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New Page February 20, 2010

Posted by Elena in Uncategorized.

This blog and this particular page is about exploring the relationship between cults, and specifically the Fellowship of Friends cult aka Pathway to Presence and regular society. It has been my aim for quite a while now to understand WHY members allowed and continue to allow for so much abuse for such a long time with unconditional submission. It is my belief that members were already conditioned to adapt to such abuse by regular society and that without major changes, regular society is heading towards even worse forms of power and domination than we have today. I am at the same time, far from believing that everyone, everywhere will succumb to that kind of domination but the problem is that we are not all together and in the small pockets of society in millions of places all over the world, the structures of domination are the same. The few that protest in every little pocket are banned, like I was isolated from the FOF Cult and banned from the FOFBLOG. It is relieving to know that no matter how obscure the landscape looks, there is in fact more freedom today for more individuals than there was a century ago. This is important! The dialectic process is not unidirectional and what looks dark on the one hand is actually just part of a struggle on the other.

I present this research with the informality of blog life convinced that that doesn’t make it any less serious. It is good that these things be born in the Public Square. Blogs today are the Public Squares of our times and I speak in the Public Square to those who can hear. I am not waiting to be published. I speak. I have a voice that wishes to express itself free of compromises to a publishing world, to payment of any kind or institution not for lack of respect to them but for direct contact with people without the need to get paid for it.  My work is a gift from me to you. If you do not value it because you haven’t paid for it, it is your prerogative. It is a gift to be read in this site but I do not authorize any publication of it without my consent.

This is not a finished work but an exploration. In this page I take the work of many other authors and analyze it, make parallels and ponder on it in relation to what was also lived in the cult. The value for me lies in the fact that cults, in my opinion, are extreme versions of social tendencies. Because of their “closeness” they end up being microcosmoses of the social cosmos and the tendencies lagging outside develop more quickly inside. They are small laboratories. Unfortunately I cannot say that the positive aspects of regular society get developed, I was not in such a cult and no longer believe any closed circle could develop the positive aspects of life, I was in a classic cult as described to you by any internet site trying to protect people from joining them as is this blog, and the horrors lived in there were not physically violent but psychologically so violent that like in any other extreme cult, I will not be surprised the day they start committing suicide en masse. The violence in such cults is introverted until the member self annihilates.

This is the attempt to denounce and explore the mentality that makes these cults possible, the attempt to avoid a tragedy that continues no matter how much others and I have stood against it. Cults today are protected. That protection is against the well being of its members and society as a whole.

I’m still connected to the Fellowship of Friends Blog and sometimes make comments on things posted there:


I am also beginning to post a lot at


because that site allows me to keep a better archive than here. If we start to dialogue again here, it is a better site for a dialogue.



1. Elena - February 20, 2010

Recovering all the material that was on that page is impossible for me but here is some of it.

2. Elena - February 20, 2010

After a superficial look at this material, it is interesting to note how the humanists either fall into the atheist current or the Christian Humanist current showing us a separation in themselves of something they either cannot address and therefor simply ignore or become indifferent to or they acknowledge mildly.

My impression is that that LIMBO is where people were at when we joined the cult. The whole System was in itself a system pretending not to be connected to religion but once one works with it and comes into contact with other realms, it is impossible to not know one is not beyond human physical reality in human spiritual reality. This HUMAN SPIRITUAL REALITY is what seems to be the cause of so much misunderstandings in previous humanist impulses that reject the reality of religion and with THAT, have to reject the reality of man as a collection of realms within the physical realm.

The ISSUE is that spiritual reality is not separate from physical reality….. no, we can’t phrase it like that, it is more that physical and spiritual reality UNIFY in the human being. This unification does not separate religion from people’s lives, that is, it does not separate the spiritual life of the human being from his physical life. On the contrary, they mutually enhance each other. The beauty of this lies in that no one will ever again be able to claim private property on physical or metaphysical realities because they are the human property within each individual. Slavery is not possible when man acknowledges such condition to all human beings but coming to acknowledge such a reality is consciousness and a great deal of suffering is necessary for such consciousness to become generalized. In the future people will not understand how in our times people claimed private property on godliness or land! They will certainly look at us as extremely ignorant people, ignorant, unconscious people blind to reality. We will look to them as savages fighting for what belonged to all of us.

The dark aspects of the separation between the state and religion is what has caused the development of a materialism without meaning. The decadence of the upper classes has proved that property does not imply consciousness. The recovery of meaning in the physical world, the recovery of trust in each other, the recovery of life as a legitimate mean of human development will inevitably come with the recovery of death or the realm of religion.

Materialism killed death! And death is as strong an aspect of life as light is to matter.

I’ve been delaying the study of the separation of state and religion. Whatever I post here are just glimpses into what these people have done in relation to this exploration. It will take years but there’s no hurry! I would like to take the research from today backwards for a while and am just taking advantage of the little that is already on the internet. It is a great tool for its connectedness!

The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. (Compare history of ideas.)

The term first came into widespread use in the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking sociologists wrote extensively on it, notably Max Scheler, and Karl Mannheim with Ideology and Utopia. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality (1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality).

Although very influential within modern sociology, the sociology of knowledge can claim its most significant impact on science more generally through its contribution to debate and understanding of the nature of science itself, most notably through the work of Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (see also: paradigm).
1 Schools
1.1 Karl Mannheim
1.2 Phenomenological sociology
1.3 Michel Foucault
1.4 Bruno Latour
1.5 The sociology of mathematical knowledge
2 See also

Karl Mannheim
Main article: Karl Mannheim
The German political philosophers Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) argued in Die Deutsche Ideologie (1846, German Ideology) and elsewhere that people’s ideologies, including their social and political beliefs and opinions, are rooted in their class interests, and more generally in the social and economic circumstances in which they live: “It is men, who in developing their material inter-course, change, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking. Life is not determined by consciousness, but consciousness by life” (Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe 1/5).

Under the influence of this doctrine, and of Phenomenology, the Hungarian-born German sociologist Karl Mannheim (1893–1947) gave impetus to the growth of the sociology of knowledge with his Ideologie und Utopie (1929, translated and extended in 1936 as Ideology and Utopia), although the term had been introduced five years earlier by the co-founder of the movement, the German philosopher and social theorist Max Scheler (1874–1928), in Versuche zu einer Soziologie des Wissens (1924, Attempts at a Sociology of Knowledge). Mannheim feared that this interpretation could be seen to claim that all knowledge and beliefs are the products of socio-political forces since this form of relativism is self-defeating (if it is true, then it too is merely a product of socio-political forces and has no claim to truth and no persuasive force). Mannheim believed that relativism was a strange mixture of modern and ancient beliefs in that it contained within itself a belief in an absolute truth which was true for all times and places (the ancient view most often associated with Plato) and condemned other truth claims because they could not achieve this level of objectivity (an idea gleaned from Marx). Mannheim sought to escape this problem with the idea of ‘relationism’. This is the idea that certain things are true only in certain times and places (a view influenced by pragmatism) however, this does not make them less true. Mannheim felt that a stratum of free-floating intellectuals (whom he claimed were only loosely anchored to the class structure of society) could most perfectly realise this form of truth by creating a “dynamic synthesis” of the ideologies of other groups.

Elena: Doesn’t it seem obvious today that they determine each other? Society the individual and the individual society? The ideo logy develops social forms, the social forms develop new circumstances, new circumstances develop new ideologies. All those conditionings of class are valid until we come to the HUMAN. WHAT is human and what is not does not depend on class, there’s inhumanity and humanity in all of them. Everyone ends up experiencing both the privileges and downfalls of no matter what System, in our case, capitalism. The search for a more human world is not of classes against classes, nations against nations, etc, it is for people with people. As the president of the maldives said recently on the perils of his nation due to the climate condition, it is the maldives that will suffer first and then the rest of the world. From that point of view, “WE ARE ALL MALDIVIANS!” He was generously applauded.

Phenomenological sociology
Based on the work of Edmund Husserl’s philosophical phenomenology, Alfred Schütz proposed a micro-sociological approach also known as social phenomenology. Schütz looked at the way in which ordinary members of society constitute and reconstitute the world in which they live; life world.

For Schütz, it was important to bracket one’s taken-for-granted assumptions about the life in order to properly understand the life world of those being researched.

See: Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. F. (1994). Phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and interpretive practice. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The handbook of qualitative research (1st ed., pp. 262-272). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Michel Foucault
Main article: Michel Foucault
A particularly important strain of the sociology of knowledge is the criticism by Michel Foucault. In Madness and Civilization, 1961, he argued that conceptions of madness and what was considered “reason” or “knowledge” was itself subject to major culture bias – in this respect mirroring similar criticisms by Thomas Szasz, at the time the foremost critic of psychiatry, and himself now an eminent psychiatrist. A point where Foucault and Szasz agreed was that sociological processes played the major role in defining “madness” as an “illness” and prescribing “cures”.

In The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception, 1963, Foucault extended his critique to all of modern scientific medicine, arguing for the central conceptual metaphor of “The Gaze”, which had implications for medical education, prison design, and the carceral state as understood today. Concepts of criminal justice and its intersection with medicine were better developed in this work than in Szasz and others, who confined their critique to current psychiatric practice.

Elena: Notes.

The manipulation of madness to act against me was also so clear in the FOFBLOG to justify banning me by Old FOF and his adherents! Isn’t it amazing to see those things in the big scale of world history and in the tiny lives we are carrying out?

I wonder if Foucault went all the way into the questioning of not only the abusive medical practice strongly connected to money and the exploitation of the sick but the psychological pressure of insurance institutions on the average man and the manipulation of life and death with it. This manipulation of life and death and the constant instilling of fear on the general public because they are not insured, reminds me of a similar manipulation that went on in the Cult. I believe it was already in the average member when they joined so it was very easy for the “cult” (and by “cult” I mean the guru, his inner circle and the “institutionalized practices”) to simply reinforce the fear in relation to both life and death that society had already implanted. This needs to be worked more deeply like everything I present. It is an exploration subject to change when the facts prove contrary to the statements.

Finally, in The Order of Things, 1966, and The Archaeology of Knowledge, 1969, Foucault introduced the abstract notions of mathesis and taxonomia. These, he claimed, had transformed 17th and 18th century studies of “general grammar” into modern “linguistics”, “natural history” into modern “biology”, and “analysis of wealth” into modern “economics”. Not, claimed Foucault, without loss of meaning. The 19th century had transformed what knowledge was.

Perhaps Foucault’s best-known and most controversial claim was that before the 18th century, “Man did not exist”. The notions of humanity and of humanism were inventions or creations of this 19th century transformation. Accordingly, a cognitive bias had been introduced unwittingly into science, by over-trusting the individual doctor or scientist’s ability to see and state things objectively. This study still guides the sociology of knowledge and has been claimed to have sparked single-handedly much of postmodernism.

Elena: Notes:

Having been in a cult for so many years I am far behind Foucault and all these authors, far behind in the sense that I had not studied them before. This statement is fascinating:

“Man did not exist”. The notions of humanity and of humanism were inventions or creations of this 19th century transformation.

It makes so much sense! I personally came to the notion of HUMAN after trying to commit suicide. WRONG, the CONSCIOUSNESS of the human. Before it was there as an ideal that never quite seemed to happen no matter where one was! Yes there were more and less human individuals but there have been inhuman practices in almost everyone since childhood. Being human at all times is an aspect of consciousness. My own mistreatment of people on the fofblog shows how unconscious I still am. The justification that in certain contexts extreme friction is necessary also fits the mold. I don’t regret having fought. It was necessary for me to fight but I could have been more elegant if I had not been so hurt and hopeless!

To be more precise, I see our inhuman behavior in the carelessness with which we go about each other, our children, parents, people in general. The extreme carelessness justified in myriad little things such as being too busy. One identification justifying the carelessness. An apparent “reason” justifying the “act”.

Sociology of knowledge
The sociology of knowledge is the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises, and of the effects prevailing ideas have on societies. (Compare history of ideas.)

The term first came into widespread use in the 1920s, when a number of German-speaking sociologists wrote extensively on it, notably Max Scheler, and Karl Mannheim with Ideology and Utopia. With the dominance of functionalism through the middle years of the 20th century, the sociology of knowledge tended to remain on the periphery of mainstream sociological thought. It was largely reinvented and applied much more closely to everyday life in the 1960s, particularly by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality (1966) and is still central for methods dealing with qualitative understanding of human society (compare socially constructed reality).

Although very influential within modern sociology, the sociology of knowledge can claim its most significant impact on science more generally through its contribution to debate and understanding of the nature of science itself, most notably through the work of Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (see also: paradigm).

3. Elena - February 20, 2010

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (March 2009)
Humanism is a moral philosophy that considers humans to be of primary importance. It is a perspective common to a wide range of ethical stances that attaches importance to human dignity, concerns, and capabilities, particularly rationality. Although the word has many senses, its current philosophical meaning comes into focus when contrasted to the supernatural or to appeals to higher authority.[1][2] Since the 19th century, humanism has been associated with an anti-clericalism inherited from the 18th-century Enlightenment philosophes. In the 21st century, Humanism tends to strongly endorse human rights, including reproductive rights, gender equality, social justice, and the separation of church and state. The term covers organized non-theistic religions, secular humanism, and a humanistic life stance.[3]
Contents [hide]
1 History
1.1 Greek humanism
1.2 Ancient Asian humanism
1.3 Renaissance humanism
1.3.1 Back to the sources
1.3.2 Consequences of the Renaissance humanist movement
1.4 From Renaissance to modern humanism
1.5 Nineteenth and twentieth centuries
1.5.1 Attitudes towards religion
1.5.2 Knowledge
1.5.3 Optimism
1.5.4 Recent humanist manifestos and statements
2 Humanism (life stance)
3 Other forms of humanism
3.1 Educational humanism
3.2 Inclusive humanism
4 See also
4.1 Related philosophies
4.2 Organizations
4.3 Other
5 Notes
6 References
7 External links
7.1 Introductions to humanism
7.2 Web articles
7.3 Web books
7.4 Web projects

The term “humanism” is ambiguous. Around 1806 Humanismus was used to describe the classical curriculum offered by German schools, and by 1836 “humanism” was borrowed into English in this sense. In 1856, the great German historian and philologist Georg Voigt used humanism to describe Renaissance Humanism, the movement that flourished in the Italian Renaissance to revive classical learning, a use which won wide acceptance among historians in many nations, especially Italy.[4] This historical and literary use of the word “humanist” derives from the 15th-century Italian term umanista, meaning a teacher or scholar of Classical Greek and Latin literature and the ethical philosophy behind it.
But in the mid-18th century, a different use of the term began to emerge. In 1765, the author of an anonymous article in a French Enlightenment periodical spoke of “The general love of humanity . . . a virtue hitherto quite nameless among us, and which we will venture to call ‘humanism’, for the time has come to create a word for such a beautiful and necessary thing.”[5] The latter part of the 18th and the early 19th centuries saw the creation of numerous grass-roots “philanthropic” and benevolent societies dedicated to human betterment and the spreading of knowledge (some Christian, some not). After the French Revolution, the idea that human virtue could be created by human reason alone independently from traditional religious institutions, attributed by opponents of the Revolution to Enlightenment philosophes such as Rousseau, was violently attacked by influential religious and political conservatives, such as Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre, as a deification or idolatry of man.[6] Humanism began to acquire a negative sense. The Oxford English Dictionary records the use of the word “humanism” by an English clergyman in 1812 to indicate those who believe in the “mere humanity” (as opposed to the divine nature) of Christ, i.e., Unitarians and Deists.[7] In this polarized atmosphere, in which established ecclesiastical bodies tended to circle the wagons and reflexively oppose political and social reforms like extending the franchise, universal schooling, and the like, liberal reformers and radicals embraced the idea of Humanism as an alternative religion of humanity. The anarchist Proudhon (best known for declaring that “property is theft”) used the word “humanism” to describe a “culte, déification de l’humanité” (“cult, deification of humanity”) and Ernest Renan in L’avenir de la science: pensées de 1848 (“The Future of Knowledge: Thoughts on 1848”) (1848–49), states: “It is my deep conviction that pure humanism will be the religion of the future, that is, the cult of all that pertains to man — all of life, sanctified and raised to the level of a moral value.“ [8]
At about the same time, the word “humanism” as a philosophy centered around mankind (as opposed to institutionalized religion) was also being used in Germany by the so-called Left Hegelians, Arnold Ruge, and Karl Marx, who were critical of the close involvement of the church in the repressive German government. There has been a persistent confusion between the several uses of the terms:[9] philosophical humanists look to human-centered antecedents among the Greek philosophers and the great figures of Renaissance history, often assuming somewhat inaccurately that famous historical humanists and champions of human reason had uniformly shared their anti-theistic stance.
[edit]Greek humanism
Main article: Greek philosophy
Sixth-century BCE pantheists Thales of Miletus and Xenophanes of Colophon prepared the way for later Greek humanist thought. Thales is credited with creating the maxim “Know thyself”, and Xenophanes refused to recognize the gods of his time and reserved the divine for the principle of unity in the universe. Later Anaxagoras, often described as the “first freethinker”, contributed to the development of science as a method of understanding the universe. These Ionian Greeks were the first thinkers to recognize that nature is available to be studied separately from any alleged supernatural realm. Pericles, a pupil of Anaxagoras, influenced the development of democracy, freedom of thought, and the exposure of superstitions. Although little of their work survives, Protagoras and Democritus both espoused agnosticism and a spiritual morality not based on the supernatural. The historian Thucydides is noted for his scientific and rational approach to history.[10] In the third century BCE, Epicurus became known for his concise phrasing of the problem of evil, lack of belief in the afterlife, and human-centered approaches to achieving eudaimonia. He was also the first Greek philosopher to admit women to his school as a rule.
[edit]Ancient Asian humanism
Human-centered philosophy that rejected the supernatural can be found as early as 1000 BCE in the Lokayata system of Indian philosophy. In the sixth century BCE, Taoist teacher Laozi brought such philosophy to China, where Confucius also taught secular ethics. The silver rule of Confucianism, from Analects XV.24, is an example of ethical philosophy based on human values rather than the supernatural. Also in the sixth-century BCE, Gautama Buddha expressed, in the Pali literature, a skeptical attitude toward the supernatural:
Since neither soul nor aught belonging to soul can really and truly exist, the view which holds that this I who am ‘world,’ who am ‘soul,’ shall hereafter live permanent, persisting, unchanging, yea abide eternally: is not this utterly and entirely a foolish doctrine?[11]
[edit]Renaissance humanism
Main article: Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement in Europe of the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The 19th-century German historian Georg Voigt (1827–91) identified Petrarch as the first Renaissance humanist. Paul Johnson agrees that Petrarch was “the first to put into words the notion that the centuries between the fall of Rome and the present had been the age of Darkness.” According to Petrarch, what was needed to remedy this situation was the careful study and imitation of the great classical authors. For Petrarch and Boccaccio, the greatest master was Cicero, whose prose became the model for both learned (Latin) and vernacular (Italian) prose.
Once the language was mastered grammatically it could be used to attain the second stage, eloquence or rhetoric. This art of persuasion [Cicero had held] was not art for its own sake, but the acquisition of the capacity to persuade others — all men and women — to lead the good life. As Petrarch put it, ‘it is better to will the good than to know the truth.’ Rhetoric thus led to and embraced philosophy. Leonardo Bruni (c.1369-1444), the outstanding scholar of the new generation, insisted that it was Petrarch who “opened the way for us to show how to acquire learning”, but it was in Bruni’s time that the word umanista first came into use, and its subjects of study were listed as five: grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy, and history.”[12]
The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write (typically, in the form of a letter). One of Petrarch’s followers, Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406) was made chancellor of Florence, “whose interests he defended with his literary skill. The Visconti of Milan claimed that Salutati’s pen had done more damage than ‘thirty squadrons of Florentine cavalry.’”[13] Contrary to a still widely current interpretation that originated in Voigt’s celebrated contemporary, Jacob Burckhardt[14] and which was adopted wholeheartedly, especially by those moderns calling themselves “humanists”[15] Most specialists now do not characterize Renaissance humanism as a philosophical movement, nor in any way as anti-Christian or even anti-clerical. A modern historian has this to say:
Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary knowledge and linguistic skill based on the “revival of good letters”, which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar, This is how the word “humanist” was understood by contemporaries, and if scholars would agree to accept the word in this sense rather than in the sense in which it was used in the nineteenth century we might be spared a good deal of useless argument. That humanism had profound social and even political consequences of the life of Italian courts is not to be doubted. But the idea that as a movement it was in some way inimical to the Church, or to the conservative social order in general is one that has been put forward for a century and more without any substantial proof being offered.
The nineteenth-century historian Jacob Burckhardt, in his classic work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, noted as a “curious fact” that some men of the new culture were “men of the strictest piety, or even ascetics.” If he had meditated more deeply on the meaning of the careers of such humanists as Abrogio Traversari (1386-1439), the General of the Camaldolese Order, perhaps he would not have gone on to describe humanism in unqualified terms as “pagan”, and thus helped precipitate a century of infertile debate about the possible existence of something called “Christian humanism” which ought to be opposed to “pagan humanism”. –Peter Partner, Renaissance Rome, Portrait of a Society 1500-1559 (University of California Press 1979) pp. 14-15.
The umanisti criticized what they considered the barbarous Latin of the universities, but the revival of the humanities largely did not conflict with the teaching of traditional university subjects, which went on as before.[16]
Nor did the humanists view themselves as in conflict with Christianity. Some, like Salutati, were the Chancellors of Italian cities, but the majority (including Petrarch) were ordained as priests, and many worked as senior officials of the Papal court. Humanist Renaissance popes Nicholas V, Pius II, Sixtus IV, and Leo X wrote books and amassed huge libraries.[17]
In the high Renaissance, in fact, there was a hope that more direct knowledge of the wisdom of antiquity, including the writings of the Church fathers, the earliest known Greek texts of the Christian Gospels, and in some cases even the Jewish Kabbala, would initiate an harmonious new era of universal agreement.[18] With this end in view, Renaissance Church authorities afforded humanists what in retrospect appears a remarkable degree of freedom of thought.[19][20] One humanist, the Greek Orthodox Platonist Gemistus Pletho (d. 1952), based in Mystras, Greece (but in contact with humanists in Florence, Venice, and Rome) taught a Christianized version of pagan polytheism.[21]
[edit]Back to the sources
The humanists’ close study of Latin literary texts soon enabled them to discern historical differences in the writing styles of different periods. By analogy with what they saw as decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes, or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning, seeking out manuscripts of Patristic literature as well as pagan authors. In 1439, while employed in Naples at the court of Alfonso V of Aragon (at the time engaged in a dispute with the Papal States) the humanist Lorenzo Valla used stylistic textual analysis, now called philology, to prove that the Donation of Constantine, which purported to confer temporal powers on the Pope of Rome, was an eighth-century forgery.[22] For the next 70 years, however, neither Valla nor any of his contemporaries thought to apply the techniques of philology to other controversial manuscripts in this way. Instead, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turks in 1453, which brought a flood of Greek Orthodox refugees to Italy, humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of Neoplatonism and Hermeticism, hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the non-Christian world.[23] The refugees brought with them Greek manuscripts, not only of Plato and Aristotle, but also of the Christian Gospels, previously unavailable in the Latin West. After 1517, when the new invention of printing made these texts widely available, the Dutch humanist Erasmus, who had studied Greek at the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius, began a philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Valla, comparing the Greek originals with their Latin translations with a view to correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter. Erasmus, along with the French humanist Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples, began issuing new translations, laying the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation. Henceforth Renaissance humanism, particularly in the German North, became concerned with religion, while Italian and French humanism concentrated increasingly on scholarship and philology addressed to a narrow audience of specialists, studiously avoiding topics that might offend despotic rulers or which might be seen as corrosive of faith. After the Reformation, critical examination of the Bible did not resume until the advent of the so-called Higher criticsm of the 19th-century German Tübingen school.
[edit]Consequences of the Renaissance humanist movement
The ad fontes principle also had many applications. The re-discovery of ancient manuscripts brought a more profound and accurate knowledge of ancient philosophical schools such as Epicureanism, and Neoplatonism, whose Pagan wisdom the humanists, like the Church fathers of old, tended, at least initially, to consider as deriving from divine revelation and thus adaptable to a life of Christian virtue.[24] The line from a drama of Terence, Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto (or with nil for nihil), meaning “I am a man, I think nothing human alien to me”, known since antiquity through the endorsement of Saint Augustine, gained renewed currency as epitomizing the humanist attitude.[25]
Better acquaintance with Greek and Roman technical writings also influenced the development of European science (see the history of science in the Renaissance). This was despite what A. C. Crombie (viewing the Renaissance in the 19th-century manner as a chapter in the heroic March of Progress) calls “a backwards-looking admiration for antiquity”, in which Platonism stood in opposition to the Aristotelian concentration on the observable properties of the physical world.[26] But Renaissance humanists, who considered themselves as restoring the glory and nobility of antiquity, had no interest in scientific innovation. However, by the mid-to-late 16th century, even the universities, though still dominated by Scholasticism, began to demand that Aristotle be read in accurate texts edited according to the principles of Renaissance philology, thus setting the stage for Galileo’s quarrels with the outmoded habits of Scholasticism.
Just as artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci — partaking of the zeitgeist though not himself a humanist — advocated study of human anatomy, nature, and weather to enrich Renaissance works of art, so Spanish-born humanist Juan Luis Vives (c. 1493-1540) advocated observation, craft, and practical techniques to improve the formal teaching of Aristotelian philosophy at the universities, helping to free them from the grip of Medieval Scholasticism.[27] Thus, the stage was set for the adoption of an approach to natural philosophy, based on empirical observations and experimentation of the physical universe, making possible the advent of the age of scientific inquiry that followed the Renaissance.[28]
It was in education that the humanists’ program had the most lasting results, their curriculum and methods:
were followed everywhere, serving as models for the Protestant Reformers as well as the Jesuits. The humanistic school, animated by the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral standards and a civilized taste for future rulers, leaders, and professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many religious, political and social revolutions. It has but recently been replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less demanding forms of education.[29]
[edit]From Renaissance to modern humanism
The progression from the humanism of the renaissance to that of the 19th and 20th centuries came about through two key figures: Galileo and Erasmus. Cultural critic, Os Guinness explains that the word humanist during the renaissance initially only defined a concern for humanity, and many early humanists saw no dichotomy between this and their Christian faith. See Christian Humanism
“Yet it was from the Renaissance that modern secular humanism grew, with the development of an important split between reason and religion. This occurred as the church’s complacent authority was exposed in two vital areas. In science, Galileo’s support of the Copernican revolution upset the church’s adherence to the theories of Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic adherence to Jerome’s Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were then understood.”[30]
[edit]Nineteenth and twentieth centuries
The phrase the “religion of humanity” is sometimes attributed to American Founding Father, Thomas Paine, though as yet unattested in his surviving writings. According to Tony Davies:
Paine called himself a theophilanthropist, a word combining the Greek for “God”, “love,” and “man”, and indicating that while he believed in the existence of a creating intelligence in the universe, he entirely rejected the claims made by and for all existing religious doctrines, especially their miraculous, transcendental and salvationist pretensions. The Parisian “Society of Theophilanthropy” which he sponsored, is described by his biographer as “a forerunner of the ethical and humanist societies that proliferated later” … [Paine’s book] the trenchantly witty Age of Reason (1793) … pours scorn on the supernatural pretensions of scripture, combining Voltairean mockery with Paine’s own style of taproom ridicule to expose the absurdity of a theology built on a collection of incoherent Levantine folktales.[31]
Davies identifies Paine’s The Age of Reason as “the link between the two major narratives of what Jean-François Lyotard[32] calls the narrative of legitimation”: the rationalism of the 18th-century Philosophes and the radical, historically-based German 19th-century Biblical criticism of the Hegelians David Friedrich Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach. “The first is political, largely French in inspiration, and projects ‘humanity as the hero of liberty’. The second is philosophical, German, seeks the totality and autonomy of knowledge, and stresses understanding rather than freedom as the key to human fulfillment and emancipation. The two themes converged and competed in complex ways in the 19th century and beyond, and between them set the boundaries of its various humanisms.[33] Homo homini deus est (“Man is a god to man” or “god is nothing [other than] man to himself”), Feuerbach had written.[34].
Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, known to the world as George Eliot, translated Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu (“The Life of Jesus”, 1846) and Ludwig Ludwig Feuerbach’s Das Wesen Christianismus (“The Essence of Christianity”). She wrote to a friend:
the fellowship between man and man which has been the principle of development, social and moral, is not dependent on conceptions of what is not man . . . the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual influence, is the ideal of goodness entirely human (i.e., an exaltation of the human).[35]
Eliot and her circle, who included her companion George Henry Lewes (the biographer of Goethe) and the abolitionist and social theorist Harriet Martineau, were much influenced by the Positivism of Auguste Comte, whom Martineau had translated. Comte had proposed an atheistic culte founded on human principles—a secular Religion of Humanity (which worshiped the dead, since most humans who have ever lived are dead), complete with holidays and liturgy, modeled on the rituals of a what was seen as a discredited and dilapidated Catholicism.[36] Although Comte’s English followers, like Eliot and Martineau, for the most part rejected the full gloomy panoply of his system, they liked the idea of a religion of humanity. Compte’s austere vision of the universe, his injunction to “vivre pour altrui” (“live for others”, from which comes the word “altruism”),[37] and his idealization of women inform the works of Victorian novelists and poets from George Eliot and Matthew Arnold to Thomas Hardy.
The British Humanistic Religious Association was formed as one of the earliest forerunners of contemporary chartered Humanist organizations in 1853 in London. This early group was democratically organized, with male and female members participating in the election of the leadership and promoted knowledge of the sciences, philosophy, and the arts.[38]
In February 1877, the word was used pejoratively, apparently for the first time in America, to describe Felix Adler. Adler, however, did not embrace the term, and instead coined the name “Ethical Culture” for his new movement – a movement which still exists in the now Humanist-affiliated New York Society for Ethical Culture.[39][40] In 2008, Ethical Culture Leaders wrote: “Today, the historic identification, Ethical Culture, and the modern description, Ethical Humanism, are used interchangeably.”[41]
Active in the early 1920s, F.C.S. Schiller labeled his work “humanism” but for Schiller the term referred to the pragmatist philosophy he shared with William James. In 1929, Charles Francis Potter founded the First Humanist Society of New York whose advisory board included Julian Huxley, John Dewey, Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann. Potter was a minister from the Unitarian tradition and in 1930 he and his wife, Clara Cook Potter, published Humanism: A New Religion. Throughout the 1930s, Potter was an advocate of such liberal causes as, women’s rights, access to birth control, “civil divorce laws”, and an end to capital punishment.[42]
Raymond B. Bragg, the associate editor of The New Humanist, sought to consolidate the input of Leon Milton Birkhead, Charles Francis Potter, and several members of the Western Unitarian Conference. Bragg asked Roy Wood Sellars to draft a document based on this information which resulted in the publication of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933. Potter’s book and the Manifesto became the cornerstones of modern humanism, the latter declaring a new religion by saying, “any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present.” It then presented 15 theses of humanism as foundational principles for this new religion.
In 1941, the American Humanist Association was organized. Noted members of The AHA included Isaac Asimov, who was the president from 1985 until his death in 1992, and writer Kurt Vonnegut, who followed as honorary president until his death in 2007. Gore Vidal became honorary president in 2009. Robert Buckman was the head of the association in Canada, and is now an honorary president.[citation needed]
After World War II, three prominent Humanists became the first directors of major divisions of the United Nations: Julian Huxley of UNESCO, Brock Chisholm of the World Health Organization, and John Boyd-Orr of the Food and Agricultural Organization.[43]
In 2004, American Humanist Association, along with other groups representing agnostics, atheists, and other freethinkers, joined to create the Secular Coalition for America which advocates in Washington, D.C. for separation of church and state and nationally for the greater acceptance of nontheistic Americans. The Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America is Sean Faircloth a long-time state legislator from Maine.
[edit]Attitudes towards religion
The original signers of the first Humanist Manifesto of 1933, declared themselves to be religious humanists. Manifesto I Because in their view, traditional religions were failing to meet the needs of their day, the signers of 1933 declared it a major necessity to establish a religion that was a dynamic force to meet the needs of the day. Since then two additional Manifestos were written to replace the first. Humanist Manifesto I
In the Preface of Humanist Manifesto II, the authors Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson (1973) affirm that faith and knowledge are required for a hopeful vision for the future. Manifesto II references a section on Religion and states traditional religion renders a disservice to humanity. Manifesto II recognizes the following groups to be part of their naturalistic philosophy: “scientific,” “ethical,” “democratic,” “religious,” and “Marxist” humanism.
In the 20th century and 21st century, members of Humanist organizations disagree as to whether Humanism is a religion. They categorize themselves in one of three ways. Religious humanists, in the tradition of the earliest Humanist organizations in the UK and US, saw Humanism as fulfilling the traditional social role of religion.[44] Secular Humanists consider all forms of religion, including religious Humanism, to be superseded.[45] In order to sidestep disagreements between these two factions recent Humanist proclamations define Humanism as a life stance; See Humanism (life stance) despite the view expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a footnote addendum classifying, among others, Secular Humanism a religion that does not believe in God. See Torcaso v. Watkins (1961). Regardless of implementation, the philosophy of all three groups rejects deference to supernatural beliefs and addresses ethics without reference to them recognizing ethics as a human enterprise. It is generally compatible with atheism[46] and agnosticism[47] but being atheist or agnostic does not make one a Humanist.[48]
Modern Humanists, such as Corliss Lamont or Carl Sagan, hold that humanity must seek for truth through reason and the best observable evidence and endorse scientific skepticism and the scientific method. However, they stipulate that decisions about right and wrong must be based on the individual and common good. As an ethical process, Humanism does not consider metaphysical issues such as the existence or nonexistence of immortal beings. Humanism is engaged with what is human.[49]
Contemporary Humanism entails a qualified optimism about the capacity of people, but it does not involve believing that human nature is purely good or that all people can live up to the Humanist ideals without help. If anything, there is recognition that living up to one’s potential is hard work and requires the help of others. The ultimate goal is human flourishing; making life better for all humans, and as the most conscious species, also promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come after. In 1925, the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead cautioned: “The prophecy of Francis Bacon has now been fulfilled; and man, who at times dreamt of himself as a little lower than the angels, has submitted to become the servant and the minister of nature. It still remains to be seen whether the same actor can play both body parts.”[50]
[edit]Recent humanist manifestos and statements
Humanist Manifesto I (1933)
Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
A Secular Humanist Declaration (1980)
Amsterdam Declaration (2002)
Humanist Manifesto III (2003)
[edit]Humanism (life stance)

Main article: Humanism (life stance)
Humanism (capital ‘H’, no adjective such as “secular”)[51] is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of more than 100 Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries. The Happy Human is the official symbol of the IHEU as well as being regarded as a universally recognised symbol for those who call themselves Humanists (as opposed to “humanists”). In 2002, the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism.[52]
All member organisations of the IHEU are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1[53] to accept the IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism:
Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.
[edit]Other forms of humanism

[edit]Educational humanism
Humanism, as a current in education, began to dominate U.S. school systems in the 17th century. It held that the studies that develop human intellect are those that make humans “most truly human”. The practical basis for this was faculty psychology, or the belief in distinct intellectual faculties, such as the analytical, the mathematical, the linguistic, etc. Strengthening one faculty was believed to benefit other faculties as well (transfer of training). A key player in the late 19th-century educational humanism was U.S. Commissioner of Education William Torrey Harris, whose “Five Windows of the Soul” (mathematics, geography, history, grammar, and literature/art) were believed especially appropriate for “development of the faculties”. Educational humanists believe that “the best studies, for the best kids” are “the best studies” for all kids.[citation needed]
[edit]Inclusive humanism
Humanism increasingly designates an inclusive sensibility for our species, planet and lives. While retaining the definition of the IHEU with regard to the life stance of the individual, inclusive Humanism enlarges its constituency within homo sapiens to consider Man’s broadening powers and obligations.

This accepting viewpoint recalls Renaissance Humanism in that it presumes an advocacy role for Humanists towards species governance, and this proactive stance is charged with a commensurate responsibility surpassing that of individual Humanism. It identifies pollution, militarism, nationalism, sexism, poverty and corruption as being persistent and addressable human character issues incompatible with the interests of our species. It asserts that human governance must be unified and is inclusionary in that it does not exclude any person by reason of their collateral beliefs or personal religion alone. As such it can be said to be a container for undeclared Humanism, instilling a species credo to complement the personal tenets of individuals.
It contrasts with contemporary American and British Humanism, which tend to be centered on religion to the extent that “Humanism” in these societies is too often being equated with simple atheism, especially by novitiates. This over-identification with a singular non-belief is now seen to be an unwarranted truncation of one of Humanity’s most valuable and promising intellectual traditions, possibly damping out Humanism’s wider and deserving adoption.

Dwight Gilbert Jones writes that Humanism may be the only philosophy likely to be adopted by our species as a whole – it is thus incumbent on inclusive Humanists to not place unwarranted or self-interested conditions on its prospective adherents, nor associate it with religious acrimony. [54]

4. Elena - February 20, 2010

Many of the concepts presented here were aspects of life in the Fellowship cult. I’m interested in deepening the exploration in this areas.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article may need to be wikified to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. Please help by adding relevant internal links, or by improving the article’s layout. (November 2008)
Governmentality is a concept first developed by the French philosopher Michel Foucault in the later years of his life, roughly between 1977 and his death in 1984, particularly in his lectures at the Collège de France during this time. The concept has been elaborated further from an “Anglo-Neo Foucauldian” perspective in the social sciences, especially by authors such as Peter Miller, Nikolas Rose and Mitchell Dean. Governmentality can be understood as:
the way governments try to produce the citizen best suited to fulfill those governments’ policies,
the organized practices (mentalities, rationalities, and techniques) through which subjects are governed[1].
Governmentality may also be understood as:
the “art of government” (Burchell 78),
“governmental rationality” (Gordon 1991: 1),
a ‘guideline’ for the analysis [Foucault] offers by way of historical reconstructions embracing a period starting from Ancient Greece (sic) through to modern neo-liberalism”(Lemke 2)
“The Techniques and strategies by which a society is rendered governable” (Jones 174)
Contents [hide]
1 The semantics of governmentality
2 Basic definition of governmentality
3 History of the term
4 Further developments of the concept
4.1 Mentality of rule
4.2 Self-governing capabilities
4.3 Technologies of power
4.3.1 Technologies of the self
4.3.2 Technologies of the market
4.4 Ecogovernmentality
5 References
6 See also
[edit]The semantics of governmentality

This term is made by the “…linking of governing (“gouverner”) and modes of thought (“mentalité”)” (Lemke 2). To fully understand this concept, it is important to realize that in this case, Foucault does not only use the standard, strictly political definition of “governing” or government used today, but he also uses the broader definition of governing or government that was employed until the eighteenth century (Burchell 90). That is to say, that in this case, for Foucault, “…’government’ also signified problems of self-control, guidance for the family and for children, management of the house hold, directing the soul, etc” (Lemke 2). In other words, for our purposes, government is “…the conduct of conduct…” (Foucault in Burchell 48).
[edit]Basic definition of governmentality

In his lectures at the Collège de France, Foucault often defines governmentality as the “art of government” in a wide sense, i.e. with an idea of “government” that is not limited to state politics alone, that includes a wide range of control techniques, and that applies to a wide variety of objects, from one’s control of the self to the “biopolitical” control of populations. In the work of Foucault, this notion is indeed linked to other concepts such as biopolitics and power-knowledge.
The concept of “governmentality” develops a new understanding of power. Foucault encourages us to think of power not only in terms of hierarchical, top-down power of the state. He widens our understanding of power to also include the forms of social control in disciplinary institutions (schools, hospitals, psychiatric institutions, etc.), as well as the forms of knowledge. Power can manifest itself positively by producing knowledge and certain discourses that get internalised by individuals and guide the behaviour of populations. This leads to more efficient forms of social control, as knowledge enables individuals to govern themselves.
“Governmentality” applies to a variety of historical periods and to different specific power regimes. However, it is often used (by other scholars and by Foucault himself) in reference to “neoliberal governmentality”, i.e. to a type of governmentality that characterizes advanced liberal democracies. In this case, the notion of governmentality refers to societies where power is de-centered and its members play an active role in their own self-government, e.g. as posited in neoliberalism. Because of its active role, individuals need to be regulated from ‘inside’. A particular form of governmentality is characterized by a certain form of knowledge (“savoir” in French). In the case of neoliberal governmentality (a kind of governmentality based on the predominance of market mechanisms and of the restriction of the action of the state) the knowledge produced allows the construction of auto-regulated or auto-correcting selves.
In his lecture titled Governmentality, Foucault gives us a definition of governmentality. “1.The ensemble formed by the institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, the calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power, which has as its target population, as its principal form of knowledge political economy, and as its essential technical means apparatuses of security. 2. The tendency which, over a long period and throughout the West, has steadily led towards the pre-eminence over all other forms (sovereignty, discipline, etc) of this type of power which may be termed government, resulting, on the one hand, in formation of a whole series of specific governmental apparatuses, and, on the other, in the development of a whole complex of savoirs. 3. The process, or rather the result of the process, through which the state of justice of the Middle Ages, transformed into the administrative state during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, gradually becomes ‘governmentalized’.” (Burchell, Gordon and Miller, 1991: 102-103)
As Foucault’s explicit definition is rather broad, perhaps further examination of this definition would be useful.
We shall begin with a closer inspection of the first part of Foucault’s definition of governmentality “1.The ensemble formed by the institutions, procedures, analyses and reflections, the calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this very specific albeit complex form of power, which has as its target population, as its principal form of knowledge political economy, and as its essential technical means apparatuses of security.” (Burchell, Gordon and Miller, 1991: 102)
This strand of the three-part definition states that governmentality is, in other words, all of the components that make up a government that has as its end the maintenance of a well ordered and happy society (population). The government’s means to this end is its “apparatuses of security,” that is to say, the techniques it uses to provide this society a feeling of economic, political, and cultural well-being. The government achieves these ends by enacting “political economy,” and in this case, the meaning of economy is the older definition of the term, that is to say, “economy at the level of the entire state, which means exercising towards its inhabitants, and the wealth and behavior of each and all, a form of surveillance and control as attentive as that of the head of a family over his household and his goods” (Burchell 92). Thus, we see that this first part of the definition states that governmentality is a government with specific ends, means to these ends, and particular practices that should lead to these ends.
The second part of Foucault’s definition is “2. The tendency which, over a long period and throughout the West, has steadily led towards the pre-eminence over all other forms (sovereignty, discipline, etc) of this type of power which may be termed government, resulting, on the one hand, in formation of a whole series of specific governmental apparatuses, and, on the other, in the development of a whole complex of savoirs.” (Burchell, Gordon and Miller, 1991: 102-103)
This strand presents governmentality as the long, slow development of Western governments which eventually took over from forms of governance like sovereignty and discipline into what it is today: bureaucracies and the typical methods by which they operate. The next and last strand of Foucault’s definition of governmentality is “3. The process, or rather the result of the process, through which the state of justice of the Middle Ages, transformed into the administrative state during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, gradually becomes ‘governmentalized’.” (Burchell 103) This strand can be restated as the evolution from the Medieval state, that maintained its territory and an ordered society within this territory through a blunt practice of simply imposing its laws upon its subjects, to the early renaissance state, which became more concerned with the “disposing of things” (Burchell 95), and so began to employ strategies and tactics to maintain a content and thus stable society, or in other words to “render a society governable” (Jones 174).
Thus, if one takes these three strands together, governmentality may be defined as the process through which a form of government with specific ends (a happy and stable society), means to these ends (“apparatuses of security” (Burchell 102)), and with a particular type of knowledge (“political economy” (Burchell 102)), to achieve these ends, evolved from a medieval state of justice to a modern administrative state with complex bureaucracies.
[edit]History of the term

