The epistemological transformation produced by neo-liberal analysis: from the analysis of economic processes to the analysis of the internal rationality of human behavior
Work as economic conduct
Its division into capital, abilities, and income
The redefinition of homo oeconomicus as entrepreneur of himself
The notion of "human capital." Its constitutive elements
(a) innate elements and the question of the improvement of genetic human capital
(b) acquired elements and the problem of the formation of human capital (education, health, etcetera)
The interest of these analyses: resumption of the problem of social and economic innovation (Schumpeter). A new conception of the policy of growth
10 21 March 1979p. 239
American neo-liberalism (II)
The application of the economic grid to social phenomena
Return to the ordoliberal problematic: the ambiguities of the Gesellschaftspolitik. The generalization of the "enterprise" form in the social field. Economic policy and Vitalpolitik: a society for the market and against the market
The unlimited generalization of the economic form of the market in American neo-liberalism: principle of the intelligibility of individual behavior and critical principle of governmental interventions
Aspects of American neo-liberalism: (2) Delinquency and penal policy
Historical reminder: the problem of the reform of penal law at the end of the eighteenth century. Economic calculation and principle of legality. The parasitic invasion of the law by the norm in the nineteenth century and the birth of criminal anthropology
The neo-liberal analysis: (1) the definition of crime; (2) the description of the criminal subject as homo oeconomicus; (3) the status of the penalty as instrument of law "enforcement." The example of the drugs market
Consequences of this analysis
(a) anthropological erasure of the criminal
(b) putting the disciplinary model out of play
11 28 March 1979p. 267
The model of homo oeconomicus
Its generalization to every form of behavior in American neo-liberalism
Economic analysis and behavioral techniques
Homo oeconomicus as the basic element of the new governmental reason appeared in the eighteenth century
Elements for a history of the notion of homo oeconomicus before Walras and Pareto
The subject of interest in English empiricist philosophy (Hume)
The heterogeneity of the subject of interest and the legal subject: (1) The irreducible nature of interest in comparison with juridical will. (2) The contrasting logics of the market and the contract
Second innovation with regard to the juridical model: the economic subject's relationship with political power. Condorcet. Adam Smith's "invisible hand": invisibility of the link between the individual's pursuit of profit and the growth of collective wealth. The non-totalizable nature of the economic world. The sovereign's necessary ignorance
Political economy as critique of governmental reason: rejection of the possibility of an economic sovereign in its two, mercantilist and physiocratic, forms
Political economy as a science lateral to the art of government
12 4 April 1979p. 291
Elements for a history of the notion of homo oeconomicus (II)
Return to the problem of the limitation of sovereign power by economic activity
The emergence of a new field, the correlate of the liberal art of government: civil society
Homo oeconomicus and civil society: inseparable elements of liberal governmental technology
Analysis of the notion of "civil society": its evolution from Locke to Ferguson. Ferguson's An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1787). The four essential characteristics of civil society according to Ferguson: (1) it is an historical-natural constant; (2) it assures the spontaneous synthesis of individuals. Paradox of the economic bond; (3) it is a permanent matrix of political power; (4) it is the motor of history
Appearance of a new system of political thought
Theoretical consequences
(a) the question of the relations between state and society. The German, English, and French problematics
(b) the regulation of political power: from the wisdom of the prince to the rational calculations of the governed
General conclusion
Course Summaryp. 317
Course Contextp. 327
Index of Namesp. 333
Index of Concepts and Notionsp. 339