Re: foucault and liberalism

> His 'analytique' was one (it became
>especially clear in his later writings) of liberal government, that is of a
mode of governement that conceives of its 'subjects' as capable and legitimate
to participate in it through their engagement in the governing of self and/or

dear francois,
it s unclear to me how you can seriously say this. I might have
misinterpreted you, but we really need to think about this liberal question
at some point. first of all why use such a dirty word carelessly when we've
read its various geneaological trajectories. see for instance foucault's
1979 lectures on the critique of governmental reason, which link the
'later' to the 'earlier' reflections on the subject, truth and power rather
nicely. if anything foucault was under no illusion as to the freedoms of
'liberal governmentality'. the entry of political economy in political
discourse not only sanctioned the end of the debate on the 'natural right'
to rule, but also introduced the idea of a truth about /science of
governing. the question of truth and self-limitation of government is
introduced by political economy and in Foucault's words, it supplants the
theory of sovereignty with the art of governing, and opposes to the
maximalist idea of la raison d'etat, the 'minimalist' idea of 'liberal
government' which emerges parallel to the german studies on
Polizeiwissenschaft. the idea is that liberal governmentality produces as
well as organises freedoms, alongside security strategies, control and
surveillance geared to prevent the dangers inherent to the production of
freedom, together with the ideology of 'dangerous' living aimed to turn
individuals into 'abnormals', 'monsters' ect . liberalism, the
individuation of disciplines and the life management of biopower emerge all
around the same time. they co-exist and are mutually interdependent. they
pre-constitute the field of play for the intransitivity of freedom.

if we find it too uncomfortable, in times of permanent war unilaterally
waged by neoliberalism on the whole of the global population, to read the
war-talk metaphors of Foucault's 70's writings, let's turn to the 80's, but
we'll find exactly the same problematisations: the relation between truth
and subjet when it comes to the art of governing (oneself and others) and
their problematisation in relation to the myopic narcisism of the concerned
liberals of his age.
here's a little more discomfort for the liberal readers of foucault from
the later writings:

?When one sees today the meaning [signification], or rather the almost
total absence of meaning [signification], that is given to the expressions
otherwise familiar and often recurring in our discourse such as: return to
the self, self-liberation, being oneself, being authentic ect. When one
sees the absence of meaning and of thought that there is in each of these
expressions employed today, I believe that one shouldn?t be too proud of
the efforts made at present to reconstitute an ethics of the self. And it
could be that these series of efforts [?] more or less stopped, frozen on
themselves, and in this movement that we make at the moment at once we
continue to refer to this ethics of the self, whilst never giving it any
content, I think that one must suspect something like an impossibility of
constituting today an ethic of the self, the moment when it might be an
urgent and fundamental task, politically indispensable, to constitute an
ethics of the self, if it is true after all that there is no other point,
first or last, of resistance to political power but in the relation of the
self to the self.
[?] If one takes the question of power, or political power, and replaces it
with the more general question of governmentality governmentality intended
as a strategic field of power relations, in the broader, not simply
political, sense of the term-, then, if one takes governmentality as the
strategic field of power relations, in what they have of mobile,
transformable, reversible, I think that the reflection on this notion of
governmentality must go through, theoretically and practically, the element
of a subject that would be defined by the relation of the self to the self.
In so far as the theory of political power as institution normally refers
itself to a juridical conception of the subject of rights, it seems to me
that the analysis of governmentality i.e. the analysis of power as an
ensemble of reversible relations-must refer itself to an ethics of the
subject defined by the relation of itself to itself. I simply want to say
that in the kind of analysis that I have tried to propose for a long time,
you see that: relations of power-governmentality-government of oneself and
others-relation of oneself to oneself, all these constitute a chain, a web,
and it is there, around these notions, that one must be able to, I think,
articulate the question of politics and the question of
ethics.?(hermeneutique du sujet, my poor translation, p. 243-243)

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