The concept of governmentality segues from Foucault’s ethical, political and historical thoughts from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. His most widely known formulation of this notion is his lecture entitled “Security, territory and population” (1978). A deeper and richer reflection on the notion of governmentality is provided in Foucault’s course on “The Birth of Biopolitics” at the Collège de France in 1978-1979. The course was first published in French in 2004 as Naissance de la biopolitique: Cours au Collège de France (1978-1979) (Paris: Gallimard & Seuil). This notion is also part of a wider analysis on the topic of disciplinary institutions, on neoliberalism and the “Rule of Law”, the “microphysics of power” and also on what Foucault called biopolitics. In the second and third volumes of The History of Sexuality, namely, The Use of Pleasure (1984) and The Care of the Self (1984), and in his lecture on “Technologies of the Self” (1982), Foucault elaborated a distinction between subjectivation and forms of subjectification by exploring how selves were fashioned and then lived in ways which were both heteronomously and autonomously determined. Also, in a series of lectures and articles, including “The Birth of Biopolitics” (1979), “Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Criticism of Political Reason” (1979), “The Subject and Power” (1982) and “What is Enlightenment?” (1984), he posed questions about the nature of contemporary social orders, the conceptualization of power, human freedom and the limits, possibilities and sources of human actions, etc. that were linked to his understanding of the notion of “governmentality”.
The notion of governmentality (not to confuse with governance) gained attention in the English-speaking academic world mainly through the edited book The Foucault Effect (1991), which contained a series of essays on the notion of governmentality, together with a translation of Foucault’s 1978 short text on “gouvernementalité”.
[edit]Further developments of the concept

Hunt and Wickham, in their work Foucault and Law [1994] begin the section on governmentality with a very basic definition derived from Foucault’s work. They state, “governmentality is the dramatic expansion in the scope of government, featuring an increase in the number and size of the governmental calculation mechanisms” [1994:76]. In other words, governmentality describes the new form of governing that arose in the mid-eighteenth century that was closely allied with the creation and growth of the modern bureaucracies. In giving this definition, Hunt and Wickham conceive of the term as consisting of two parts ‘governmental’ and ‘–ity’ – governmental meaning pertaining to the government of a country; and the suffix –ity meaning the study of. They acknowledge that this definition lacks some of Foucault’s finer nuances and try to redress this by explaining some more of Foucault’s ideas, including reason of state, the problem of population, modern political economy, liberal securitisation, and the emergence of the human sciences” [1994:77].
Kerr’s approach to the term is more complex. He conceives of the term as an abbreviation of “governmental rationality” [1999:174]. In other words it is a way of thinking about the government and the practices of the government. To him it is not “a zone of critical-revolutionary study, but one that conceptually reproduces capitalist rule” [1999:197] by asserting that some form of government (and power) will always be necessary to control and constitute society. By defining governmentality only in terms of the state, Kerr fails to take account of other forms of governance and the idea of mentalities of government in this broader sense.
Dean’s understanding of the term incorporates both other forms of governance and the idea of mentalities of government, as well as Hunt and Wickham’s, and Kerr’s approaches to the term. In line with Hunt and Wickham’s approach, Dean acknowledges that in a very narrow sense, governmentality can be used to describe the emergence of a government that saw that the object of governing power was to optimise, use and foster living individuals as members of a population [1999:19]. He also includes the idea of government rationalities, seeing governmentality as one way of looking at the practices of government. In addition to the above, he sees government as anything to do with conducting oneself or others. This is evident in his description of the word in his glossary: “Governmentality: How we think about governing others and ourselves in a wide variety of contexts…” [1999:212]. This reflects that the term government to Foucault meant not so much the political or administrative structures of the modern state as the way in which the conduct of individuals or of groups may be directed. To analyse government is to analyse those mechanisms that try to shape, sculpt, mobilise and work through the choices, desires, aspirations, needs, wants and lifestyles of individuals and groups [Dean, 1999:12].
Dean’s main contribution to the definition of the term, however, comes from the way he breaks the term up into ‘govern’ ‘mentality’, or mentalities of governing — mentality being a mental disposition or outlook. This means that the concept of governmentality is not just a tool for thinking about government and governing but also incorporates how and what people who are governed think about the way they are governed. He defines thinking as a “collective activity” [1999:16], that is, the sum of the knowledge, beliefs and opinions held by those who are governed. He also raises the point that a mentality is not usually “examined by those who inhabit it” [1999:16]. This raises the interesting point that those who are governed may not understand the unnaturalness of both the way they live and the fact that they take this way of life for granted — that the same activity in which they engage in “can be regarded as a different form of practice depending on the mentalities that invest it” [1999:17]. Dean highlights another important feature of the concept of governmentality — its reflexivity. He explains:
On the one hand, we govern others and ourselves according to what we take to be true about who we are, what aspects of our existence should be worked upon, how, with what means, and to what ends. On the other hand, the ways in which we govern and conduct ourselves give rise to different ways of producing truth. [1999:18]
By drawing attention to the ‘how and why’, Dean connects “technologies of power” [Lemke, 2001:191] to the concept of governmentality. According to Dean any definition of governmentality should incorporate all of Foucault’s intended ideas. A complete definition of the term governmentality must include not only government in terms of the state, but government in terms of any “conduct of conduct” [Dean, 1999:10]. It must incorporate the idea of mentalities and the associations that go with that concept: that it is an attitude towards something, and that it is not usually understood “from within its own perspective” [1999:16], and that these mentalities are collective and part of a society’s culture. It must also include an understanding of the ways in which conduct is governed, not just by governments, but also by ourselves and others.
The semantic linking of governing and mentalities in governmentality indicates that it is not possible to study technologies of power without an analysis of the mentality of rule underpinning them. The practice of going to the gym, expounded below, is a useful example because it shows how our choices, desires, aspirations, needs, wants and lifestyles have been mobilised and shaped by various technologies of power.
[edit]Mentality of rule
A mentality of rule is any relatively systematic way of thinking about government. It delineates a discursive field in which the exercise of power is ‘rationalised’ [Lemke, 2001:191]. Thus Neo-liberalism is a mentality of rule because it represents a method of rationalising the exercise of government, a rationalisation that obeys the internal rule of maximum economy [Foucault, 1997:74]. Fukuyama [in Rose, 1999: 63] writes “a liberal State is ultimately a limited State, with governmental activity strictly bounded by the sphere of individual liberty”. However, only a certain type of liberty, a certain way of understanding and exercising freedom is compatible with Neo-liberalism. If Neo-liberalist government is to fully realize its goals, individuals must come to recognize and act upon themselves as both free and responsible [Rose, 1999:68]. Thus Neo-liberalism must work to create the social reality that it proposes already exists. For as Lemke states, a mentality of government “is not pure, neutral knowledge that simply re-presents the governing reality” [Lemke, 2001:191] instead, Neo-liberalism constitutes an attempt to link a reduction in state welfare services and security systems to the increasing call for subjects to become free, enterprising, autonomous individuals. It can then begin to govern its subjects, not through intrusive state bureaucracies backed with legal powers, the imposition of moral standards under a religious mandate, but through structuring the possible field of action in which they govern themselves, to govern them through their freedom. Through the transformation of subjects with duties and obligations, into individuals, with rights and freedoms, modern individuals are not merely ‘free to choose’ but obliged to be free, “to understand and enact their lives in terms of choice” [Rose, 1999:87]. This freedom is a different freedom to that offered in the past. It is a freedom to realize our potential and our dreams through reshaping the way in which we conduct our lives.
[edit]Self-governing capabilities
Through our freedom, particular self-governing capabilities can be installed in order to bring our own ways of conducting and evaluating ourselves into alignment with political objectives [Rose, 1996:155]. These capabilities are enterprise and autonomy. Enterprise here designates an array of rules for the conduct of one’s everyday existence: energy, initiative, ambition, calculation, and personal responsibility. The enterprising self will make an enterprise of its life, seek to maximize its own human capital, project itself a future, and seek to shape life in order to become what it wishes to be. The enterprising self is thus both an active self and a calculating self, a self that calculates about itself and that acts upon itself in order to better itself [Rose, 1996:154]. Autonomy is about taking control of our undertakings, defining our goals, and planning to achieve our needs through our own powers [Rose, 1996:159]. The autonomy of the self is thus not the eternal antithesis of political power, but one of the objectives and instruments of modern mentalities for the conduct of conduct [Rose, 1996:155].
These three qualities: freedom, enterprise and autonomy are embodied in the practice of going to the gym. It is our choice to go the gym, our choice which gym to go to. By going to the gym we are working on ourselves, on our body shape and our physical fitness. We are giving ourselves qualities to help us perform better than others in life, whether to attract a better mate than others, or to be able to work more efficiently, more effectively and for longer without running out of steam to give us an advantage over our competitors. When we go to the gym, we go through our own discipline, on our own timetable, to reach our own goals. We design and act out our routine by ourselves. We do not need the ideas or support of a team, it is our self that makes it possible. The practice of going to the gym, of being free, enterprising, autonomous, is imbued with particular technologies of power.
[edit]Technologies of power
Technologies of power are those “technologies imbued with aspirations for the shaping of conduct in the hope of producing certain desired effects and averting certain undesired ones” [Rose, 1999:52]. The two main groups of technologies of power are technologies of the self, and technologies of the market. Foucault defined technologies of the self as techniques that allow individuals to effect by their own means a certain number of operations on their own bodies, minds, souls, and lifestyle, so as to transform themselves in order to attain a certain state of happiness, and quality of life. Technologies of the market are those technologies based around the buying and selling of goods that enable us to define who we are, or want to be. These two technologies are not always completely distinct, as both borrow bits of each other from time to time.
[edit]Technologies of the self
Technologies of the self refer to the practices and strategies by which individuals represent to themselves their own ethical self-understanding. One of the main features of technologies of self is that of expertise. Expertise has three important aspects. First, its grounding of authority in a claim to scientificity and objectivity creates distance between self-regulation and the state that is necessary with liberal democracies. Second, expertise can “mobilise and be mobilised within political argument in distinctive ways, producing a new relationship between knowledge and government. Expertise comes to be accorded a particular role in the formulation of programs of government and in the technologies that seek to give them effect” [Rose, 1996:156]. Third, expertise operates through a relationship with the self-regulating abilities of individuals. The plausibility inherent in a claim to scientificity binds “subjectivity to truth and subjects to experts” [Rose, 1996:156]. Expertise works through a logic of choice, through a transformation of the ways in which individuals constitute themselves, through “inculcating desires for self-development that expertise itself can guide and through claims to be able to allay the anxieties generated when the actuality of life fails to live up to its image [Rose, 1999:88].
The technologies of the self important to the practice of going to the gym are the: technology of responsibilisation, technology of healthism, technology of normalisation and technology of self-esteem.
In line with its desire to reduce the scope of government (eg. welfare) Neo-liberalism characteristically develops indirect techniques for leading and controlling individuals without being responsible for them. The main mechanism is through the technology of responsibilisation. This entails subjects becoming responsibilised by making them see social risks such as illness, unemployment, poverty, etc. not as the responsibility of the state, but actually lying in the domain for which the individual is responsible and transforming it into a problem of ‘self-care’ [Lemke, 2001:201]. The practice of going to the gym can be seen as a result of responsibilisation, our responsibility to remain free of illness so as to be able to work and to care for our dependants (children, elderly parents etc). This technology somewhat overlaps with the technology of healthism.
Healthism links the “public objectives for the good health and good order of the social body with the desire of individuals for health and well-being” [Rose, 1999:74]. Healthy bodies and hygienic homes may still be objectives of the state, but it no longer seeks to discipline, instruct, moralise or threaten us into compliance. Rather “individuals are addressed on the assumption that they want to be healthy and enjoined to freely seek out the ways of living most likely to promote their own health” [Rose, 1999:86-87] such as going to the gym. However while the technology of responsibilisation may be argued to be a calculated technique of the state, the wave of Healthism is less likely to be a consequence of state planning, but arising out of the newer social sciences such as nutrition and human movement. Healthism assigns, as do most technologies of the self, a key role to experts. For it is experts who can tell us how to conduct ourselves in terms of safe, precise techniques to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and overall health. The borrowing from technologies of the market by technologies of the self can be clearly seen in the area of healthism. The idea of health, the goal of being healthy, the joys brought by good health and the ways of achieving it are advertised to us in the same manner as goods and services are marketed by sales people. By adhering to the principles of healthism, our personal goals are aligned with political goals and we are thus rendered governable.
Another technology of power arising from the social sciences is that of normalisation. The technology of norms was given a push by the new methods of measuring population. A norm is that “which is socially worthy, statistically average, scientifically healthy and personally desirable”[Rose, 1999:76]. The important aspect of normality, is that while the norm is natural, those who wish to achieve normality will do so by working on themselves, controlling their impulses in everyday conduct and habits, and inculcating norms of conduct into their children, under the guidance of others. Norms are enforced through the calculated administration of shame. Shame entails an anxiety over the exterior behaviour and appearance of the self, linked to an injunction to care for oneself in the name of achieving quality of life [Rose, 1999:73]. Norms are usually aligned with political goals, thus the norm would be fit, virile, energetic individuals, able to work, earn money, and spend it and thus sustain the economy. The practice of going to the gym allows one to achieve this ‘normality’. Through shame we are governed into conforming with the goals of Neo-liberalism.
Self-esteem is a practical and productive technology linked to the technology of norms, which produces of certain kinds of selves. Self-esteem is a technology in the sense that it is a specialised knowledge of how to esteem ourselves to estimate, calculate, measure, evaluate, discipline, and to judge our selves [Cruikshank, 1996:273]. The ‘self-esteem’ approach considers a wide variety of social problems to have their source in a lack of self-esteem on the part of the persons concerned. ‘Self-esteem’ thus has much more to do with self-assessment than with self-respect, as the self continuously has to be measured, judged and disciplined in order to gear personal ‘empowerment’ to collective yardsticks[Lemke, 2001:202]. These collective yardsticks are determined by the norms previously discussed. Self-esteem is a technology of self for “evaluating and acting upon ourselves so that the police, the guards and the doctors do not have to do so” [Cruikshank, 1996:234]. By taking up the goal of self esteem, we allow ourselves to be governable from a distance. The technology of self-esteem and other similar psychological technologies also borrow from technologies of the market, namely consumption. A huge variety of self-help books, tapes, videos and other paraphernalia are available for purchase by the individual.
[edit]Technologies of the market
The technologies of the market that underlie the practice of going to the gym can be described as the technology of desire, and the technology of identity through consumption. The technology of desire, is a mechanism that induces in us desires that we work to satisfy. Marketers create wants and artificial needs in us through advertising goods, experiences and lifestyles that are tempting to us. These advertisements seek to convey the sense of individual satisfaction brought about by the purchase or use of this product [Rose,1999:86]. We come to desire these things and thus act in a manner that allows us to achieve these things, whether by working harder and earning more money or by employing technologies of the self to shape our lifestyle to the manner we desire . The borrowing of technologies of the self by technologies of the market extends even further in this case. Marketers use the knowledge created by psyche- discourses, especially psychological characteristics as the basis of their market segmentation. This allows them to appeal more effectively to each individual. Thus we are governed into purchasing commodities through our desire.
The technology of identity through consumption utilises the power of goods to shape identities [Rose, 1999:76]. Each commodity is imbued with a particular meaning, which is reflected upon those who purchase it, illuminating the kind of person they are, or want to be. Consumption is portrayed as placing an individual within a certain form of life. The technology of identity through consumption can be seen in the choices that face the gym attendee. To go to an expensive gym because it demonstrates wealth/success or to go to a moderately priced gym so as to appear economical. The range of gym wear is extensive. Brand name to portray the abilities portrayed in its advertising, expensive to portray commitment, or cheap to portray you unconcern of other people’s opinions. All of these choices of consumption are used to communicate our identity to others, and thus we are governed by marketers into choosing those products that identify with our identity.
These technologies of the market and of the self are the particular mechanisms whereby individuals are induced into becoming free, enterprising individuals who govern themselves and thus need only limited direct governance by the state. The implementation of these technologies is greatly assisted by experts from the social sciences. These experts operate a regime of the self, where success in life depends on our continual exercise of freedom, and where our life is understood, not in terms of fate or social status, but in terms of our success or failure in acquiring the skills and making the choices to actualise ourself [Rose, 1999:87]. If we engage in the practice of going to them gym, we are undertaking an exercise if self-government. We do so by drawing upon certain forms of knowledge and expertise provided by gym instructors, health professionals, of the purveyors of the latest fitness fad. Depending on why we go to the gym, we may calculate number of calories burned, heart-rate, or muscle size. In all cases, we attend the gym for a specific set of reasons underpinned by the various technologies of the self and the market. The part of ourselves we seek to work upon, the means by which we do so, and who we hope to become, all vary according to the nature of the technology of power by which we are motivated [Dean, 1999:17]. All of these various reasons and technologies are underpinned by the mentality of government that seeks to transform us into a free, enterprising, autonomous individual: Neo-liberalism.
Ecogovernmentality, also spelled Eco-governmentality is a term used to denote the application of Foucault’s concepts of biopower and governmentality to the analysis of the regulation of social interactions with the natural world. Timothy W. Luke theorized this as environmentality and green governmentality. Ecogovernmentality began in the mid 1990s with a small body of theorists (Luke, Darier, and Rutherford) the literature on ecogovernmentality grew as a response to the perceived lack of Foucauldian analysis of environmentalism and in environmental studies.
Following Michel Foucault, writing on ecogovernmentality focuses on how government agencies, in combination with producers of expert knowledge, construct “The Environment.” This construction is viewed both in terms of the creation of an object of knowledge and a sphere within which certain types of intervention and management are created and deployed to further the government’s larger aim of managing the lives of its constituents. This governmental management is dependent on the dissemination and internalization of knowledge/power among individual actors. This creates a decentered network of self-regulating elements whose interests become integrated with those of the State.

This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (April 2009)
^ Mayhew, Susan (ed) A Dictionary of Geography (Article: Governmentality) Oxford University Press, 2004
Cruikshank, B. (1996) ‘Revolutions within: self-government and self-esteem’, in Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne & Nikolas Rose (eds.) (1996), Foucault and Political Reason: Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism, and Rationalities of Government, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Dean, M. (1999) Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society. London: Sage.
Joyce, P. (2003) The Rule of Freedom: Liberalism and the Modern City. London: Verso.
Foucault, M. (1997) Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, edited by Paul Rabinow, New York: New Press.
Foucault, M.(1991) ‘Governmentality’, trans. Rosi Braidotti and revised by Colin Gordon, in Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (eds) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, pp. 87–104. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Foucault, M.(1982) ‘Technologies of the Self’, in Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman and Patrick H. Hutton (eds) Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, pp. 16–49. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.
Foucault, M.(1984) The History of Sexuality Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure, trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Random House, 1985.
Foucault, M.(1984) The History of Sexuality Vol. 3: The Care of the Self, trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.
Foucault, M. (2004), Naissance de la biopolitique: cours au Collège de France (1978-1979). Paris: Gallimard & Seuil.
Gordon, C. (1991) ‘Governmental rationality: an introduction’, in Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (eds) The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, pp. 1–48. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Hunt, H. & Wickham, G. (1994) Foucault and Law. London. Pluto Press.
Jones, M. (2007), “An Introduction to Political Geography Space, Place, and Politics”. New York: Routledge
Kerr, D. (1999) ‘Beheading the king and enthroning the market: A critique of Foucauldian governmentality’ in Science & Society, New York: v.63, i.2; p.173-203 (accessed through Expanded Academic Index).
Lemke, T. (2001) ‘The birth of bio-politics: Michael Foucault’s lectures at the College de France on neo-liberal governmentality’ in Economy and Society v.30, i.2, p.190-207
Lemke, Thomas. (2004) “Foucault, Governmentality, and Critique” in Rethinking Marxism, Volume 14, Issue 3 September 2002 , pages 49 – 64 [1]
Luke, T.W. (1997) Ecocritique: Contesting the Politics of Nature, Economy and Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rose, N. (1996) Inventing Our Selves. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rose, N. (1999) Powers of Freedom: reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

5. Elena - February 20, 2010

It’s such a pleasure to find these men talking about the things that matter. As if I’d been starving for decades! It’s funny that they think they contradict each other, they might on some levels, but they are all aspects of the same tapestry.

Welcome to the Public Square Mr. Habermas, I will learn from you.

Jürgen Habermas
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Full name Jürgen Habermas
Born June 18, 1929 (age 80)
Era 20th century
Region Western Philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Main interests Social Theory · Epistemology
Political theory · Pragmatics
Notable ideas Communicative rationality
Discourse ethics
Deliberative democracy
Universal pragmatics
Communicative action
Public Sphere
Influenced by[show]
Jürgen Habermas (pronounced /ˈjɜrɡən or ˈjʊrɡən ˈhɑːbərˌmɑːs/[1]; German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡən ˈhaːbɐmaːs]; born June 18, 1929) is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, the topic of his first book entitled The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. His work focuses on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics—particularly German politics. Habermas’s theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation, and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests.
Contents [hide]
1 Biography
1.1 Teacher and mentor
2 Theory
2.1 Reconstructive science
2.2 The public sphere
3 Habermas versus Postmodernists
4 Important Transitional Works
5 Key Dialogues
5.1 Historikerstreit (Historians’ Quarrel)
5.2 Habermas and Derrida
5.3 Dialogue with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
6 Habermas Today
7 Major works
8 See also
9 References
9.1 Notes
9.2 Sources
10 Awards
11 External links

Part of a series on the
Frankfurt School

Major works
Reason and Revolution
Dialectic of Enlightenment
Minima Moralia
Eros and Civilization
One-Dimensional Man
Negative Dialectics
The Theory of Communicative Action
Notable theorists
Max Horkheimer · Theodor Adorno
Herbert Marcuse · Walter Benjamin
Franz Neumann · Friedrich Pollock
Erich Fromm · Leo Löwenthal
Helmut Reichelt · Jürgen Habermas
Important concepts
Critical theory · Dialectic · Praxis
Psychoanalysis · Antipositivism
Popular culture · Culture industry
Advanced capitalism · Privatism
v • d • e
Born in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, in 1929, to a middle class and rather traditional family, Habermas came of age in postwar Germany. In his early teens, during World War II, Habermas was profoundly affected by the war. The Nuremberg Trials were a key formative moment that brought home to him the depth of Germany’s moral and political failure under National Socialism.
Until his graduation from gymnasium, Habermas lived in Gummersbach, near Cologne. His father, Ernst Habermas, was executive director of the Cologne Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and was described by Habermas as a Nazi sympathizer. He was brought up in a staunchly Protestant milieu, his grandfather being the director of the seminary in Gummersbach. He studied at the universities of Göttingen (1949/50), Zürich (1950/51), and Bonn (1951–54) and earned a doctorate in philosophy from Bonn in 1954 with a dissertation written on the conflict between the absolute and history in Schelling’s thought, entitled, Das Absolute und die Geschichte. Von der Zwiespältigkeit in Schellings Denken (“The absolute and history: on the contradiction in Schelling’s thought”). His dissertation committee included Erich Rothacker and Oskar Becker.
From 1956 on, he studied philosophy and sociology under the critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main Institute for Social Research, but because of a rift between the two over his dissertation—Horkheimer had made unacceptable demands for revision—as well as his own belief that the Frankfurt School had become paralyzed with political skepticism and disdain for modern culture—he finished his habilitation in political science at the University of Marburg under the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth. His habilitation work was entitled, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit; Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der Bürgerlichen Gesellschaft (published in English translation in 1989 as The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: an Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society). In 1961, he became a privatdozent in Marburg, and—in a move that was highly unusual for the German academic scene of that time—he was offered the position of “extraordinary professor” (professor without chair) of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg (at the instigation of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith) in 1962, which he accepted. In this same year he gained his first serious public attention, in Germany, with the publication of his habilitation, Strukturwandel der Offentlichkeit (Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere; English ed., 1989), a detailed social history of the development of the bourgeois public sphere from its origins in the 18th century salons up to its transformation through the influence of capital-driven mass media. In 1964, strongly supported by Adorno, Habermas returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer’s chair in philosophy and sociology. The philosopher Albrecht Wellmer was his assistant in Frankfurt from 1966 to 1970.
He accepted the position of Director of the Max Planck Institute in Starnberg (near Munich) in 1971, and worked there until 1983, two years after the publication of his magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action.
Habermas then returned to his chair at Frankfurt and the directorship of the Institute for Social Research. Since retiring from Frankfurt in 1993, Habermas has continued to publish extensively. In 1986, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research. He also holds the uncharacteristically postmodern position of “Permanent Visiting” Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and “Theodor Heuss Professor” at The New School, New York.
Habermas was awarded The Prince of Asturias Award in Social Sciences of 2003. Habermas was also the 2004 Kyoto Laureate in the Arts and Philosophy section. He traveled to San Diego and on March 5, 2005, as part of the University of San Diego’s Kyoto Symposium, gave a speech entitled The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context, regarding the evolution of separation of Church and State from neutrality to intense secularism. He received the 2005 Holberg International Memorial Prize (about € 520,000).
[edit]Teacher and mentor
Habermas is a famed teacher and mentor. Among his most prominent students were the pragmatic philosopher Herbert Schnädelbach (theorist of discourse distinction and rationality), the political sociologist Claus Offe (professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin) , the social philosopher Johann Arnason (professor at La Trobe University and chief editor of the journal Thesis Eleven), the sociological theorist Hans Joas (professor at the University of Erfurt and at the University of Chicago), the theorist of societal evolution Klaus Eder, the social philosopher Axel Honneth (the current director of the Institute for Social Research), the anarcho-capitalist philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, the American philosopher Thomas McCarthy, the co-creator of mindful inquiry in social research Jeremy J. Shapiro, and the assassinated Serbian prime minister Zoran Đinđić.


General aspects
History · Positivism · Antipositivism
Functionalism · Conflict theory
Social theory · Critical theory
Structure & agency · Socialization
Research · Public sociology
Sociology of: childhood · culture
deviance · education · environment
· ethnicity · family · gender · health
industry · internet · knowledge · law
military · rationalization · religion
science · secularization · stratification
Related fields and subfields
Criminology · Cultural studies
Economic sociology · Islamic sociology
Media studies · Medical sociology
Political sociology · Social anthropology
Social psychology · Social work
Socioeconomics · Sociography
Sociolinguistics · Statistics
Systems theory
Categories and lists
Journals · Publications · Outline
List of sociologists · Index
v • d • e
Habermas has constructed a comprehensive framework of social theory and philosophy drawing on a number of intellectual traditions:
the German philosophical thought of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schelling, G. W. F. Hegel, Wilhelm Dilthey, Edmund Husserl, and Hans-Georg Gadamer
the Marxian tradition — both the theory of Karl Marx himself as well as the critical neo-Marxian theory of the Frankfurt School, i.e. Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse
the sociological theories of Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, and George Herbert Mead
the linguistic philosophy and speech act theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, P. F. Strawson, Stephen Toulmin and John Searle
the developmental psychology of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg
the American pragmatist tradition of Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey
the sociological social systems theory of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann
Neo-Kantian thought
Jürgen Habermas considers his major contribution to be the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject. This social theory advances the goals of human emancipation, while maintaining an inclusive universalist moral framework. This framework rests on the argument called universal pragmatics – that all speech acts have an inherent telos (the Greek word for “end”) — the goal of mutual understanding, and that human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about such understanding. Habermas built the framework out of the speech-act philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and John Searle, the sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self of George Herbert Mead, the theories of moral development of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg, and the discourse ethics of his Heidelberg colleague Karl-Otto Apel.
Habermas’s works resonate within the traditions of Kant and the Enlightenment and of democratic socialism through his emphasis on the potential for transforming the world and arriving at a more humane, just, and egalitarian society through the realization of the human potential for reason, in part through discourse ethics. While Habermas has stated that the Enlightenment is an “unfinished project,” he argues it should be corrected and complemented, not discarded. In this he distances himself from the Frankfurt School, criticizing it, as well as much of postmodernist thought, for excessive pessimism, misdirected radicalism and exaggerations.
Within sociology, Habermas’s major contribution was the development of a comprehensive theory of societal evolution and modernization focusing on the difference between communicative rationality and rationalization on the one hand and strategic/instrumental rationality and rationalization on the other. This includes a critique from a communicative standpoint of the differentiation-based theory of social systems developed by Niklas Luhmann, a student of Talcott Parsons.
His defence of modernity and civil society has been a source of inspiration to others, and is considered a major philosophical alternative to the varieties of poststructuralism. He has also offered an influential analysis of late capitalism.
Habermas perceives the rationalization, humanization, and democratization of society in terms of the institutionalization of the potential for rationality that is inherent in the communicative competence that is unique to the human species. Habermas contends that communicative competence has developed through the course of evolution, but in contemporary society it is often suppressed or weakened by the way in which major domains of social life, such as the market, the state, and organizations, have been given over to or taken over by strategic/instrumental rationality, so that the logic of the system supplants that of the lifeworld.
[edit]Reconstructive science
Habermas introduces the concept of “reconstructive science” with a double purpose: to place the “general theory of society” between philosophy and social science and re-establish the rift between the “great theorization” and the “empirical research”. The model of “rational reconstructions” represents the main thread of the surveys about the “structures” of the world of life (“culture”, “society” and “personality”) and their respective “functions” (cultural reproductions, social integrations and socialization). For this purpose, the dialectics between “symbolic representation” of “the structures subordinated to all worlds of life” (“internal relationships”) and the “material reproduction” of the social systems in their complex (“external relationships” between social systems and environment) has to be considered. This model finds an application, above all, in the “theory of the social evolution”, starting from the reconstruction of the necessary conditions for a phylogeny of the socio-cultural life forms (the “hominization”) until an analysis of the development of “social formations”, which Habermas subdivides into primitive, traditional, modern and contemporary formations. This paper is an attempt, primarily, to formalize the model of “reconstruction of the logic of development” of “social formations” summed up by Habermas through the differentiation between vital world and social systems (and, within them, through the “rationalization of the world of life” and the “growth in complexity of the social systems”). Secondly, it tries to offer some methodological clarifications about the “explanation of the dynamics” of “historical processes” and, in particular, about the “theoretical meaning” of the evolutional theory’s propositions. Even if the German sociologist considers that the “ex-post rational reconstructions” and “the models system/environment” cannot have a complete “historiographical application”, these certainly act as a general premise in the argumentative structure of the “historical explanation”.
(Abstract of Luca Corchia, Explicative models of complexity. The reconstructions of social evolution for Jürgen Habermas, in S. Balbi – G. Scepi – G. Russolillo – A. Stawinoga (eds.), Book of Short Abstracts, 7th International Conference on Social Science Methodology – RC33 – Logic and Methodology in Sociology, Napoli, Italia, 9.2008, Jovene Editore, 2008.
[edit]The public sphere
For more details on this topic, see public sphere.
In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Jürgen Habermas developed the influential concept of the public sphere, which emerged in the 18th century in Europe as a space of critical discussion, open to all, where private people came together to form a public whose “public reason” would work as a check on state power. Habermas argues that prior to the 18th century, European culture had been dominated by a “representational” culture, where one party sought to “represent” itself on its audience by overwhelming its subjects.[2] As an example of “representational” culture, Habermas argued that Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles was meant to show the greatness of the French state and its King by overpowering the senses of visitors to the Palace.[3] Habermas identifies “representational” culture as corresponding to the feudal stage of development according to Marxist theory, arguing that the coming of the capitalist stage of development marked the appearance of Öffentlichkeit (the public sphere).[4] In the culture characterized by Öffentlichkeit, there occurred a public space outside of the control by the state, where individuals exchanged views and knowledge.[5] In Habermas’s view, the growth in newspapers, journals, reading clubs, Masonic lodges, and coffee-houses in 18th century Europe, all in different ways, marked the gradual replacement of “representational” culture with Öffentlichkeit culture.[6] Habermas argued that the essential characteristic of the Öffentlichkeit culture was its “critical” nature.[6] Unlike “representational” culture where only one party was active and the other passive, the Öffentlichkeit culture was characterized by a dialogue as individuals either met in conversation, or exchanged views via the print media.[6] Habermas maintains that as Britain was the most liberal country in Europe, the culture of the public sphere emerged there first around 1700, and the growth of Öffentlichkeit culture took place over most of the 18th century in Continental Europe.[6] In his view, the French Revolution was in large part caused by the collapse of “representational” culture, and its replacement by Öffentlichkeit culture.[6] Though Habermas’ main concern in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was to expose what he regarded as the deceptive nature of free institutions in the West, his book had a major impact on the historiography of the French Revolution.[4]
According to Habermas, a variety of factors resulted in the eventual decay of the public sphere, including the growth of a commercial mass media, which turned the critical public into a passive consumer public; and the welfare state, which merged the state with society so thoroughly that the public sphere was squeezed out. It also turned the “public sphere” into a site of self-interested contestation for the resources of the state rather than a space for the development of a public-minded rational consensus.
In his magnum opus Theory of Communicative Action (1981) he criticized the one-sided process of modernization led by forces of economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas traces the growing intervention of formal systems in our everyday lives as parallel to development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism and the culture of mass consumption. These reinforcing trends rationalize widening areas of public life, submitting them to a generalizing logic of efficiency and control. As routinized political parties and interest groups substitute for participatory democracy, society is increasingly administered at a level remote from input of citizens. As a result, boundaries between public and private, the individual and society, the system and the lifeworld are deteriorating. Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance. He describes an ideal type of “ideal speech situation”,[7] where actors are equally endowed with the capacities of discourse, recognize each other’s basic social equality and speech is undistorted by ideology or misrecognition. In this version of the consensus theory of truth Habermas maintains that truth is what would be agreed upon in an ideal speech situation.
Habermas has expressed optimism about the possibility of the revival of the public sphere. He discerns a hope for the future in the new era of political community that transcends the nation-state based on ethnic and cultural likeness for one based on the equal rights and obligations of legally vested citizens. This deliberative theory of democracy requires a political community which can collectively define its political will and implement it as policy at the level of the legislative system. This political system requires an activist public sphere, where matters of common interest and political issues can be discussed, and the force of public opinion can influence the decision-making process.
Several noted academics have provided various criticisms of Habermas’s notions regarding the public sphere. John B. Thompson, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College[8], has pointed out that Habermas’s notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications. Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego argues more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed.
[edit]Habermas versus Postmodernists

Habermas offered some early criticisms in an essay, “Modernity versus Postmodernity” (1981), which has achieved wide recognition. In that essay, Habermas raises the issue of whether, in light of the failures of the twentieth century, we “should try to hold on to the intentions of the Enlightenment, feeble as they may be, or should we declare the entire project of modernity a lost cause?”[9] Habermas refuses to give up on the possibility of a rational, “scientific” understanding of the life-world.
Habermas has several main criticisms of postmodernism.
First, the postmodernists are equivocal about whether they are producing serious theory or literature.
Second, Habermas feels that the postmodernists are animated by normative sentiments but that what those sentiments are is concealed from the reader.
Third, Habermas accuses postmodernism of being a totalizing perspective that fails “to differentiate phenomena and practices that occur within modern society”[10].
Lastly, Habermas asserts that postmodernists ignore that which Habermas finds absolutely central – namely, everyday life and its practices.
[edit]Important Transitional Works

In the period between Knowledge and Human Interest and The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas began to develop a distinctive method for elaborating the relationship between a theoretical social science of modern societies, on the one hand, and the normative and philosophical basis for critique, on the other. Following Horkheimer’s definition of critical theory, Habermas pursued three aims in his attempt to combine social science and philosophical analysis: it must be explanatory, practical, and normative. This meant that philosophy could not become the sole basis for normative reflection. Rather, Habermas argued, adequate critique requires a thoroughgoing cooperation between philosophy and social science.
In this transitional phase from Knowledge and Human Interest to The Theory of Communicative Action, Habermas’s basic philosophical endeavor was to develop a more modest, fallibilist, empirical account of the philosophical claim to universality and rationality.
[edit]Key Dialogues

[edit]Historikerstreit (Historians’ Quarrel)
Main article: Historikerstreit
Habermas is famous as a public intellectual as well as a scholar; most notably, in the 1980s he used the popular press to attack the German historians Ernst Nolte, Michael Stürmer, Klaus Hildebrand and Andreas Hillgruber. Habermas first expressed his views on the above-mentioned historians in the Die Zeit (literally The Times) newspaper on July 11, 1986 in a feuilleton (opinion piece) entitled “A Kind of Settlement of Damages”. Habermas criticized Nolte, Hildebrand, Stürmer and Hillgruber for “apologistic” history writing in regards to the Nazi era, and for seeking to “close Germany’s opening to the West” that in Habermas’s view had existed since 1945.[11] He argued that they had tried to detach Nazi rule and the Holocaust from the mainstream of German history, explain away Nazism as a reaction to Bolshevism, and partially rehabilitate the reputation of the Wehrmacht (German Army) during World War II. Habermas wrote that Stürmer was trying to create a “vicarious religion” in German history which together with the work of Hillgruber glorifying the last days of the German Army on the Eastern Front was intended to serve as a “…kind of NATO philosophy colored with German nationalism”[12] The so-called Historikerstreit (“Historians’ Quarrel”) was not at all one-sided, because Habermas was himself attacked by scholars like Joachim Fest[13], Hagen Schulze[14], Horst Möller[15], Imanuel Geiss[16] and Klaus Hildebrand[17] In turn, Habermas was supported by historians such as Martin Broszat[18], Eberhard Jäckel[19], Hans Mommsen[20] and Hans-Ulrich Wehler[21].
[edit]Habermas and Derrida
Habermas and Jacques Derrida engaged in a series of disputes beginning in the 1980s and culminating in a mutual understanding and friendship in the late 1990s that lasted until Derrida died in 2004[22]. They originally came in contact when Habermas invited Derrida to speak at The University of Frankfurt in 1984, the next year Habermas published “Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida” in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity in which he described Derrida’s method as being unable to provide a foundation for social critique.[23] Derrida, citing Habermas as an example, remarked that, “those who have accused me of reducing philosophy to literature or logic to rhetoric … have visibly and carefully avoided reading me”[24]. After Derrida’s final rebuttal in 1989 the two philosophers didn’t continue, but groups in the academy “conducted a kind of ‘war’, in which we ourselves never took part, either personally or directly” [22]. Then at the end of the 1990s Habermas approached Derrida at a party held at a university in the United States where they were both lecturing. They then met at Paris over dinner, and afterwards have participated in many joint projects. In 2000 they held a joint seminar on problems of philosophy, right, ethics, and politics at the University of Frankfurt[22]. In the aftermath of 9/11, Derrida and Habermas laid out their individual opinions on 9/11 and the War on Terror in Giovanna Borradori’s Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. In early 2003, both Habermas and Derrida were very active in opposing the coming Iraq War, and called for in a manifesto that later became the book Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe for a tighter union of the states of the European Union in order to provide a power capable of opposing American foreign policy. Derrida wrote a foreword expressing his unqualified subscription to Habermas’s declaration of February 2003, “February 15, or, What Binds Europeans Together: Plea for a Common Foreign Policy, Beginning in Core Europe,” in Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe which was a reaction to the Bush administration demands upon European nations for support for the coming Iraq War[25]. Habermas has offered further context for this declaration in an interview.
[edit]Dialogue with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
In early 2007, Ignatius Press published a dialogue between Habermas and Roman Catholic Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), entitled The Dialectics of Secularization.
It addresses such important contemporary questions as these:
Is a public culture of reason and ordered liberty possible in our post-metaphysical age?
Is philosophy permanently cut adrift from its grounding in being and anthropology?
Does this decline of rationality signal an opportunity or a deep crisis for religion itself?
In this debate a recent shift of Habermas became evident — in particular, his rethinking of the public role of religion. Habermas writes as a “methodological atheist,” which means that when doing philosophy or social science, he presumes nothing about particular religious beliefs. Yet whilst writing from this perspective his evolving position towards the role of religion in society has led him to some challenging questions, and as a result conceding some ground in his dialogue with the Pope, that would seem to have consequences which further complicate the positions he holds about a communicatively rational solution to the problems of modernity.
In an interview in 1999 Habermas stated that,
“For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk.”[26]
The statement was later misquoted in a number of American newspapers and magazines as: “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization,”[27] which Habermas did not say.
Habermas now talks about the emergence of “post-secular societies” and argues that tolerance is a two-way street: secular people need to tolerate the role of religious people in the public square and vice versa.[28]
[edit]Habermas Today

Habermas currently ranks as one of the most influential philosophers in the world.[citation needed] Bridging continental and Anglo-American traditions of thought, he has engaged in debate with thinkers as diverse as Gadamer and Putnam, Foucault and Rawls, Derrida and Brandom. His extensive written work addresses topics stretching from social-political theory to aesthetics, epistemology and language to philosophy of religion, and his ideas have significantly influenced not only philosophy but also political-legal thought, sociology, communication studies, argumentation theory and rhetoric, developmental psychology and theology. Moreover, he has figured prominently in Germany as public intellectual, commenting on controversial issues of the day in German news papers such as Die Zeit.
Two broad lines of enduring interest are found in Habermas’s work, one having to do with the political domain, the other with issues of rationality, communication, and knowledge. [29]
[edit]Major works

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1962) ISBN 0262581086
Theory and Practice (1963)
On the Logic of the Social Sciences (1967)
Toward a Rational Society (1967)
Technology and Science as Ideology (1968)
Knowledge and Human Interests (1971, German 1968)
“On Social Identity”. TELOS 19 (Spring 1974). New York: Telos Press
Legitimation Crisis (1975)
Communication and the Evolution of Society (1976)
On the Pragmatics of Social Interaction (1976)
The Theory of Communicative Action (1981)
Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (1983)
Philosophical-Political Profiles (1983)
The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1985)
The New Conservatism (1985)
Postmetaphysical Thinking (1988)
Justification and Application (1991)
Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (1992)
On the Pragmatics of Communication (1992)
The Inclusion of the Other (1996)
A Berlin Republic (1997, collection of interviews with Habermas)
The Postnational Constellation (1998)
Rationality and Religion (1998)
Truth and Justification (1998)
The Future of Human Nature (2003) ISBN 0745629865
Old Europe, New Europe, Core Europe (2005) ISBN 184467018X
The Divided West (2006)
The Dialectics of Secularization (2007, w/ Joseph Ratzinger)
Between Naturalism and Religion: Philosophical Essays (2008)
Europe. The Faltering Project (2009)

6. Elena - February 20, 2010

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (in German Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit. Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft), by Jürgen Habermas, was published in 1962 and translated into English in 1989 by Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence. This book is an important contribution to modern understanding of democracy and is notable for “transforming media studies into a hardheaded discipline.”[1]
Contents [hide]
1 The Public Sphere
2 Jürgen Habermas
2.1 Habermas’ Thesis
3 Criticism of the book
4 Notes
5 References
6 External links
[edit]The Public Sphere

The notion of the ‘public sphere’ evolved during the Renaissance in Western Europe and the United States. This was brought on partially by merchants’ need for accurate information about distant markets as well as by the growth of democracy and individual liberty and popular sovereignty. The public sphere was a place between private individuals and government authorities in which people could meet and have rational-critical debates about public matters. Discussions served as a counterweight to political authority and happened physically in face-to-face meetings in coffee houses and cafes and public squares as well as in the media in letters, books, drama, and art.[2] Habermas saw a vibrant public sphere as a positive force keeping authorities within bounds lest their rulings be ridiculed. One writer elaborated: “In Habermasian theory, the bourgeois public sphere was preceded by a literary public sphere whose favored genres revealed the interiority of the self and emphasized an audience-oriented subjectivity.”[2]
Today, in contrast, there is scant public debate, few public forums, and political discussion has degenerated from a fact-based rational-critical examination of public matters into a consumer commodity. There is the illusion of a public sphere, according to Habermas. Citizens have become consumers, investors, workers. Real news (information which helps free people stay free) is being elbowed out by advice, soft-porn, catchy garbage, celebrity antics, and has become infotainment, that is, a commodity competing in a mass entertainment market. It matters less whether news is right or wrong, and matters more whether it’s gripping. Habermas’ sociological and philosophical work tries to explain how this transformation happened by examining a wide range of disciplines, including political theory, cultural criticism, ethics, gender studies, philosophy, sociology,[3] history, and media studies.[4]
[edit]Jürgen Habermas

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere was Habermas’s first major work. It also satisfied the rigorous requirements for a professorship in Germany; in this system, independent scholarly research, usually resulting in a published book, must be submitted, and defended before an academic committee; this process is known as Habilitationsschrift or habilitation. The work was overseen by the political scientist Wolfgang Abendroth, to whom Habermas dedicated it.
Habermas has been lauded as the “preeminent leftist philosopher of his generation”[5] and his “rationalist system of social thought” has been described as “the most elaborate and methodical in the contemporary world.”[1] He is a strong proponent of reason and democracy.[1] He is a strong critic of totalitarianism and has been described as being critical of the “contortions of structuralists.”[6]
[edit]Habermas’ Thesis

The book describes the development of a bourgeois public sphere in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as well as its subsequent decline.
The first transition occurred in England, France, the United States, and Germany over the course of 150 years or so from the late seventeenth century. England led the way in the early nineteenth century, with Germany following in the late nineteenth century. Habermas tries to explain the growth and decline of the public sphere by relating political, social, cultural and philosophical developments to each other in a multi-disciplinary approach. Initially, there were monarchical and feudal societies which made no distinction between state and society or between public and private, and which had organized themselves politically around symbolic representation and status. These feudal societies were transformed into a bourgeois liberal constitutional order which distinguished between the public and private realms; further, within the private realm, there was a bourgeois public sphere for rational-critical political debate which formed a new phenomenon called public opinion. Spearheading this shift was the growth of a literary public sphere in which the bourgeoisie learned to critically reflect upon itself and its role in society. This first major shift occurred alongside the rise of early non-industrial capitalism and the philosophical articulation of political liberalism by such thinkers as Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and then Kant. The bourgeois public sphere flourished within the early laissez-faire, free-market, largely pre-industrial capitalist order of liberalism from the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century.
The second part of Habermas’ account traces the transition from the liberal bourgeois public sphere to the modern mass society of the social welfare state. Starting in the 1830s, extending from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, a new constellation of social, cultural, political, and philosophical developments took shape. Hegel’s critique of Kant’s liberal philosophy anticipated the shift, according to Habermas, and this shift came to a philosophical head in Marx’s astute diagnosis of the contradictions inherent in the liberal constitutional social order. Habermas saw the modified liberalism of Mill and Tocqueville with their ambivalence toward the public sphere as emblematic manifestations of these contradictions. Paralleling this philosophical progression against classical liberalism were major socio-economic transformations based on industrialization, and the result was the rise of mass societies characterized by consumer capitalism in the twentieth century. Clear demarcations between public and private and between state and society became blurred. The bourgeois public sphere was transformed into a world marked by increasing re-integration and entwining of state and society which resulted in the modern social welfare state. This shift, according to Habermas, can be seen as part of a larger dialectic in which political changes were made in an attempt to save the liberal constitutional order, but had the ultimate effect of destroying the bourgeois public sphere. Habermas drew on the cultural critiques of critical theory from the Frankfurt School,[7] which included important thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, who was one of Habermas’ teachers. There was speculation Habermas’ initial habilitation at the Institute for Social Research was prevented by the Frankfurt School’s founder, philosopher and sociologist Max Horkheimer. Habermas focused on the pernicious effects of commercialization and consumerization on the public sphere through the rise of the mass media, public relations, and consumer culture. He shows how political parties undermined parliamentarian politics, and how numerous factors worked against rational-critical debate.
The book was reprinted many times in German and other languages, and has been enormously influential, especially since its translation into English, for scholars of political science, media studies, and rhetoric.[1] It is also an important work for historians of philosophy and scholars of intellectual history. After publication, Habermas has been identified as an important philosopher of the twentieth century.
[edit]Criticism of the book

Since publication, the Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere has been critiqued for Habermas’s formulation of the concept of a public sphere which he claimed “stood or fell with the principle of universal access … A public sphere from which specific groups would be eo ipso excluded was less than merely incomplete; it was not a public sphere at all.” (Habermas 1967:85) However the bourgeois public sphere required as preconditions of entry an excellent education and property ownership – which correlated to membership of the upper classes. Critics have argued that Habermas’s work is invalid since the public sphere was limited to an upper-class strata of society and didn’t represent most of the citizens in these emerging nation-states, and they maintain that by using Habermas’s own logic, his claims would therefore be invalid.
Some critics claim the public sphere, as such, never existed, or existed only in the sense of excluding many important groups, such as the poor, women, slaves, migrants, and criminals. They maintain that the public sphere remains an idealized conception, little changed since Kant, since the ideal is still to a great extent what Habermas might call an unfinished project of modernity. (Cubitt 2005:93)
Similar critiques regarding the exclusivity of the bourgeois public sphere have been made by feminist and post-colonial authors in the years following publication.
The Economist magazine criticized Habermas for missing “the big lesson of 1989: that politics need not be just the boring business of elites and insiders. It is, at least potentially, an exciting affair in which outsiders, even against great odds, can make a difference. Those who took part in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine or in the wild enthusiasm of Barack Obama’s campaign for the American presidency felt something of the same.”[6]
Last, the book has been criticized for its writing style. One reviewer described Habermas as a “sage by people who would rather chew glass than read his lumbering prose.”[1]

7. Elena - February 20, 2010

If the critics are well founded the criticism couldn’t be more necessary. How would Habermas ever reduce the Public Square to a CLUB again?

The premises though are well founded: the media belongs to those in the upper classes and yet that is still not the Public Square. Perhaps we are heading towards it rather than coming from it. Perhaps this Public Square that was born in the freedom and confinement of the internet is just a seed: the fact that we can talk even if no one listens!!!

Just the fact that people are talking to each other, hearing each other, makes huge differences. Even if we just look at the fofblog, we interpenetrated each other’s soul in ways we would have never been able to do through a book.

It is so very exciting to live in this times! To slowly come to the present!

8. Elena - February 21, 2010

Popular sovereignty
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the belief that the legitimacy of the state is created by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of every political power. It is closely associated with the social contract philosophers, among whom are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Popular sovereignty expresses a concept and does not necessarily reflect or describe a political reality.[1] It is often contrasted with the concept of parliamentary sovereignty. Benjamin Franklin expressed the concept when he wrote, “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.”[2]
Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Popular sovereignty in the United States
3 See also
4 Notes

The Declaration of Arbroath from 1320 makes clear that the King of Scots at the time, Robert the Bruce, only held his position as monarch subject to him resisting English attempts to control Scotland and makes clear that another king would be chosen if he failed to live up to this responsibility. This has been viewed as a suggestion of popular sovereignty – especially at a time when ‘the Divine right of Kings’ was widely accepted, though the reality was that it would have been nobles rather than the people at large who would have done any choosing.[3]
Popular sovereignty is an idea that also dates to the social contracts school (mid-1600s to mid 1700s), represented by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1703), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), author of The Social Contract, a prominent literary work that clearly highlighted the ideals of “general will” and further matured the idea of popular sovereignty. The central tenet is that legitimacy of rule or of law is based on the consent of the governed. Popular sovereignty is thus a basic tenet of most democracies. Hobbes and Rousseau were the most influential thinkers of this school, all postulating that individuals choose to enter into a social contract with one another, thus voluntarily giving up some rights in return for protection from the dangers.
A parallel development of a theory of popular sovereignty can be found among the School of Salamanca (see e.g. Francisco de Vitoria (1483–1546) or Eric Skrzyniarz (1548–1617)), who (like the theorists of the divine right of kings) saw sovereignty as emanating originally from God, but (unlike those theorists) passing from God to all people equally, not only to monarchs.
Republics and popular monarchies are theoretically based on popular sovereignty. However, a legalistic notion of popular sovereignty does not necessarily imply an effective, functioning democracy: a party or even an individual dictator may claim to represent the will of the people, and rule in its name, pretending to detain auctoritas.

9. Elena - February 21, 2010

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The School of Salamanca is the renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. From the beginning of the 16th century the traditional Catholic conception of man and of his relation to God and to the world had been assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences. These new problems were addressed by the School of Salamanca. The name refers to the University of Salamanca, where de Vitoria and others of the school were based.
Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, all scholars of natural law and of morality, founded a school of theologians and jurists who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems (morality, economics, jurisprudence, etc.), but almost equally on a particular body of work accepted by all of them, as the ground against which to test their disagreements, including at times bitter polemics within the School.
The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession, that of the Salmanticenses and that of the Conimbricenses. The first began with Francisco de Vitoria (1483–1546), and reached its high point with Domingo de Soto (1494–1560). The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina (1535–1600), the aforementioned Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), and Giovanni Botero (1544-1617), who would continue the tradition in Italy. The name Conimbricenses refers to the University of Coimbra in Portugal, where the Jesuit professors were based.[1]
Contents [hide]
1 Law and justice
1.1 Natural law and human rights
1.2 Sovereignty
1.3 The law of peoples and international law
1.4 Just war
1.5 The conquest of America
2 Economics
2.1 Antecedents
2.2 Private property
2.3 Money, value, and price
2.4 Interest on money
3 Theology
3.1 Morality
3.2 The polemic De auxiliis
3.3 The existence of evil in the world
4 References
5 See also
6 External links
[edit]Law and justice

The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).
[edit]Natural law and human rights
The School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law. Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they also share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those then predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights.
Gabriel Vázquez (1549–1604) held that natural law is not limited to the individual, but obliges societies to act in accord and be treated with justice.
The School of Salamanca distinguished two realms of power, the natural or civil realm and the realm of the supernatural, which were often conflated in the Middle Ages through doctrines such as the Divine Right of Kings and the temporal powers of the pope. One direct consequence of the separation of realms of power is that the king or emperor does not legitimately have jurisdiction over souls, nor does the Pope have legitimate temporal power. This included the proposal that there are limits on the legitimate powers of government. Thus, according to Luis de Molina a nation is analogous to a mercantile society (the antecedent of a modern corporation) in that those who govern are holders of power (effectively sovereigns) but a collective power, to which they are subject, derives from them jointly. Nonetheless, in de Molina’s view, the power of society over the individual is greater than that of a mercantile society over its members, because the power of the government of a nation emanates from God’s divine power (as against merely from the power of individuals sovereign over themselves in their business dealings).
At this time, the monarchy of England was extending the theory of the divine right of kings — under which the monarch is the unique legitimate recipient of the emanation of God’s power — asserting that subjects must follow the monarch’s orders, in order not to contravene said design. Counter to this, several adherents of the School sustained that the people are the vehicle of divine sovereignty, which they, in turn, pass to a prince under various conditions. Possibly the one who went furthest in this direction was Francisco Suárez, whose work Defensio Fidei Catholicae adversus Anglicanae sectae errores (The Defense of the Catholic Faith against the errors of the Anglican sect 1613) was the strongest defense in this period of popular sovereignty. Men are born free by their nature and not as slaves of another man, and can disobey even to the point of deposing an unjust government. As with de Molina, he affirms that political power does not reside in any one concrete person, but he differs subtly in that he considers that the recipient of that power is the people as a whole, not a collection of sovereign individuals — in the same way, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory of popular sovereignty would consider the people as a collective group superior to the sum that composes it.
For Suárez, the political power of society is contractual in origin because the community forms by consensus of free wills. The consequence of this contractualist theory is that the natural form of government is democracy, while oligarchy or monarchy arise as secondary institutions, whose claim to justice is based on being forms chosen (or at least consented to) by the people.
[edit]The law of peoples and international law
Francisco de Vitoria was perhaps the first to develop a theory of ius gentium (the rights of peoples), and thus is an important figure in the transition to modernity. He extrapolated his ideas of legitimate sovereign power to society at the international level, concluding that this scope as well ought to be ruled by just forms respectable of the rights of all. The common good of the world is of a category superior to the good of each state. This meant that relations between states ought to pass from being justified by force to being justified by law and justice. Francisco de Vitoria essentially invented international law.
Francisco Suárez subdivided the concept of ius gentium. Working with already well-formed categories, he carefully distinguished ius inter gentes from ius intra gentes. Ius inter gentes (which corresponds to modern international law) was something common to the majority of countries, although being positive law, not natural law, was not necessarily universal. On the other hand, ius intra gentes, or civil law, is specific to each nation.
[edit]Just war
Given that war is one of the worst evils suffered by mankind, the adherents of the School reasoned that it ought to be resorted to only when it was necessary in order to prevent an even greater evil. A diplomatic agreement is preferable, even for the more powerful party, before a war is started. Examples of “just war” are:
In self-defense, as long as there is a reasonable possibility of success. If failure is a foregone conclusion, then it is just a wasteful spilling of blood.
Preventive war against a tyrant who is about to attack.
War to punish a guilty enemy.
A war is not legitimate or illegitimate simply based on its original motivation: it must comply with a series of additional requirements:
It is necessary that the response be commensurate to the evil; use of more violence than is strictly necessary would constitute an unjust war.
Governing authorities declare war, but their decision is not sufficient cause to begin a war. If the people oppose a war, then it is illegitimate. The people have a right to depose a government that is waging, or is about to wage, an unjust war.
Once war has begun, there remain moral limits to action. For example, one may not attack innocents or kill hostages.
It is obligatory to take advantage of all options for dialogue and negotiations before undertaking a war; war is only legitimate as a last resort.
Under this doctrine, expansionist wars, wars of pillage, wars to convert infidels or pagans, and wars for glory are all inherently unjust.

[edit]The conquest of America
In this period, in which colonialism began, Spain was the only western European nation in which a group of intellectuals questioned the legitimacy of conquest rather than simply trying to justify it by traditional means.
Francisco de Vitoria began his analysis of conquest by rejecting “illegitimate titles”. He was the first to dare to question whether the bulls of Alexander VI known collectively as the Bulls of Donation were a valid title of dominion over the newly discovered territories. In this matter he did not accept the universal primacy of the emperor, the authority of the Pope (because the Pope, according to him, lacked temporal power), nor the claim of voluntary submission or conversion of the Native Americans. One could not consider them sinners or lacking in intelligence: they were free people by nature, with legitimate property rights. When the Spanish arrived in America they brought no legitimate title to occupy those lands and become their master.
Vitoria also analyzed whether there were legitimate claims of title over discovered lands. He elaborated up to eight legitimate titles of dominion. The first and perhaps most fundamental relates to communication between people, who jointly constitute a universal society. Ius peregrinandi et degendi is the right of every human being to travel and do commerce in all parts of the earth, independently of who governs or what is the religion of the territory. For him, if the “Indians” of the Americas would not permit free transit, the aggrieved parties had the right to defend themselves and to remain in land obtained in such a war of self-defense.
The second form of legitimate title over discovered lands also referred back to a human right whose obstruction is a cause for a just war. The Indians could voluntarily refuse conversion, but could not impede the right of the Spanish to preach, in which case the matter would be analogous to the first case. Nonetheless, Vitoria noted that although this can be grounds for a just war, it is not necessarily appropriate to make such a war, because of the resulting death and destruction.
The other cases of this casuistry are:
If the pagan sovereigns force converts to return to idolatry.
If there come to be a sufficient number of Christians in the newly discovered land that they wish to receive from the Pope a Christian government.
In the case of overthrowing a tyranny or a government that is harming innocents (e.g. human sacrifice)
If associates and friends have been attacked — as were the Tlaxcaltecas, allied with the Spanish but subjected, like many other people, to the Aztecs — once again, this could justify a war, with the ensuing possibility of legitimate conquest as in the first case
The final “legitimate title” although qualified by Vitoria himself as doubtful, is the lack of just laws, magistrates, agricultural techniques, etc. In any case, title taken according to this principle must be exercised with Christian charity and for the advantage of the Indians.
This doctrine of “legitimate” and “illegitimate” titles was not agreeable to Emperor Charles V, then ruler of Spain, in that they meant that Spain had no special right; he tried without success to stop these theologians from expressing their opinions in these matters.

Much attention has been drawn to the economic thought of the School of Salamanca by Joseph Schumpeter’s History of Economic Analysis (1954). It did not coin, but certainly consolidated, the use of the term School of Salamanca in economics. Schumpeter studied scholastic doctrine in general and Spanish scholastic doctrine in particular, and praised the high level of economic science in Spain in the 16th century. He argued that the School of Salamanca most deserve to be considered the founders of economics as a science. The School did not elaborate a complete doctrine of economics, but they established the first modern economic theories to address the new economic problems that had arisen with the end of the medieval order. Unfortunately, there was no continuation of their work until the end of the 17th century and many of their contributions were forgotten, only to be rediscovered later by others.
The English historian of economic thought Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson has published numerous articles and monographs on the School of Salamanca.
Although there does not appear to be any direct influence, the economic thought of the School of Salamanca is in many ways similar to that of the Austrian School. Murray Rothbard referred to them as proto-Austrians.

In 1517, de Vitoria, then at the Sorbonne, was consulted by Spanish merchants based in Antwerp about the moral legitimacy of engaging in commerce to increase one’s personal wealth. From today’s point of view, one would say they were asking for a consultation about the entrepreneurial spirit. Beginning at that time, Vitoria and other theologians looked at economic matters. They moved away from views that they found to be obsolete, adopting instead new ideas based on principles of natural law.
According to these views, the natural order is based in the “freedom of circulation” of people, goods, and ideas, allowing people to know one another and increase their sentiments of brotherhood. This implies that merchantry is not merely not reprehensible, but that it actually serves the general good.

[edit]Private property
The adherents of the School of Salamanca all agreed that property has the beneficial effect of stimulating economic activity, which, in turn, contributed to the general well being. Diego de Covarubias y Leyva (1512–1577) considered that people had not only the right to own property but — again, a specifically modern idea — they had the exclusive right to the benefit from that property, although the community might also benefit. Nonetheless, in times of great necessity, there all goods become a commons.
Luis de Molina argued that individual owners take better care of their goods than is taken of common property, a form of the tragedy of the commons.

[edit]Money, value, and price
The most complete and methodical developments of a Salamancan theory of value were by Martín de Azpilcueta (1493–1586) and Luis de Molina. Interested in the effect of precious metals arriving from the Americas, de Azpilcueta proved that in the countries where precious metals were scarce, prices for them were higher than in those where they were abundant. Precious metals, like any other mercantile good, gained at least some of their value from their scarcity. This scarcity theory of value was a precursor of the quantitative theory of money put forward slightly later by Jean Bodin (1530–1596).

Up until that time, the predominant theory of value had been the medieval theory based on the cost of production as the sole determinant of a just price (a variant of the cost-of-production theory of value, most recently manifested in the labor theory of value). Diego de Covarrubias and Luis de Molina developed a subjective theory of value and prices, which asserted that the usefulness of a good varied from person to person, so just prices would arise from mutual decisions in free commerce, barring the distorting effects of monopoly, fraud, or government intervention. Expressing this in today’s terms, the adherents of the School defended the free market, where the fair price of a good would be determined by supply and demand.

On this Luis Saravia de la Calle wrote in 1544:
Those who measure the just price by the labour, costs, and risk incurred by the person who deals in the merchandise or produces it, or by the cost of transport or the expense of traveling…or by what he has to pay the factors for their industry, risk, and labour, are greatly in error…. For the just price arises from the abundance or scarcity of goods, merchants, and money…and not from costs, labour, and risk…. Why should a bale of linen brought overland from Brittany at great expense be worth more than one which is transported cheaply by sea?… Why should a book written out by hand be worth more than one which is printed, when the latter is better though it costs less to produce?… The just price is found not by counting the cost but by the common estimation.

However the school rarely followed this idea through systematically, and, as Friedrich Hayek has written, “never to the point of realizing that what was relevant was not merely man’s relation to a particular thing or a class of things but the position of the thing in the whole…scheme by which men decide how to allocate the resources at their disposal among their different endeavors.”
[edit]Interest on money
Usury (which in that period meant any charging of interest on a loan) has always been viewed negatively by the Catholic Church. The Second Lateran Council condemned any repayment of a debt with more money than was originally loaned; the Council of Vienne explicitly prohibited usury and declared any legislation tolerant of usury to be heretical; the first scholastics reproved the charging of interest. In the medieval economy, loans were entirely a consequence of necessity (bad harvests, fire in a workplace) and, under those conditions, it was considered morally reproachable to charge interest.
In the Renaissance era, greater mobility of people facilitated an increase in commerce and the appearance of appropriate conditions for entrepreneurs to start new, lucrative businesses. Given that borrowed money was no longer strictly for consumption but for production as well, it could not be viewed in the same manner. The School of Salamanca elaborated various reasons that justified the charging of interest. The person who received a loan benefited; one could consider interest as a premium paid for the risk taken by the loaning party. There was also the question of opportunity cost, in that the loaning party lost other possibilities of utilizing the loaned money. Finally, and perhaps most originally, was the consideration of money itself as a merchandise, and the use of one’s money as something for which one should receive a benefit in the form of interest.
Martín de Azpilcueta also considered the effect of time, formulating the time value of money. All things being equal, one would prefer to receive a given good now rather than in the future. This preference indicates greater value. Interest, under this theory, is the payment for the time the loaning individual is deprived of the money.

In the Renaissance era, theology was generally declining in the face of the rise of humanism, with scholasticism becoming nothing more than an empty and routine methodology. Under Francisco de Vitoria, the University of Salamanca led a period of intense activity in theology, especially a renaissance of Thomism, whose influence extended to European culture in general, but especially to other European universities. Perhaps the fundamental contribution of the School of Salamanca to theology is the study of problems much closer to humanity, which had previously been ignored, and the opening of questions that had previously not been posed. The term positive theology is sometimes used to distinguish this new, more practical, theology from the earlier scholastic theology.
In an era when religion (whether Catholicism, Calvinism, Islam, or others) permeated everything, to analyze the morality of the acts was considered the most practical and useful study one could undertake to serve society. The novel contributions of the School in law and economics were rooted in concrete challenges and moral problems which confronted society under new conditions.
It was a revolutionary idea to assert that Christian believers could behave in an evil manner and people entirely ignorant of Christianity could do good. That is to say, morality did not depend on conscious knowledge of God. This was particularly important in terms of behavior toward pagans, who could not be presupposed to be evil merely because they were not Christians.

Over the years a casuistry, a fixed set of answers to moral dilemmas, had been developed. However, by its nature, a casuistry can never be complete, leading to a search for more general rules or principles. From this developed Probabilism, where the ultimate criterion was not truth, but the certainty of not choosing evil. Developed principally by Bartolomé de Medina and continued by Gabriel Vázquez y Francisco Suárez, Probabilism became the most important school of moral thought in the coming centuries..
[edit]The polemic De auxiliis
The polemic De auxiliis was a dispute between Jesuits and Dominicans which occurred at the end of the 16th century. The topic of the controversy was grace and predestination, that is to say how one could reconcile the liberty or free will of humans with divine omniscience. In 1582 the Jesuit Prudencio Montemayor and Fray Luis de León spoke publicly about human liberty. Domingo Báñez considered that they gave free will too great a weight and that they used terminology that sounded heretical; he denounced them to the Spanish Inquisition, accusing them of Pelagianism, a belief in human free will to the detriment of the doctrine of original sin and the grace granted by God. Montemayor and de León were banned from teaching and prohibited from defending such ideas.
Báñez was then denounced to the Holy Office by Leon, who accused him of “committing the error of Lutheranism”, that is of following the doctrines of Martin Luther. According to Lutheran doctrine, man is “dead in his trespasses” (Ephesians 2:1) as a consequence of original sin and cannot save himself by his own merit; only God can save man, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Báñez was acquitted.

Nonetheless, this did not end the dispute, which Luis de Molina continued with his Concordia liberi arbitrii cum gratiae donis (1588). This is considered the best expression of the Jesuit position. The polemic continued over the course of years, including an attempt by the Dominicans to get Pope Clement VIII to condemn the Concordia of de Molina. Finally Paul V in 1607 recognized the liberty of Dominicans and Jesuits to defend their ideas, prohibiting that either side of this disagreement be characterized as heresy.
[edit]The existence of evil in the world
The existence of evil in a world created and ruled by an infinitely good and powerful God has long been viewed as paradoxical. (See Problem of evil). Vitoria reconciled the paradox by arguing first that free will is a gift from God to each person. It is impossible that each person will always freely choose only the good. Thus, evil results as a necessary consequence of human free will.

10. Elena - February 21, 2010

I’m delighted catching up in history even through wikipedia. The School of Salamanca is impressive! Everything mattered and that matters! They seemed to have to touch on so many different areas and were so right about it, unlike our times and in the Fellowship in which people were happy not dealing with anything but their so called personal evolution… as if evolution could be personal!

Everything I am publishing has to do with the Fellowship Cult. I am just getting the numbers in the equation so that I can present you the equation later!

It is a beautiful equation!

In studying all these things, I publish only what is related to the cult but indeed, everything is related to the cult. My aim is to understand at least for my self how and what happened to us. Why were we such easy victims. From where were we coming from that we bought into it like guinea pigs who had been raised for sacrifice.

I am convinced that the answer is of course, in our selves, but our “selves” as the sum total of what we had received and had not processed! That is why cults are so dangerous: they attract people in vulnerable conditions.

11. Elena - February 24, 2010

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Biopower was a term originally coined by French philosopher Michel Foucault to refer to the practice of modern states and their regulation of their subjects through “an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations.” Foucault first used it in his courses at the Collège de France, but the term first appeared in The Will To Knowledge, Foucault’s first volume of The History of Sexuality [1]. In both Foucault’s work and the work of later theorists it has been used to refer to practices of public health, regulation of heredity, and risk regulation (François Ewald), among many other things often linked less directly with literal physical health. It is closely related to a term he uses much less frequently, but which subsequent thinkers have taken up independently, biopolitics.
Contents [hide]
1 Foucault
2 References
3 See also
4 External links

For Foucault, biopower is a technology of power, which is a way of managing people as a group. The distinctive quality of this political technology is that it allows for the control of entire populations. It is thus essential to the emergence of the modern nation state, modern capitalism, etc. Biopower is literally having power over other bodies, “an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations” [2]. It relates to the government’s concern with fostering the life of the population, and centers on the poles of discipline (“an anatomo-politics of the human body”) and regulatory controls (“a biopolitics of the population”).
Biopower for Foucault contrasts with traditional modes of power based on the threat of death from a sovereign. In an era where power must be justified rationally, biopower is utilized by an emphasis on the protection of life rather than the threat of death, on the regulation of the body, and the production of other technologies of power, such as the notion of sexuality. Regulation of customs, habits, health, reproductive practices, family, “blood”, and “well-being” would be straightforward examples of biopower, as would any conception of the state as a “body” and the use of state power as essential to its “life”. Hence the conceived relationship between biopower, eugenics and state racism.
With the concept of “biopower”, which first appears in courses concerning the discourse of “race struggle”, Foucault develops a holistic account of power, in opposition to the classic understanding of power as basically negative, limitative and akin to censorship. Sexuality, he argues, far from having been reduced to silence during the Victorian Era, was in fact subjected to a “sexuality dispositif” (or “mechanism”), which incites and even forced the subject to speak about their sex. Thus, “sexuality does not exist”, it is a discursive creation, which makes us believe that sexuality contains our personal truth (in the same way that the discourse of “race struggle” sees the truth of politics and history in the everlasting subterranean war which takes place beneath the so-called peace).
Furthermore, the exercise of power in the service of maximizing life carries a dark underside. When the state is invested in protecting the life of the population, when the stakes are life itself, anything can be justified. Groups identified as the threat to the existence of the life of the nation or of humanity can be eradicated with impunity. “If genocide is indeed the dream of modern power, this is not because of the recent return to the ancient right to kill; it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of the population.”

12. Elena - February 24, 2010

This concept of biopower is not far off from the idea of brainwashing. It is simply placed in the context of society and not necessarily a concentration camp or a cult.

The techniques used in the Fellowship cult were much closer to this biopower than to those in concentration camps.

“Regulation of customs, habits, health, reproductive practices, family, “blood”, and “well-being” would be straightforward examples of biopower, as would any conception of the state as a “body” and the use of state power as essential to its “life”.”

The cult phenomenon is well described in this passage. The idea in the member’s minds is not that they are being controlled and overpowered, on the contrary, they willingly submit to the absolute “sovereignity” of the guru. I am talking about those in the main center where the guru resides. 600 people in Oregon House at one time.

13. Elena - February 24, 2010

This text is highly loaded with intellectual discourse but makes points on the differences between Habermas and Foucault which I am much interested in.

It’s a bit soon to come to conclusions but worth asking right away, did these men ever pose a theory on why people cannot separate from the norm or normativization? Have they found the “link” between the “government” or authorities, groups, families, and the individual? the “links” would be even better for probably each center has its own link: economic-instinctive, emotional, intellectual. Did Reich come closer to analyzing the links than Foucault and Habermas?

It’s a fun exploration but much more of it is needed. What is amazing is how quickly we can find this things on the internet! We live in a different world to that of our parents!


Dianna Taylor 2009
ISSN: 1832-5203
Foucault Studies, No 7, pp. 45-63, September 2009


Normativity and Normalization
Dianna Taylor, John Carroll University

ABSTRACT: This article illustrates ways in which the concepts of the norm and
normativity are implicated in relations of power. Specifically, I argue that these
concepts have come to function in a normalizing manner. I outline Michel Fou-
cault’s thinking on the norm and normalization and then provide an overview of
Jürgen Habermas’s thinking on the norm and normativity in order to show that
Habermas’s conceptualizations of the norm and normativity are not, as he posits,
necessary foundations for ethics and politics, but in fact simply one philosophical
approach among many. Uncritically accepting a Habermasian framework therefore
produces normalizing effects and inhibits alternative and potentially emancipatory
thinking about ethics and politics. Having problematized the requirement of norma-
tive foundations as it is currently articulated, I conclude by examining the emanci-
patory potential of a particular aspect of Foucault’s work for the practice of philo-

Keywords: Norm, Normativity, Normalization, Freedom.

I believe that one of the meanings of human existence – the source of human
freedom – is never to accept anything as definitive, untouchable, obvious, or
immobile. No aspect of reality should be allowed to become a definitive and
inhuman law for us.1 ~ Michel Foucault

I recently presented a conference paper in which I argued that Foucault’s
conceptualizations of the norm and normalization are relevant for contemporary
feminism. I justified my claim in part by asserting that Foucault’s elucidation of the
power effects and contingency of particular social norms (such as sex and gender),

Michel Foucault, ‚Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual.‛ Interview with Michael
Bess (November 3, 1980), IMEC (Institut Mémoirs de l’Édition Contemporaine) Archive
folder number FCL2. A02-06.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

extends to the idea of the norm itself. For Foucault, the norm is a norm. But it is one
of those norms (e.g., sex and gender) that effectively presents itself not as a norm,
but as a given and therefore outside of power – benign and closed to critical analysis.
Just as he does with the idea of sex in Volume I of The History of Sexuality, Foucault
traces across several of his Collège de France courses the emergence of the idea of
the norm as a modern concept and illustrates its implication in modern relations of
power. In my paper, I argued that this tracing and illustrating is important because
it effectively supports Foucault’s contention that nothing, even (for Foucault,
especially) those concepts, categories, and principles that appear to be most
fundamental to making sense of the world, need simply be accepted, and that such
refusal creates possibilities for developing alternative modes of thought and
existence which increase persons’ capacities and expand their possibilities without
simultaneously increasing and expanding the proliferation of power within society.
Refusing to simply accept what is presented as natural, necessary, and normal – like
the ideas of sex and the norm itself – presents possibilities for engaging in and
expanding the practice of freedom.
During the question and answer period, a conference participant asserted
that Foucault’s work could possess only minimal relevance for feminism. ‚It’s not
normative,‛ the individual stated flatly, while several people sitting nearby nodded
their heads in agreement. Neither the questioner nor the tacit supporters elaborated;
indeed, the assumption appeared to be that no elaboration was needed: to contend
that Foucault’s work was lacking in normative content simply spoke for itself. The
burden was therefore on me, for if Foucault’s work was not in fact normative there
was no way it could possess relevance for feminist thought and practice.
In this essay, I present the long version of my response to persons such as the
conference participants described above. My focus here is not the relevance of
Foucault’s work for feminism, but rather the more fundamental claim that his work
is ‚not normative.‛ In making that assertion, it seemed to me at the time (and still
does) that the conference participants missed the point of my paper. From their
perspective, one may critically analyze things like what it means to say a practice is
normative, how particular norms or normative practices function, and whether a
particular norm is oppressive, but the necessity of the norm and normativity for any
discussion of ethics and politics, let alone for articulating emancipatory ethical and
political theory and practice, must be accepted; indeed, it is simply assumed. My
point, by contrast, was that assuming and uncritically accepting, as my questioner
did, the necessity of a concept not only for promoting freedom, but also and more
fundamentally for making sense at all, is itself normalizing and that, moreover, part
of the way normalizing norms work is by masking their own effects of power and
thus inhibiting the kind of critical analysis that would have allowed the questioner
to perceive the uncritical assumptions she was making.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


A norm is normalizing if, as noted above, it links the increase of capacities
and expansion of possibilities to an increase in and expansion of the proliferation of
power within society. Simply put, normalizing norms encourage subjects to become
highly efficient at performing a narrowly defined range of practices. This is the case
with gender, where subjects are divided into two mutually exclusive groups, the
appropriate behaviors of which are predetermined and which these subjects are
encouraged to repeat over and over again. In time, the repeated behaviors become
embedded to the point where they are perceived not as a particular set of prevailing
norms, but instead simply as ‚normal,‛ inevitable, and therefore immune to critical
analysis. Normalizing norms thus hinder not only critical analysis itself but also, to
the extent that they become naturalized, the recognition that such engagement is
needed or possible at all. So, for example, while the specific character of acceptable
gender roles may change over time, the idea persists that women and men are
different in some fundamental ways that simply must be accepted. To the extent
that normalizing norms maintain or strengthen the link between increased capacities
and expanded possibilities and increased power and inhibit or even prevent the
cultivation and exercise of practices which elucidate and loosen this link, these
norms are counter to freedom.
The response my conference paper generated suggests to me that the
concepts of the norm and normativity have come to play a normalizing role within
philosophical discourse, particularly with respect to ethics and politics. While I
believe that a broad analysis of the normalizing effects of the norm and normativity
is called for, in this essay I limit myself to analyzing these normalizing effects
relative to the work of Foucault, for if Foucault’s insight into the normalizing effects
of the idea of the norm, let alone the broader ethico-political relevance of his work, is
to be taken seriously the characterization of his work as ‚not normative‛ must be
addressed. In order to address this issue, I contrast Foucault’s conceptualization of
the nature and function of the norm with that of Jürgen Habermas. Habermas’s
work is paradigmatic of the view that ethics and politics generally and emancipatory
ethics and politics more specifically can be meaningfully articulated only if they are
grounded in certain normative principles. Analyzing his work in relation to Fou-
cault’s therefore provides an effective means through which to illustrate how the
demand for normative criteria has come to function as a kind of normative criterion,
to illustrate the contingency of this norm, and to analyze its normalizing effects.
Exposing the demand for normative criteria as both contingent and normalizing, I
argue, facilitates measured analysis and therefore better understanding of work such
as Foucault’s which, under prevailing conceptions of the norm and normativity, is
seen as possessing limited ethical and political relevance or at worst as ethically and
politically harmful. Once the demand that Foucault’s work satisfy prevailing ideas
about the norm and normativity is lifted, his refusal to comply with, as well as his
criticism of, that demand no longer renders his work ethically and politically
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

irrelevant or dangerous; instead, its value in promoting practices of freedom can be
I want to be clear that while my argument reflects a Foucauldian perspective,
I do not mean to reject Habermas’s work or pit the work of Foucault against that of
Habermas; nor will I attempt to show that the work of these two thinkers is in fact
compatible.2 Indeed, I believe these kinds of strategies assume and therefore
perpetuate the very ways of thinking about the norm and normativity that I seek to
call into question. I do want to make a point about how the uncritical acceptance of
Habermasian notions of the norm and normativity necessarily posits Foucault’s
work as non-normative and therefore ethically and politically irrelevant or harmful.
Yet my broader aim is to show that it is only through critical interrogation of what
has been presupposed or uncritically accepted that the emancipatory potential of
any philosophy – whether work such as Habermas’s which asserts the necessity of
normative foundations for ethics and politics, or such as Foucault’s, which seeks to
elucidate the power effects of such assertions – can be effectively explored. My
question in this essay, and the direction in which I see Foucault’s work pointing, is
therefore not, ‚Is it normative?‛ but rather ‘What motivates the question, ‚Is it
normative?‛ and what are the effects of this question?’ Simply put, my question is
not ‚Is it normative?‛ but ‚Is it normalizing?‛
I proceed by outlining relevant aspects of Foucault’s thinking on the norm
and normalization across several of his Collège de France courses,3 and then
providing an overview of Habermas’s thinking on the norm and normativity. I next

A good deal of scholarly analysis has been generated that addresses the problem of the
norm and normativity in the work of Foucault and Habermas. The problem figures
centrally in two edited volumes, Critique and Power: Recasting the Foucault/Habermas
Debate, ed. Michael Kelly (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1994) and Foucault Contra Habermas, eds.
Samantha Ashenden and David Owen (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1999), and is also
apparent in a number of the essays (including Habermas’s own) in Foucault: A Critical
Reader, ed. David Couzens Hoy (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1986). All of these volumes
contain essays that make valuable contributions to Foucault and Habermas scholarship,
and some of them (such as James Tulley’s contribution to the Ashenden/Owen volume,
which I cite later in this essay) move in the direction of my own analysis. But I think the
majority of the contributions ultimately accept prevailing notions of the norm and
normativity and, hence, end up covering the same ground concerning whether
Foucault’s work is normative or not.
Foucault addresses the problematic nature and function of norms in his published work,
Discipline and Punish and Volume I of The History of Sexuality being particularly important
in this regard insofar as these texts illustrate the workings of disciplinary power and
biopower, respectively. I have chosen to focus on the Collège de France courses because
within their context one can clearly see Foucault formulating his ideas as he works
though various problems. The courses thus provide valuable insight into the
development of Foucault’s thought across time which is not as apparent within the
context of his published works.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


show that Habermas’s conceptualizations of the norm and normativity are not, as he
posits, necessary foundations for ethics and politics, but in fact simply one
philosophical approach among many. On the one hand, then, uncritically accepting
a Habermasian framework produces normalizing effects; on the other hand, ways of
thinking about, conceptualizing, and practicing ethics and politics that do not
require a particular understanding of ‚normative foundations‛ and which could in
fact possess emancipatory potential are possible. Having problematized the
requirement of normative foundations as it is currently articulated, I conclude by
examining the emancipatory potential of a particular aspect of Foucault’s work for
the practice of philosophy.
Foucault’s conceptualizations of the nature and function of the norm and
normalization can be traced through four of his Collège de France courses:
Psychiatric Power (1974); Abnormal (1975); Society Must be Defended (1976); and
Security, Territory, Population (1978). In these courses, Foucault associates the norm
with specifically modern forms of power. He argues that with the rise of modernity,
sovereign power found itself unable to effectively control all aspects of increasingly
complex societies, with the result that certain techniques of power which had up
until that point had been employed only within religious contexts were generalized
to society more broadly.4 Foucault sees the norm as being at the heart of these
techniques of modern power.
In his 1974 and 1975 courses, Foucault ties the norm to disciplinary power,
which targets individual bodies in order to train subjects that are simultaneously
efficient and obedient. In Psychiatric Power, Foucault argues that within a
disciplinary context, the norm functions ‚as the universal prescription for all‛
disciplinary subjects.5 The following year, in Abnormal, Foucault identifies the norm
as the ‚element‛ upon which ‚a certain exercise of power is founded and
legitimized.‛6 He also elaborates on precisely how the norm functions within a
disciplinary context, arguing that the norm ‚brings with it a principle of both
qualification and correction. The norm’s function is not to exclude and reject.
Rather, it is always linked to a positive technique of intervention and transfor-
mation, to a sort of normative project.‛7 Under disciplinary power, Foucault writes,
‚there is an originally prescriptive character of the norm,‛ in the sense that the norm

‚Far too many things,‛ Foucault states, ‚were escaping the old mechanism of the power
of sovereignty, both at the top and at the bottom, both at the level of detail and at the
mass level.‛ See Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de
France 1975-76, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), 249.
Michel Foucault, Psychiatric Power: Lectures at the Collège de France 1973-1974, trans.
Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave, 2006), 55.
Michel Foucault, Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France 1974-1975, trans. Graham
Burchell (New York: Picador, 2003), 50.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

determines what is normal.8 Subjects constitute themselves and are in turn
constituted through techniques of power that presuppose the norm, construed as an
ideal or ‚optimal model.‛9
As a result of his evolving conception of the nature and function of modern
power, Foucault modifies his conception of the norm in the 1976 course. Power does
not only target individual bodies, Foucault has come to realize in Society Must Be
Defended, it also targets populations by way of a second form of modern power
which he refers to as biopower. Generally speaking, biopower proliferates through
the actions of the State in such a way as to regulate populations at the biological
level in the name of promoting the health and protecting the life of society as a
whole. This protection and regulation intersects with the disciplining of individual
bodies within the context of modern societies, Foucault argues, and the norm is the
mechanism along which this intersection occurs. It circulates between the disci-
plinary and the regulatory; it is ‚something that can be applied to both a body one
wishes to discipline and a population one wishes to regularize.‛10 While the norm
still founds and legitimizes power, it does so specifically by linking disciplinary and
biopower and thus facilitating the flow of power through and across all facets of
modern societies.
Foucault returned to the Collège in 197811 having further modified his
conception of the norm. The norm can still be said to found and legitimize modern
power by providing a link between disciplinary power and biopower, but in
Security, Territory, Population he argues that it functions differently within
disciplinary and biopolitical contexts. With discipline, the norm establishes the
normal: individuals are brought and bring themselves into conformity with some
pre-existing standard. With biopower, the norm is established from several
‚normals,‛ as represented specifically by ‚curves of normality;‛ statistical analysis,
according to Foucault, constitutes a key technique for regulating and managing
populations. From these normals, the ‚most normal‛ or the ‚optimal normal‛ – i.e.,
the norm – for a particular population is established: within a biopolitical context
‚the norm is an interplay of differential normalities . . . the normal comes first, and
the norm is deduced from it.‛12 As Foucault describes it, different normal curves are
produced by studying a population, from those normal curves the norm gets
established as an optimal or ideal normal which is then brought back to bear on the
population in order to regulate that population – that is, to dictate how the

Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-
1978, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave, 2007), 57.
Ibid., 252-253.
The 1976 course ended in March of 1976; the 1978 course did not commence until January
of 1978.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 63.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


population ought to behave. Since populations are not fully engaged in relations of
power until this prescriptive function is implemented, the foundation and
legitimation of biopower still hinges on the norm in important ways.
The idea that the norm functions differently within disciplinary and
biopolitical contexts leads Foucault to in turn mark a distinction between the
techniques of power to which the norm gives rise in these respective contexts. Prior
to the 1978 course, Foucault has referred to all power techniques originating with the
norm as ‚normalization.‛ In the 1974 course, Foucault specifically describes the
function of disciplinary power in these terms. Within a disciplinary context, he
argues, ‚uninterrupted supervision, continual writing, and potential punishment
enframed [the] subjected body and extracted a psyche from it . . . [the] individual is a
subjected body held in a system of supervision and subjected to procedures of
normalization.‛13 In the 1975 course, Foucault again speaks of normalization as
consisting of techniques he associates with disciplinary power. He describes these
techniques as ‚simultaneously positive, technical, and political,‛ and argues that
they function in the service of bringing subjects into conformity with a pre-
determined norm.14
At the beginning of the 1976 course, Foucault invokes the idea of
normalization primarily in order to distinguish it (and therefore disciplinary power)
from juridical or sovereign power. ‚The discourse of disciplines,‛ he asserts, ‚is
about a rule: not a juridical rule derived from sovereignty, but a discourse about a
natural rule, or in other words a norm. Disciplines will define not a code of law but
a code of normalization.‛15 By the end of that course Foucault has ceased to use the
term ‚normalization‛ altogether and speaks only of ‚normalizing societies‛
(societies characterized by the linking together of disciplinary power and biopower).
Given that at this point Foucault was rethinking the norm’s role within
modern relations of power, it seems likely that he was beginning to rethink the
nature of normalization as well. Indeed, by 1978 Foucault has marked a distinction
between normalization, which he now attributes solely to biopower and describes as
the process of establishing the norm from different normal curves, and the
disciplinary process of bringing subjects into conformity with a pre-determined
norm which he now refers to as ‚normation.‛16 This distinction between norma-
lization and normation should not be seen as an indication that Foucault is no longer
concerned with disciplinary power and its ‚normizing‛ techniques. As the rest of
the 1978 course, as well as others of Foucault’s texts,17 makes clear, he continues to

Foucault, Psychiatric Power, 56-57.
Foucault, Abnormal, 50.
Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 38.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 63.
See Michel Foucault, ‚Governmentality,‛ in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality,
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

view modern societies as being characterized by both disciplinary and biopower –
and although it is less prominent and not characteristically modern, by sovereign
power as well. Insofar as Foucault explicitly argues that when they emerge, new
forms of power do not entirely displace existing forms, the norm retains its function
of linking the discipline of bodies and the regulation of populations of linking
normation and normalization. Likewise, the norm retains its function of founding
and legitimizing modern power, despite the fact that in normalization the norm is
derived from the normal.
In sum: Foucault posits the norm as playing a fundamental role in the
emergence, legitimation, proliferation, and circulation of modern power. The norm
establishes what is normal. Techniques of normation and normalization in turn
function to ‚make normal.‛ On the one hand, they intervene within both individual
bodies and populations in order to bring them into conformity with particular social
norms. On the other hand, in doing so such techniques perpetuate the power
relations that the norm founds and legitimizes by reproducing norms within the
sociopolitical landscape to the point that they come to be seen not as produced at all
but simply as natural and necessary. Within a disciplinary context the norm gets
established by, for example, factory managers who determine that workers should
be able to produce a product in a certain amount of time. The workers’ bodies are
trained so that they become highly effective at performing the particular operation
that will facilitate the desired outcome. Within the context of biopower the norm
gets established by, for example, economists who deem a certain level of unemploy-
ment or poverty acceptable or even necessary within the overall population in order
for the economy to grow. These ‚normal‛ levels of unemployment or poverty are
cultivated within the population as a whole.18
It is important to bear in mind that not all individual social norms are
normizing/normalizing. From a Foucauldian perspective, social norms act as ‚nodal
points‛ within a broad power matrix. Power passes through and along norms, and
these points of intersection can either facilitate or inhibit the further circulation of
power. Norms that facilitate power’s circulation don’t pose a problem. Given that
he conceives of power in terms of relations, Foucault considers subjects to be free
when they are able to modify, negotiate, and/or reverse these relations – when in

eds. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller (Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press, 1991).
Foucault shows that institutions – prisons, schools, factories, the military – play a key
role in the establishment and proliferation of norms and, hence, in the proliferation of
modern power. I am grateful to the editors of this journal for pointing out to me that
Foucault believed developing new, non-normalizing/normizing institutions was an
‚important and crucial issue,‛ at the same time that he admitted he had ‚no precise idea‛
of how such development would occur. See Michel Foucault, ‚Sex, Power and the
Politics of Identity,‛ in Foucault Live: Collected Interviews, 1961-1984, ed. Sylvère Lotringer
(New York: Semiotexte, 1989), 389.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


other words, the circulation of power within society is at least relatively unimpeded.
It is therefore the sedimentation of power through the uncritical acceptance of
particular norms as natural and therefore necessary that is cause for concern.
Normalizing norms are those which facilitate such sedimentation by linking the
increase of capacities and expansion of possibilities to an intensification of existing
power relations. One way in which sedimentation occurs, taking the example given
above, is through certain conceptions of worker productivity or certain
understandings and levels of poverty and unemployment coming to be seen as
natural. Over time persons not only don’t think critically about these phenomena,
they don’t give them much thought at all; worker productivity, poverty, and
unemployment simply become part of the landscape – what has to be assumed in
order for discussions about the economy to be entered into. Such naturalization
effectively promotes acceptance and conformity with prevailing norms on both an
individual and societal level. Moreover, the norm provides the grounds not only for
distinguishing ‚normal‛ and ‚abnormal‛ individuals and populations, but also for
sanctioning intervention into both in order to ensure conformity or bring into
conformity, to keep or make normal, and also to effectively eliminate the threat
posed by resisting individuals and populations.
Habermas construes the nature and function of the norm very differently
than Foucault does. Whereas for Foucault the norm founds and plays a key role in
the functioning of modern power, for Habermas the norm demarcates the limits of
power; it distinguishes what is good and valid from what is not, where goodness
and validity are determined and legitimized not by relations of power but by reason.
The basics of the Habermasian perspective are outlined in his book, Moral
Consciousness and Communicative Action.
Norms, according to Habermas, possess ‚ought character.‛19 ‚Norm-related
speech acts,‛ he argues, make validity claims, in the sense that when one says ‚x is
good to do‛ or ‚one ought to do x,‛ one is making a claim that x is morally
justifiable; that is, one is saying that one has ‚good reasons‛ for doing x or that one
‚ought to do‛ x.20 To be legitimate, the validity claims that normative speech acts
make must be ‚general.‛ Habermas takes the position that general agreement or
consensus about what constitutes moral and immoral action has to be able, at least in
theory, to be reached in order for harms to be intelligible as ethical violations. In the
absence of some shared and communicable standard which harmful actions can be
said to violate, such actions are not merely idiosyncratic but in fact incoherent. The
normativity of norms is thus interconnected with their intelligibility, making claims

Jürgen Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, trans. Christian
Lenhardt and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 44.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

of ‚normative rightness‛ different from claims of ‚propositional truth‛ and there-
fore in need of a different kind of justification.21
On the one hand, the justification for norms needs to be relevant for lived
experience. Thus, while the ‚basic intuition‛ of Kant’s categorical imperative
functions as a guide for Habermas, he rejects the notion that a single individual
testing her or his maxims can sufficiently generate general validity.22 For Kant moral
deliberation is ‚monological,‛ whereas for Habermas it is collective in the sense that
it is grounded in and carried out by members of the lifeworld.23 Moreover, for
Habermas moral deliberation aims to restore a moral consensus that has been
disrupted and thus reflects a common as opposed to an individual will.24
On the other hand, to be valid the justification for norms cannot simply be
determined by the vicissitudes of human affairs. It is for this reason that Habermas
locates justification within the form – rather than in the content or outcome – of
rational argumentation. He refers to this form as ‚communicative action.‛ As
opposed to strategic action, where one actor attempts to manipulate or coerce
another in order to achieve personal satisfaction or gain, communicative action takes
the form of rational argumentation aimed at consensus; it is characterized by the
expectation that reasons can be provided for why certain norms should exist or not,
and the communicative process itself entails persons providing such reasons. As
Habermas puts it, ‚one actor seeks rationally to motivate another by relying on the
illocutionary binding/bonding effect of the offer [to make good on assertions by
giving reasons] contained in the speech act.‛25
The validity of norms is thus ‚guaranteed,‛ so to speak, by the fact that they
are the products of a process that is rational as well as collective. Habermas
expresses this idea in what he refers to as the principle of universality (U), which
states that for any valid norm, ‚*a]ll affected can accept the consequences and the
side effects its general observance can be anticipated to have for the satisfaction of
everyone’s interests (and these consequences are preferred to those of known
alternative possibilities for regulation).‛26 As conceived by Habermas, the principle

Habermas argues that what he refers to as ‚non-cognitivist approaches‛ are insufficient
for this purpose. On the one hand, such approaches contend that general agreement
cannot ‚ordinarily‛ be reached in ‚disputes about basic moral principles:‛ on the other
hand, they assume the failure of ‚all attempts to explain what it might mean for
normative propositions to be true.‛ In other words, because non-cognitivist approaches
are unable to account for how normative speech acts differ from claims to propositional
truth, such approaches cannot possibly provide the unique justification that normative
speech acts require. Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 56.
Ibid., 64.
Ibid., 67.
Ibid., 58; Habermas’s emphasis.
Ibid., 65; Habermas’s emphasis.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


of universality ‚makes agreement in moral argument possible in principle.‛27 This
governing principle of rational discourse gains its justification from what Habermas
refers to as ‚transcendental-pragmatic presuppositions.‛ These universal presuppo-
sitions are rules which are, Habermas argues, implicitly accepted by anyone who
participates in practical discourse and which are in turn generated by or internal to
that discourse itself; they are conditions for the possibility of rational argumentation
as such.

14. Elena - February 25, 2010

Hola M.

Me pregunto si tienes idea para donde voy con todo esto! Porque sigues leyendo y viniendo? Poco pero constante. No creas que no me alegra. Me estimula mucho! Lees? Los paralelos de todo esto con lo que creo ocurre en los cultos es muy fuerte. Poco a poco ire mostrando y descifrando algo que para la mayoría no debe ser ningun acertijo pero para mí faltan muchas cuerdas sueltas que necesito rescatar.

Me extraña que tu y otros sigan visitando el otro Public Square que empecé antes y que he tenido para guardar información porque me permite archivarla con nombres. Todo este tiempo de vacaciones ha estado llendo gente de distintas partes. Quien sabe que les interesa! Quizá que estamos vivos! O al menos pataleamos! Aunque quizá seamos pocos!!

Es bello el tema! He encontrado tantas cosas! Todo el tema de Foucault es apasionante! Entiende lo que entendí en el Fellowship en la sociedad de una manera maravillosa! Esa cosa terrible que obliga a la gente a ser y hacer cosas sin darse cuenta que está siendo manipulada, identificada con otras cosas que no son más que ilusiones! Todo parece conectar tan vívidamente con las mismas ideas del sistema! Con el hecho de que estamos dormidos. Pero lo digo sin juicio. Si dormimos y sufrimos y vivimos todo al mismo tiempo. Somos tontos y bellos, crueles y tiernos, en suma: quasi humanos! Algún día quizá nos podamos quitar el quasi! O quizá cuando realmente seamos conscientes de nosotros mismos ya no seamos tan salvajemente humanos y podamos llamarnos al menos, humanamente humanos!

Con todo y lo salvajes, es fascinante la grandeza en que estamos envueltos. Lo complejo y lo sofisticado del tiempo en que vivimos. Lo que más me gusta de haber salido del Fellowship es lo AMPLIO que es el mundo en comparación a ese mundo pequeño y retrogrado en que estabamos inmersos. Todos los músicos y no esos musiquitos supuestamente únicos que nos presentaba Robert. Toda la música, todo el arte, toda la ciencia, todas las religiones, todos los seres humanos y no unos pobres esclavos convencidos de que eramos parte de un selecto grupo de seres supra conscientes o en camino de llegar a serlo!

Extraño que me parezca que con todo, vivimos en tiempos en que la cultura no se aleja mucho de ese mismo patrón: unos pendejos que nos creemos los escogidos en el deporte, el arte, la política, la filosofía, la religión y otra mayoría pasiva que se deja meter gato por liebre porque nos creemos lo que parece que somos: unos tontos sin oportunidades! Nadie es capaz de ser lo que no se cree que puede ser, pero paso a paso se llega a ser cualquier cosa que uno quiera. Hay que caminar y eso es lo que la mayoría somos incapaces de hacer. Hace mucho parece que nos hubieramos quitado las piernas y la mayoría anduvieramos en sillas de ruedas psicológicas.

Todo este materíal hay que mirarlo con cuidado. Lo leo y releo y entiendo un poco más cada día. Llevaba tanto tiempo sin estudar nada que no fuera el sistema! Afortunadamente el sistema valía la pena así haya mil desaciertos también en él. Que carajos! la intención cuenta y por mucho que se hayan equivocada dieron lo que dieron con absoluta libertad. Tanta que mira donde acabamos!

Ahora que estamos fuera, hasta el haber estado dentro parece tan valioso pero no por ello se justifica el culto. Ni un segundo. Tiene que haber formas más valiosas de sufrimiento. Lo que más rabia me da es que hayamos sufrido tanto tiempo inutil. Por mucho que se transforme la experiencia y se aprendan lecciones gigantes sobre lo que es el ser humano, tiene que haber causas más bellas para aprender a vivir. Me entiendes cuando hablo de sufrimiento? De sufrimiento inutil? Es dificil para la mayoría de exestudiantes que conozco entender lo “inutil” y lo “dañino” del culto. Lo que nos gastamos haciendo nada más que aligerarle el peso al pendejo de Robert y sus asistentes sin oficio.

Como decir todo eso sin juicio? Como no juzgarnos demasiado ahora que salimos? Mirar sin juzgar pero aprender a discriminar. Discriminar era la tercera parte de la ecuación que no comprendimos allí adentro: mirabamos, tratabamos de no juzgar y nunca nos sentíamos suficientemente personas para discriminar de acuerdo con nuestra propia consciencia.

Es bueno haber pasado por el infierno! Ojalá pudiesemos evitar que otros se siguieran quemando en tanta pobreza.

15. Elena - February 25, 2010

Continuation of Taylor’s text on Habermas and Foucault

As James Tulley explains, there are two types of transcendental-pragmatic
presuppositions: conventional and post-conventional. Conventional presuppose-
tions ‚include logical-semantic rules of consistency . . . rules of mutual recognition
among participants . . . and rules of reciprocity.‛28 Post-conventional presuppose-
tions include the following rules: ‚every subject with the competence to speak and
act is allowed to take part in discourse (the principle of universal respect); everyone
is allowed to question and introduce any assertion whatever and express his or her
attitudes, desires, and needs (the principle of egalitarian reciprocity); and no speaker
may be prevented, by internal or external coercion, from exercising these rights (the
principles of non-coercion).‛29 It is as an expression of these transcendental-
pragmatic principles generally, but also, as Tulley points out, of the post-
conventional type more specifically, that the principle of universality can itself
function as a kind of regulatory ideal for moral deliberation. ‚Every person who
accepts the universal and necessary communicative presuppositions of argument-
tative speech and who knows what it means to justify a norm of action,‛ Habermas
writes, ‚implicitly presupposes as valid the principle of universalization, whether in
the form I gave it or in an equivalent form.‛30 The principle of universality thus
expresses the interconnection of intelligibility and normativity: intelligible moral
deliberation, insofar as it is in fact intelligible, must necessarily possess certain
normative foundations in the form of the transcendental-pragmatic presuppositions
and the principle of universality (U).31
The idea that not only the normative status but also the intelligibility of
norms depends upon their ‚general acceptance‛ (i.e., their shared and
communicable character) by participants in a common lifeworld attaches absolute
and universal character – a certain ‚ineluctability,‛ as Habermas puts it – to norms

Ibid., 56.
James Tulley, ‚To Think and Act Differently: Foucault’s Four Reciprocal Objections to
Habermas’ Theory,‛ in Foucault Contra Habermas, eds. Samantha Ashenden and David
Owen (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1999), 102.
Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 86.
The principle of discourse ethics (D), which states, ‚only those norms can claim to be
valid that meet (or could meet) with the approval of all affected in their capacity as
participants in practical discourse,‛ provides additional normative grounding. See
Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 93.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

and normativity. ‚We cannot,‛ Habermas writes, ‚retract at will our commitment to
a lifeworld whose members we are.‛32 Citing Peter Strawson, Habermas
acknowledges that participants in the lifeworld do have recourse, ‘‚as a refuge, aid,
or out of simply curiosity,‛’ to a kind of third-person perspective which he refers to
as the ‚objectivating attitude of the nonparticipant observer.‛33 Nevertheless, again
invoking Strawson, Habermas argues that as human beings ‘‚we cannot, in the
normal case‛’ maintain this objectivating attitude ‘‛for long or altogether.‛’34
Subsequently, anyone who participates in practical discourse implicitly agrees to the
rules (i.e., the transcendental pragmatic principles) which govern that discourse and
thus, by extension, to (U). As noted previously, Habermas contends that attempts to
evade these rules render an actor incoherent or, more specifically and more
troubling, ‚schizophrenic and suicidal.‛35
It is the nature of this ineluctability that needs to be critically analyzed in
light of normalization. In Jürgen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile, Martin
Matuštík argues that the ineluctable character of Habermasian norms and
normativity ought not to be viewed as absolutist or foundational, but rather as a
kind of ‘‚groundless‛ performative holism.’36 ‚It is holism rather than
foundationalism,‛ Matuštík writes, ‚since we always begin . . . in a context of a
preinterpreted lifeworld. This holism is performative (without grounds secured
apart from speech or action), since we can never reach an absolutist point of view
inside or outside history.‛37 I have found Matuštík’s analysis of Habermas’s work
quite valuable, in large part because by situating that work within its sociopolitical
context Matuštík elucidates the origins and nature of Habermas’s philosophical
concerns. Doing so he shows that it is neither dismissal nor lack of understanding
but rather precisely those concerns themselves that cause Habermas to create and
respond more to caricatures of thinkers like Foucault than to the thinkers
themselves.38 Matuštík argues, rightly I think, that Habermas’s caricaturing of
thinkers such as Foucault stems from his own fears about the nature of modern
societies. As I see it, these are fears that defining the parameters of rational
discourse too broadly will allow for the emergence and proliferation of fascist
discourse. For Habermas, therefore, Foucault’s fear that defining such parameters
too narrowly (and accepting a particular understanding of rational discourse to be

Habermas, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action, 47.
Ibid., 46.
Ibid., 102.
Martin Beck Matuštík, Jürgen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile (New York:
Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), 222.
Ibid., 223.
‚Given his theoretical sophistication,‛ Matuštík writes, ‚an unnuanced polemic with the
complexity of postmodern thought remains the weakest part of Habermas’ debates.‛ See
Jürgen Habermas: A Philosophical-Political Profile, 226.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


constitutive of rational discourse as such) will constrain the emergence of liberatory
discourse (or at least pose a threat to the conditions under which such discourse
might emerge) is not merely unfounded but potentially oppressive.
Despite the value of Matuštík’s analysis in contextualizing and elucidating
Habermas’s work, it nonetheless seems to me that he gives Habermas an overly
generous reading on the point of ineluctability: it is difficult to see how asserting
that the very intelligibility of normative truth claims requires the acceptance of
certain principles is not absolutist. And even if it is not, such an assertion is
normalizing. It demands uncritical acceptance of the norm and normativity as
regulative ideals within ethical and political discourse, limits possible ways of
critically analyzing prevailing approaches to ethics and politics and prevailing
conceptualizations of ethical and political subjectivity and agency, and thereby links
the increase of capacities (new modes of ethical and political thought and action)
with the increase of power (some modes of thought and action are bracketed off
from critique while others are simply prohibited).
To illustrate this point more fully, let us take as an example the modern
concept mentioned at the outset of this essay: sex. Like the norm, sex is a
characteristically modern concept that is perceived as natural and therefore beyond
critical analysis. Moreover, like the norm, it is also construed as necessary not
merely for emancipation, but also functions as a means through which persons
become intelligible at all. While particular sexual norms generally possess
normalizing potential, Foucault sees the norm of ‚sex‛ itself as particularly
problematic in this regard because it is a key component in the creation,
proliferation, and establishment of sexual norms within society (‚the deployment of
sexuality‛); oppression may stem not only from particular constructions of sexuality
in terms of, for example, the ‚normal‛ and the ‚abnormal,‛ but also and perhaps
most importantly from the uncritical acceptance of the norm of sex as a ‚natural‛
and necessary foundation upon which individual sexualities and subjectivities are
based.39 The concept of sex, for Foucault, functions as a mode of legitimation for and
delimits the boundaries of sexuality – it renders us intelligible to ourselves and to
one another – and, as such, it is in particular need of critical interrogation: ‚it is
precisely the idea of sex in itself that we cannot accept without examination,‛ he
argues.40 Moreover, insofar as sex is seen as fundamental to who one is, generating
and obtaining knowledge about sexuality is synonymous with having access to
truth. The interconnection of sex and truth, in turn, encourages the acceptance and
internalization of sexual norms and thus masks their normalizing character: persons
perceive the proliferation of sexual identities and discourses as signifying freedom
from sexual repression when in fact it situates subjects squarely within in relations

See Foucault’s discussion of the deployment of sexuality in Volume I of The History of
Sexuality (New York: Vintage, 1990).
Ibid., 154; Foucault’s emphasis.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

of power. ‚We must not,‛ Foucault argues, ‚think that by saying yes to sex one says
no to power.‛41
I am suggesting that the demand for normative criteria functions as a mode
of legitimation for and thus delimits the boundaries of ethical and political
philosophical discourse. Just as ‚sex‛ simultaneously renders subjects intelligible as
sexual subjects and circumscribes the forms sexual subjectivity may take, so does
this demand simultaneously function as a condition for the possibility of ethics and
politics and circumscribe ethical and political forms and discourse. For Habermas,
ethical and political discourse accepts and therefore validates the principle of
universality and the transcendental-pragmatic presuppositions; likewise, ethical and
political subjects assume and act in accordance with both. What must be assumed
for the purposes of coherent, rational argumentation about ethical and political
norms cannot itself be open to such argumentation. Insofar as this is the case, (U)
and the transcendental-pragmatic presuppositions come to be seen as necessary and,
over time, natural and therefore inevitable. To question them, as I have done here,
thus appears to be not merely ethically and politically irrelevant or dangerous but
nonsensical. Naturalizing (U) and the presuppositions and characterizing
challenges to their necessity as incoherent (not to mention schizophrenic) effectively
inhibits different kinds of ethical and political thinking to the point that different
ways of thinking come to be seen as simply impossible. Persons become adept at
conceptualizing ethics and politics in ways that assume the necessity of certain
‚normative foundations,‛ but lack the ability not only to imagine what ethics and
politics might look like outside of such a framework, but also to see the framework
for what it is – a particular and limited product of prevailing modes of thought and
existence – and therefore to critically reflect upon and expand beyond it.
At this point it is important to reiterate that Foucault does not emphasize the
significance of ‚thinking differently,‛ as he puts it, for its own sake.42 As stated at
the outset of this essay, from a Foucauldian perspective refusing to uncritically
accept what is presented to us as natural and therefore necessary is tied to the
practice of freedom. Normalizing norms are potentially oppressive because, while
they do in fact increase persons’ capacities, such an increase is achieved at the
expense of other possible modes of thinking and acting. Limiting of possibilities, for
Foucault, both curtails the flow of power throughout society and hinders persons’
ability to negotiate current power relations. Insofar as Foucault sees freedom being
characterized not by an escape from power but rather by the ability to negotiate
power relations in ways that increase capacities and possible modes of thought and
existence, for him such curtailment has the potential to lead to states of domination
in which all aspects of persons’ lives are dictated to them.

Ibid., 157.
Michel Foucault, ‚Introduction,‛ in Volume II of The History of Sexuality: The Use of
Pleasure (New York: Vintage, 1990), 9.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


From a Foucauldian perspective, therefore, Habermas’s insistence on the
necessity of normative foundations for intelligible and emancipatory ethical and
political discourse runs the risk of rearticulating the same kinds of harms he wants
to mitigate through this insistence. But for Foucault, this does not mean that
Habermas’s work must be rejected. And herein, as I see it, lies a really important
and fundamental difference between Foucault and Habermas. Foucault recognizes
his own perspective as a perspective; it is historically, socially, and politically bound,
and he leaves it up to his readers to determine for themselves the value of the tools
he offers for mediating against domination and promoting freedom – to subject
those tools to the ‚test of . . . contemporary reality.‛43 For Habermas, on the other
hand, such testing is possible only up to a point: there are certain ‚ineluctable‛
aspects of human existence that have to be accepted in order to make sense of the
world and insure some sort of conditions for the possibility of freedom. This
requirement of uncritical acceptance means, by extension, that there are certain
questions that cannot be asked, certain modes of thought and existence that are not
valid, and certain modes of critical engagement that cannot be allowed. Both
Foucault and Habermas are concerned with such conditions, but where Habermas
seeks to identify and preserve them, Foucault argues that they need to be constantly
critically analyzed and recreated. For Habermas, some certainty about the world –
even if only a tiny sliver – is possible. For Foucault, not only is certainty impossible,
our desire for it is shaped by modern modes of thought that are interconnected with
a drive for control and domination; as such, not only certainty but the desire for it
needs to be critically analyzed and resisted. In sum, with Foucault we do not get
certainty. With Habermas we do not get it, either; the problem is that we do get the
empty belief that we can have it, a belief that encourages us to search for certainty
rather than to find effective ways of resisting domination and promoting freedom
within a world without it. The annals of modern history – particularly the twentieth
and, thus far, the twenty-first centuries – illustrate the degree to which harm can
result from, as William Connolly puts it, the ‚systematic cruelty‛ that ‚flows
regularly from the thoughtlessness of aggressive conventionality.‛44 While
Habermas in no way engages in or promotes such thoughtlessness, I think he
maintains a kernel of a mode of thought that, under the right conditions, has the
potential to develop into it. Insofar as this is the case, I suggest, paraphrasing
Foucault, that ‚it is precisely the demand for uncritical acceptance – including of the
norm and normativity – in itself that we cannot accept without examination.‛
Habermas’s primary criticism of Foucault is that he engages in performative
contradictions which throw him back upon a kind of ‚crypto-normativity‛ that

Michel Foucault, ‚What is Enlightenment?‛ in The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow
(New York: Pantheon, 1984), 46.
William E. Connolly, ‚Beyond Good and Evil: Michel Foucault’s Ethical Sensibility,‛
Political Theory (August 1994), 366.
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

involves relying upon the same concepts he critiques. From the perspective of
Habermas, Foucault cannot simultaneously invoke a norm (freedom, for example)
while simultaneously critiquing the very idea of the norm by illustrating its
implication in relations of power. As I have argued here, however, Habermas’s
perspective holds only if his own conceptualization of the norm and normativity are
accepted as the necessary framework through which any appeal to values such
freedom can take place. Foucault’s illustration of the implication of the norm in
relations of power does not irrevocably taint the idea of the norm, but it does mean
that all norms have the potential to be normalizing, and that persons have to be
vigilant in their critical analysis of prevailing modes of thought and existence. All
norms implicate us in relations of power, but whereas some are normalizing and
promote power at the expense of freedom, others mitigate power and promote
freedom. Norms that function in a normalizing manner under prevailing conditions
may not always be normalizing, and those which promote freedom within a
particular sociohistorical context may not always do so. Again, it is up to persons to
be engaged enough in the world to be able to ‚separate out, from the contingency
that has made us what we are, the possibility of no longer being, doing, or thinking
what are, do, or think . . . to grasp the points where change is possible and desirable,
and to determine the precise form this change should take.‛45 By way of conclusion,
I would like to examine three values, considered by Foucault to be useful tools in the
kind of separating, grasping, and determining described above, which I believe are
valuable for the practice of western philosophy.
For Foucault, values and principles are not grounds but rather effects of
critical engagement with the present. While values and principles might be
translated into strategies, these would really only be meaningful within the context
of the present from which they spring. The notion of ‚strategy‛ here needs to be
construed in terms of what Foucault refers to as ‚problematization,‛ the
‚development of a domain of acts, practices, and thoughts that pose problems for‛
prevailing – one could say normative – modes of existence.46 I’ve suggested that
Foucault’s refusal to comply with prevailing modes of thought and existence stems
from his recognition of the normalizing potential of norms, including the demand
for normative criteria itself; as such, it reflects a deep concern with promoting
freedom. And I think, moreover, that Foucault’s conceptualization of values and
principles as effects of critical engagement with the present goes a long way toward
explaining his articulation of ethics in terms of an ethos or ‚a way of life.‛ In a late
interview, an interlocutor asks Foucault if he is a ‚nihilist who reject*s+ morality.‛47
After responding with an emphatic, ‚No!,‛ Foucault proceeds to articulate what he

Foucault, ‚What is Enlightenment?,‛ 46.
See Michel Foucault, ‚Polemic, Politics, and Problematizations,‛ in The Foucault Reader,
ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 385.
Foucault, ‚Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual.‛
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


refers to as the three ‚moral values‛ which he practices and ‚within which *he
situates his] work.‛48 The first value is refusal – specifically, refusing ‚to accept as
self-evident the things that are proposed to us.‛49 As I have argued here, if persons
uncritically accept what is presented to them as natural and necessary they are
unlikely to recognize harmful (i.e., normalizing) effects stemming from prevailing
modes of thought and existence and, therefore, to be in a position to do anything
about such effects. So refusal is crucial in creating conditions under which making
change is possible. The second value Foucault identifies is curiosity: ‚the need to
analyze and to know, since we can accomplish nothing without reflection and
knowledge.‛50 Once refusal opens all aspects of existence to critical analysis, persons
need to undertake that analysis. Foucault makes clear that it is only through critical
engagement with our own historical actualities that we can identify harmful
practices, work to end or alter them, and endeavor to proceed along different lines.
Refusal and curiosity pave the way for the third value he identifies, innovation: ‚to
seek out in our reflection those things that have never been thought or imagined.‛51
These three values can be seen to inform and in turn be rearticulated through
what Foucault refers to as a ‚politics of ourselves.‛52 From a Foucauldian
perspective, practicing refusal, curiosity, and innovation can facilitate a loosening of
the interconnection between increasing persons’ capacities and possibilities and
intensifying power. While activities that are considered political in a traditional
sense – such as a protest, campaign, or voter registration drive – could certainly
entail refusal, curiosity, and innovation, the ‚politics‛ Foucault refers to is not
limited to this type of activity; persons can cultivate the kind of critical stance
reflected in the values of refusal, curiosity, and innovation in a variety of ways.53
Insofar as this is the case, I think that engaging in a politics of ourselves needs to be

Michel Foucault, ‚Truth and Subjectivity.‛ This is the first of the two Howison Lectures
Foucault delivered at UC Berkeley on October 20 and 21 of 1980. The second lecture is
titled ‚Christianity and Confession.‛ I am using the version of ‚Truth and Subjectivity
that is housed in the IMEC Archive, folder number D2 (1). Slightly different versions of
these lectures were delivered at Dartmouth College in November 1980. The Dartmouth
lectures appear in Religion and Culture: Michel Foucault, ed. Jeremy R. Carrette (New York:
Routledge: 1999), 158-181.
Ladelle McWhorter provides an important analysis of the two primary practices Foucault
identifies as cultivating a critical attitude: sex and drugs. As McWhorter points out,
Foucault’s discussions of these two practices are usually dismissed as expressions of his
own predilections and have therefore not received serious philosophical consideration.
She also offers informative analyses of two practices of her own: gardening and line
dancing. See Ladelle McWhorter, Bodies and Pleasures: Foucault and the Politics of Sexual
Normalization (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999).
Taylor: Normativity and Normalization

understood as cultivating what Foucault variously refers to as a way of life, an ethos,
and an attitude – a particular way of constituting and conducting ourselves as
subjects that both informs and is reflected in what we do.54 Moreover, given its three
key aspects this ethos or attitude needs to be understood more specifically as
‚critical‛ in a Foucauldian sense, where persons recognize limits but refuse to accept
them as absolute, natural, and necessary. As Judith Butler puts it, ‚critique will be
that perspective on established and ordering ways of knowing which is not
immediately assimilated into that ordering function.‛55
Philosophical activity may be a means by which to cultivate a critical attitude,
but only if it contains a ‚political dimension.‛56 That is to say, philosophy is critical
to the extent that it concerns itself with ‚what we are willing to accept in our worlds,
to refuse, and to change, both in ourselves and in our circumstances.‛57 Through the
practice of philosophy, persons can conduct historical analyses of how things have
to come to be the way that they are – can conduct what Foucault calls ‚ontologies of
the present‛ – and through such analyses identify how things might be different and
work toward making them so. Foucault makes this point in a different way in the
Introduction to Volume II of The History of Sexuality when he describes what he
believes to be the role of philosophy within contemporary society:

There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently
than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if
one is to go on looking and reflecting at all . . . [W]hat is philosophy today . . . in
what does it consist, if not in the endeavor to know how and to what extent it
might be possible to think differently, instead of legitimating what is already

Foucault is here describing a mode of philosophical engagement that does not seek
to substitute existing, positive ideas for harmful ones or to uncritically assert
prevailing concepts, standards, and principles that are no longer relevant for
contemporary reality. He is not interested in, in other words, ‚a critical philosophy
that seeks to determine the conditions and the limits of our possible knowledge of
the object.‛59 Instead, he engages in and in turn endeavors to foster ‚a critical
philosophy that seeks the conditions and the indefinite possibilities of transforming

See Michel Foucault, ‚Friendship as a Way of Life,‛ in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed.
Paul Rabinow (New York: The New Press, 1997), 135-140.
Judith Butler, ‚What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue,‛ in The Political, ed.
David Ingram (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002), 215.
Foucault, ‚Truth and Subjectivity.‛
Foucault, ‚Introduction,‛ in Volume II of The History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure, 8-9.
Foucault, ‚Truth and Subjectivity.‛
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 45-63


the subject, of transforming ourselves‛60 and, therefore, of transforming the world in
which we live. This is a philosophy grounded in critical reflection on and engage-
ment with the present (with how the present has come to acquire its particular
character) which aims at promoting freedom or at the very least at (re)creating the
conditions for its possibility. Such critical reflection and engagement involves
identifying normalizing practices, analyzing their effects, and developing new, non-
normalizing modes of thought and existence. Possibilities for change lie neither in
despairing in the face of nor trying to gloss over the complexities of modern
societies, but rather precisely in acknowledging and engaging the depths of such
complexities which shape but do not determine the nature of such acknowledgment
and engagement.

16. Elena - February 25, 2010

This whole text by Taylor seems to pivot around the same problems we discussed or rather I posited on the fofblog for three years with the indifference and silence of most.

I get the impression that Foucault and Habermas turn around each other’s truth in a dialectic labyrinth going nowhere because they are both aspects of “reality” but each pretend they hold the key. Perhaps not in as much as Habermas makes a caricature of Foucault while Foucault at least acknowledges Habermas’ premises but to me they are talking about different aspects of the same thing and don’t meet like the blind men describing the elephant without knowing what part they are each touching.

From this shallow reading, Habermas seems to touch more deeply on the issue in his statements on “universalities” while Foucault is equally valid in his statements on staying away from the “norm”
but what is surprising is that they don’t seem to realize that they are both equally valid, just moving in a different wavelength of the same phenomenon. While Habermas’ paradigms (is that the word?) are valid in the social context as much as the individual context, Foucault’s paradigms, I would say, are more related and equally valid and necessary for a dynamic evolution of consciousness, in the individual and society but they are coming from different ends.

Habermas’ universalities are not the same as the norms which is what Foucault seems to be misrepresenting and Foucault’s “attitude” towards them is “correct” in relation to the universalities made “norms” but misses the point when he is unable to grasp the “universalities” themselves. Their dialogue would not be possible without all of the ingredients involved!

What Foucault seems to be missing is the concept of identification and at the same time, it’s what Habermas seems to be taking for granted and that is what they are both rejecting about each other “identified” with themselves!.

The “norm” becomes possible when many become “identified” with the status quo that upholds it. The norm becomes normal when it is justified by the belief in the structures that gave birth to it.

In the FOF systematically raping young men who are imported from all corners of the world has become not only the “normal” practice of the congregation but the main practice and aim of the congregation. EVERYTHING is subject to that practice. Everything has turned so upside down and backwards that no matter how many other “ideals” may be used to decorate the practice, the actual reality of what goes on is aimed at the sole achievement of supplying the guru with fresh young men. It does not matter whether members believe they are working on themselves in the deepness of their heart, what matters is what they are actually DOING as members of that congregation and THAT: what they are actually doing, is what determines the NORMS and NORMALIZATION of the practices within the CULT.

I doubt it would be possible to understand the phenomenon if one doesn’t understand both sides of the equation: Habermas’ and Foucault’s. The members FALL like leaves in autumn for the fraud because they are identified with Habermas’ paradigms of universal truths. Had we been more conscious of Foucault’s necessity to “refuse” we would not have “identified” so easily and actively but blindly participated in the scheme. Both Habermas’ and Foucault’s paradigms are valid in the practical reality of life. They just seem to be missing a few screws to connect to each other!

17. Elena - February 25, 2010

This article on friendship and homosexuality is closely related to aspects of the Fellowship Cult. In understanding the cult we will necessarily have to explore Robert Burton’s, the “guru” homosexuality and his connection with the San Francisco ghetto of homosexuals. In relation to Foucaults exploration of that subculture it is interesting how it continued to develop in the Pathway to Presence Cult or FOF. The majority of members that remained would accept Foucaults premises without problems. It wasn’t the homosexuality we were or are against, it was the submission of people into serving slaves of that homosexuality what is questioned.

There are deep, deep issues not only about the whole Fellowship of FRIENDS phenomenon here that must be deeply explored, but about homosexuality itself and its trends or threads. Foucaults premises that homosexuality would be free from all other conditionings are “naive” to say the least, if not completely “ignorant” of the facts.

And yet the “freedom” that he stands for in relations between people is perfectly valid and necessary to come to freedom. All that would fit in the context of “HUMAN” interchange as I understand human, not humanism, not the “liberal humanism” within the capitalist framework.

Again, it is such a pleasure to find people talking about the things I was so hoping to discuss in the FOFBLOG and never found who to do it with, people always landing in a discussion of my persona and not the subjects at hand.

Mark Kingston 2009
ISSN: 1832-5203
Foucault Studies, No 7, pp. 7-17, September 2009


Subversive Friendships: Foucault on Homosexuality and Social Experimentation
Mark Kingston, University of New South Wales

ABSTRACT: In some of his more obscure works, Michel Foucault characterises homosexual
culture as being connected with an interesting practice of friendship. Since homosexual
relationships cannot be derived from existing norms, they are inherently underdetermined,
and this means that homosexual culture provides a space for the creation of new types of
relationship. Inspired by this practice of social experimentation, Foucault puts forward a
concept of friendship based on the collaborative creation of new relationships in marginal
spaces. I argue that putting this concept of friendship into practice entails social activism in
two ways: first, the creation of new relationships in marginal spaces constitutes a form of
localised resistance to social normalisation, and second, because experimentation with
relationships presents a challenge to the excessive normalisation of relationships on a societal
scale. Friendship, for Foucault, is therefore a resource for both local resistance and large-scale
social change. I also argue that Foucault’s work on gay culture deserves more scholarly
attention because it provides a supplement to his interpretation of the Enlightenment and
forges a link between friendship and the aesthetics of existence.

Keywords: Enlightenment, Foucault, friendship, homosexuality, politics.

Philosophical inquiry into friendship in recent years has often sought to comprehend and
respond to two closely related problems. The first is that friendship is largely understood as
dependent on shared values and similarity between friends. The familiar notions of a
”brotherhood of man” and political solidarity are derived from this understanding of
friendship. However, to think of friendship in such terms is to assume that our shared
background and common goals will naturally dictate the terms of our relationships. This
leaves little room for us to exercise creativity in the relationships we build with others. A
tradition that understands friendship as based on similarity thus deprives friendships of
creativity and spontaneity. The second problem is that our relationships are strongly
influenced by social norms, and often to a degree that is detrimental. A key example is
friendship between men: owing to the way masculinity is constructed in the contemporary
world, intimacy between men is seen as effeminate and is not readily accepted. Men who
engage in close relationships with one another are often seen as lacking proper masculine self-
sufficiency and as tending toward homosexuality. As Steve Garlick argues in his paper on
Foucault, masculinity and friendship, this has left male-to-male friendship in an impoverished
Kingston: Subversive Friendships


state, burdened by formalities that aim to establish safe forms of interaction that are free from
effeminate intimacy.1 So the problem with social norms as guides to friendship is that they
tend to produce excessively rigid relationships and perpetuate practices that ought to be
discarded. Recently, thinkers such as Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida have responded
to these problems by drawing together themes of friendship and difference, showing that
relationships are not exclusively founded on the shared social background of their
participants. Others, such as Sandra Lynch have responded by advocating a contemporary
friendship characterised by creativity and uncertainty.2 Michel Foucault has also addressed
this topic, developing a concept of friendship based on social experimentation alongside his
analysis of gay culture. However, in the context of recent debates on friendship, Foucault’s
contribution remains under-appreciated.3 For this reason, I wish to discuss Foucault’s concept
of friendship in detail and show how it fits into the wider scheme of his work.
Foucault’s most valuable discussions of homosexuality and friendship come from the
late 1970s and early 1980s. A good selection can be found in the collection Ethics: Subjectivity
and Truth,4 edited by Paul Rabinow. In these essays and interviews, Foucault describes
homosexual culture as involved in a process of social experimentation that aims to create
novel relationships. Although, as I argued earlier, relationships between men are often highly
normalised, homosexual relationships take place in a ”marginal” space that exists beyond the
boundaries of conventional masculine culture, where the norms that would otherwise govern
relationships between men do not apply.5 Homosexual relationships therefore need to be
created rather than derived from an existing tradition. Of course, Foucault is not saying that
homosexual culture is somehow outside of power. Rather, it is disconnected from the most
totalising and normalising systems of power relations, and characterised instead by very
dynamic and unstable systems of power relations. Likewise, Foucault does not believe that
there are no social norms present in homosexual culture. Rather, the norms that apply to
homosexual relationships are fewer and constitute an inadequate guide to creating an actual
relationship. Homosexual culture is therefore, in Foucault’s terminology, a space of greater
freedom – where ”freedom” means freedom from normalising effects of power and,
consequently, the ability to create oneself.6 Homosexual people are thus given a relational
openness that allows for, and in fact necessitates, social experimentation.
In the following quote, from ”Friendship as a Way of Life,” Foucault illustrates this

Steve Garlick, “The Beauty of Friendship: Foucault, Masculinity and the Work of Art,” Philosophy and
Social Criticism 28, 5 (2002), 56.
Sandra Lynch, Philosophy and Friendship (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005).
David Webb, for example, argues that Foucault’s notion of friendship has an advantage over
Derrida’s in that it does not emphasise the ”aporetic” or impossible nature of true friendship.
“On Friendship: Derrida, Foucault and the Practice of Becoming,” Research in Phenomenology 33
(2003), 119-140.
Michel Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, edited by Paul Rabinow (New York: The New Press,
Garlick, “The Beauty of Friendship.” Garlick also provides an account of Foucault’s notion of
friendship, focussing on its links with existential phenomenology.
For a more detailed discussion of Foucault’s concept of freedom see Paul Patton’s “Taylor and
Foucault on Power and Freedom,” Political Studies 37, 2 (1989).
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 7-17


idea by describing both the excitement and the difficulty involved in forging homosexual

As far back as I remember, to want guys was to want relations with guys. That has
always been important for me. Not necessarily in the form of a couple but as a matter
of existence: how is it possible for men to be together? To live together, to share their
time, their meals, their room, their leisure, their grief, their knowledge, their
confidences? What is it to be “naked” among men, outside of institutional relations,
family, profession, and obligatory camaraderie?

Q. Can you say that desire and pleasure, and the relationships one can have, are
dependent on one’s age?

M.F. Yes, very profoundly. Between a man and a younger woman, the marriage
institution makes it easier: she accepts it and makes it work. But two men of noticeably
different ages – what code would allow them to communicate? They face each other
without terms or convenient words, with nothing to assure them about the meaning of
the movement that carries them toward each other. They have to invent, from A to Z, a
relationship that is still formless.7

Heterosexual romantic life brings an enormous array of norms into play: protocols for dating,
guidelines for married life, norms that describe male and female roles, rules about how and
why to show affection, and so on. Even where a relationship is unusual, as in Foucault’s
example of age difference in a marriage relationship, these norms still provide guidance. A
homosexual couple, on the other hand, does not have such a wealth of norms to guide them,
and are therefore left with the task of inventing their own way of being together.
Homosexuality thus invites the creation of new forms of relationship.
Foucault fortifies his position with a critique of the idea of homosexuality as a fixed
identity. He argues that there is no genuine homosexual identity, style or way of living and,
accordingly, that people who embrace homosexuality are not realising an inner nature that has
been hidden by an oppressive heterosexual hegemony. Rather, they must face the task of
creating their own subjectivities – a task that is bound up with the creation of relationships
with others. Foucault thus reiterates his argument against the ”repressive hypothesis” in the
context of homosexuality:

[One] thing to distrust is the tendency to relate the question of homosexuality to the
problem of “Who am I?” and “What is the secret of my desire?” Perhaps it would be
better to ask oneself, “What relations, through homosexuality, can be established,
invented, multiplied, and modulated?” The problem is not to discover in oneself the
truth of one’s sex, but, rather, to use one’s sexuality henceforth to arrive at a
multiplicity of relationships. …. The development toward which homosexuality tends
is one of friendship.8

Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life,” Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, 136.
Ibid., 135-136.
Kingston: Subversive Friendships


Foucault thus conceives of homosexuality as a space for the construction of novel relationships
and subjectivities, as opposed to a fixed identity that one can adopt or discover within oneself.
This approach sets him apart from those who would engage in ”identity politics” and ground
solidarity among homosexual people in their common interests and identity. Its emphasis on
similarity between group members and a shared way of life means that identity politics entails
the creation of a rigid set of norms for homosexual relationships analogous to that which
structures heterosexual relationships. An identity politics thus promotes conformity. Foucault,
on the other hand, wants to put us on a path toward the creative and collaborative
construction of subjectivity. This is essentially what he means by ”friendship” – working
together with others to build new subjectivities and relationships rather than falling back on
social norms. It is a concept of friendship that privileges experimentation over traditional,
institutional or racial bonds. It also privileges heterogeneity over homogeneity, in that it
anticipates the creation of many different relationships based on the various preferences of
their participants.
Given that he uses homosexual relationships as his key examples of friendship,
Foucault’s discussion may seem to be blurring the line between friendship, sexual relations
and romantic love. However, this is not the case – he only wishes to avoid making the
distinction between friendship and romantic love (a distinction that comes packaged with a
great many social norms describing how these two relationships should work) and is still keen
to distinguish between friendship and sexual relations. He must do so in order to then draw a
distinction between the sexual and affective aspects of homosexuality. Foucault argues that
“homosexuality is not a form of desire but something desirable”9 and that the question is
“how can a relational system be reached through sexual practices?”10 He thus draws a strong
distinction between sexual acts and desires on the one hand, and emotional ties on the other.
There are two reasons why this distinction is necessary. First, Foucault associates sexual desire
with the concept of a fixed identity. In the case of homosexuality, he is wary of the tendency to
build a fixed identity around the desire for other men. That would be a problem because the
notion of homosexuality as a fixed identity conflicts with the practice of experimental
friendship that is the ”desirable” aspect of homosexual culture. Second, for Foucault, affection
can be subversive but sexual relations cannot. On their own, sexual relations are
unchallenging and can easily be assimilated into our “sanitized”11 society – the medical
profession, for example, assimilated homosexuality as a form of sexual abnormality. New
affective ties, on the other hand, are much more dangerous because they disrupt the social
order, creating new relationships and interfering with existing ones. Therefore, because taking
sexual desire as the essential part of homosexuality leads us to interpret homosexuality as a
fixed identity, and because sex does not in itself contribute to the subversion of normalisation,
Foucault must draw a distinction between homosexual desires and acts on the one hand, and
the affective relations that occur between people brought together by this desire on the other.

Ibid., 137.
Ibid., 136. Cf., Marli Huijer, “The Aesthetics of Existence in the Work of Michel Foucault,” Philosophy
and Social Criticism 25, 2 (1999), 72.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 7-17


We might therefore say that Foucault wants to take the ”sexuality” out of ”homosexuality,”
since he regards homosexuality as a social phenomenon that is essentially geared toward the
production of novel relationships and only incidentally involves sex between men.
Another interesting aspect of Foucault’s concept of friendship is that it entails two
distinct activist projects. First, it entails localised resistance to social normalisation. This
resistance happens when people disconnect themselves from the totalising and normalising
systems of power relations that generally govern our relationships and, instead, create
marginal spaces in which novel relationships can be constructed. In the contemporary world
there are many such spaces, and they are not necessarily connected with homosexuality. There
are women’s groups, where women can challenge the gender roles given to them by our
patriarchal society, there are communes and kibbutzes where people come together to pursue
a collectivistic lifestyle, and there are punk and goth subcultures with members whose values
differ distinctly from those held in mainstream society. Each of these spaces provides its
members with a chance to subvert social normalisation and create new subjectivities and
relationships in a collaborative environment. For Foucault, however, the key example of
localised resistance through friendship is the culture of homosexual sadomasochism (or S &
M). He argues that the relationships created through S & M are innovations on the traditional
sexual relationship that can accommodate new forms of pleasure.

I don’t think that this movement of sexual practices has anything to do with the
disclosure or the uncovering of S & M tendencies deep within our unconscious, and so
on. I think that S & M is much more than that; it’s the real creation of new possibilities
of pleasure, which people had no idea about previously. The idea that S & M is related
to a deep violence, that S & M practice is a way of liberating this violence, this
aggression, is stupid. We know very well what all those people are doing is not
aggressive; they are inventing new possibilities of pleasure with strange parts of their
body – through the eroticization of the body. I think it’s a kind of creation, a creative

Foucault thus regards S & M as an experiment in a new kind of relationship, and a key
example of the practice of friendship. There are, however, two potential difficulties with this
example. First, given the character of S & M, it might be objected that relationships of this
kind simply substitute one code of norms for another. S & M relationships are, after all, no less
structured than more conventional relationships. This is true, but we need to remember that
what Foucault condemns is not norms but normalisation. If we create the norms of our
relationships ourselves rather than relying on those prevalent in society, and we make sure
those norms are modifiable (which is hopefully the case in S & M relationships) then we can
avoid normalisation and keep our relational possibilities open. In other words, there is
nothing intrinsically wrong with austere codes of norms as long as they are flexible and
negotiable. The second difficulty is that Foucault has told us that sex is never genuinely
subversive, and that friendship is actually about new affective relationships and social

Michel Foucault, “Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Edited by
Paul Rabinow (New York: The New Press, 1997), 165.
Kingston: Subversive Friendships


structures, yet his key example of friendship is a relationship that is fundamentally sexual. S &
M may therefore seem like a poor example of subversive friendship. However, there are two
things to note in Foucault’s defence. First, S & M may be based on sex acts, but nonetheless it
also creates new affective ties and forms of subjectivity, and therefore qualifies as friendship.
Second, gay S & M is not just a relationship between two sex partners – it is also a foundation
for community. For example, Foucault describes the S & M ghetto in San Francisco as a place
where sexual experimentation has formed a community with its own unique norms and social
structure.13 People have coalesced into an S & M scene, transforming a subversive sexual
practice into a subversive community; a counter-culture based on participation in a particular
kind of novel relationship. Foucault calls this ”ghettoization.”’14 In the case of gay S & M, this
ghettoization is especially useful. Living in a society where homophobia is prevalent, and
where discrimination and violence against homosexual people are widespread, the S & M
counter-culture provides a space where, for once, gay people can set the conditions for social
interaction. It is not just a space of refuge, but a space of greater freedom, in which people can
create new identities for themselves, find community, and enrich their lives in ways that
would not be possible anywhere else. This is another way in which gay S & M culture uses the
creation of novel relationships as a means of resistance against the excessive normalisation
encountered in the public realm.
However, Foucault’s concept of friendship does not simply entail disconnection from
society and the subversion of social norms in marginal spaces. It also entails a project of social
activism that aims to challenge the excessive normalisation of relationships across society as a
whole. The following quote, from an interview entitled ”The Social Triumph of the Sexual
Will,” captures some of the nature of this project, as well as the excitement and sense of
humour with which Foucault approaches it:

[MF:] We should fight against the impoverishment of the relational fabric. We should
secure recognition for relations of provisional coexistence, adoption….

GB: Of children.

MF: Or – why not? – of one adult by another. Why shouldn’t I adopt a friend who’s ten
years younger than I am? And even if he’s ten years older? Rather than arguing that
rights are fundamental and natural to the individual, we should try to imagine and
create a new relational right that permits all possible types of relations to exist and not
be prevented, blocked, or annulled by impoverished relational institutions.15

Foucault thus expands the project of experimental friendship into a general challenge to the
normalisation of relationships. If we take up this project, the narrow range of relationships
available to us can be abandoned in favour of the cooperative and spontaneous construction of
novel relationships. This will establish a more fluid way of being together that allows for

Ibid. 167. Cf., David M. Halperin, Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography (New York and Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1995), 103-104.
Michel Foucault, “The Social Triumph of the Sexual Will,” Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, 158.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 7-17


greater diversity and creativity. Gay culture stands at the forefront of this project, since it is by
necessity a privileged site for the creation of novel relationships. Interestingly, however,
Foucault positions the general challenge to the normalisation of relationships as a substitute
for the gay rights movement. The gay rights movement attempts to create a new scheme of
relationships that incorporates homosexuality as a legitimate choice [choice?] of lifestyle, but
for Foucault this project only confirms the validity of the systems of normalisation that govern
relationships. As an alternative, he suggests that we fight against the very idea of a rigid and
totalising code of norms for relationships in the name of freedom and experimentation. For
this reason we might suspect that Foucault would have been ambivalent about the idea of
legalising gay marriage. It seems that, given his understanding of homosexuality as a practice
of experimental friendship, Foucault might have regarded the movement to legalise gay
marriage as dangerous, because it threatens to ”contaminate” homosexual relationships with
the rigid norms typical of heterosexual relationships. This conjecture is supported by
Foucault’s argument that gay rights should be superseded by a ”relational right.” A relational
right, for Foucault, means “the right to gain recognition in an institutional sense for the
relations of one individual to another individual,” as opposed to traditional civil rights which
pertain only to the individual.16 If a right of this kind were upheld, people who engage in
unconventional relationships would be able to attain the same kind of recognition that
married couples attain. The dangers inherent in legalising gay marriage would be avoided, or
at least mitigated, by this approach. However, it is worth noting that it is a very unusual tack
for Foucault, who tends to avoid using the language of rights and investing in institutionalised
processes of social reform. It suggests that he has more sympathy for the traditional projects of
political philosophy than is generally thought , although to what extent remains an open
question, since he does not develop the argument further. What can be made of the notion of a
relational right, and what normative limits would need to be placed on such a right, also
remain open questions.
Foucault’s idea of a general challenge to the normalisation of relationships resonates
with the perceived threat of homosexuality to heterosexual culture. As we have seen, Foucault
is not simply trying to undermine the particular code of norms governing relationships
between men – he is disputing the normalisation of relationships in general. Homosexual
culture, with its potential for experimentation and creativity, is therefore a threat to the
stability of all relationships, and to the social order that these relationships support. We have
seen how this threat is received by conservative commentators, who claim that the family is
the ”fundamental unit of society” and continuously assert that marriage is necessarily a
relationship between a man and a woman. Their claims, supposedly supported by truths of
biology and religion, are used to defend the hegemony of a relational tradition that
marginalises and condemns homosexuality. Homophobia is therefore, at least in some cases,
not so much a reaction based on moral condemnation of homosexual sex acts as it is a
conservative attempt to secure the supposedly heterosexual foundations of society. For his
part, Foucault welcomes the disruption of the social order because it is only through such
disruption that we can rejuvenate the impoverished relational fabric of our society. He is also

Ibid., 162. Cf., 160.
Kingston: Subversive Friendships


quite confident that the general challenge to the normalisation of relationships does not
represent a true threat to the stability of society.17
Despite the urgency of this challenge to the excessive normalisation of relationships,
Foucault warns against the idea of a homosexual program or agenda. A misplaced emphasis
on solidarity and common goals, he suggests, can undermine the creativity that makes gay
culture so significant.

[T]he idea of a program of new proposals is dangerous. As soon as a program is
presented, it becomes a law, and there’s a prohibition against inventing. There ought to
be an inventiveness to a special situation like ours and to these feelings, this need that
Americans call “coming out,” that is, showing oneself. The program must be wide
open. We have to dig deeply to show how things have been historically contingent, for
such and such reason intelligible but not necessary. We must make the intelligible
appear against a background of emptiness and deny its necessity. We must think that
what exists is far from filling all possible spaces. To make a truly unavoidable
challenge of the question: What can be played?18

According to Foucault, homosexuality must provide a space for innovation and
experimentation, allowing new forms of friendship to develop without the law-like influence
of a ”program of proposals.” However, because of this openness, homosexual culture finds
itself implicated in a social and political project but at the same time denied the option of
resorting to devices such as a fixed group identity or a fixed agenda that are used to create
cohesion and solidarity in other groups. In effect, the aim of challenging the relational fabric of
society sits uneasily with the need for a clear, consistent and effective approach to social
change, which would seem to require a unifying project. However, Foucault does not regard
this as a severe problem, and appears hopeful that homosexual culture can maintain an
awareness of its social and political relevance while not falling into the trap of building itself
an inflexible program or engaging in identity politics. Perhaps, because it is flexible, diverse
and locally organised, gay culture can mount a more successful and unexpected attempt at
social change than other, more conventional movements.
Finally, it is important to remember that, although the general challenge to the
normalisation of relationships begins with homosexual culture, anyone can participate. Even
heterosexual relationships, if a certain inventiveness is employed, can be subject to
experimentation. Indeed, much of the formality that comprises these relationships could, and
perhaps should, be deprived of the semblance of necessity it has attained and re-evaluated
with a sense of humour and creativity.19 In light of this general questioning of the norms that
structure our relationships, it might even be argued that it no longer makes sense to talk in
terms of homosexual and heterosexual relationships, if what we mean by that is that these
relationships both have their own intrinsic and immutable characteristics. Rather, we should
talk about a multitude of sui generis relationships that are just, as it happens, between a man

Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, 261.
Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life,” 139-140.
Michel Foucault, “The Social Triumph of the Sexual Will,” 160.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 7-17


and a woman, or between two women or two men, or between more than two people. This is
what David M. Halperin means when he says that “The future Foucault envisages for us is not
exclusively or categorically gay. But it is definitely queer.”20 Although the norms that
determine our relationships are the products of millennia of history and are supported by very
rigid systems of power relations, they ought to be challenged. Doing so will clear the space
needed for an experimental friendship in which anyone can participate, regardless of their
identifying themselves as gay, lesbian, straight or otherwise.
Foucault’s work on homosexuality and social experimentation thus describes a novel
form of friendship. This form of friendship is quite different from what we would call
friendship in common language – it is not founded on similarity between friends, nor does it
involve a fixed body of norms that determine how friends relate to one another. Instead, it
involves the collaborative creation of new subjectivities and relationships as participants
struggle to come to terms with one another. In this way it mirrors the efforts of many
contemporary philosophers who wish to challenge traditional notions of friendship.
Furthermore, like many contemporary contributions to the philosophy of friendship,
Foucault’s also has political implications, since it entails two distinct activist projects. First,
there is a project of localised resistance to social normalisation. Foucault conceptualises
friendship as taking place in marginal spaces that are disconnected from the intricate and
totalising systems of power relations that would otherwise normalise our relationships. In
these marginal spaces, new systems of power relations and subjectivities can be constructed in
a collaborative way, and these relations and subjectivities can remain negotiable and flexible.
Friendship thus subverts the most dangerous and normalising systems of power relations.
Second, there is a large-scale project in which we challenge the excessive normalisation of
relationships across society. Although the normalisation of relationships is one way in which
the social order is maintained and perpetuated, it can be excessive and place undue
restrictions on the kinds of relationships we have, as is demonstrated by the limitations of our
tradition of friendship between men. The experimental friendship described by Foucault
presents a much-needed challenge to this normalisation, and shows how we might go about
rejuvenating the relational fabric of our society. Together, these two activist projects make
Foucault’s a unique and highly practical account of the potential of friendship to create and
sustain social change.
If we look at this project closely, we can see that it parallels Foucault’s interpretation of
the Enlightenment, as given in the essay ”What is Enlightenment?”21 For Foucault, the
Enlightenment is a phenomenon, a task and an obligation all at once. It is a historical
phenomenon that consists in a widespread rejection of illegitimate authority and an opportunity
to transform the public realm. It is also the task, to be undertaken at this specific point in
history, of preparing for the free use of public reason and thereby expediting humanity’s
transition from superstitious and dogmatic ”immaturity” to rational ”maturity.” Finally, it is
the obligation to take advantage of the phenomenon of Enlightenment by carrying out the task
of Enlightenment – that is, the obligation to bring humanity to a mature state by carrying out a

Halperin, Saint Foucault, 100.
Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, 303-319.
Kingston: Subversive Friendships


reform of the public realm that promotes the free use of public reason. In much the same way,
the social experimentation that Foucault sees as linked with homosexual culture is a composite
of phenomenon, task and obligation. The phenomenon is the creation of new types of
relationship, beginning in spaces where their relationships are subject to less normalisation.
The task that comes out of this phenomenon is that of transforming the relational fabric of
society. The obligation is to carry out this task and thereby mitigate the dangers presented by
the excessive and harmful normalisation of relationships. The project of social experimentation
that Foucault describes in his work on homosexuality is therefore quite similar to the project
he outlines in the essay ”What is Enlightenment?” In both cases we are given an opportunity,
specific to this period in history, to transform society and create a new and better way of life.
In the classical, Kantian Enlightenment, this involves setting up the conditions for rational
public debate and thereby casting off despotism and religious dogma. With regards to
friendship, it means setting up the conditions for an experimental and creative approach to
relationships, and thereby freeing ourselves from the limits imposed by the impoverished
relational fabric of society.
However, this project is quite distinct in character from the two projects that appear as
complementary themes in Foucault’s discussion of the Enlightenment. First, there is what
Foucault calls the ”Enlightenment attitude’ – a process of social critique based on Kant’s
concept of the free use of public reason. Foucault’s project of social experimentation is similar
to the Enlightenment attitude in that it aims to transform society, but differs in that it is not
concerned with the ameliorating the systems of power, knowledge and ethics that comprise
society. Rather, it anticipates the creation of a number of marginal spaces that are only
minimally connected to large-scale social structures. In other words, it is not a project of large-
scale social critique, but one involving friendships and small communities. The other theme
that appears in Foucault’s discussion of the Enlightenment is that of an aesthetics of existence.
Foucault develops this theme through a discussion of Baudelaire’s dandyism. The social
experimentation that Foucault calls friendship is similar to the aesthetics of existence in that it
aims at the transformation of the self (indeed, Foucault suggests that his concept of friendship
is a type of aesthetics of existence, since it involves an “art of life”22) but, unlike the aesthetics
of existence described in works such as The History of Sexuality,23 it is not simply a matter of
self-transformation. Rather, it also involves the transformation of others through a negotiable
and collaborative process of relationship construction. Foucault’s concept of friendship is
therefore quite similar to his work on the ancient practice of parrhesia,24 in that it represents a
move from a solitary aesthetics of existence toward a more collaborative aesthetics of

Michel Foucault, “Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity,” 161.
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume Two: The Use of Pleasure. Translated by Robert
Hurley (London: Penguin Books, 1992); The History of Sexuality, Volume Three: The Care of the Self,
translated by Robert Hurley (London: Penguin Books, 1990).
Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981-1982, edited by
Frédéric Gros et al, translated by Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). A useful
commentary on this course is given by Thomas Flynn, “Foucault as Parrhesiast: His Last Course at
Collège de France (1984).” The Final Foucault, edited by James Bernauer and David Rasmussen
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988).
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 7-17


There are therefore both important similarities to and important differences between
the project of social experimentation found in Foucault’s work on gay culture and his
interpretation of the Enlightenment. On the one hand, both are presented as composites of
phenomenon, task and obligation, and both anticipate processes of social change linked to
specific moments in history. On the other hand, however, the project of social experimentation
presented in Foucault’s work on homosexuality differs from the Kantian project of social
critique and the aesthetics of existence that are presented as the two complementary themes of
the Enlightenment. Rather than conforming to the traditional dichotomy between individual
self-transformation and societal transformation, Foucault’s concept of friendship as social
experimentation takes a middle path and focuses on small communities and friendships. This
approach to social change has only gained currency quite recently, but it nonetheless bears the
ethos of the Enlightenment – the notion that we have an opportunity, at this moment in
history, to transform ourselves and our society in a fundamental way. We should therefore
understand Foucault’s work on homosexual culture as presenting a third, historically distinct
aspect of the Enlightenment project, complete with a new model of social action that
represents twentieth-century theoretical developments.
In conclusion, Foucault’s work on homosexuality and friendship is certainly worth
more attention than it has been given. There are several reasons why. First, it gives us a new
concept of friendship, connected with two promising activist projects. This contribution is of
particular relevance to contemporary debates on friendship in continental philosophy, which
tend to focus on the relationship between friendship, difference and social norms. Second,
Foucault’s work on friendship supplements his interpretation of the Enlightenment by
describing a form of social action focussed on the creation of novel relationships between
friends and within small communities. This approach to social action is, for the most part, a
twentieth-century achievement, and provides a middle path between the Enlightenment
projects of large-scale social reform and an individualistic aesthetics of existence. Third, this
work brings the aesthetics of existence, which is often described by Foucault as a solitary task,
into a collaborative environment. Finally, on a biographical note, Foucault’s work on
homosexuality and friendship gives us an interesting insight into the connection between his
intellectual work and his social activism. In fact, the work itself is a way of participating in
social change by promoting homosexual culture and its challenge to the normalisation of
relationships. It is perhaps the high point of activism in Foucault’s writings.

18. Elena - February 25, 2010
This whole article on pornography is relevant to the study of sexual attitudes in the Fellowship of Friends Cult. Many points expressed here reaffirm statements I made on the connection between the fantasy of sex and the inability to be present to sex in fascist characters. Allow me to give “my” definition of Fascist behavior as I’ve used it all along in my attacks against Fellowship members and exfellowship members: it is the inability to perceive the human in the subject one is dealing with. I should define “human” for me: it is the possibility of acknowledging the person in the “reality” one is dealing with I should define “reality” : the sum total of factors conditioning the event This I imagine will need redefining again but serves an initial stage Chloë Taylor 2009 ISSN: 1832-5203 Foucault Studies, No 7, pp. 18-44, September 2009 ARTICLE Pornographic Confessions? Sex Work and Scientia Sexualis in Foucault and Linda Williams Chloë Taylor, University of Alberta ABSTRACT: In the first volume of the History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault states in passing that prostitution and pornography, like the sexual sciences of medicine and psychiatry, are involved in the proliferation of sexualities and the perverse implantation. Against an influential misinterpretation of this passage on the part of film studies scholar Linda Williams, this paper takes up Foucault’s claim and attempts to explain the mechanism through which the sex industry, and pornography in particular, functions analogously to the sexual sciences in terms of the normalizing form of power that Foucault describes. Whereas Williams sets the question of prostitution aside, and argues that pornography must be a confessional discourse for Foucault, this paper argues that consumption rather than confession is the mechanism through which both prostitution and pornography deploy sexualities within a disciplinary system of power. Keywords: Foucault, Linda Williams, pornography, prostitution In 1977, Michel Foucault was asked by a government commission how he would like to see the laws concerning sexual crimes reformed in France. In his response he made no mention of prostitution and stated briefly that he was opposed to all legislation restricting sexually explicit materials. Prostitution and pornography appear to have been easy cases for Foucault, while he went on to say that there were only two kinds of sex acts that troubled him with respect to legislation – rape and sex with minors – and it is these issues that he contemplated in some detail.1 Lest we 1 Foucault describes this phone call in ‚Confinement, Psychiatry, Prison,‛ where he goes on to discuss rape with his interlocutors. Soon after, in ‚Sexual Morality and the Law,‛ he addresses the issue of sex with minors. See Lawrence D. Kritzman (ed.), Michel Foucault: Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984 (New York and London: Routledge: 1988) 178-210 and 271-285. For critical responses to Foucault’s comments on rape and sex with children, see Linda Alcoff, ‚Dangerous Pleasures: Foucault and the Politics of Pedophilia,‛ in Susan J. Hekman (ed.), Feminist Interpretations Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 19 think that sex work was entirely unproblematic for Foucault, however, in The History of Sexuality prostitution and pornography are mentioned along with the disciplinary professions of medicine and psychiatry as having ‚tapped into both this analytic multiplication of pleasure and this optimization of the power that controls it.‛2 Prostitution and pornography are suggested by Foucault to be involved in the workings of disciplinary power as it constructs and controls sexuality, and in this sense would be problematic indeed, even if it would make no more sense to resort to legislation in the cases of pornography and prostitution than it would in the cases of other disciplinary practices such as psychoanalysis and psychiatry. Since law functions on a model of repressive, sovereign or juridical power, it is not very effective, and may even be counter-productive, to resort to law in order to resist what are in fact disciplinary phenomena. This paper has two objectives, one negative and one positive. First, I wish to critique Film Studies scholar Linda Williams’ highly influential study of pornography, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the ‘Frenzy of the Visible’, which draws on Foucault at length. Williams’ 1989 work was groundbreaking in that it was the first study of porno- graphy that declined to engage in the censorship debate. Rather than questioning whether we should be for or against pornography, Williams approaches porno- graphy like any other film genre, discussing it seriously in terms of influences and techniques. Williams considers pornography to be a ‚body genre‛ of film much like other low-brow genres such as melodrama and horror, which also work to elicit physiological responses in the viewer. Importantly for the current paper, it is one of Williams’ central theses in her book to take up Foucault’s association of pornography with the disciplinary sciences of medicine and psychiatry in order to argue that pornography is a confessional science and participates in the will to know about sex. Moreover, Williams understands Foucault’s situating of pornography within his discussion of the perverse implantation to mean that pornography results in a positive proliferation of fluid sexualities within individual lives. Williams’ use of Foucault has gone unquestioned in Film and Porn Studies and has been cited and of Michel Foucault (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996), 99-135; Vikki Bell, Interrogating Incest: Feminism, Foucault and the Law (London and New York: Routledge, 1993); Ann J. Cahill, ‚Foucault, Rape, and the Construction of the Feminine Body,‛ Hypatia, 15, vol., no. 1, (Winter 2000); Ann J. Cahill, Rethinking Rape (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2001); Laura Hengehold, ‚An Immodest Proposal: Foucault, Hysterization, and the ‘Second Rape,’‛ in Hypatia, (Summer 1994): 88- 107; Monique Plaza, ‚Our Damages and Their Compensation,‛ Feminist Issues, 1 (3), ([1978], 1981): 5-35; Chloë Taylor, ‚Foucault, Feminism and Sex Crimes,‛ in Hypatia, vol. 24, no. 4, (Fall 2009); Winifred Woodhull, ‚Sexuality, Power, and the Question of Rape,‛ in Irene Diamond and Lee Quinby (ed.), Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988), 167-176. 2 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (New York: Vintage, 1978), 48. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 20 employed authoritatively by numerous other scholars; however, I shall contest both Williams’ reading of Foucault and of pornography. My second and more positive objective in this paper is to offer a new interpretation of Foucault’s reference to pornography (and, to a lesser extent, prostitution – which Williams sets aside) in The History of Sexuality. This interpretation is more consistent than Williams’ not only with Foucault’s arguments in The History of Sexuality, but more importantly, with the manner in which pornography and prostitution actually function. First, I argue that in so far as pornography and prostitution involve expertise, they are closer to the ars erotica than to the sexual sciences. Second, I argue that the mechanism by which pornography and prostitution participate in the perverse implantation is not confession but consumption. Consequently, contra Williams, we must attend to the consumers rather than to what takes place on set or on screen to see how pornography serves its disciplinary function. Finally, I argue that although the perverse implantation deployed by pornography may result in a proliferation of sexualities at a society-wide level, on an individual level it is constraining rather than liberating, contributing – along with the sexual sciences of medicine and psychiatry – to the fixing of each of us into frozen rather than fluid sexual identities. Scientia Sexualis or Ars Erotica? Other than his references to specific literary works such as My Secret Life and the writings of Sade, Foucault only considers pornography once in the History of Sexuality, and what he says is all-too-brief and has been influentially misinterpreted by Williams. In the chapter entitled ‚The Perverse Implantation,‛ Foucault writes: And accompanying this encroachment of powers, scattered sexualities rigidified, became stuck to an age, a place, a type of practice. A proliferation of sexualities through the extension of power; an optimization of the power to which each of these local sexualities gave a surface of intervention; this concatenation, particularly since the nineteenth century, has been ensured and relayed by the countless economic interests which, with the help of medicine, psychiatry, prostitution, and pornography, have tapped into both this analytic multiplication of pleasure and this optimization of the power that controls it. Pleasure and power do not cancel or turn back against one another; they seek out, overlap, and reinforce one another. They are linked together by complex mechanisms and devices of excitation and incitement.3 This citation is interesting for at least two reasons. First, it helps to explain Foucault’s opposition to any censorship of sexually explicit materials. Foucault’s main objective in this reference to prostitution and pornography is not so much to 3 Ibid., 48 (my italics). Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 21 say anything about the sex industry per se, but to reject the strategy of repressing sex in order to control it more generally, whether this repression occurs through legislation or medicine. According to Foucault’s theory of disciplinary power as productive, the workings of power and the very idea of repression are constitutive rather than extinguishers of desire.4 As Foucault argues throughout the first volume of the History of Sexuality, when we try to control desire by repressing it we in fact produce it, and, as this passage makes clear, Foucault thinks that this is just as true with respect to the sex industry as to the medical treatment of perversions. Second, while in this passage and elsewhere Foucault does not elaborate on the relation between the sex industry and the sexual sciences, it is curious that he would string together the apparently incongruous bedmates of medicine and psychiatry with prostitution and pornography. Each of these practices is suggested to be working towards similar ends within a disciplinary system of power: Foucault suggests that pornography and prostitution, like the sexual sciences, are involved in a ‚proliferation of sexualities,‛ which proliferation, for Foucault, is in turn caught up with ‚the perverse implantation,‛ as the chapter in which this citation occurs explains. Unfortunately, whereas in the case of medicine and psychiatry Foucault describes the precise mechanism through which this proliferation and implantation of sexualities occurs – confession – he does not give us a similar account of the manners in which prostitution and pornography deploy sexualities. In response to this passage, Williams has deduced that pornography simply is a sexual science for Foucault, and thus employs the same technology of deployment as the ‚other‛ sexual sciences. Setting the issue of prostitution aside – and even replacing the word ‚prostitution‛ with ‚law‛ in her reference to this passage5 – Williams has argued that pornography is a confessional practice. As I shall argue below, however, and as is suggested by Williams’ own need to switch the word ‚prostitution‛ for the more obviously confessional practice of ‚law‛ in her manipulation of Foucault’s phrase, this is far from clear. In fact, to make sense of this citation, we need to understand how both pornography and prostitution function to deploy sexualities in a manner that is analogous (but not necessarily identical) to the workings of the sexual sciences. In the History of Sexuality and in related works from this time, Foucault argues for the disentanglement of sex from truth and identity. He famously concludes this work by proposing that ‚The rallying point for the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality ought not to be sex-desire, but bodies and pleasures.‛6 4 Ibid., 158. 5 Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the ‚Frenzy of the Visible‛ (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1989), 35. 6 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 157. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 22 Rather than trying to find out what we already or truly are through introspections into our sex(uality) and desires, we should work on what we might become, what new pleasures and capacities of the body we might discover. In this initial volume, Foucault explores the possibility of mastering the body and its pleasures in terms of the Eastern ars erotica.7 A few years later, he would describe this discussion of the ars erotica as ‚one of the numerous points where I was wrong in that book,‛ not because what he said there was false, but because he ‚should have opposed our science of sex to a contrasting practice in our own culture. The Greeks and Romans did not have any ars erotica to be compared with the Chinese ars erotica *<+ They had a techne tou biou [care of the self] in which the economy of pleasure played a very large role.‛8 Foucault now contrasts the sexual sciences not to Eastern erotic arts, but to Greek and Roman practices of self-care, and provides a schematic account of the different approaches to sexuality in each of these cultures – the East, the ancient West, and the Christian and modern West: If by sexual behavior, we understand the three poles – acts, pleasure, and desire – we have the Greek ‚formula‛ *<+ In this Greek formula what is underscored is ‚act,‛ with pleasure and desire as subsidiary: acte – plaisir – (désir). *<+ The Chinese ‚formula‛ would be plaisir – désir – (acte). Acts are put aside because you have to restrain acts in order to get the maximum duration and intensity of pleasure. The Christian ‚formula‛ puts an accent on desire and tries to eradicate it. Acts have to become something neutral; you have to act only to produce children, or to fulfill your conjugal duty. And pleasure is both practically and theoretically excluded: (désir) – acte – (plaisir). Desire is practically excluded – you have to eradicate your desire – but theoretically very important. And I could say that the modern ‚formula‛ is desire, which is theoretically underlined and practically accepted, since you have to liberate your own desire. Acts are not very important, and pleasure – nobody knows what it is!9 The Eastern ars erotica, or the ‚Chinese ‘formula’,‛ assumes pleasure and the techniques of mastering the pleasure-capacities of the body to be an area of knowledge external to the self that a subject can acquire through corporeal practice under the tutelage of a master. Ancient practices of self-care were concerned with an 7 Ibid., 57-71. 8 Michel Foucault, ‚On the Genealogy of Ethics,‛ in Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault, Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 234-235. 9 Ibid., 242-243. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 23 agent’s ability to control his sexual acts or indulgences in pleasure and took little interest in desire. As Foucault writes: For the Greeks, when a philosopher was in love with a boy, but did not touch him, his behavior was valued. The problem was, does he touch the boy or not. That’s the ethical substance: the act linked with pleasure and desire. For Augustine it’s very clear that when he remembers his relationship to his young friend when he was eighteen years old, what bothers him is what exactly was the kind of desire he had for him. So, you see that the ethical substance has changed.10 The shift that happened between the Ancient Greeks and Augustine, a shift in emphasis from acts to desires, is still with us today. While desire remains the aspect of sex which we stress, it has now become positive rather than negative: whereas Augustine worried about the nature of his desire in order to better annihilate it, we now seek to identify our desires in order to affirm and inhabit our authentic sexualities, and we take desire, rather than acts or pleasures, to be the key to unlocking the secrets of our souls. Granted this unprecedented importance, Foucault suggests that desire has succeeded in eclipsing sexual acts almost entirely. With the scientia sexualis there is no need to act at all in order to have and to discover our sexualities, we just need to think about our personal desires and the types of selves that these constitute. For the scientia sexualis, sexual truth is already in the psyche, if we only introspect on our feelings, fantasies, dreams, childhood traumas, repressions and inhibitions. Sexual truth is psychologized, or is specific to each individual and need not be acted upon, in contrast to the ars erotica, for which the truths of sexual pleasure are mysteries into which one must be initiated, which must be practiced, and which have nothing to do with the individual practitioner or her psychic states. Both the scientia sexualis and the ars erotica have their ‚sexual experts.‛ For the scientia sexualis, these are scientists who may or may not have much sexual experience or much embodied knowledge of pleasure but who are medically-trained decipherers of desire, interpreters of sexual confessions, taxonomers of perversions or psychosexual types. The sexual experts of the ars erotica, on the other hand, are trained in the mastery of non-individuated bodies and pleasures.11 Studying the ars 10 Ibid., 238. 11 Bodies may be individuated in the ars erotica into a few physiological types: for instance, in the Kama Sutra, male bodies come in hare, bull, and horse types, and women come in deer, mare, and elephant types, according to the size of their genitals. Bodies also come with different degrees of passion – deemed small, middling, or extreme – and the Kama Sutra urges lovers to find partners who correspond to themselves in genital size and force Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 24 erotica would consequently be a deindividualizing practice. Unlike patients and practitioners of the scientia sexualis, an initiate of the ars erotica would not be concerned with understanding her own individual sexuality, or the various individual sexualities (perversions, etc.) of others, but in understanding the pleasures of bodies per se. While corporeal pleasure is important to the ars erotica, the Western obsession with sexual identity has no more place in these Eastern practices than it did in the self-mastering techniques of the ancient Greeks. In Hard Core, as noted, Williams identifies pornography with the scientia sexualis that Foucault discusses in the History of Sexuality. Williams’ initial argument for the pornography/sexual science identification involves showing that pornography and two modern scientific developments – photography and psychoanalysis – came of age together, and share a history that has not been disentangled since. As Williams documents, the scientific inventions of photography were quickly employed to produce pornography, while sexual scientists such as Charcot took quasi- pornographic photographs with titles such as ‚Ècstase.‛ Science, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and pornography thus have an interactive history, and this history is one of the grounds for Williams’ blurring of the notions of pornography and sexual science. The use and making of pornographic images in the history of the sciences of psychiatry and psychoanalysis is not enough to establish pornography as a sexual science, however, or even to say that it is like a science. Charcot touched many things, and early scientist-photographers worked in many genres, but not all of these became science. More significantly, Williams argues that photography and its immediate production of pornography are situated in the particularly modern and Western ‚will to know‛ about sex, which volonté de savoir is also what motivates the sexual sciences. Foucault’s argument is that we, as a society, want to know about sex, since we have come to think that sex is the key to understanding who we are, the means to realizing both our truth and our happiness. It is in this context that we participate in the studies of the sexual sciences, undergo analysis and self-analysis, and consume the books, magazines, and television shows that feature sexological knowledge. In this context, pornography is interpreted by Williams – and by authors who cite Williams’ study such as Chris Straayer, Julie Lavigne and Gertrud Koch – as catering to this same will to know the truth about sex. Like sexual scientists in their interrogations, Williams thinks that we consume pornography out of the desire to hear ‚sex speak‛ or to witness sexual confessions. of passion. These basic differences in scale are, however, quite different from, and far less individualizing than, the psychosexual taxonomies of the sexual sciences. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 25 While Williams shows that the sexual and photographic sciences produced pornographic images, Koch shows a reverse movement, pointing to cases in which pornographers made overtures to the sexual sciences. She points out that certain pornographic films ‛declared their intention to offer practical advice for living, to be purveyors of knowledge. Examples of these are the Oswald Kolle series, or Helga. The classification of formal knowledge by category still attaches to an unending series of ‘Film Reports,’ often presenting sexual behaviour according to various occupations.‛12 Koch goes on to note that certain ‚early porn films displayed a lexicographic tendency,‛ and quotes two descriptions from a 1956 essay by Curt Moreck: A special flavour is given to obscene films through the scrupulously realistic presentation of every imaginable perversion. Although life itself very often offers the connoisseur a view of simple vice, the chance to enjoy real perversity as a spectator is much rarer; in this case, film tries to fill the void. There are some films in this genre which seem to have been staged directly from Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, as a manual of abnormal sexual operations for civilized man. All the vices of man flickered by on the screen. Every one of the hundred and fifty ways from the old Treatise on the Hundred and Fifty Ways of Loving was demonstrated, with occasional interruptions for lesbian, pederast, and masturbation jokes. All that was harmless. Sadists and masochists waved their instruments, sodomy was practiced, coprophagous acts were on display.13 Cases such as Moreck describes indicate that pornography might offer itself as the sort of material which the sexual sciences study. Indeed, Krafft-Ebing used the pornographic texts of Sade and Sacher-Masoch to identify the characteristics of sadism and masochism. Some pornographic films could function like the texts of Sade and Sacher-Masoch as other illustrations of perversions which the sexual scientists might analyze. As Foucault notes, the anonymous author of My Secret Life described the value of his writings as a quasi-scientific contribution to human knowledge of sexuality.14 In instances such as these – voluntarily in the cases of My Secret Life and the films that Moreck describes, and involuntarily in the cases of Sade and Sacher-Masoch – pornography serves as material for the sexual scientists’ studies of perversion. In the case of My Secret Life, because it is the author himself who offers his experiences to the scientists, and because the text is written in an autobiographical mode, pornography works as the kind of confession which sexual scientists elicit from their patients. In the other cases, the data is more dubious and 12 Gertrud Koch, ‚The Body’s Shadow Realm,‛ in Pamela Church Gibson (ed.), More Dirty Looks: Gender, Pornography and Power (London: The British Film Institute, 2004), 155. 13 Cited in Koch, 155. 14 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 22. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 26 involuntarily provided, and Sacher-Masoch was appalled to find a sexual perversion named after himself in the Psychopathia Sexualis on the basis of his literary works. Although this shows that some pornographers have justified the existence of their work by claiming to contribute to scientific knowledge, and a few have done so in an autobiographical or confessional mode, it is surely the case that most pornography is not autobiographical and is not offered up as quasi-scientific information about human sexuality, but as fiction and fantasy. Significantly, while anti-pornography feminists have regularly claimed that pornography reflects and reinscribes (a misogynist) reality, the pornography industry and its defenders persistently argue that their opponents are failing to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Pornography, they argue, is not truth but fantasy, and the people who consume it realize this. The value of pornography to society is defended as art and imagination, and not as science, knowledge, or truth. While Koch’s study, like Foucault’s discussion of My Secret Life, is interesting in that it shows that some works of pornography have engaged with and even hoped to contribute to or collaborate with the sexual sciences, this is not a feature of most pornography, either in the nineteenth century or today. It is in fact highly questionable whether pornography arises primarily out of a ‚will to know‛ about sex at all. For one thing, mass-produced and circulated pornography pre-existed the volonté de savoir that Foucault describes. While Williams begins her study of the history of pornography with the invention of photography in the nineteenth century, thus making it contemporary with Charcot, she might have begun with the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century instead. Like the invention of the camera, the invention of the printing press quickly gave rise to the mass production and circulation of pornographic works, such as Guilio Romano’s 1520 series, I modi, and this well before the age of the ‚will to know‛ about sex that Foucault describes.15 It is thus quite possible for a society to make, distribute, and consume pornography on a large scale with non-epistemological motivations and prior to the existence of the sexual sciences, and this leads me to doubt that the primary impulse behind the production and consumption of pornography is any more part of a volonté de savoir today than it was in the 1520s. Of course, pornography might function very differently today than it did in the Renaissance, and yet even in this age of the will to know about sex, it is far from clear that it is in the spirit of knowledge that pornography is either made or consumed. Do people consume pornography to learn about sexual pleasure or to 15 Bette Talvacchia, Taking Positions: On the Erotic in Renaissance Culture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999) Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 27 have it? Is pornography primarily about satisfying curiosity or desire? Is porno- graphy an epistemological endeavor or a masturbatory aid? Are these necessarily inter-related? Epistemological pursuits may certainly be prurient, and Foucault himself characterizes fin-de-siècle medicine as ‚a pornography of the morbid,‛16 but does all sexual pleasure today seek the truth of sex? Williams seems to think that it does, for she even includes peep shows under the umbrella of the ‚scientific will-to- knowledge.‛17 I have no doubt that people look at pornography with some intellectual curiosity and that it can play an educative role, for better or for worse, but I am not sure that this educative role is the primary motivation or function of pornography, its explanation or raison d’être. According to one poll, eight-six percent of respondants think that pornography is educational, and Pamela Paul writes that young men in particular may use pornography ‚to figure out what women want and expect from sex. In fact, studies show that men learn from and emulate what they see in pornography.‛18 I shall argue below that mainstream heterosexual pornography does not so much educate men in women’s desires as construct a fantasy for men according to which women’s desires and pleasures correspond to their own. Something similar might be said about prostitution, which is also often used for male sexual initiation and education, but which in fact probably teaches men very little about women’s actual pleasures or desires. Here, however, I want to argue that in so far as advocates say that pornography (or prostitution) is educational, they mean that it teaches sexual skills or techniques, not truths about the psychosexualities and desires of the individuals on-screen or employed. This, for Foucault, would situate pornography (and prostitution) closer to the ars erotica than the scientia sexualis. To recall, the sexual experts of the ars erotica are trained in practices that bring about pleasure and have mastered an art of manipulating bodies, while the sexual experts of the scientia sexualis are trained in diagnosing psychological perversions and interpreting desires. If porn stars (and prostitutes) are ‚sexual experts‛ of a sort, capable of contributing to the sexual education of consumers, it is in the manner of the ars erotica and not of the sexual sciences. Let it be granted, then, that pornography can serve a pedagogical function, as is so frequently claimed. It is nevertheless not clear that this situates pornography on the side of the sexual sciences, and moreover it is not clear that this is very often the main purpose in consuming pornography, or that it is a consumer’s primary 16 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 54. 17 Williams, 51. 18 Pamela Paul, Pornified: How Pornography is Damaging Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families (New York: Times Books, 2005), 18. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 28 motivation or merely a side-effect. Since pornography tends to be repetitious, it also seems unlikely that viewers continue to watch pornography for its educational function. After a short time, one has likely learned what pornography has to teach, but many go on watching pornography for other reasons, which reasons were probably the main motivation in the first place. Setting these questions aside, even if we were to accept Williams’ assumption that pornography arises and is consumed out of a will to know about sex, it is important to note that not everything that engages in this volonté de savoir becomes a sexual science. Foucault himself observes that the desire to confess and to hear confessed the truths of sex quickly expanded beyond the scientific realm, and finds expression today in our intimate conversations with family members, friends, and lovers and in ‚‘scandalous’ literature.‛19 Indeed, the confessional impulse does not merely characterize our speaking about sex, for Foucault, but modern subjectivity more generally, or the wide-spread trend toward psychologization. For instance, Foucault discuss the manners in which criminal law became psychiatrized and involves confessional practices in the modern era, even in cases which have nothing to do with sexuality.20 For Foucault, this does not transform law, ‚scandalous literature,‛ or pillow talk into science, although it indicates that they interact with the human sciences in interesting and problematic ways. “Confessional Frenzy”? Williams, however, argues that pornography in general (and not only in a few autobiographical instances) is a sexual science, and that it functions in our society as the sort of confession which the sexual sciences elicit and which Foucault examined. According to Williams, pornography is consumed as a confessional genre, and as a confessional source of truthful information about female pleasure in particular. She writes that pornography has ‚the goal of making visible the involuntary confession of bodily pleasure.‛21 In this way ‚We begin to see *<+ how this sexual science gives form to the ‘truths’ that are confessed.‛22 In particular, ‚Hard core desires assurance that it is witnessing not the voluntary performance of feminine pleasure, but its involuntary confession.‛23 Pornography, according to Williams, is not just 19 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 21. 20 Michel Foucault, ‚Confinement, Psychiatry, Prison,‛ and ‚The Dangerous Individual,‛ in Lawrence D. Kritzman (ed.), Michel Foucault: Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984 (New York and London: Routledge, 1988), 178-210 and 125-151. 21 Williams, 50. 22 Ibid., 48. 23 Ibid.,, 50. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 29 confessional but a ‚confessional frenzy,‛24 and ‚proceeds by soliciting further confessions of the hidden secrets of female pleasure.‛25 Although the last formulation, with its language of soliciting rather than staging ‚confessions‛ from porn stars, obscures the point, the more sophisticated version of Williams’ argument is not that the porn stars are actually confessing, but that pornography aims to produce the illusion of confession, and that pornographic films are consumed as confessions. Referring to Diderot’s tale of the speaking sex, as discussed by Foucault, Williams writes that ‚Motion pictures *pornography+ take over from the magic of Mongogul’s silver ring to offer the illusion of a more truthful, hard-core confession.‛26 Williams thus realizes that it is in fact male directors catering to male viewers who have been doing most of the ‚speaking‛ in pornography, so that if male viewers think that they are ‚hearing‛ confessions of female pleasure ‚spoken‛ through close-ups of female genitals engaged in real sex, this involves mostly male pornographers ventriloquizing their voices into the vulvas of their female stars. However, Williams asserts that this is equally true of the ‚other‛ sexual sciences: Freud’s theory of the fetish develops out of a particular way of seeing women as ‘lacking’ that cinema participates in as well. Neither institution actually reflects the confessional truths they purport to record; rather, they produce these truths in their new forms of power and pleasure.27 In other words, Freud and Charcot do not give us the unadulterated confessions of their female patients any more than the pornographers do, and yet what they said, like the images that the pornographers produce, is productive of truth. Doctors and pornographers, according to Williams, both give us confessions of female pleasure as seen through the lens of male interpretation and desire in manners that do not so much reflect as construct the truth of female sexuality. In one example, Williams describes staged photographs of a faked hysterical attack by the photographer Muybridge as other ‚‘confessions’ of a female body.‛28 Even pornographic literature written by male writers is interpreted by Williams as ‚confessions‛ of female pleasure: there is not much difference between literary confessions (written by men but often focused on women) of female pleasure *<+ and the more direct and graphic confession of pleasure by women’s bodies in hard core. Both are 24 Ibid., 122. 25 Ibid., 53. 26 Ibid., 32. 27 Ibid., 46. 28 Ibid., 47-48. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 30 examples of men speaking about women’s sex to other men; both want to know more about the pleasures of women *<+.29 Williams suggests that if Fanny Hill, written by John Cleland, is read as a confession of female pleasure, then so can pornography be – but does anyone read Fanny Hill this way? In any case, porn stars, especially female porn stars, like the model who faked a hysterical fit for Muybridge, or the ‚hysterics‛ who performed for Charcot, are thus not really confessing, for Williams, but she claims that they are viewed as confessing, especially during their ‚involuntary convulsions‛ or orgasms, authentic or otherwise, and that their performances function as confessions in the production of knowledge about sex. According to Williams, it is because we watch pornography to see confessions that the orgasm must be as visible as possible, as evidenced by the de rigueur ‚money shot‛ in the case of male porn stars. For Williams, it is a major problem for the pornography industry that women do not (usually) produce similarly visible ‚confessions,‛ when ‚involuntary confessions of pleasure‛ – especially female pleasure – is what hard core is all about. Many objections can be raised here. To begin with a relatively small one, it is not clear why Williams consistently associates pornographic orgasms with involuntariness. In the case of ‚money shots,‛ which Williams repeatedly calls ‚involuntary confessions of pleasure,‛ Williams herself tells us that male porn stars are paid extra for these scenes, and thus certainly intend them. It is also not clear that confessions in general should be characterized as ‚involuntary.‛ While Foucault stresses that confessions are authenticated by the inhibitions that they overcome, this does not make them involuntary but rather feats of voluntary effort. In a legal context, an involuntary statement does not qualify as a confession at all. In literature, texts written in the third person and texts in which the first person narrator’s name does not correspond with the author’s name (for instance, Fanny Hill does not correspond with John Cleland) are also not considered confessional.30 In The History of Sexuality, Foucault describes confession as ‚a ritual of discourse where the subject who speaks corresponds with the subject of the statement,‛31 which cannot be said for any of the cases which Williams is calling ‚confession.‛ Our everyday as well as Foucault’s use of the term ‚confession‛ refers to a truthful statement made by one person to another about herself, whether this statement 29 Ibid., 55-56. 30 Philippe Lejeune, ‚Le pacte autobiographique,‛ in Philippe Lejeune, Le pacte Autobio- graphique (Paris: Seuil, 1975), 13-46. 31 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 61. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 31 refers to something she has done, felt, or had done to her. Not every statement we make about ourselves is considered to be a confession, however: calling a statement a confession implies that it speaks of something that is shameful, difficult to say, or revelatory of who the speaker is. According to Foucault, confession is a discursive act that individuates us, and it is one of the privileged forms of truth-telling and self- constitution in our culture. In ‚Subjectivity and Truth‛ Foucault defines confession as: ‚To declare aloud and intelligibly the truth of oneself.‛32 In The History of Sexuality, confession is ‚a ritual which unfolds in a relation of power, since one doesn’t confess without the presence, at least the virtual presence, of a partner who is not simply an interlocutor but the agency that requires the confession, imposes it, weighs it, and intervenes to judge, punish, pardon, console, reconcile.‛33 For Foucault, confession is also ‚a ritual where truth is authenticated by the obstacles and resistances that it has had to lift in order to be formulated,‛ or one that is always told with difficulty and shame. Finally, it is a discursive act in which ‚articulation alone, independently of its external consequences, produces, in the person who articulates it, intrinsic modifications: it makes him innocent, it redeems him, purifies him, promises him salvation.‛34 In a later essay, ‚Christianity and Confession,‛ Foucault furthermore makes clear that confession must be verbal and not merely performative. To make this point, he recounts a story from Cassian in which a monk who stole a loaf of bread each day experiences repentance during a sermon, and therefore performatively reveals to those congregated the loaf of bread hidden under his robes, and then confesses verbally to having stolen and eaten a loaf each day. Only when he makes a verbal confession does ‚a light *seem+ to tear itself away from his body and cross the room, spreading a disgusting smell of sulphur.‛35 Satan and his temptations were not dislodged from the monk at the moment that he felt contrition, nor at the moment that he displayed the stolen loaf to his fellows and thus theatrically exposed his guilt. Only when he confessed his wrongdoing in words was the Devil forced from his body. Foucault uses this story to argue that confession is discursive rather than performative, unlike earlier, pre-confessional forms of Christian penance. To summarize Foucault’s understanding of this crucial Western practice of truth- telling, confession is interpersonal, discursive, autobiographical, difficult or shameful, and subject-forming. This said, can pornography be described as 32 Michel Foucault, ‚Subjectivity and Truth,‛ in The Politics of Truth. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), (1997), 173. 33 Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 61. 34 Ibid., 62. 35 Michel Foucault, ‚Christianity and Confession,‛ in The Politics of Truth. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), (1997), 222-223. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 32 confessional according to Foucault’s analysis of confession? Contra Williams, I would argue that it cannot for the following reasons. First, the relation between actors and viewers in pornography is not an interpersonal one, and the acts involved are theatrical performances rather than discursive acts. Moreover, although this point requires more explanation, it does not seem to me that the actors are overcoming inhibitions in order to confess/perform pleasures which are subject- forming, constitutive of their identities, or individuating. Performing in a pornographic film, like engaging in prostitution, may be taken as constitutive of psychosexual subjectivity in the modern West in that it is assumed to damage the sex worker’s authentic sexuality.36 In this case, however, her authentic sexuality is not what gets performed in either the brothel or the set, but is what gets obscured in this process. According to this negative view of pornography, what we see in a pornographic film is not an expression of the porn star’s sexuality, but a possibly permanent and damaging obscuration of it. Another way that pornographic performances may be constitutive of sexual identity in the eyes of viewers and for the stars themselves is insofar as such performances constitute her according to the identity of ‚sex worker‛ or ‚whore,‛ regardless of the nature of the particular sex acts in which she is engaged; in other words, performing as a dominatrix in a pornographic film does not constitute the actress as a dominatrix in her own eyes or those of her viewers, but it may constitute her as a sex worker or a whore, with all the stigmatization that this entails in a society such as ours. Men interviewed in Pornified note that they would not date or marry the actresses who arouse them, precisely because of the type of woman that performing in pornographic films makes them. Performing in pornographic films functions to constitute actors as porn stars/whores for their viewers and probably for themselves, whatever (possibly more positive) meaning this has for them, but it does not constitute them as, say, lesbians if they engage in lesbian sex scenes, or sadomasochists if they perform in s/m scenes, for the precise reason that they engage in these acts as theatrical performances and they are consumed as such. Williams is not arguing that the porn stars are seen as confessing to being porn stars, however, but that they are seen as confessing to pleasure, to truths about female sexuality, or to their own feminine pleasure in particular acts, which does not seem to be the case. Most importantly, it seems to me that no one considers the majority of pornographic films to be confessions for the very simple reason that they are fictional and not autobiographies or documentaries. Pornography does not declare itself to be a truth-telling genre, but fantasy catering to the desires of its viewers (not its actors), 36 This view is widespread, but see, for instance, Igor Primoratz, ‚What’s Wrong with Prostitution?‛ in Alan Soble (ed.), The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings (Lanham, Boulder, CO, New York and Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), 455. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 33 whereas, as Philippe Lejeune has argued, confessional texts are to be understood as quasi-legalistic and particularly authentic cases of truth-telling or self-revelation.37 Peter Brooks, in his study of confession, notes that ‚Western literature has made the confessional mode a crucial kind of self-expression that is supposed to bear a special stamp of sincerity and authenticity and to bear special witness to the truth of the individual personality.‛38 We do not consider a pornographic sex scene to be particularly sincere, or to be any more confessional than a Hollywood sex scene, even though, unlike in Hollywood films, porn stars are having real sex, as demonstrated by the all important ‚meat shots‛ and ‚money shots‛ that characterize hard-core. Although the act or sex is real, it is not true: porn stars are not telling the truth of their sex or their desire. We see acts and maybe pleasures in porn, but we do not know (and, as I shall argue below, I do not think that we care) if we are seeing desire. In this sense, again, pornography seems closer to the ars erotica than to the scientia sexualis. Throughout Hard Core, Williams fails to distinguish between reality and truth, or real sex and the truth of an individual’s sexuality, and between acts and pleasure on the one hand, and sexuality and desire on the other. For Foucault, however, these are crucial distinctions, indicative of the epistemic transition to modernity, or the shift in importance from act to actor, deed to desire.39 An individual may be considered a pedophile even if he has never acted on his desires, but only demonstrated them through certain fantasies, consuming certain literature or websites, just as a person may consider herself to be bisexual even if she has only had heterosexual sex, on the basis of her longings. We evidently think that the sexual acts we perform in reality may have little to do with the truth of our sex. For this reason, as Foucault makes clear in The History of Sexuality, sexual confessions (and even legal or criminal confessions) may or may not be about what a person really does, but they are always 37 Lejeune, 13-46. 38 Peter Brooks, Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2000), 18. 39 Foucault stresses this shift towards psychologization in many contexts. As seen above, he contrasts the Eastern interest in bodies and pleasures to the Western focus on sexuality and desire. In later works, Foucault contrasted ancient Greek and Roman practices of self-mastery focusing on acts to the modern fixation on desires. For Foucault, it is a peculiarity of the modern West that truth does not lie in what we have done but in what we feel. Foucault notes a similar manifestation of this shift in interest from deed to desire, act to actor, with respect to law: while in the past judges were only concerned with crimes – or with establishing what had happened, who did it, and what punishment corresponded – today they are at least as concerned with criminals, or with the psyches, motivations, intentions, childhood histories, regrets, and likelihood of recidivism. Foucault makes this point frequently, for instance in ‚Confinement, Psychiatry, Prison,‛ ‚The Dangerous Individual,‛ and Discipline and Punish, among other places. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 34 and more importantly concerned with what he or she wants to do. This is why confessions are importantly discursive rather than theatrical. While Williams thinks that pornography is confessional precisely because it uses bright lights and close-up camera shots, or is a ‚frenzy of the visible,‛ confessions are in fact about the invisible, what cannot be seen and must therefore be said – or whispered. Contra Williams, the invisibility of the female orgasm in fact poses no problem at all for a confessional discourse, even if it poses a problem for pornography. In the case of hard-core, we know that the actors are having real sex, and even that the male actors are having real orgasms or some degree of real pleasure, even if they need to take Viagra to achieve it. However, we have no idea how they feel about it, what their intentions and motivations are, what histories led up to their being where they are, or if either the male or the female actors are expressing the truth of their desires. What Williams does not see in her repeated references to these so-called ‚involuntary confessions of pleasure‛ is that, confessionally-speaking, pleasure is not nearly as important as desire, and meat shots and money shots do not tell us about desire – or, in a point to which I shall return below, at least not about the desires of the actors. Significantly for Williams’ argument, I also do not think that most consumers of pornography are concerned about the authenticity (or truthfulness) of the actor’s pleasures and desires, and this again indicates that they do not consume porn as a confessional genre or out of a ‚will to know‛ about the sex(uality) of those on- screen. One indication of this is that although there is a widespread belief that many actresses in pornographic films are sexually exploited and abused, this does not seem to change the experience of viewers, indicating that they are not interested in what the porn star’s true desires, pleasures, or psychic states are, as long as she performs well and the sex is real.40 40 In At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life (New York: New York Uni- versity Press, 1998), Jane Juffer discusses the case of one porn film in which the porn stars are supposedly performing their own desires. The marketing gimmick for this work is that it is allegedly undirected, and so provides viewers with a rare opportunity to see porn stars expressing their true sexualities and pursuing their actual fantasies. Juffer writes: In Venom, a popular selection produced by Vidco Home Video, ten porn stars perform a vast number of sex acts in what is billed as an expression of their authentic and outrageous sexualities. Says producer Henri Pachard before the MTV-style video begins, ‘You’re going to see something different – exhibitionists given the freedom to expose nasty sexual urges that will amaze a viewer. This extremely personal approach causes the performers to become very vulnerable< They’re not fucking for you. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 35 My experience of watching porn with men who are frequent consumers has indicated that they notice – and are not favorably impressed – when a porn actress diverges from the standard porn script, for instance by looking directly into the camera rather than at her partner(s) in the scene. Of course, the direct gaze of the porn star may be experienced as a challenge to the voyeuristic pleasure of the viewer, or as a reminder of the presence of a cameraman at whom she really looks, but when my viewing companions have said ‚she isn’t supposed to look at the camera‛ at moments such as these, or when they even more frequently comment on whether the actress is doing a ‚good job‛ or a ‚bad job,‛ this has made me realize that they do not want an authentic performance or a genuine encounter with the actress, that they do not want windows into her soul or her sexuality, but a well- performed adherence to a standard pornographic script. If the direct gaze is any indication of what she is really thinking, they do not ‚will to know‛ this truth. Finally, as seen above, Williams does not just argue that consumers watch porn out of a ‚will to know‛ about pleasure (rather than, more obviously, to have pleasure), but out of a will to know about female pleasure in particular. Williams convincingly demonstrates that in contrast to the stag films that preceded it, mainstream hardcore pornography makes some efforts to problematize and represent female pleasure. Indeed, men interviewed in Pornified stress that they enjoy pornography because the women are more enthusiastic and pleased by sex than women are in real life. As Pamela Paul writes, ‚Of all the requirements for enjoyable pornography, men most commonly cite the appearance of a woman’s reciprocal pleasure as key.‛41 As ‚Ethan‛ says, for instance: ‚Women in porn tend to act like sex is earth-shattering They’re not fucking for me. They’re fucking for themselves.’ We’re thus positioned before the video begins to view pornography as something performers do for their own pleasures; they are at heart exhibitionists, not victims, as governmental discourse would have it. Furthermore, you, the viewer, are the invader on what is essentially a private act; says Pachard, ‘If you begin to feel that you’re invading their privacy, you are.’ Pachard appeals to the illicit thrill of voyeurism and yet legitimates pornography as a private, fully consensual act. (Juffer, 60) We may be skeptical, as Juffer seems to be, about whether even this video shows the authentic sexuality of the porn stars, or that many viewers accept this. Importantly, however, it is presented by the producer himself as ‚something different,‛ indicating that in other porn the actors are not expressing their true sexualities or pursuing their real fantasies, or are not fucking for themselves but for the director and the viewer. By presenting this particular video as confessional, there is an acknowledgement that normally what porn actors are doing is not confessional, or is not a performance of their own personal fantasies, but those of the intended viewers. 41 Paul, 45. Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 36 even though in reality, sex isn’t like that all the time. Unfortunately<‛42 This citation shows that consumers of pornography do not think that pornography represents reality, even if this fantasy may come to construct their desires and even their expectations in ‚real life.‛ It also shows that many consumers of pornography want to see female pleasure represented (even if they know it is faked), and the pornography industry caters to this desire. Unlike sexual scientists such as Kinsey, however, the mainstream heterosexual pornography industry that Williams is discussing did not solicit confessions from women about their pleasures and then go about trying to capture true or even real female pleasure based on this information. It did not direct male porn stars to perform the acts that real women (or the female porn stars themselves) say they like in lieu of the usual anal penetration, fellatio, and money shots, for instance, which is what we might have expected had Williams’ thesis been true, or had pornography really been participating in the will to know and to tell the truth about female pleasure. Instead, the acts represented in mainstream heterosexual pornographic films did not change very much – there is still a great deal of fellatio, in some numbers this is just about all there is, and very often it occurs as the climactic scene, compared to far less frequent and shorter (‚foreplay‛) scenes of cunnilingus (and this usually only in films marketed as ‚couples’ porn‛), while the ‚money shot‛ remains a near-constant. The male orgasm and not the female orgasm is the conclusion to almost all pornographic numbers (even in ‚couples’ porn‛), even if now the female stars seem to enjoy receiving the product of the male orgasm as much as the male stars enjoy producing it. As Julie Lavigne has argued, this is equally true of amateur pornography, which, today, we might have expected to be the confessional sub-category of porn if ever there was one.43 In fact, as Lavigne points out, amateur pornography for the most part emulates the professional mainstream. This suggests that amateur pornographers with their home videos are not interested in revealing the truths of their individual sexualities any more than their professional counterparts, but are instead engaged in performing according to the standards, norms, and expectations established by the professional pornography into which they are thoroughly assimilated – as, perhaps, most of us now are. Pornographers, then, whether professional or amateur, have gone on representing the same things as always, but now they bother to insist that these acts give women pleasure too. If pornography produced primarily for men is interested in representing female pleasure, it is not the 42 Ibid., 14. 43 Julie Lavigne, ‚Érotisme féministe en art ou métapornographie. Le sexe selon Carolee Schneemann, Annie Sprinkle, et Natacha Merritt,‛ Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, 11 (2), (Fall 2007), 364. Taylor: Pornographic Confessions 37 truth or even the reality of female pleasure that it is after, but rather the fantasy according to which female pleasure results from the same acts that give men pleasure. The paradigmatic example of this point is of course Deep Throat, in which a woman’s clitoris is located at the bottom of her throat such that she can only attain orgasm by fellating men. The film is ostensibly about a woman’s quest for sexual pleasure, and yet, as a result of an anatomical peculiarity that no viewer takes as ‚scientific fact‛ or as a ‚true confession‛ on the part of Linda Lovelace, that female pleasure corresponds to male pleasure in being fellated. In films like Deep Throat this is a silly and self-conscious fiction, while the ‚sexual scientist‛ in the film appears as a buffoon, and yet Williams reads the film and the role of the sexual scientist within the film to be an instance of pornography as sexual science in pursuit of truthful knowledge of female pleasure via confession.44 Along these lines, Williams interprets the pornographic representation of rape, in which the victim eventually ‚confesses‛ to pleasure ‚despite herself‛ (or appears to enjoy the rape), as arising from the greater confessional value of an involuntary admission of pleasure. However, as Williams herself writes, scenes such as these ‚vindicate *the male viewer’s+ desire to believe that what he enjoys, she enjoys,‛45 much like the plot of Deep Throat. The fantasy world of much pornography produced for men is one in which women enjoy doing or having done to them what gives men pleasure. Such a fantasy is surely soothing in an era when women are demanding their own pleasure (which may not necessarily correspond with what brings men pleasure), and are judging men on their performance with the option of shopping around for better lovers should men fail to perform.46 As seen, Williams uses Foucault’s account of Diderot’s tale, ‚The Indiscreet Jewels,‛ to describe pornography; however, if mainstream hard-core pornography gets the female genitals to speak, as Williams herself realizes, it is only to have them say what men want to hear. Most mainstream pornography, unlike some sexual scientists and unlike the prince in Diderot’s story, does not express a genuine interest in what the female genitals would have to say. Proof that the pornography industry as well as viewers are aware of the fact that pornography is catering to the desires of viewers, rather than revealing the desires of actors, is that when the pornography industry began to target a female audience (or heterosexual couples), 44 Williams, 112-113. 45 Ibid., 164-165. 46 See, for instance, Anne Koedt’s article, ‚The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm.‛ in The CWLU Herstory Website Archive (1970), for a classic feminist challenge to phallic sexuality and intercourse which is contemporary with Deep Throat (1972). Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44 38 the films it made were somewhat different. If pornographers really believed that women have the same desires and pleasures as men, the idea of making heterosexual couples’ porn different from men’s porn would not have occurred. Williams acknowledges that in most hard-core ‚confessions of pleasure‛ it is the men who have done the talking and what we see is merely the ‚illusion‛ of a female confession. But is it even that? On what understanding of ‚confession‛ does Williams make these arguments? As seen, it is not Foucault’s understanding of confession, although it is Foucault’s account of confession on which she is ostensibly drawing, and it is not that of literary and legal theorists of confession either, and it is not even our ‚everyday‛ understanding of the term. Contra Williams, mainstream pornography is not The Vagina Monologues, and most men do not watch pornography primarily to know about women’s truths or women’s pleasure or men’s pleasure either, but to have their own pleasures. The medium of this pleasure is understood by consumers to be fantasy rather than quasi-scientific non-ficti
19. Elena - February 25, 2010


The medium of this pleasure
is understood by consumers to be fantasy rather than quasi-scientific non-fiction or
confessional autobiography, and their objective is orgasmic rather than
epistemological, self- rather than other-oriented.

The Perverse Implantation and the Proliferation of Sexualities
Until now I have argued that pornography is not confessional, by which I have
meant that the sexual performances that we see in pornographic films are almost
never marketed as or understood as revelations of the sexual truths of the actors, or
as sexual truths at all. Now, however, I want to argue that there is a quasi-
confessional aspect to pornographic practices, but that it does not occur on the side
of what is produced by the pornography industry or what we see on the screen, as
Williams argues, but on the side of the viewer. If anyone does anything like confess
in the realm of pornography, it is not the actors but the consumers. In fact, this is
what should have followed from Williams’ comparison of pornography to the sexual
sciences. After all, what the sexual sciences do is not to provide us with sexual
confessions but to elicit them from us. By her own logic, then, if pornography were
like the sexual sciences, it would not give us confessions but would extract them from
us. As seen above, confessions, for Foucault, are individuating and subject-forming,
and are more about desires than acts or pleasures. While I do not think that
pornographic films are individuating, revelatory, or constructive of the sexuality of
the actors, other than in so far as they constitute them as sex workers, and while I do
not think that they are consumed as revelations of the true desires of the actors
either, I will now suggest that they are revelatory and constitutive of the desires and
sexuality of those who consume them.

I have said above that the educative role of pornography, such as it is, is closer to
that of the ars erotica than the sexual sciences, because porn stars, as ‚sexual experts,‛
Taylor: Pornographic Confessions

teach viewers (especially younger viewers) techniques in the mastery of bodies and
pleasures – even if, in fact, and due to the constraints of their profession rather than
to personal failings, they are often bad experts or provide a bad education, as I have
also argued. This is to be contrasted with the kind of knowledge provided by the
sexual sciences, which consists of individuating, confessional truths about the
confessant’s sexuality or desires. I now want to argue that there is a manner in
which pornography educates us about individuated sexualities and desires in a
manner comparable to the scientia sexualis after all; however, the sexualities or
desires in question are not on the screen, nor are they related to ‚female pleasure‛ in
general, as Williams argues. The desires and sexuality in question are those of the
consumer, whether male or female. The pornography that viewers choose to watch,
and the acts and actors that arouse them, reveal to viewers their desires and thus
contribute to the identification and constitution of their sexualities. I am suggesting
that something comparable to confession is found in pornography, but that it is
found in the experience of consumption. This consumption, like confession,
participates in the perverse implantation and the proliferation of sexualities.

Foucault argues in The History of Sexuality that far from there having been a
repression of sexuality and perversions in the modern West, there has been a
proliferation of sexualities and an implantation of perversions. Indeed, it is precisely
those practices and discourses that were aimed at repressing perverse sexualities –
those of the sexual sciences in particular – which led to this proliferation and
implantation. In order to control perverse sexualities, modern Western societies
believed that they had to first understand them, and thus set out to discover,
categorize, and study individual sexual perversions. Ironically, the consequence of
these activities was not a reduction of perversions but their explosive deployment.
Studying sexual perversions meant studying the people who engaged in perverse
acts and identifying these individuals according to their desires. In the process,
according to Foucault, sexual identities were not so much revealed as discursively
produced. This was an unanticipated but not entirely negative effect of the sexual
sciences. Only by being identified by their so-called perversion, and by taking on
this identity for themselves in the process, could sexual sub-cultures be established,
giving their own meanings to the sexual identities according to which they had been
categorized. Despite this result, Foucault is troubled that we are now each fixed to a
specific sexuality and that this sexuality is taken as our identity, supposedly
structuring everything that we do. For Foucault, discovering one’s sexuality is not
liberating: on the contrary, there is a lack of sexual freedom once a particular
sexuality is implanted as who we are.

Importantly, Foucault’s claim is not that sexualities or perversions proliferate within
an individual’s life, such that we as individuals now enjoy multiple and fluid
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44
sexualities. On the contrary, Foucault’s argument is that while sexualities proliferate
at a society-wide level, each of us is tied down to a single sexuality. This means that
there are now more options with respect to the sexual identities that we take on, but
each of us tends to be reduced to just one of these options. Moreover, most
sexualities are understood as ‚abnormalities‛ situated in relation to and with respect
to their divergence from the norm: this norm is monogamous, heterosexual,
romantic, and vanilla. Some of these divergences, such as male heterosexual
promiscuity, may be more tolerated than others, such as pedophilia, however all are
situated with respect to a norm that they thereby affirm. For Foucault, by
identifying with any sexuality, whether the norm or any one of its variations, we
reinscribe that norm.47 This – and not straightforward homogenization – is how
normalization works.

I stress these last points because Williams has misunderstood what Foucault means
by the perverse implantation. For Williams, because the modern era is implanted
and proliferating with perversions and sexualities (partly through the deployment of
pornography), each of us inhabits multiple perversions or sexualities:

there can no longer be any such thing as fixed sexuality – male, female, or
otherwise – *<+ now there are proliferating sexualities. For, if the ‘implantation
of perversions’ is, as Foucault says, an instrument and an effect of power, then as
discourses of sexuality name, identify, and ultimately produce a bewildering
array of pleasures and perversions, the very multiplicity of these pleasures and
perversions inevitably works against the older idea of a single norm – an
economy of the one – against which all else is measured.48

As a result, according to Williams, modern sexual identity has become multiple and
fluid, undermining the notion that there is a single sexuality determined by a phallic
‚one‛ or norm. For Williams, the perverse implantation is to be understood as a
positive Irigaray-esque disestablishment of sexual normalization, and she urges that
we embrace ‚the liberatory potential contained in the very idea of an ‘implantation
of perversions.’‛49 The perverse implantation is positive for Williams, results in
fluid sexualities, and opposes normalization, whereas for Foucault it is largely
negative, results in fixed sexualities, and imposes a norm through the very
implantation of abnormalities. While Williams states that the perverse implantation
produces new pleasures and opposes the fixing of sexual identity, Foucault is clear
that it does the very opposite of this, stating, on the same page where he mentions
pornography and prostitution, that ‚the West has not been capable of inventing any

Ladelle McWhorter, Bodies and Pleasures: Foucault and the Politics of Sexual Normalization
(Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999).
Williams, 114-115.
Ibid., 118.
Taylor: Pornographic Confessions

new pleasures, and it has doubtless not discovered any original vices. But it has
defined new rules for the game of powers and pleasures. The frozen countenance of
the perversions is a fixture of this game.‛50 What the perverse implantation does,
through the workings of the sex industry as well as the sexual sciences, is to ‚fix‛ or
‚freeze‛ the face of our sexualities, circumscribing the kinds of pleasure that each of
us can have by tying us down to specific sexual identities as taxonomized by the
sexual sciences.

But how do pornography and prostitution implant perversions and contribute to the
proliferation of sexualities? Not by being confessional, as Williams has claimed in the
case of pornography, while setting aside the question of prostitution. Rather, I am
claiming that the implantation, fixation, or freezing of sexual perversions and
identities occurs in pornography and prostitution through the subject-forming
practice of consumption. Consumers interviewed in Pornified indicate that porn
consumption exposed them to a range of sexualities and allowed them to figure out
what they were ‚into.‛ As one 20-year-old, male university student puts it: ‚I was
able to learn what ‘my type’ is by looking around online – thin women with C- or D-
sized breasts and long dark hair. Porn gave me a sense of what’s out there and
exposed me to the kind of stuff I enjoy in real life.‛51 In this way, pornography
educates viewers in the proliferation of sexualities from which they can choose, but
then they do choose (or ‚discover‛) their sexuality according to an analysis of their
desires, as demonstrated by their consumption of pornography. Pornography thus
allows viewers to realize a sexuality or taxonomical sexual type, providing them
with the opportunity to identify with one of many kinds of sexuality. Each man
interviewed in Pornified quickly states what his type of pornography is, and often
what his type of porn star is. Now he knows the sites that specialize in the things he
likes. Every time he types in what he wants to see in his search engine, he self-
consciously reaffirms and reinscribes his sexual type. It therefore seems that
pornography allows consumers to experiment with different kinds of pleasures that
might not otherwise have been available to them and thus allows for a proliferation
of sexualities; however, pornographic consumption also contributes to an identi-
fication with one kind of sexuality. Consumption, like confession, is thus productive
of ontologies, or is one of the many ways in which we identify who we are.

Other pornography-consumers say that they only ever consumed a particular type
of pornography because of the sexuality with which they already identified or
wished to identify by the time they had access to pornography. One man with
whom I spoke consumes pornography on a daily basis and told me that he has only
ever watched heterosexual mainstream pornography. He too states that he has a

Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 48.
Paul, 16.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44
‚type‛: heterosexual pornography featuring women with large, natural breasts.
From the start, he was wary of looking at any other kinds of pornography for fear of
being influenced by them. If anything ‚abnormal‛ comes onto the screen when he is
consuming pornography – such as a transsexual, or male homosexual activity – he
immediately closes the window and searches for something else, not so much
because the image turns him off but because he does not want to be turned on by it.
This consumer does not want to explore alternative sexualities or to identify with
anything other than ‚normal‛ and ‚straight,‛ and thus vigilantly avoids non-
‚normal‛ pornography sites. This man’s exclusive consumption of heterosexual
mainstream porn is informed by his identification with and desire for normalcy. At
the same time, his preference for straight porn probably does more than simply
reflect his sexual identity, but shores up and reinscribes it. The act of shutting the
window when anything ‚abnormal‛ comes on screen surely reaffirms his sense of
himself as ‚normal‛ and ‚straight‛ every time. Likewise, a person with ‚abnormal‛
desires who consumes non-mainstream pornography engages in an activity which
causes him to self-consciously identify with what he himself will understand as an
‚abnormal‛ sexuality.

Arguably, when sexual initiation and exploration occurs in a more reciprocal and
less consumerist context, or in the physical presence of other human beings whose
services one has not purchased, the individual is more likely to respond to the
desires and limitations placed on him by the other person(s) in the sexual relation.
There are thus limits to what he can experience, or on the kind of sexual
consumption he can identify with through his practice, but also, in a non-
consumerist sexual encounter, there are other people’s desires to respond to which
may go beyond what the individual thought to be his own desires, but in response
to which he may experience new pleasures. In contrast, pornography – like
prostitution – allows the consumer to stipulate, dictate or select exactly what he
wants every time, and this facilitates falling into a specific typology. As in the
prostitute-client encounter, there can always be surprises in what happens in a
pornographic film, but then one can quickly shut the window, stop or fast-forward
the DVD, and choose something else. The fact that the options are almost unlimited
with pornography – especially with internet pornography – and that this is a
consumerist rather than a reciprocal sexual activity, in which the object of sexual
desire is merely a means to one’s (orgasmic) ends, means both that the individual
has more options and that he can have exactly the option he wants every time and
nothing but that option if he so chooses. Although the sex industry opens up many
new possibilities, it may ultimately and paradoxically curtail the potential for
surprise, novelty, and sexual exploration, thus limiting rather than setting free.
According to Paul’s study and my own discussions with consumers of porn, men
who have consumed pornography over a period of years can no longer fantasize
Taylor: Pornographic Confessions

without it, and nor can they be aroused without pornography or real-life sexual
performances which emulate pornography. Sociologist Michael Kimmel has found
that ‚male sexual fantasies have become increasingly shaped by the standards of
porn.‛52 I would argue that this is increasingly true of female sexual fantasies as
well, or at least of female sexual behavior as it strives to fulfill the new norms of
male desire. This indicates pornography’s power to shape our sexual imaginations
in ways that constrain rather than open up to new possibilities.

As Foucault has shown in the case of confession, we may engage in an activity, such
as the consumption of pornography, in the belief that we are liberating our sexuality,
when in fact we are limiting that sexuality, binding it to just one form of sex-desire.
In this sense, although in a very different manner, consuming pornography, like
hiring prostitutes, really is comparable to what the sexual sciences do according to
Foucault’s reading, or is part of the ‚perverse implantation.‛ In so far as
pornography may also be seen as an erotic art in its offering of technical sexual
expertise, it is perhaps an art which we do better to eschew in its current mainstream
forms, whether professional or amateur, since the education it provides is phallo-
centric, masculinist, and normalizing. Returning to Foucault’s statement, cited
above, that he should have contrasted the sexual sciences not with Eastern ars erotica
but with ancient Greek technologies of self-care, I would suggest that what we need
to do is to explore sexual technologies that function as cares of the self, or,
alternatively, as ars erotica which conjoin with techne tou biou rather than with the
scientia sexualis. Although this is a subject that I must develop further elsewhere, I
suspect that certain alternative pornographies already function in such a way. What
I have argued is thus not an absolute critique of all pornography or of all uses of
pornography, but rather only of mainstream porn and of the specific ways in which
it tends to be used not for the exploration of bodies and pleasures but for
‚discovering‛ and satisfying supposedly pre-given sex-desire.

This paper has argued that it is because the mechanism of consumption works in a
manner similar to confession – and not because pornography is a confessional
discourse or a sexual science as Williams has claimed – that Foucault listed
pornography and prostitution along with medicine and psychiatry in his discussion
of the perverse implantation in The History of Sexuality. Whereas Williams has to
replace the word ‚prostitution‛ with the word ‚law‛ in her reference to this passage
in order to support her view of pornography as confessional, my account of
consumption requires no such manipulation and can explain why Foucault includes
prostitution in his list of normalizing sexual practices. Similarly, whereas Williams
needs to strain the definition of confession in order to see pornography as a

Ibid., 27.
Foucault Studies, No. 7, pp. 18-44
confessional practice, my focus on consumption more easily makes sense of how
both pornography and prostitution work. Understood as practices of consumption
rather than confession, pornography and prostitution, like psychiatry and medicine,
are part of the proliferation of sexualities and the perverse implantation: they are, in
their current mainstream forms and uses, normalizing rather than liberating sexual
practices. In the last part of this paper I have indicated how these processes of
normalization, proliferation, and implantation might take place in the cases of
pornography and prostitution. Finally, I have indicated that pornography need not
function in this normalizing way, and that non-mainstream or alternative forms and
uses of pornography may already function more positively as techne tou biou or as
non-normalizing ars erotica.

20. Elena - February 26, 2010

A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus: Neoliberalism and the Production of Subjectivity – Jason Read

All the aspects of this article are relevant in the study of the FOF Cult. They particularly touch on the “mentality” of the neoliberal individual as they conceive themselves which is not far off from the practices in the Cult. This idea that everyone was an entrepreneur seems to have been carried out but not in the economic as much as in the “spiritual” sense. People were not competing to make more money, money was a “given” that everyone had to have to belong to the cult, what people are competing with their SELF: becoming conscious! Each individual secretly aims at “waking up” on his own no matter what happens to the rest! Each one thinks that if they make enough effort they will make it! And making effort means accepting the deal, the status quo. Accept everything in silence! Silence v.s. expressing negative emotions: only those two alternatives are possible in the Fellowship cult. Language as a free and creative means of expression is reduced to silence, quotes from selected authors representing influence C and confession of one’s weak areas so that the guru and his inner circle could prove their strengths.

Liberalism must produce freedom, but this very act entails the es-
tablishment of limitations, controls, forms of coercion, and obligations relying on
threats, etcetera.9

Members definitely have the preconception that awakening, or “freedom” not only can be bought, HAS to be bought. Although the idea that everything has to be paid for is in the System, it is interpreted and practiced literally. To pay ten times the cost of a dinner is normal, twenty and thirty times is desireable. The more you pay, the more worthy you are in the eyes of the guru. With the payment you are showing your supposed valuation for the ARC, influence C, humanity, the need to create an ARC for the salvation of humanity!

And it works! People pay millions with a satisfaction that then must confront the fact that it means nothing to them or their persona: in order to evolve, the adept must not expect retribution for what he gives therefore he must be content with receiving a chair that shows his status in return and nothing else.

Participation in the “society” is exclusively reduced to the amount each can pay. Those in the inner circle can “participate” a little more but their creativity is conditioned to the guru’s choices of what can be expressed.

Note: I’ve written about all this before on the blog, quite extensively in fact. What I want is not to write again about the same things but to understand what they meant to the soul of the participants: how it annihilates it until they commit suicide in the Fellowship or other cults as is the tendency in cults. This article is less familiar, more difficult for me than the others I’ve presented, but it is necessary to become very familiar with them all to understand the problem. These men and women who write seem so “professional” there are hardly any traces of who they are, where or why but the articles themselves are testimonies of that. Nevertheless it is exquisite to listen to them! A language beyond the subject about the subject! Nice!

 Jason Read 2009
ISSN: 1832-5203
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36, February 2009


A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus:
Neoliberalism and the Production of Subjectivity
Jason Read, The University of Southern Maine

ABSTRACT: This article examines Michel Foucault’s critical investigation of neoli-
beralism in the course published as Naissance de la biopolitique: Cours au Collège
de France, 1978-1979. Foucault’s lectures are interrogated along two axes. First, ex-
amining the way in which neoliberalism can be viewed as a particular production of
subjectivity, as a way in which individuals are constituted as subjects of “human
capital.” Secondly, Foucault’s analyses is augmented and critically examined in light
of other critical work on neoliberalism by Wendy Brown, David Harvey, Christian
Laval, Maurizo Lazzarato, and Antonio Negri. Of these various debates and discus-
sions, the paper argues that the discussion of real subsumption in Marx and Negri is
most important for understanding the specific politics of neoliberalism. Finally, the
paper argues that neoliberalism entails a fundamental reexamination of the tools of
critical thought, an examination of how freedom can constitute a form of subjection.
Keywords: Foucault, Neoliberalism, Governmentality, real subsumption, subjectivi-

In the opening pages of David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism we find the
following statement “Neoliberalism… has pervasive effects on ways of thought to
the point where it has become incorporated into the common-sense way many of us
interpret, live in, and understand the world.”1

David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 3.
While Harvey’s book presents a great
deal of research on neoliberalism, presenting its origins in such academic institutions
as the “Chicago School,” its spread in the initial experiments in Chile, and its return
to the countries of its origin through the regimes of Reagan and Thatcher, as well as
its effects on China and the rest of the world, the actual process by which it became
hegemonic, to the point of becoming common sense, is not examined. While it might
be wrong to look for philosophy in a work which is primarily a work of history, a
“brief” history at that, aimed at shedding light on the current conjuncture, it is worth
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

pointing out this lacuna since it intersects with a commonly accepted idea about
“neoliberalism,” that it is as much a transformation in ideology as it is a transforma-
tion of ideology. Neoliberalism, in the texts that have critically confronted it, is gen-
erally understood as not just a new ideology, but a transformation of ideology in
terms of its conditions and effects. In terms of its conditions, it is an ideology that is
generated not from the state, or from a dominant class, but from the quotidian expe-
rience of buying and selling commodities from the market, which is then extended
across other social spaces, “the marketplace of ideas,” to become an image of society.
Secondly, it is an ideology that refers not only to the political realm, to an ideal of the
state, but to the entirety of human existence. It claims to present not an ideal, but a
reality; human nature. As Fredric Jameson writes, summing up this connection and
the challenge it poses: “The market is in human nature’ is the proposition that can-
not be allowed to stand unchallenged; in my opinion, it is the most crucial terrain of
ideological struggle in our time.”2
The nexus between the production of a particular conception of human nature, a
particular formation of subjectivity, and a particular political ideology, a particular
way of thinking about politics is at the center of Michel Foucault’s research. As much
as Foucault characterized his own project as studying “…the different modes by
which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects,” this process has always in-
tersected with regimes of power/knowledge.

A critical examination of neoliberalism must address this transformation of
its discursive deployment, as a new understanding of human nature and social exis-
tence rather than a political program. Thus it is not enough to contrast neoliberalism
as a political program, analyzing its policies in terms of success or failure. An ex-
amination of neoliberalism entails a reexamination of the fundamental problematic
of ideology, the intersection of power, concepts, modes of existence and subjectivity.
It is in confronting neoliberalism that the seemingly abstract debates of the last thirty
years, debates between poststructuralists such as Michel Foucault and neo-Marxists
such as Antonio Negri about the nature of power and the relation between “ideolo-
gies” or “discourses” and material existence, cease to be abstract doctrines and be-
come concrete ways of comprehending and transforming the present. Foucault’s lec-
tures on neoliberalism do not only extend his own critical project into new areas,
they also serve to demonstrate the importance of grasping the present by examining
the way in which the truth and subjectivity are produced.

Homo Economicus: The Subject of Neoliberalism


Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism; Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC:
Duke University Press, 1991), 263.
Michel Foucault, ”The Subject and Power,” Afterward to Michel Foucault: Beyond Structu-
Thus, it would appear that Foucault’s
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36.


work takes up exactly what writers on neoliberalism find to be so vexing: the man-
ner in which neoliberalism is not just a manner of governing states or economies, but
is intimately tied to the government of the individual, to a particular manner of liv-
ing. However, it is well known that Foucault’s research primarily views this relation
from ancient Greece through the nineteenth century, leaving modern developments
such as neoliberalism unaddressed. While this is the general pattern of Foucault’s
work, in the late seventies he devoted a year of his lectures at the Collège de France to
the topic of neoliberalism. These lectures, published as The Birth of Biopolitics, are
something of an anomaly in part because of this shift into the late-twentieth century
and also because unlike other lecture courses, at least those that have been published
in recent years, on “abnormals,” “psychiatric power” and “the hermeneutics of the
subject,” the material from these lectures never made it into Foucault’s published
In order to frame Foucault’s analysis it is useful to begin with how he sees the
distinction between liberalism and neoliberalism. For Foucault, this difference has to
do with the different ways in which they each focus on economic activity. Classical
liberalism focused on exchange, on what Adam Smith called mankind’s tendency to
“barter, truck, and exchange.” It naturalized the market as a system with its own ra-
tionality, its own interest, and its own specific efficiency, arguing ultimately for its
superior efficiency as a distributor of goods and services. The market became a space
of autonomy that had to be carved out of the state through the unconditional right of
private property. What Foucault stresses in his understanding, is the way in which
the market becomes more than just a specific institution or practice to the point
where it has become the basis for a reinterpretation and thus a critique of state pow-
er. Classical liberalism makes exchange the general matrix of society. It establishes a
homology: just as relations in the marketplace can be understood as an exchange of
certain freedoms for a set of rights and liberties.4 Neoliberalism, according to Fou-
cault, extends the process of making economic activity a general matrix of social and
political relations, but it takes as its focus not exchange but competition.5

ralism and Hermeneutics, ed. Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow (Chicago, IL: Universi-
ty of Chicago Press, 1982), 208.
As Foucault writes on this point: “The combination of the savage and exchange is, I
think, basic to juridical thought, and not only to eighteenth century theories of right—we
constantly find the savage exchange couple from the eighteenth century theory of right to
the anthropology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In both the juridical thought
of the eighteenth century and the anthropology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
the savage is essentially a man who exchanges.”(Michel Foucault, Society Must Be De-
fended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976, trans. David Macey (New York: Pica-
dor, 2003), 194)
Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, trans.
Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 12.
What the
two forms of liberalism, the “classical” and “neo” share, according to Foucault, is a
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

general idea of “homo economicus,” that is, the way in which they place a particular
“anthropology” of man as an economic subject at the basis of politics. What changes
is the emphasis from an anthropology of exchange to one of competition. The shift
from exchange to competition has profound effects: while exchange was considered
to be natural, competition is understood by the neo-liberals of the twentieth century
to be an artificial relation that must be protected against the tendency for markets to
form monopolies and interventions by the state. Competition necessitates a constant
intervention on the part of the state, not on the market, but on the conditions of the
What is more important for us is the way in which this shift in “anthropolo-
gy” from “homo economicus” as an exchanging creature to a competitive creature,
or rather as a creature whose tendency to compete must be fostered, entails a general
shift in the way in which human beings make themselves and are made subjects.
First, neoliberalism entails a massive expansion of the field and scope of economics.
Foucault cites Gary Becker on this point: “Economics is the science which studies
human behavior as relationship between ends and scarce means which have alter-
nate uses.”

Everything for which human beings attempt to realize their ends, from
marriage, to crime, to expenditures on children, can be understood “economically”
according to a particular calculation of cost for benefit. Secondly, this entails a mas-
sive redefinition of “labor” and the “worker.” The worker has become “human capi-
tal”. Salary or wages become the revenue that is earned on an initial investment, an
investment in one’s skills or abilities. Any activity that increases the capacity to earn
income, to achieve satisfaction, even migration, the crossing of borders from one
country to another, is an investment in human capital. Of course a large portion of
“human capital,” one’s body, brains, and genetic material, not to mention race or
class, is simply given and cannot be improved. Foucault argues that this natural lim-
it is something that exists to be overcome through technologies; from plastic surgery
to possible genetic engineering that make it possible to transform one’s initial in-
vestment. As Foucault writes summarizing this point of view: “Homo economicus is
an entrepreneur, an entrepreneur of himself.”8
Foucault’s object in his analysis is not to bemoan this as a victory for capitalist
ideology, the point at which the “ruling ideas” have truly become the ideas of the
“ruling class,” so much so that everyone from a minimum wage employee to a
C.E.O. considers themselves to be entrepreneurs. Nor is his task to critique the fun-
damental increase of the scope of economic rationality in neo-liberal economics: the
assertion that economics is coextensive with all of society, all of rationality, and that
it is economics “all the way down.” Rather, Foucault takes the neo-liberal ideal to be
a new regime of truth, and a new way in which people are made subjects: homo eco-

Ibid, 139.
Ibid, 235.
Ibid., 226.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36.


nomicus is fundamentally different subject, structured by different motivations and
governed by different principles, than homo juridicus, or the legal subject of the state.
Neoliberalism constitutes a new mode of “governmentality,” a manner, or a mentali-
ty, in which people are governed and govern themselves. The operative terms of this
governmentality are no longer rights and laws but interest, investment and competi-
tion. Whereas rights exist to be exchanged, and are some sense constituted through
the original exchange of the social contract, interest is irreducible and inalienable, it
cannot be exchanged. The state channels flows of interest and desire by making de-
sirable activities inexpensive and undesirable activities costly, counting on the fact
that subjects calculate their interests. As a form of governmentality, neoliberalism
would seem paradoxically to govern without governing; that is, in order to function
its subjects must have a great deal of freedom to act—to choose between competing

The new governmental reason needs freedom; therefore, the new art of govern-
ment consumes freedom. It must produce it, it must organize it. The new art of
government therefore appears as the management of freedom, not in the sense of
the imperative: “be free,” with the immediate contradiction that this imperative
may contain…[T]he liberalism we can describe as the art of government formed
in the eighteenth century entails at its heart a productive/destructive relationship
with freedom. Liberalism must produce freedom, but this very act entails the es-
tablishment of limitations, controls, forms of coercion, and obligations relying on
threats, etcetera.9
These freedoms, the freedoms of the market, are not the outside of politics, of go-
vernmentality, as its limit, but rather are an integral element of its strategy. As a
mode of governmentality, neoliberalism operates on interests, desires, and aspira-
tions rather than through rights and obligations; it does not directly mark the body,
as sovereign power, or even curtail actions, as disciplinary power; rather, it acts on
the conditions of actions. Thus, neoliberal governmentality follows a general trajec-
tory of intensification. This trajectory follows a fundamental paradox; as power be-
comes less restrictive, less corporeal, it also becomes more intense, saturating the
field of actions, and possible actions.

Foucault limits his discussion of neoliberalism to its major theoretical texts
and paradigms, following its initial formulation in post-war Germany through to its
most comprehensive version in the Chicago School. Whereas Foucault’s early ana-

Ibid., 63.
Jeffrey Nealon has developed the logic of intensification in Foucault, arguing that this can
be seen in the transition from disciplinary power to biopower; the former operates
through specific sites and identities, while the latter operates on sexuality, which is dif-
fuse throughout society, coextensive with subjectivity (Jeffrey T. Nealon, Foucault Beyond
Foucault: Power and its Intensification Since 1984 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press),
2008, 46). A similar point could be raised with respect to neoliberalism.
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

lyses are often remembered for their analysis of practical documents, the description
of the panopticon or the practice of the confessional, the lectures on “neoliberalism”
predominantly follow the major theoretical discussions. This is in some sense a limi-
tation of the lecture course format, or at least a reflection that this material was never
developed into a full study. Any analysis that is faithful to the spirit and not just the
letter of Foucault’s text would focus on its existence as a practice and not just a
theory diffused throughout the economy, state, and society. As Thomas Lemke ar-
gues, neoliberalism is a political project that attempts to create a social reality that it
suggests already exists, stating that competition is the basis of social relations while
fostering those same relations.11 The contemporary trend away from long term labor
contracts, towards temporary and part-time labor, is not only an effective economic
strategy, freeing corporations from contracts and the expensive commitments of
health care and other benefits, it is an effective strategy of subjectification as well. It
encourages workers to see themselves not as “workers” in a political sense, who
have something to gain through solidarity and collective organization, but as “com-
panies of one.” They become individuals for whom every action, from taking
courses on a new computer software application to having their teeth whitened, can
be considered an investment in human capital. As Eric Alliez and Michel Feher
write: “Corporations’ massive recourse to subcontracting plays a fundamental role
in this to the extent that it turns the workers’ desire for independence…into a ‘busi-
ness spirit’ that meets capital’s growing need for satellites.”12
Because Foucault brackets what could be considered the “ideological” di-
mension of neoliberalism, its connection with the global hegemony of not only capi-
talism, but specifically a new regime of capitalist accumulation, his lectures have lit-
tle to say about its historical conditions. Foucault links the original articulation of
neoliberalism to a particular reaction to Nazi Germany. As Foucault argues, the orig-
inal neo-liberals, the “Ordo-liberals,” considered Nazi Germany not to be an effect of
capitalism. But the most extreme version of what is opposed to capitalism and the
market—planning. While Foucault’s analysis captures the particular “fear of the
state” that underlies neoliberalism, its belief that any planning, any intervention
against competition, is tantamount to totalitarianism. It however does not account
for the dominance of neoliberalism in the present, specifically its dominance as a
particular “technology of the self,” a particular mode of subjection. At the same time,
Foucault offers the possibility of a different understanding of the history of neolibe-
Neoliberalism is not
simply an ideology in the pejorative sense of the term, or a belief that one could elect
to have or not have, but is itself produced by strategies, tactics, and policies that
create subjects of interest, locked in competition.

Thomas Lemke, “Foucault, Governmentality, and Critique.” Rethinking Marxis, 14, 3
(2002), 60.
Eric Alliez and Michel Feher, The Luster of Capital, trans. Alyson Waters, Zone, 1, 2, (1987),
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36.


ralism when he argues that neoliberalism, or the neo-liberal subject as homo economi-
cus, or homo entrepreneur, emerges to address a particular lacunae in liberal economic
thought, and that is labor. In this sense neoliberalism rushes to fill the same void, the
same gap, that Marx attempted to fill, without reference to Marx, and with very dif-
ferent results.13 Marx and neo-liberals agree that although classical economic theory
examined the sphere of exchange, the market, it failed to enter the “hidden abode of
production” examining how capital is produced. Of course the agreement ends
there, because what Marx and neo-liberals find in labor is fundamentally different:
for Marx labor is the sphere of exploitation while for the neo-liberals, as we have
seen, labor is no sooner introduced as a problem than the difference between labor
and capital is effaced through the theory of “human capital.”14 Neoliberalism scram-
bles and exchanges the terms of opposition between “worker” and “capitalist.” To
quote Etienne Balibar, “The capitalist is defined as worker, as an ‘entrepreneur’; the
worker, as the bearer of a capacity, of a human capital.”15

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 221.
In The Birth of Biopolitics Foucault argues that Marx filled this void with an “anthropolo-
gy” of labor. This is similar to the critique that Foucault develops in “Truth and Juridical
Forms,” in which he argues that Marx posited labor as the “concrete essence of man.” As
Foucault writes: “So I don’t think we can simply accept the traditional Marxist analysis,
which assumes that, labor being man’s concrete essence, the capitalist system is what
transforms labor into profit, into hyperprofit or surplus value. The fact is capitalism pe-
netrates much more deeply into our existence. That system, as it was established in the
nineteenth century, was obliged to elaborate a set of political techniques, techniques of
power, by which man was tied to something like labor—a set of techniques by which
people’s bodies and time would become labor power and labor time so as to be effective-
ly used and thereby transformed into hyper profit” (Michel Foucault, “Truth and Juridi-
cal Forms,” in Power: Essential Works of Michel Foucault, 1954-1984: Volume Three, trans.
Robert Hurley et al. Ed. James D. Faubion (New York: New Press, 2000), 86). This idea, of
“capillary power relations” that turn man into a subject of labor, is an idea which Fou-
cault sometimes develops as a critique and at other times attributes to Marx, see for ex-
ample “Les Mailles du pouvoir”, in Dits et Écrits Tome IV: 1980-198, ed. D. Defert and F.
Ewald (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1994) and less explicitly Discipline and Punish.
Etienne Balibar, Masses, Classes, Ideas: Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After
Marx, trans. James Swenson (New York: Routledge, 1994), 53.
Labor is no longer limited
to the specific sites of the factory or the workplace, but is any activity that works to-
wards desired ends. The terms “labor” and “human capital” intersect, overcoming
in terminology their longstanding opposition; the former becomes the activity and
the latter becomes the effects of the activity, its history. From this intersection the
discourse of the economy becomes an entire way of life, a common sense in which
every action–crime, marriage, higher education and so on–can be charted according
to a calculus of maximum output for minimum expenditure; it can be seen as an in-
vestment. Thus situating Marx and neoliberalism with respect to a similar problem
makes it possible to grasp something of the politics of neoliberalism, which through
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

a generalization of the idea of the “entrepreneur,” “investment” and “risk” beyond
the realm of finance capital to every quotidian relation, effaces the very fact of ex-
ploitation. Neoliberalism can be considered a particular version of “capitalism with-
out capitalism,” a way of maintaining not only private property but the existing dis-
tribution of wealth in capitalism while simultaneously doing away with the anta-
gonism and social insecurity of capitalism, in this case paradoxically by extending
capitalism, at least its symbols, terms, and logic, to all of society. The opposition be-
tween capitalist and worker has been effaced not by a transformation of the mode of
production, a new organization of the production and distribution of wealth, but by
the mode of subjection, a new production of subjectivity. Thus, neoliberalism entails a
very specific extension of the economy across all of society; it is not, as Marx argued,
because everything rests on an economic base (at least in the last instance) that the
effects of the economy are extended across of all of society, rather it is an economic
perspective, that of the market, that becomes coextensive with all of society. As
Christian Laval argues, all actions are seen to conform to the fundamental economic
ideas of self-interest, of greatest benefit for least possible cost. It is not the structure
of the economy that is extended across society but the subject of economic thinking,
its implicit anthropology.16
In the Grundrisse, Marx does not use the term “human capital,” but fixed cap-
ital, a term generally used to refer to machinery, factories, and other investments in
the means of production to refer to the subjectivity, the subjective powers of the
worker. In general Marx understood the progression of capital to be a process by
which the skills, knowledge, and know-how of workers were gradually incorporated
into machinery, into fixed capital, reducing the laborer to an unskilled and ultimate-
ly replaceable cog in a machine. This is “proletarianization” the process by which
capitalism produces its gravediggers in a class of impoverished workers who have
nothing to lose but their chains. In the Grundrisse, however, Marx addresses a fun-

Resisting the Present: Towards a Criticism of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is thus a “restoration” not only of class power, of capitalism as the on-
ly possible economic system, it is a restoration of capitalism as synonymous with ra-
tionality. Thus, the question remains, why now, or at least why over the last thirty
years has capitalism taken this neo-liberal turn? If Foucault’s invocation of the spec-
ter of Nazi Germany is insufficient to account for the specific historical formation of
capitalism, the opposition to Marx does little to help clarify the dominance of neoli-
beralism now. Somewhat paradoxically this question can be at least partially ans-
wered by looking at one of the few points of intersection between Marx and neolibe-

Christian Laval, L’homme économique: Essai sur les racines du néolibéralisme (Paris: Galli-
mard, 2007), 17.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36.


damentally different possibility, capital’s exploitation of not just the physical powers
of the body, but the general social knowledge spread throughout society and embo-
died in each individual. This is what Marx refers to as the “general intellect”—the
diffused social knowledge of society. This knowledge, the capacity to use various
languages, protocols, and symbolic systems, is largely produced outside of work. As
Marx writes: “The saving of labor time is equal to an increase of free time, i.e. time
for the full development of the individual, which in turn reacts back upon the pro-
ductive power of labor as itself the greatest productive power. From the standpoint
of the direct production process it can be regarded as the production of fixed capital,
this fixed capital being man himself.”17
For Antonio Negri there is a direct relationship between real subsumption as
a transformation of the capitalist mode of production and neoliberalism as a trans-
formation of the presentation of capitalism. It is not simply that neoliberalism works
to efface the fundamental division between worker and capitalist, between wages
and capital, through the production of neo-liberal subjectivity. After all this opposi-
tion, this antagonism has preexisted neoliberalism by centuries. Neoliberalism is a
discourse and practice that is aimed to curtail the powers of labor that are distri-
buted across all of society—at the exact moment in which all of social existence be-
comes labor, or potential labor, neoliberalism constructs the image of a society of ca-
pitalists, of entrepreneurs. As production moves from the closed space of the factory
to become distributed across all of social space, encompassing all spheres of cultural
and social existence, neoliberalism presents an image of society as a market, effacing
Marx’s deviation from the standard termi-
nology of his own corpus, terminology that designates the worker as labor power (or
living labor), the machine or factory as fixed capital, and money as circulating capi-
tal, is ultimately revealing. It reveals something of a future that Marx could barely
envision, a future that has become our present: the real subsumption of society by
capital. This subsumption involves not only the formation of what Marx referred to
as a specifically capitalist mode of production, but also the incorporation of all sub-
jective potential, the capacity to communicate, to feel, to create, to think, into pro-
ductive powers for capital. Capital no longer simply exploits labor, understood as
the physical capacity to transform objects, but puts to work the capacities to create
and communicate that traverse social relations. It is possible to say that with real
subsumption capital has no outside, there is no relationship that cannot be trans-
formed into a commodity, but at the same time capital is nothing but outside, pro-
duction takes place outside of the factory and the firm, in various social relation-
ships. Because of this fundamental displacement subjectivity becomes paramount,
subjectivity itself becomes productive and it is this same subjectivity that must be

Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy, trans. Martin Nico-
laus (New York: Penguin, 1973), 712.
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

production altogether.18 This underscores the difference between neoliberalism as a
form of power and the disciplinary power at work in the closed spaces of the factory.
If disciplinary power worked by confining and fixing bodies to the production appa-
ratuses, neoliberal power works by dispersing bodies and individuals through pri-
vatization and isolation. Deregulation, the central term and political strategy of neo-
liberalism, is not the absence of governing, or regulating, but a form of governing
through isolation and dispersion.19 As more and more wealth is produced by the col-
lective social powers of society, neoliberalism presents us with an image of society
made up of self-interested individuals. For Negri, neoliberalism and the idea of hu-
man capital is a misrepresentation of the productive powers of society. “The only
problem is that extreme liberalization of the economy reveals its opposite, namely
that the social and productive environment is not made up of atomized individu-
als…the real environment is made up of collective individuals.”20 In Negri’s analysis,
the relation between neoliberalism and real subsumption takes on the characteristics
of a Manichean opposition. We are all workers or we are all capitalists: either view
society as an extension of labor across all social spheres, from the factory to the
school to the home, and across all aspects of human existence, from the work of the
hands to the mind, or view society as a logic of competition and investment that en-
compasses all human relationships. While Negri’s presentation has an advantage
over Foucault’s lectures in that it grasps the historical formation of neoliberalism
against the backdrop of a specific transformation of capital, in some sense following
Foucault’s tendency to present disciplinary power and biopower against the back-
drop of specific changes in the economic organization of society, it does so by almost
casting neoliberalism as an ideology in the pejorative sense of the term. It would ap-
pear that for Negri real subsumption is the truth of society, and neoliberalism is only
a misrepresentation of that truth. As Thomas Lemke has argued, Foucault’s idea of
governmentality, is argued against such a division that posits actual material reality
on one side and its ideological misrepresentation on the other. A governmentality is
a particular mentality, a particular manner of governing, that is actualized in habits,
perceptions, and subjectivity. Governmentality situates actions and conceptions on
the same plane of immanence.21

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, The Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State Form
(Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 1994), 226.
Antonio Negri, The Politics of Subversion: A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century, trans.
James Newell (Oxford: Polity Press, 1989), 99.
Ibid., 206.
Lemke, 54.
Which is to say, that any criticism of neoliberalism
as governmentality must not focus on its errors, on its myopic conception of social
existence, but on its particular production of truth. For Foucault, we have to take se-
riously the manner in which the fundamental understanding of individuals as go-
verned by interest and competition is not just an ideology that can be refused and
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 25-36.


debunked, but is an intimate part of how our lives and subjectivity are structured.
Despite Negri’s tendency to lapse back into an opposition between labor and
ideology, his object raises important questions echoed by other critics of neoliberal-
ism. What is lost in neoliberalism is the critical distance opened up between different
spheres and representations of subjectivity, not only the difference between work
and the market, as in Marxism, but also the difference between the citizen and the
economic subject, as in classical liberalism. All of these differences are effaced as one
relation; that of economic self-interest, or competition, replaces the multiple spaces
and relations of worker, citizen, and economic subject of consumption. To put the
problem in Foucault’s terms, what has disappeared in neoliberalism is the tactical
polyvalence of discourse; everything is framed in terms of interests, freedoms and
risks.22 As Wendy Brown argues, one can survey the quotidian effects or practices of
governmentality in the manner in which individualized/market based solutions ap-
pear in lieu of collective political solutions: gated communities for concerns about
security and safety; bottled water for concerns about water purity; and private
schools (or vouchers) for failing public schools, all of which offer the opportunity for
individuals to opt out rather than address political problems.23 Privatization is not
just neoliberalism’s strategy for dealing with the public sector, what David Harvey
calls accumulation by dispossession, but a consistent element of its particular form
of governmentality, its ethos, everything becomes privatized, institutions, structures,
issues, and problems that used to constitute the public.24 It is privatization all the
way down. For Brown, neoliberalism entails a massive de-democratization, as terms
such as the public good, rights and debate, no longer have any meaning. “The model
neoliberal citizen is one who strategizes for her or himself among various social, po-
litical, and economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or organize
these options.”25
Foucault’s development, albeit partial, of account of neoliberalism as go-
vernmentality has as its major advantage a clarification of the terrain on which neo-
Thus, while it is possible to argue that neoliberalism is a more flexi-
ble, an open form of power as opposed to the closed spaces of disciplines, a form of
power that operates on freedoms, on a constitutive multiplicity, it is in some sense
all the more closed in that as a form of governmentality, as a political rationality, it is
without an outside. It does not encounter any tension with a competing logic of
worker or citizen, with a different articulation of subjectivity. States, corporations,
individuals are all governed by the same logic, that of interest and competition.

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley
(New York: Vintage, 1978), 101.
Wendy Brown, “American Nightmare: Neoliberalism, Neoconservatism, and Democrati-
zation,” Political Theory, 34, 6 (2006), 704.
David Harvey, 154.
Wendy Brown, “Neoliberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy,” in Edgework: Critical
Essays on Knowledge and Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2005), 43.
Read: A Genealogy of Homo-Economicus

liberalism can be countered. It is not enough to simply oppose neoliberalism as ide-
ology, revealing the truth of social existence that it misses, or to enumerate its vari-
ous failings as policy. Rather any opposition to neoliberalism must take seriously its
effectiveness, the manner in which it has transformed work subjectivity and social
relationships. As Foucault argues, neoliberalism operates less on actions, directly
curtailing them, then on the condition and effects of actions, on the sense of possibil-
ity. The reigning ideal of interest and the calculations of cost and benefit do not so
much limit what one can do, neoliberal thinkers are famously indifferent to prescrip-
tive ideals, examining the illegal drug trade as a more or less rational investment,
but limit the sense of what is possible. Specifically the ideal of the fundamentally
self-interested individual curtails any collective transformation of the conditions of
existence. It is not that such actions are not prohibited, restricted by the dictates of a
sovereign or the structures of disciplinary power, they are not seen as possible,
closed off by a society made up of self-interested individuals. It is perhaps no acci-
dent that one of the most famous political implementers of neoliberal reforms, Mar-
garet Thatcher, used the slogan, “there is no alternative,” legitimating neoliberalism
based on the stark absence of possibilities. Similarly, and as part of a belated re-
sponse to the former Prime Minister, it also perhaps no accident that the slogan of
the famous Seattle protests against the IMF and World Bank was, “another world is
possible,” and it is very often the sense of a possibility of not only another world, but
of another way of organizing politics that is remembered, the image of turtles and
teamsters marching hand and hand, when those protests are referred to.26

Maurizio Lazzarato, Les révolutions du capitalisme (Paris: Le Seuil, 2004), 19.
It is also
this sense of possibility that the present seems to be lacking; it is difficult to imagine
let alone enact a future other than a future dominated by interest and the destructive
vicissitudes of competition. A political response to neoliberalism must meet it on its
terrain, that of the production of subjectivity, freedom and possibility.

21. Elena - February 26, 2010
This is an amazingly good article and it is ALL related with our little cult! It’s shocking! When one learns about this “truths” of neoliberalism it is very easy to understand how we got where we got to in the Fellowship Cult. What it doesn’t say is that the tendency in such a society when the mechanism draw along for long enough is to legitimize crime as a normal WAY of existence. What this article shows is that what is happening in society is no different to what happened in the microcosmos of the Fellowship cult. The fact that homeless are “persecuted” is no different to the attitude members held towards Dorothy, an old woman with alzheimer or any of the members with disabilities, particularly if they didn’t produce any income for the cult. At the end of the article it even mentions that the Public Square has disappeared! No wonder there are only two of us regularly visiting this site which is why it makes it even more relevant to keep it alive! As long as there is one of us, there is hope!! What is very interesting is that when one looks at the phenomenon itself in the physical realm even with all the inner impulses that define it, the horror of the situation is clear but when one looks at it in another realm, it carries the horror and the seed for something less horrible or even “desireable”. As if the horror were itself a path to something better and yet if we think about the second world war in this sense, this statement might be better understood: yes, we became more conscious of our inhumanity after the second world war but isn’t this neoliberalism proving that we are far from freeing our selves from our inhumanity? This article even touches upon the question of WE that I insisted so much on in the FOF blog. The neoliberal doesn’t want to think in terms of WE. It’s hard enough to support one’s self to have to think about US! Which reminds me of the fact that in the USA women and men are each supposed to make their own money within a marriage and the concept of being supported by the man has disappeared, concept which is becoming rare in underdeveloped countries but is still regularly practiced. This “separation” seems very healthy for the neoliberal economy but I wonder if this disengagement from each other is at the root of the indifference with which the social, public realm is perceived. So many questions to consider…. the research must go on! http://ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/foucault-studies/article/view/2471/2469  Trent H. Hamann 2009 ISSN: 1832-5203 Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59, February 2009 ARTICLE Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics Trent H. Hamann, St. John’s University ABSTRACT: This paper illustrates the relevance of Foucault’s analysis of neoliberal governance for a critical understanding of recent transformations in individual and social life in the United States, particularly in terms of how the realms of the public and the private and the personal and the political are understood and practiced. The central aim of neoliberal governmentality (“the conduct of conduct”) is the strategic creation of social conditions that encourage and necessitate the production of Homo economicus, a historically specific form of subjectivity constituted as a free and au- tonomous “atom” of self-interest. The neoliberal subject is an individual who is mo- rally responsible for navigating the social realm using rational choice and cost- benefit calculations grounded on market-based principles to the exclusion of all oth- er ethical values and social interests. While the more traditional forms of domination and exploitation characteristic of sovereign and disciplinary forms of power remain evident in our ”globalized” world, the effects of subjectification produced at the lev- el of everyday life through the neoliberal “conduct of conduct” recommend that we recognize and invent new forms of critique and ethical subjectivation that constitute resistance to its specific dangers. Key words: Foucault, neoliberalism, governmentality, biopolitics, homo economicus, genealogy, ethics, critique. Introduction In his 1978-1979 course lectures at the Collège de France, The Birth of Biopolitics,1 1 Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978-1979, trans- lated by Graham Burchell, edited by Arnold I. Davidson (New York: Palgrave Macmil- lan, 2008). Henceforth, BB, with page numbers given in the text. Mi- chel Foucault offered what is today recognizable as a remarkably prescient analysis of neoliberalism. In the thirty years since he gave these lectures their pertinence and Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 38 value for a critical understanding of contemporary forms of political governance in the United States have grown. As I illustrate below, everyday experiences reflect a neoliberal ethos2 operative within almost every aspect of our individual and social lives with consequences that are dire for many and dangerous for most if not all of us. Indeed the central aim of neoliberal governmentality3 is the strategic production of social conditions conducive to the constitution of Homo economicus, a specific form of subjectivity with historical roots in traditional liberalism. However, whereas libe- ralism posits ”economic man” as a ”man of exchange”, neoliberalism strives to en- sure that individuals are compelled to assume market-based values in all of their judgments and practices in order to amass sufficient quantities of ”human capital” and thereby become ”entrepreneurs of themselves”. Neoliberal Homo economicus is a free and autonomous ”atom” of self-interest who is fully responsible for navigating the social realm using rational choice and cost-benefit calculation to the express exclu- sion of all other values and interests. Those who fail to thrive under such social con- ditions have no one and nothing to blame but themselves. It is here that we can rec- ognize the vital importance of the links between Foucault’s analyses of governmen- tality begun in the late 1970’s and his interest in technologies of the self and ethical self-fashioning, which he pursued until the time of his death in 1984. His analyses of ”government” or ”the conduct of conduct” bring together the government of others (subjectification) and the government of one’s self (subjectivation); on the one hand, the biopolitical governance of populations and, on the other, the work that individu- als perform upon themselves in order to become certain kinds of subjects. While the more traditional forms of domination and exploitation characteristic of sovereign and disciplinary forms of power remain evident in our ”globalized” world, the ef- fects of subjectification produced at the level of everyday life through the specifically neoliberal ”conduct of conduct” recommend that we recognize and invent commen- surate forms of critique, ”counter-conduct” and ethical subjectivation that constitute resistance to its dangers.4 2 Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne, and Nikolas Rose have observed that for Foucault libe- ralism (and, by extension, neoliberalism) indicate something like an ethos of government rather than a specific historical moment or single doctrine. See their introduction to Fou- cault and Political Reason: Liberalism, Neo-liberalism and Rationalities of Government, edited by Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne, and Nikolas Rose (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 8. 3 Foucault defines “governmentality” as an apparatus of administrative power “that has the population as its target, political economy as its major form of knowledge, and appa- ratuses of security as its essential technical instrument.” See Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-1978, translated by Graham Burchell, edited by Arnold I. Davidson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 108-9. Henceforth, STP, with page numbers given in the text. 4 Throughout this paper I will follow the distinction made by Alan Milchman and Alan Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 39 I. Neoliberalism as Everyday Experience One of the significant developments in contemporary life that might fall under the heading of ”neoliberalism” can be recognized through the various ways that the tra- ditional distinctions between the public and the private on the one hand, and the po- litical and the personal on the other have been gradually blurred, reversed, or re- moved altogether. The exposure of formerly private and personal realms of life has occurred not only through the more striking examples of growing government and corporate surveillance (think of the telecoms and the warrantless monitoring of elec- tronic communications paid for with taxpayer dollars or the growing use of human implantable radio-frequency identification [RFID] microchips), but, more subtly and significantly, the extent to which activities of production and consumption typically practiced in public spaces are increasingly taking place in the home, a space once exclusively reserved for leisure time and housework. It has become more and more common to find such activities as telecommuting, telemarketing, and shopping via the Internet or cable television taking place within the home. Nearly ubiquitous technologies such as the telephone, home computers with worldwide web access, pagers, mobile phones, GPS and other wireless devices have rendered private space and personal time accessible to the demands of business and, increasingly, the inter- ests of government. To put it simply, it is no longer true, as Marx once claimed, that the worker “is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home.”5 Within this formerly public realm we now find that private interests or pub- lic/private amalgams have gained greater control and influence. In major urban areas Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have appropriated many traditional Reality television, social networking sites, personal webcams and confes- sional blogging have all contributed toward exposing the private realm in ways un- foreseen by the well-known feminist adage from the 1960’s: ”the personal is politi- cal”. Rosenberg between 1) “subjectification” (assujettissement) or the ways that others are go- verned and objectified into subjects through processes of power/knowledge (including but not limited to subjugation and subjection since a subject can have autonomy and power relations can be resisted and reversed), and 2) ”subjectivation” (subjectivation) or the ways that individuals govern and fashion themselves into subjects on the basis of what they take to be the truth. Subjectivation can take either the form of self-objectification in accord with processes of subjectification or it can take the form of a subjectivation of a true discourse produced through practices of freedom in resistance to prevailing appara- tuses of power/knowledge. See Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, “The Final Foucault: Government of Others and Government of Oneself” (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Pub- lishing, forthcoming 2008). Henceforth, FF. 5 Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor,” in The Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, edited by Dirk J. Struik (New York: International Publishers, 1964), 110. Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 40 governing functions from financially strapped municipalities including taxation, sa- nitation, and policing. For years the U.S. federal government has given away tradi- tional public goods such as parklands, water, and the airways to profit-making businesses, often in exchange for shallow and unfulfilled promises to serve the pub- lic interest. Many formerly public or government institutions such as hospitals, schools, and prisons are now managed privately as for-profit corporations as in- creasing numbers of people go without healthcare, education levels drop, and prison populations increase. An ongoing effort has been made to further privatize if not eliminate traditional social goods such as healthcare, welfare, and social security. In addition, problems once recognized as social ills have been shifted to the personal realm: poverty, environmental degradation, unemployment, homelessness, racism, sexism, and heterosexism: all have been reinterpreted as primarily private matters to be dealt with through voluntary charity, the invisible hand of the market, by culti- vating personal ”sensitivity” towards others or improving one’s own self-esteem. Corporations, churches, universities and other institutions have made it part of their mission to organize the mandatory training of employees in these and other areas of personal development and self-management. Just as illness and disease are more of- ten addressed in the mainstream media as a problem of revenue loss for business than as an effect of poor environmental or worker safety regulations, corporations have stepped up the practice of promoting full worker responsibility for their own health and welfare, offering incentives to employees for their participation in fitness training, lifestyle management and diet programs. We can also find a sustained ex- pansion of ”self-help” and ”personal power” technologies that range from the old “think and grow rich” school to new techniques promising greater control in the self-management of everything from time to anger.6 On a broader scale, there is clear evidence that government policymaking has increasingly fallen under the influence of private corporate and industry interests, for whom the next quarter’s bottom line routinely trumps any concern for the long term common or public good. Transnational organizations such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization commonly use their global reach in order to dictate what are often austere social policies through ”Structural Adjustment Programs” (SAPs), practices that have been linked to the on- going expansion of slum populations worldwide. These and many other examples demonstrate the extent to which so much that was once understood as social and political has been re-positioned within the domain of self-governance, often through techniques imposed by private institutions such as schools and businesses. 7 6 See Binkley, this volume. 7 See Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (New York: Verso, 2006). While the various discourses of ”ownership” and the like have promoted the populist ideals of choice, freedom, au- tonomy and individualism, the reality is that individuals worldwide are more and more subject to the frequently harsh, unpredictable, and unforgiving demands of Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 41 market forces and the kinds of impersonal judgments that evaluate them in terms of a cost-benefit calculus of economic risk, financial burden, productivity, efficiency, and expedience. The recent collapse of the U.S. housing market, the rising costs of fuel and food, and record-breaking increases in unemployment rates perhaps illu- strate, not the failure of what sometimes has been called the ”ownership society”, but rather its success in instituting a moralizing principle of punishing those who haven’t amassed sufficient ”human capital”. Examples such as these do suggest that, to at least some extent, the neoliberal strategy of infusing market values into every aspect of social life and shifting responsibility onto individuals has succeeded. II. Neoliberalism As Governmentality In his 1978-79 course lectures, Foucault analyzed liberalism as a historical form of biopolitical governmentality, that is, as a form of political rationality concerned with the government of populations and the conduct of individual conduct in accord with “the internal rule of maximum economy” (BB, 318). His genealogical analysis of libe- ralism led him to examine the West German Ordo-liberalism of the period from 1942 to 1962 and the American neoliberalism of the Chicago School, which developed lat- er on. Foucault noted that both forms of neoliberalism were conceived from the very beginning as interventionist and critical responses to specific forms of governmen- tality. For the West Germans, who were faced with the daunting task of building a new state from scratch it constituted a critique of the excessive state power of Naz- ism and for the Americans it was a reaction to the overextended New Deal welfare state and its interference in market mechanisms. In this regard both schools were linked from the start to classical liberalism insofar as they were forms of “critical go- vernmental reason,” or political rationality that theorized government as immanent- ly self-limiting by virtue of its primary responsibility for supporting the economy. Whereas the pre-modern state had utilized the economy to serve its own ends, the emergence of political economy within the liberal reason of state reversed the tradi- tional relationship between government and economy (BB, 12-3). What fascinated Foucault about the American neoliberals in particular, and distinguished them from the West German Ordo-liberals, was their unprecedented expansion of the economic enterprise form to the entire social realm. The Americans sought “to extend the ra- tionality of the market, the schemes of analysis it offers and the decision-making cri- teria it suggests, to domains which are not exclusively or not primarily economic: the family and the birth rate, for example, or delinquency and penal policy” (BB, 323). Government is also reconceived as an enterprise to be organized, operated, and sys- tematically critiqued according to an “economic positivism” (BB, 247). Within the reason of state of American neoliberalism, the role of government is defined by its obligations to foster competition through the installation of market-based mechan- isms for constraining and conditioning the actions of individuals, institutions, and Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 42 the population as a whole. In fact, the government’s ability to operate under the cost-benefit rule of maximum economy while simultaneously “hard selling” this “way of doing things” becomes its one and only criterion of legitimacy (BB, 318). Another significant feature of neoliberalism is its explicit acknowledgment of the fact that neither the market nor economic competition between individuals is a natural reality with self-evident or intrinsic laws. Rather, the rationality of neolibe- ralism consists of values and principles that must be actively instituted, maintained, reassessed and, if need be, reinserted at all levels of society (BB, 120). While neoli- beral governmentality seeks to minimize state power as much as possible, it also re- cognizes that the market can only be kept viable through active governmental and legal support. Likewise, it explicitly acknowledges that competition between indi- viduals can only be fostered through social mechanisms that are exclusively en- coded, ordered and reassessed by market values. The point here is that within the rationality of neoliberal governmentality8 Governing people is not a way to force people to do what the governor wants; it is always a versatile equilibrium, with complementarity and conflicts between techniques which assure coercion and processes through which the self is con- structed or modified by himself. it is clear that Homo economicus or “eco- nomic man” is not a natural being with predictable forms of conduct and ways of behaving, but is instead a form of subjectivity that must be brought into being and maintained through social mechanisms of subjectification. As I will illustrate below, ”economic man” is a subject that must be produced by way of forms of knowledge and relations of power aimed at encouraging and reinforcing individual practices of subjectivation. III. Homo Economicus as Everyday Experience 9 Foucault’s analysis in The Birth of Biopolitics notes that one of the concerns of the neo- liberals was with identifying the reasoning involved in leading an individual to de- dicate his or her life’s finite capacities and limited resources toward pursuing one goal or agenda rather than another. Referring to the work of the economist Gary Becker, Foucault discussed the neoliberal theories of human capital and criminality, both of which focus on economic principles of rationality for determining decision- making processes and action. For example, instead of interpreting the wage earner as an individual who is obliged to sell his or her labor power as an abstract commod- ity, neoliberalism describes wages as income earned from the expenditure of ”hu- 8 Here and for the remainder of this article my discussion of “neoliberalism” will refer primarily to the historical and contemporary American variant. 9 Michel Foucault, “About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth,” Political Theory, 21, 2 (May 1993), 203-4. Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 43 man capital”, which consists of both an individual’s innate genetic qualities as well as his or her acquired skills, abilities, tastes, and knowledge. This accumulated ”hu- man capital” is interpreted as the result of prior and ongoing investments in goods like education, nutrition, and training, as well as love and affection. In this recon- struction of the wage earner, workers are no longer recognized as dependent on an employer but instead are fashioned as free and autonomous entrepreneurs fully re- sponsible for their presumably rational self-investment decisions. Foucault notes that this definition of economics gives itself the task of analyzing a form of human behavior in terms of its internal rationality. Economics is no longer viewed as the analysis of processes but rather, as the analysis of “the strategic programming of in- dividuals’ activity” (BB, 223). For Pierre Bourdieu, the institution of these new forms of entrepreneurial activity has meant that levels of competition traditionally charac- teristic of relations between businesses and corporations are now deeply entrenched at the level of the workforce itself: Competition is extended to individuals themselves, through the individualiza- tion of the wage relationship: establishment of individual performance objec- tives, individual performance evaluations, permanent evaluation, individual sal- ary increases or granting of bonuses as a function of competence and of individ- ual merit; individualized career paths; strategies of ‘delegating responsibility’ tending to ensure the self-exploitation of staff who, simple wage laborers in rela- tions of strong hierarchical dependence, are at the same time held responsible for their sales, their products, their branch, their store, etc. as though they were in- dependent contractors. This pressure toward ‘self-control’ extends workers’ ‘in- volvement’ according to the techniques of ‘participative management’ consider- ably beyond management level. All of these are techniques of rational domina- tion that impose over-involvement in work (and not only among management) and work under emergency or high-stress conditions. And they converge to weaken or abolish collective standards or solidarities.10 Within the apparatus (dispositif) 11 10 Pierre Bourdieu, “The Essence of Neoliberalism,” translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro, Le Monde diplomatique (December 1998), http://mondediplo.com/1998/12/08bourdieu (accessed April 30, 2008). 11 Henceforth I will refer to this or that “apparatus,” insofar as I read Foucault’s term dispo- sitif to indicate the set-ups or apparatuses of knowledge-power-subjectivity that condi- tion, shape, and constrain our everyday actuality. of neoliberalism every individual is considered to be “equally unequal”, as Foucault put it. Exploitation, domination, and every other form of social inequality is rendered invisible as social phenomena to the extent that each individual’s social condition is judged as nothing other than the effect of his or her own choices and investments. As Wendy Brown has pointed out, Homo economi- cus is constructed, not as a citizen who obeys rules, pursues common goods, and ad- dresses problems it shares with others, but as a rational and calculating entrepreneur Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 44 who is not only capable of, but also responsible for caring for him or herself.12 Within this practically Hobbesian (anti-)social landscape the ”responsibility” of in- dividuals constitutes a form of market morality Brown points out that this has the effect of “depoliticizing social and economic powers” as well as reducing “political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency.” She writes: The model neoliberal citizen is one who strategizes for her- or himself among various social, political, and economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or organize these options. A fully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body but is rather a group of individual entrepreneurs and consumers . . . (E, 43). 13 understood as the maximization of economy through the autonomous rational deliberation of costs and benefits fol- lowed by freely chosen practices. Neoliberal subjects are constituted as thoroughly responsible for themselves and themselves alone because they are subjectified as thoroughly autonomous and free. An individual’s failure to engage in the requisite processes of subjectivation, or what neoliberalism refers to as a “mismanaged life” (E, 42), is consequently due to the moral failure of that individual. Neoliberal ratio- nality allows for the avoidance of any kind of collective, structural, or governmental responsibility for such a life even as examples of it have been on the rise for a num- ber of decades. Instead, impoverished populations, when recognized at all, are often treated as ”opportunities” for investment.14 On June 15, 2006 the UN released a report, “State of the World’s Cities 2006/7,” on the alarming worldwide growth of urban slum dwellers. 15 12 See Wendy Brown, Edgework: Critical Essays On Knowledge and Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). Henceforth, E, with page numbers given in the text. 13 I use the term “morality” here in the formal sense used by Foucault. Generally speaking it is the code (or codes) that determines which acts are permitted or forbidden and the values attributed to those acts. These codes inform the ethical relationship one has to one’s self. See Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress,” in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 237-8. Henceforth, OGE, with page numbers given in the text. 14 We see this, for example, in the high interest rates increasingly attached to micro-credit issued to poor “entrepreneurs” in the developing world. Viewing poverty as an invest ment opportunity also frequently leads to other problems such as forced evictions when lands are appropriated for commercial development. Examples of this can be found eve- rywhere from New Orleans to Nairobi. 15 The full report “State of the World’s Cities 2006/7” press release, and other related docu- The report Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 45 estimated that by the year 2007 the majority of human beings would, for the first time ever, be living in cities. One third of those city dwellers, that is one billion of them, will live in slums. The report also projected that the growth in slum popula- tions will amount to twenty-seven million people per year—an increase that will continue for at least the next two decades. In 1996 one hundred and seventy-six leaders from around the world met at the World Food Summit and pledged to cut the number of undernourished and starving people in half within twenty years.16 Over a decade later, the number of people going hungry around the world has in- creased by eighteen million, bringing the worldwide total to eight hundred and fifty- two million, with an average of six million children dying of hunger each year. In the United States, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of homeless in- dividuals in the last twenty-five years, attributable mainly to an increase in poverty and a growing shortage of affordable rental housing.17 The neoliberal approach to dealing with growing poverty, unemployment, and homelessness is not simply to ignore it, but to impose punitive judgments through the moralizing effects of its political rationality. For example, the former Commissioner of the NYC Department of Homeless Services, Linda Gibbs famously vowed to “change the meaning of homelessness” by emphasizing “better manage- ment” and “client responsibility.” Although the nature of home- lessness makes it difficult to obtain accurate and timely statistics, it is estimated that an average 3.5 million people experience homelessness annually with the fastest growing segment of this population being families with children. As of 2003 the number of homeless who are children under the age of 18 is nearly 40%. In New York City children constitute nearly half of the homeless population while children and their families make up 75% of the total. And although we sometimes hear of employment figures going up across the United States, so too has the number of working poor and those forced to work multiple jobs without adequate healthcare and other benefits. 18 ments can be accessed in PDF format at the UN-HABITAT webpage: http://hq. unhabi- tat.org/content.asp?cid=3397&catid=7&typeid=46&sub MenuId=0 (accessed April 30, 2008). I have not found an updated version of this report at the time of this writing. 16 See Phillip Thornton’s article, “More are Hungry Despite World Leaders’ Pledge,” The Independent/UK, October 16, 2006. 17 All statistics, facts, and figures on homelessness are taken from the National Coalition for the Homeless publications website: http:://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts.htm (accessed April 30, 2008). 18 Linda Gibbs, as quoted by Robert Kolker in his January 6, 2003 New York magazine ar- ticle: “Home for the Holidays.” “My expectation” she stated “is that you can ac- tually manage this in a way that people change their behavior.” Of course, what never factors into this construction of “client responsibility” are any of the structural constraints imposed by the city’s endemic social problems, such as unfair housing practices or the lack of adequate education and employment opportunities. Instead, Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 46 one of the Commissioner’s greatest concerns, as she put it, was that “the city has to be careful that people don’t abuse the system.” Another example of punitive subjec- tification is the criminalization of homelessness. A joint report issued at the begin- ning of the year in 2006 by the National Coalition for the Homeless and The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty described the growing practice of crimina- lizing the homeless in urban America even while homelessness increases and cities are consistently unable to meet the heightened demand for more shelters. As the re- port indicates: An unfortunate trend in cities around the country over the past 25 years has been to turn to the criminal justice system to respond to people living in public spaces. This trend includes measures that target homeless people by making it illegal to perform life-sustaining activities in public. These measures prohibit activities such as sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, usually including criminal penalties for violating these laws. In a nation with the highest worldwide rate of incarceration of its citizens, this means increased profits for the corporate owned prison industry.19 Treated as crimi- nals by the police for their desperate efforts to keep themselves alive, the homeless, who are arguably the most vulnerable segment of the population, have more and more frequently found themselves the target of violent attacks that have resulted in injuries and in many cases death.20 19 See the February 29, 2008 Washington Post article “New High in U.S. Prison Numbers,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/story/2008/02/28/ST2008022803016.htm l (accessed April 30, 2008). 20 See the press release entitled: “Hate Crimes and Violence Against Homeless People In- creasing,” http://www.nationalhomeless.org/hatecrimes/pressrelease.html (accessed April 30, 2008). A report by the NCH in 2005 found that in a re- cent period of four years, homeless deaths had increased by 67% while non-lethal attacks increased by 281%. Living and dying in accord with the neoliberal rule of maximum economy, the homeless find themselves subject to the harshest and cruel- est effects of its domestic governance. They are the disowned of the ownership socie- ty. Neoliberalism’s rationality treats criminality in a manner that departs from pre- vious “disciplinary” (human or social science-based) analyses of crime. Here again, the criminal is subjectified as a free, autonomous, and rationally calculating subject who weighs the uncertain risk of having to pay a cost in the form of punishment against the generally more certain benefits of crime. As the story goes, Gary Becker hit upon this notion one day when he was confronted with the choice of either park- ing his car illegally, and thereby risking getting a ticket, or parking legally in an in- convenient spot. After carefully calculating his options he opted for the former ‘criminal’ choice. As Becker himself has pointed out, this rational choice approach to criminality fails to acknowledge any significant difference between a murder and a Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 47 parking offence. Or, at best, and since crime is identified as “any action that makes the individual run the risk of being condemned by a penalty” (BB, 251), the differ- ence between committing a murder and parking illegally is nothing other than the kind of penalty one risks incurring. In its attempt to displace legal judgments in fa- vor of economic ones, this approach to human behavior rules out any possibility for an ethical evaluation of actions that would extend beyond simply judging them as unfortunate miscalculations in light of what is expedient. IV. Foucault and Neoliberalism Today–Three Concerns While quite a number of scholars and critics have used Foucault’s ”toolbox” to great advantage in describing and analyzing many of the same trends I have discussed above,21 The first concern is that the use of the concept of neoliberalism as a descrip- tive term in a critical analysis of contemporary society might be ”insufficiently ge- nealogical”. a number of questions have been raised about the viability or effectiveness of doing so. I will briefly describe three of what I take to be the most significant con- cerns here as a means toward developing my own attempts to address them, albeit somewhat indirectly, in the remainder of this paper. 22 That is, it seems to claim a bird’s-eye view of things, it tends to gene- ralize too much, and it consequently moves too quickly in reaching conclusions. In other words, it risks bypassing the kind of patient and detailed genealogical analyses that would give us insightful descriptions of the specific local forms of power and knowledge that are to be found at work in our everyday lives. I have already gone some way towards offering empirical descriptions of contemporary experiences that reflect neoliberal governmentality at work. In the next section I will offer a brief ge- nealogy of neoliberalism that begins by noting the specificity of Foucault’s own analysis within an examination of liberalism as the framework of intelligibility of biopolitics. 21 In addition to Wendy Brown, cited above, see for example Jeffrey T. Nealon’s Foucault Beyond Foucault: Power and its Intensifications Since 1984 (Stanford, CA: Stanford Universi- ty Press, 2008), and the work of Nikolas Rose, in particular his Powers of Freedom: Refram- ing Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). 22 While he does not raise the problem specifically in relation to neoliberalism, Todd May expresses a similar concern about the use of the concept of ”globalization” to describe our present. See his article “Foucault Now?” in Foucault Studies, 3 (November 2005). Also see the last chapter, “Are we still who Foucault says we are?” in his book The Philosophy of Foucault (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), 132-59. Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 48 A second and closely related concern is that by focusing on neoliberalism’s economization of society and responsibilization of individuals some critics have mis- takenly offered it up as a new paradigm of power that would supersede older forms just as disciplinary power is sometimes mistakenly thought to have entirely replaced sovereign power in one great historical shift.23 Careful readers know that Foucault warned against making this kind of mistake by indicating the complex ways in which different forms of power have co-existed and complimented one another.24 A third and final concern is that Foucault’s emphasis on the care of the self and aesthetics of existence in his later works lends itself quite nicely to neoliberal- ism’s aim of producing free and autonomous individuals concerned with cultivating themselves in accord with various practices of the self (education, healthy lifestyle, the desire to compete, etc.). One can point, for example, to the alarming explosion of U.S. prison populations and the worldwide escalation of the use of surveillance technologies as contemporary manifestations of disciplinary and panoptic forms of power. Likewise the open ac- knowledgment of the use of torture by the U.S. government can be recognized as one of the signal characteristics of sovereign power. In the next section I will offer examples of the presence of sovereign, disciplinary, and panoptic forms of power in neoliberal governmentality while also noting what I find to be significant differences or modifications. 25 23 Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg locate this problem in much of Anglo-Saxon go- vernmentality theory [FF]. Nancy Fraser has described disciplinary power as a ”Fordist mode of social regulation” that is no longer very useful for describing contemporary so- ciety. See her article “From Discipline to Flexibilization? Rereading Foucault in the Sha- dow of Globalization,” in Constellations, 10, 2 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2003), 160- 71. 24 During a discussion of Rousseau in his lecture of February 1, 1978 Foucault suggests: “…we should not see things as the replacement of a society of sovereignty by a society of discipline, and then of a society of discipline by a society, say, of government. In fact we have a triangle: sovereignty, discipline, and governmental management…” (STP, 107). 25 Jeffrey T. Nealon’s Foucault Beyond Foucault offers a characterization of this prevalent but mistaken reading in which “the late Foucaultian turn to the self-creating subject and its artistic agency can only remind us of present-day American military recruiting posters (‘Become an Army of One’) or the corporate slogan of Microsoft: ‘Where would you like to go today?’” (p. 11). That is, Homo economicus is a good example of Foucaul- dian self-fashioning. Consequently, one might conclude that, rather than contribut- ing toward a critical analysis of neoliberalism, Foucault’s work on self-care and technologies of the self at best provides us with no useful tools for doing so, or worse, actually provides a kind of technical support manual for the neoliberal agen- da of recoding society and its subjects. Indeed we might be mistaken to read Fou- cault as critical of neoliberalism at all. It could be that his sole interest in it was as a historically situated critical alternative to the biopolitical model of the welfare state. In this regard he might even have been a somewhat naive advocate of neoliberalism, for all we know. In the genealogy that follows I will give particular attention to the history of Homo economicus because of its central place in neoliberal governmentality. I have already described how neoliberalism encourages individuals to engage in Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 49 self-forming practices of subjectivation through processes of social subjectification. In the last section of my paper I will discuss the possibility of recognizing and in- venting other forms of subjectivation that critique and resist neoliberal subjectifica- tion. V. A Brief Genealogy of Neo-Liberalism I begin this section by establishing a few points for consideration. The first is that the question as to whether Foucault thought neoliberalism was a good thing or a bad thing seems to me to be misguided for two reasons. His analyses of governmentality sought, to a large extent, to analyze historical relations between power, knowledge, and subjectivity in order to better understand the present, to identify its dangers, and to perhaps locate possible opportunities for critical resistance. The judgment ”good” or ”bad” is something I am sure he would have refused in this context as he consistently did in many others. In addition, if it can be argued that the way many of us think, act, and speak has, over the past couple of decades, become increasingly shaped in a manner consistent with the articulations of neoliberal governmentality, this is nothing Foucault could have anticipated nearly twenty-five years ago. We cannot know what he would have thought of the actuality of our present. What we do know is that Foucault found neoliberalism important enough to examine and dis- cuss it in his 1978-79 lectures at far greater length than he had originally planned (BB, 185). Although neoliberalism has frequently been used as one of the ”tools” Foucault offers, perhaps it is not always the case that enough attention is given to his own treatment of it. We should bear in mind that his discussion of it occurs within the context of an analysis of liberalism as “the general framework” or “condition of intelligibility” of biopolitics (BB, 327-8). In fact, at the end of his first lecture on Janu- ary 10th, he suggested that: “only when we know what this governmental regime called liberalism was, will we be able to grasp what biopolitics is” (BB, 18). Consider- ing this analytical framework we might pause for a moment over the ”neo” of neoli- beralism. A genealogical approach should perhaps first seek to establish its possible links with some of the older disciplinary and panoptic forms of power described by Foucault as constituting the history of our present. Many of the contemporary practices that can be defined in terms of neolibe- ralism have historical precedents that we can locate in Foucault’s archaeologi- cal/genealogical analyses. It is hard to argue with those who would point to today’s exploding prison populations, the use of prison labor and the training of both stu- dents and prisoners in ”entrepreneurialism”,26 26 See, for example, the transcript of the PBS News Hour report aired January 15, 2007 on the NIFTY programs at a Providence, Rhode Island high school and the Rikers Island jail facility. the replacement of welfare with Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 50 workfare, the pervasive use of surveillance, training, and testing, etc. as instances of the contemporary manifestation of something that appears to be disciplinary power. For example, as was true in ”the great confinement” described by Foucault in Mad- ness and Civilization,27 the present incarceration of unprecedented numbers of the population in the U.S. is not simply a negative act of exclusion aimed at protecting and preserving a pre-given social order. Rather, it is a positive means of producing certain kinds of subjects in accord with a certain biopolitical apparatus implemented by the police (understood here in the broad governmental sense of the term used during the eighteenth century as outlined by Foucault)28 http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june07/entrepreneurs_01-15.html (ac- cessed April 30, 2008). 27 Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, trans- lated by Richard Howard (New York: Random House, 1965), 38-64. 28 Michel Foucault, “The Political Technology of Individuals,” in Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hutton (eds.), Technologies of the Self (Amherst, MA: The Univer- sity of Massachusetts Press, 1988), 145-62. Henceforth, PTI, with page numbers given in the text. Foucault explains here that: “The police govern not by the law but by a specific, a permanent, and a positive intervention in the behavior of individuals” (p. 159). with the aim of producing a certain kind of social order. What may be unique about neoliberal forms of punish- ment is that they recognize a certain continuum between those subjects who are in- carcerated and those who are not. Whereas the Hôpital Général described by Fou- cault served to constitute a division between normal and pathological subjects, neo- liberal governmentality aims toward producing something like a graduated social plane by constituting all subjects as ”equally unequal”. Incarcerated or not, all neoli- beral subjects are presumed ”equal” and ”free”. Social divisions no doubt exist, in- deed many of them (such as economic disparity) have been increasing steadily, but as we have seen, neoliberalism attributes those divisions to failures of individual choice and responsibility. When Foucault discusses the neoliberal conception of cri- minality, he concludes, “there is an anthropological erasure of the criminal” and “what appears on the horizon of this kind of analysis is not at the ideal or project of an exhaustively disciplinary society in which the legal network hemming in indi- viduals is taken over and extended internally by, let’s say, normative mechanisms” (BB, 258-9). In contrast to traditional forms of disciplinary power, these contempo- rary instances posit a continuum that begins with a conception of individuals as al- ready rationally calculating, individualized atoms of self-interest. Once those prin- ciples are incorporated within governing institutions, social relations, academic dis- ciplines, the workplace, and professional organizational policies, individuals are en- couraged and compelled to fashion themselves (their practices, understanding, and manner of speaking) according to its rules, often out of practical necessity. On the other hand it seems that a number of Foucault’s descriptions of nineteenth-century society and government find echoes in contemporary society, such as docile bodies being subject to continuous training and judgment, or the poor being criminalized Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 51 and cast out of the cities. It does not require much imagination to hear in Bourdieu’s description of today’s entrepreneurial work culture, quoted above, a repetition of Foucault’s description of one of the effects of panopticism: The efficiency of power, its constraining force have, in a sense, passed over to the other side—to the side of its surface of application. He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection.29 Turning again to Homo economicus, who might best be described as the subject who would be ”the principle of his own subjection” because of the conditions of his environment, we recognize that this prescribed form of subjectivity also has its his- torical precedents within the biopolitics of liberalism. In his article “The Ethology of Homo Economicus” Joseph Persky traces the original use of the term Homo economicus We find significant precedents such as this one in the past, but, as Bourdieu makes clear, the new values promulgated in this contemporary form of panopticism are ex- clusively entrepreneurial ones. We find here no references to traditional Christian morality or descriptions of ”idleness” as a sin. If the panopticon as described by Foucault was a vast experiment using various techniques in order to find what worked best, today’s corporate work environments may very well be one of a num- ber of practical applications of its results. If one of the effects of panopticism is to produce free subjects, then the critical issue is not so much a matter of liberating in- dividuals from this or that constraint, but rather examining the apparatuses within which subjects are conditioned and constrained as free subjects. The workers de- scribed by Bourdieu, the homeless who are treated as both ”clients” and criminals, those who are poor due to their own ”mismanagement” and those citizens described by Brown who can strategize for themselves among available options but play no role in determining those options—they are all free. But their freedom is shaped, conditioned, and constrained within a form of subjectification characterized by in- creasing competition and social insecurity. It is an apparatus that produces only cer- tain kinds of freedom understood in terms of a specific notion of self-interest, while effectively preempting other possible kinds of freedom and forms of self-interest (in- cluding various collective, communal, and public forms of self-interest) that neces- sarily appear as impolitic, unprofitable, inexpedient and the like. Rather than representing a new paradigm of power, neoliberalism perhaps constitutes a sove- reign-disciplinary-governmental triangle of power. 29 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, translated by Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1979), 202-3. Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 52 to the late nineteenth century.30 There he locates the term in a series of critical res- ponses to John Stuart Mill’s work on political economy, in particular his 1836 essay “On the Definition of Political Economy; and on the Method of Investigation Proper to It.”31 While this brief example is no substitute for a thorough genealogy of Homo economi- cus, Mill’s interest in this ”art” of ”character building” is a provocative indication that while the political rationality of classical liberalism may have appealed to ”na- ture” and the “human propensity to ‘truck and barter’” (E, 41), it was also concerned with the governmental problem of the conduct of conduct. There and in later writings Mill made use of an abstract hypothetical human subject useful for the purpose of economic analysis. Mill himself never used the term, and so “economic man” first came into being as a satirical rebuke to what was caricatured as Mill’s “money-making animal,” an imaginary being who was only interested in the selfish accumulation of wealth. In fairness to Mill, his actual de- scription of this self-interested man also included the desire for luxury, leisure, and procreation. Interestingly, the problem of labor didn’t enter into this picture except insofar as he was concerned that the presumably natural desire to avoid work and give one’s self over to costly indulgences threatened to hinder the accumulation of wealth. Rational calculation, a central feature of today’s Homo economicus was, of course, also absent. Persky notes that Mill’s approach was basically laissez-faire but that he also introduced ownership and profit sharing as motivating factors. While he sometimes treated Homo economicus as something of a natural being, he was also aware that the constitution of individual preferences, passions, and the overall de- velopment of character needed to be studied through a “political ethology.” As Persky explains: Strictly speaking, Mill viewed efforts to analyze the development of character as the proper task of ethology, a science he placed logically subsequent to elementa- ry psychology. Ethology, according to Mill, was that science ‘which determines the kind of character produced in conformity to those general laws [of psycholo- gy], by any set of circumstances, physical and moral’. In terms of Mill’s grander scheme of sciences and arts, ethology (like political economy) produced axiomata media, or middle-level theory—logically precise deductions from admittedly shaky first principles that then could be applied in useful arts. Thus, the art cor- responding to ethology was ‘education’, or what today might be called ‘character building’ (EHE, 226). 32 30 Joseph Persky, “The Ethology of Homo Economicus,” Journal of Economic Perspectives. 9, 2 (Spring 1995), 221-31. Henceforth, EHE, with page numbers given in the text. 31 John Stuart Mill, “On the Definition of Political Economy; and on the Method of Investi- gation Proper to It,” in Collected Works. vol. 4 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967), 120-64. 32 Here I am in at least partial disagreement with Wendy Brown when she suggests that, in What Persky is describ- Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 53 ing in this article is Mill’s interest in a technology of subjectification. Specifically, he finds in Mill an inquiry into the techniques made available through various forms of scientific knowledge for producing a certain form of subjectivity with a certain ethos to serve the interests of political economy. Homo economicus, in other words, is histor- ically introduced as a modern subject of governmentality, a biopolitical subject of power/knowledge. Foucault describes the classical version of Homo economicus as ”the man of ex- change”. He appears as a figure that must be analyzed in terms of a utilitarian theory of needs. His manner of behavior and mode of being must be broken down and analyzed in terms of his needs, which lead him to engage in a utilitarian process of exchange (BB, 224). By contrast, in neoliberalism, Homo economicus is no longer a partner in exchange but instead is fashioned as “an entrepreneur and an entrepre- neur of himself.” As such he is his own capital, his own producer, and the source of his own earnings. Even in terms of consumption (and here again Foucault refers di- rectly to Becker) the neoliberal Homo economicus is recognized as a producer of his own satisfaction. In place of all the old sociological analyses of mass consumerism and consumer society, consumption itself becomes an entrepreneurial activity ana- lyzable solely in terms of the individual subject who is now recognized as one among many productive enterprise-units (BB, 225). Insofar as the enterprising indi- vidual is not directly subject to disciplinary and normalizing forms of power, neoli- beralism is more ”tolerant” of difference. Instead, society is to be arranged such that it can be divided or broken down not in terms of the ”grain” of individuals, but ac- cording to the ”grain” of enterprises. Foucault demonstrated that, from its origins, biopolitics has constituted mod- ern subjects in empirically verifiable scientific and economic terms. Discipline and Punish provides detailed accounts of the training of individuals with imperatives of expedience, efficiency, and economy. It also illustrates the importance of constant surveillance and examination as the subject moves from one institutional space to another. As I have illustrated above, Foucault’s analysis of panopticism describes how the disciplined biopolitical subject is made to internalize particular forms of re- sponsibility for him- or herself through practices of subjectivation. One of the tasks required for producing genealogies of neoliberalism and Homo economicus is to iden- tify the specific forms of knowledge that both inform and are produced by neoliberal practices, both individual and institutional. If the historical forms of disciplinary contrast to classical economic liberalism, “neoliberalism does not conceive of either the market itself or rational economic behavior as purely natural” (E, 41). She is right about neoliberalism but I am not sure this feature distinguishes it from classical liberalism. First and most importantly, liberalism is explicitly an art of governing concerned with the conduct of conduct despite its appeals to “nature”. Second, neoliberalism also has the ef- fect of making competition among individuals appear “natural” or a matter of ”common sense” as a result of its active interventions in the social realm. Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics 54 power and subjectivation made use of the human and social sciences and related disciplines (psychology, anthropology, political science, pedagogy, etc.), a study must be made into the forms of knowledge that presumably have either taken their place or infiltrated them. The most obvious development in this regard would be the extent to which rational choice theory, the lynchpin of contemporary Homo economi- cus, has made its way into the various disciplines from micro-economics to sociolo- gy, political science, and philosophy. As Foucault put it in his last lecture from 1979: Hence there is a new problem, the transition to a new form of rationality to which the regulation of government is pegged. It is now a matter not of model- ing government on the rationality of the individual sovereign who can say ‘me, the state’, [but] on the rationality of those who are governed as economic subjects and, more generally, as subjects of interest in the most general sense of the term [BB, 312]. VI. Ethics and Critical Resistance [T]here is no first or final point of resistance to political power other than in the relationship of self to self.33 Whether neoliberalism will ultimately be viewed as having presented a radically new form of governmentality or just a set of variations on classical liberalism, we can certainly recognize that there are a number of characteristics in contemporary practices that are new in the history of governmentality, a number of which I’ve al- ready discussed. Another one of these outstanding features is the extent to which the imposition of market values has pushed towards the evisceration of any autonomy that may previously have existed among economic, political, legal, and moral dis- courses, institutions, and practices. Foucault notes, for example, that in the sixteenth century jurists were able to posit the law in a critical relation to the reason of state in order to put a check on the sovereign power of the king. By contrast, neoliberalism, at least in its most utopian formulations, is the dream of a perfectly limitless (as op- posed perhaps to totalizing) and all-encompassing (as opposed to exclusionary and normalizing) form of governance that would effectively rule out all challenge or op- position. This seems to be the kind of thing that Margaret Thatcher was dreaming about when she claimed that there is “no alternative”. 34 33 Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981-82, translated by Graham Burchell, edited by Frédéric Gros (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005), 252. Henceforth, THS, with page numbers given in the text. 34 This comment was made at a press conference for American correspondents in No. 10 Downing Street in London on June 25, 1980. Such formulations of what might be called “hyper-capitalism” seem to lend themselves to certain traditional forms of criticism. However, critical analyses that produce a totalizing conception of Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59. 55 power and domination risk the same danger, noted above, of overlooking the some- times subtle and complex formations of power and knowledge that can be revealed through genealogical analyses of local practices. Important for any genealogical analysis is the recognition that, while there is no ”outside” in relation to power, re- sistance and power are coterminous, fluid, and, except in instances of domination, reversible. There is an echo of this formulation in Foucault’s understanding of go- vernmentality as ”the conduct of conduct”. Governmentality is not a matter of a dominant force having direct control over the conduct of individuals; rather, it is a matter of trying to determine the conditions within or out of which individuals are able to freely conduct themselves. And we can see how this is especially true in the case of neoliberalism insofar as it is society itself and not the individual that is the direct object of power. Foucault provides examples of this in “The Subject and Pow- er”, in which he discussed a number of struggles of resistance that have developed over the past few years such as “opposition to the power of men over women, of parents over children, of psychiatry over the mentally ill, of medicine over the popu- lation, of administration over the ways people live”.35 Despite their diversity, these struggles were significant for Foucault because they share a set of common points that allow us to recognize them as forms of resistance to governmentality, that is, ”critique”. Through the examples he uses Foucault notes the local and immediate nature of resistance. These oppositional struggles focus on the effects of power expe- rienced by those individuals who are immediately subject to them. Despite the fact that these are local, anarchistic forms of resistance, Foucault points out
22. Elena - February 26, 2010

Foucault points out that they are
not necessarily limited to one place but intersect with struggles going on elsewhere.
Of greatest importance is the fact that these struggles are critical responses to con-
temporary forms of governmentality, specifically the administrative techniques of
subjectification used to shape individuals in terms of their free conduct.36
Tying all of these modes of resistance together is the question “Who are we?”
While some might be concerned about exactly who this we is suggested by Foucault,
both here and in his discussions of Kant and enlightenment, I think the question is in
some ways its own answer. In other words, it is meant to remain an ongoing critical
question that can never be definitively answered, or, as John Rajchman has sug-
gested, it is a question that can only be answered by those who ask it and through
Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power,” in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Mi-
chel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago
Press, 1983), 211. Henceforth, TSP, with page numbers given in the text.
As Foucault put it: “Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they
are free” (TSP, 221).
Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics


the process of asking it. In his introduction to The Politics of Truth he writes:

The ‘we’ always comes after, emerging only through the on-going light its activi-
ties shed on the habits and practices through which people come to govern
themselves—and so see themselves and one another. Indeed in this lies precisely
the originality of the critical attitude, its singular sort of universality, its distinc-
tive relation to ‘today’—to ‘now’, ‘the present’, l’actuel.37
Power functions by investing, defining, and caring for the body understood as a
bioeconomic entity. The operation of biopower is to define the freedom and truth
of the individual in economic and biological terms. Reason is given the task of
comprehending the body in these terms and setting the conditions within which
it can be free. …The formation of the disciplines marks the moment where askesis
itself was absorbed within biopolitics.

This ”critical attitude” that Foucault repeatedly refers to in all of his discussions of
Kant from the 1970’s and 1980’s is inseparable from both his analysis of governmen-
tality and his discussions of ethics and the history of the experience of the relation-
ship between the subject and truth. What fascinated Foucault about the ”care of the
self” he discovered in Greek and Roman ethics was the ”spiritual” relationship that
existed between the subject and truth. In order to gain access to the truth, that is, in
order to acquire the ”right” to the truth, individuals had to take care of themselves
by engaging in certain self-transformative practices or ascetic exercises. Here we find
critical and resistant forms of subjectivation where, rather than objectifying them-
selves within a given discourse of power/knowledge, individuals engaged in prac-
tices of freedom that allowed them to engage in ethical parrhesia or speak truth to
power. In modernity, however, following what Foucault identified as ”the Cartesian
moment” the principle ”take care of yourself” has been replaced by the imperative
to “know yourself” [THS, 1 – 24]. In contemporary life that which gives an individual
access to the truth is knowledge and knowledge alone, including knowledge of one’s
self. In this context knowledge of the self is not something produced through the
work individuals perform on themselves, rather it is something given through dis-
ciplines such as biology, medicine, and the social sciences. These modern forms of
knowledge, of course, become crucial to the emerging biopolitical forms of govern-
mentality. Whereas individuals were once urged to take care of themselves by using
self-reflexive ethical techniques to give form to their freedom, modern biopolitics
ensures that individuals are already taken care of in terms of biological and econom-
ic forms of knowledge and practices. As Edward F. McGushin puts it in his book
Foucault’s Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life,


John Rajchman, “Introduction: Enlightenment Today,” in Sylvère Lotringer (ed.) The Poli-
tics of Truth (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2007), 14-5.
Edward F. McGushin, Foucault’s Askesis: An Introduction to the Philosophical Life (Evanston,

Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59.

Foucault explicitly identified critique, not as a transcendental form of judgment that
would subsume particulars under a general rule, but as a specifically modern ”atti-
tude” that can be traced historically as the constant companion of pastoral power
and governmentality. As Judith Butler points out in her article “What is Critique?
An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue”,39 critique is an attitude, distinct from judgment, pre-
cisely because it expresses a skeptical or questioning approach to the rules and ra-
tionalities that serve as the basis for judgment within a particular form of gover-
nance. From its earliest formations, Foucault tells us, the art of government has al-
ways relied upon certain relations to truth: truth as dogma, truth as an individualiz-
ing knowledge of individuals, and truth as a reflective technique comprising general
rules, particular knowledge, precepts, methods of examination, confessions, inter-
views, etc. And while critique has at times played a role within the art of government
itself, as we’ve seen in the case of both liberalism and neoliberalism, it has also made
possible what Foucault calls “the art of not being governed, or better, the art of not
being governed like that and at that cost” (WC, 45). Critique is neither a form of ab-
stract theoretical judgment nor a matter of outright rejection or condemnation of
specific forms of governance. Rather it is a practical and agonistic engagement, re-
engagement, or disengagement with the rationalities and practices that have led one
to become a certain kind of subject. In his essay “What is Enlightenment?” Foucault
suggests that this modern attitude is a voluntary choice made by certain people, a
way of acting and behaving that at one and the same time marks a relation of be-
longing and presents itself as a task.40

IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 239.
The Political: Readings in Continental Philosophy edited by David Ingram (London: Basil
Blackwell, 2002).
Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?” in The Politics of Truth, edited by Sylvère Lo-
tringer (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 1997), 113. Henceforth, WE, with page numbers
given in the text.
Its task amounts to a “historical investigation
into the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to recognize ourselves as
subjects of what we are doing, thinking, [and] saying” (WE, 125). But how can we
distinguish the kinds of resistance Foucault was interested in from the endless calls
to ”do your own thing” or ”be all you can be” that stream forth in every direction
from political campaigns to commercial advertising? How is it, to return to the last
of the three concerns raised above, that Foucault does not simply lend technical sup-
port to neoliberal forms of subjectivation? On the one hand, we can distinguish criti-
cal acts of resistance and ethical self-fashioning from what Foucault called ”the Cali-
fornian cult of the self” (OGE, 245), that is, the fascination with techniques designed
to assist in discovering one’s ”true” or ”authentic” self, or the merely ”cosmetic”
forms of rebellion served up for daily consumption and enjoyment. On the other
hand we might also be careful not to dismiss forms of self-fashioning as ”merely”
Hamann: Neoliberalism, Governmentality, and Ethics


aesthetic. As Timothy O’Leary points out in his book Foucault and the Art of Ethics,
Foucault’s notion of an aesthetics of existence countered the modern conception of
art as a singular realm that is necessarily autonomous from the social, political, and
ethical realms, at least as it pertained to his question of why it is that a lamp or a
house can be a work of art, but not a life. O’Leary writes:

Foucault is less interested in the critical power of art, than in the ‘artistic’ or ‘plas-
tic’ power of critique. For Foucault, not only do no special advantages accrue
from the autonomy of the aesthetic, but this autonomy unnecessarily restricts our
possibilities for self-constitution. Hence, not only is Foucault aware of the specif-
ic nature of aesthetics after Kant, he is obviously hostile to it.41

What O’Leary rightly identifies here is Foucault’s interest in an aesthetics of exis-
tence that specifically stands in a critical but immanent relation to the ways in which
our individuality is given to us in advance through ordered practices and forms of
knowledge that determine the truth about us. The issue is not a matter of how we
might distinguish “authentic” forms of resistance (whatever that might mean) from
“merely” aesthetic ones. Rather it is a matter of investigating whether or not the
practices we engage in either reinforce or resist the manner in which our freedom—
how we think, act, and speak—has been governed in ways that are limiting and into-
lerable. In short, critical resistance offers possibilities for an experience of de-
subjectification. Specifically in relation to neoliberal forms of governmentality, this
would involve resisting, avoiding, countering or opposing not only the ways in
which we’ve been encouraged to be little more than self-interested subjects of ra-
tional choice (to the exclusion of other ways of being and often at the expense of
those “irresponsible” others who have “chosen” not to amass adequate amounts of
human capital), but also the ways in which our social environments, institutions,
communities, work places, and forms of political engagement have been reshaped in
order to foster the production of Homo economicus. Endless examples of this kind of
work can be found in many locations, from the international anti-globalization
movement to local community organizing.

Timothy O’Leary, Foucault and the Art of Ethics (London: Continuum, 2002), 129.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 37-59.
struggles question the status of the individual in relation to community life, in terms
of the forms of knowledge and instruments of judgment used to determine the
”truth” of individuals, and in relation to the obfuscation of the real differences that
make individuals irreducibly individual beings.
It may be too early to determine the viability of neoliberalism as a form of
governmentality and “grid of intelligibility” for thinking about our present, particu-
larly as it continues to coexist with other more disciplinary and normalizing forms of
power/knowledge/subjectivity. Certainly it seems to have expanded and become
more prevalent than when Foucault analyzed it in the late 1970’s. In any case, the
proof will be in our practices, that is, a better understanding will emerge by attend-
ing to our everyday activities, what we say and how we think, our commitments
and obligations as well as the kinds of truths about ourselves we rely upon and rein-
force in the process of doing so. Critical attention should continue to be paid to how

neoliberal forms of governmentality continue to reinforce and expand Homo economi-
cus as a form of subjectivation that can be directly linked to greater wealth disparity
and increasing poverty, environmental degradation, the evaluation and legitimation
of governance through market values alone, growing rates of incarceration, the in-
creasing intervention of private corporate values and interests into our everyday
lives, the disappearance of the public square and an increase in the political disen-
franchisement of citizens. All of this might best be attended to while bearing in mind
Foucault’s cautionary suggestion that “People know what they do; they frequently
know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do

Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, ”Power and Truth” in Michel Foucault: Beyond
Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1983), 187.

23. Elena - February 26, 2010

I realize these copies copy awkwardly and it’s uncomfortable to read. What I do is copy to my word program and organize as much as I can there. Some paragraphs are disorganized in the copying but all the material is there and I reorganize them. I invite you to do it if you have the interest. We should be very grateful that we have access to all this material, I certainly am, no matter how awkward the copies come out. If you visit the links themselves it is difficult to read them even there but putting them on your word program makes it easier.

24. Elena - February 26, 2010

Foucault’s cautionary suggestion that “People know what they do; they frequentlyknow why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.”

It sounds like the gap between acting and acting consciously! Or what in the System was called being third force blind.

It’s a desireable condition but it doesn’t take away the benefits of acting unconsciously! In the negative consequences of our actions we learn much, we all learn much. The choice to not act because one is afraid of acting is much more dangerous than acting knowing one is far from having all the answers! One’s good will counts. Then corrections can be made.

25. ton - February 26, 2010


I don’t believe in human omniscence and in my opinion that’s what would be required to COMPLETELY know “what we do, does.” One might be aware of SOME of the immediate consequences of an action, or even SOME of the relatively longer term consequences, but to extend the illusion of ‘conscious awareness’ into infinity is certainly beyond human capacity, and If I meet anyone who makes claims to the contrary (like a self-proclaimed ‘prophet’), I’ll avoid that person ‘like the plague.’

This might be interpreted as an argument for non-action, but even the choice to do nothing is in itself an act. Action, ‘free will’ and intention ? This is a puzzle I may never piece together, I try to pay attention to what is before me, I try to do ‘the right thing,’ but generally I learn by trial and error as I blunder along.

The thread on Humanism and Foucalt is good stuff.

An ‘issue’ to deal with in having this wonderful gift the computer gives us, is drawing concise points from access to seemingly unlimited amounts of information.

26. Elena - February 26, 2010

Hi Ton,

That, drawing the concise points will be possible later when I get the general idea and don’t pervert it or reduce it to my own understanding when it is still fairly new to me. There are specific paragraphs in each post that apply to the Fellowship but it seems very important to keep the whole text for now just so that people have the opportunity to make their own analogies without my intervention, which comes more and more with each post.

For those who are already familiar with the information, surely they can just hop along and read only what is of interest. I was hardly expecting visitors but the exercise of remaining public and what seems of public importance matters to me in the exploration. It is wonderful to get some feedback. Thanks.

On conscious awareness I believe it’s possible and in fact think we are moving towards it. We, human beings, no matter how far we might be or how hopeless things sometimes look. I am personally very far from that but think we all have it in more or less degrees in different centers according to our talents! In the world of space it has been much explored and we have somewhat of an understanding of what happens if we do this, move that or push here. In the emotional world it’s more difficult but there are pretty good guidelines!

Perhaps it isn’t so difficult to conceive of such possibility if we become familiar with the world of laws. In that realm it seems pretty easy to understand why and how things happened the way they did and what is surprising about it is that what seemed shocking from one realm makes a lot more sense in another as if we just hadn’t had enough “information” to understand the whole picture, but more than intellectual “information”, it enters into the realm of being. I don’t think we are too far off or too far behind from reconnecting to our perception of each other’s spirit! After all we each carry it!

Having said all that, my place is very much like yours: learning by trial and error and beginning to enjoy error as long as it doesn’t become criminal. If the Fellowship were any less criminal, I’d leave it alone!

27. ton - February 28, 2010

Elena, you ‘sound’ good.

RE: limitations on completely knowing “what what we do does.”
An individual has offspring — even one generation removed, this individual will not know the consequences for the world from having offspring, much less what the offspring and the offspring of offspring gives rise to in 5 or 10 or 100 generations down the line.

28. Elena - March 1, 2010

Hi Ton,

It’s so good to find you here! I just love writing and communicating and it’s great to have an excuse to do so! I think you just like to wind me up because your “angle” is so … simple!

An individual has offspring and it isn’t all that difficult to know what will happen a few generations down the line! The more I look at people, the more obvious it is that we are just repetitions of our parents with hardly any variations!! Have you noticed it? Have you seen yourself as you get older? Do you like things more and more like your parents did? Little things but the overall picture is quite shockingly similar! Sometimes I feel we’re on a spiritual train and people think of themselves as independent individuals but it is just because we don’t see the unbroken ties that we still carry from our ancestors, like those Russian dolls that hold hundreds of similar little dolls inside! The beauty that comes from acknowledging our ancestors is in the compassion that awakens when we understand that they sincerely did their best!

And it’s even more scary with one’s children! They walk just like us! And think like us and what is worse, they even feel like us!!! And cry and suffer for similar things and hardly have a thought of their own convinced that they are doing everything by themselves when they are just faithfully copying every single mistake we made! But they are like those frogs that jump out of one’s way just before one catches them and after a certain point when one realizes how many mistakes one has made with their education (or lack of it), they already think they own themselves and have to jump out of the box and run down the road without looking at the million cars coming towards them!

If it weren’t for the fact that eventually one realizes that the tougher life gets, the tougher one gets and toughness is Oh so good! One would catch them and nail them back to the box no matter the consequences!!

It’s a good thing that one at least loved them because if all that happened with so much love, can you imagine the things that happen when there isn’t any? And there seem to be plenty of those!

But consciousness is something inside all of that! It’s not about knowing what will happen in the future but knowing what one is establishing today. The cost of doing that is a lot higher than I had expected; so high that I sometimes wonder why my pockets are empty but when those seeds begin to flower and little pink petals start coming out of the buds that one planted, the price of having acted according to one’s unconscious unconsciousness and conscious consciousness is highly rewarding. I don’t think we can talk about consciousness in any other sense than in how we spend our day: how we relate our self to the world, how we allow the world to live in us!

There is no “omniscience” for me as you’ve presented it. What a beautiful word! Omni-science, the science of the whole! OM! Amen! Or rather I no longer believe in any self-proclaimed profet as you call them, prophet, (Oh dear, I’m beginning to spangle), that thinks of him or herself as the all and everything! Consciousness doesn’t seem to be about that at all! In fact, I have no idea what the hell consciousness is but I do feel that every once in a while everyone knows that they acted from the truest part of themselves and reaffirmed “life” even if most of the time we act from the darkest part of our selves and reaffirm lifelessness.

I also don’t think that consciousness is the private property of anyone in particular no matter how intensely they’ve worked at it. My next door neighbor with her autistic, epileptic, retarded, thin and young looking eight year old son is about as conscious as I would ever like to become! She swears much with a sweetness that makes the words sound like kisses that she’s throwing out at the world! Sharp; but without bitterness. I think we see aspects of consciousness everyday in every single human being but sometimes, we see it more clearly than others. I guess for me we are always dancing around it but often forget the music! We see it every time, no matter who, says, I AM and you are in my way, for better or worse, until death does separate us!!!

In other words, consciousness to me is a quality in life that individual people often share in and the more awareness one has of one’s self, that is, of OUR Self or the self within us, the more “consciousness” seems to shine in our surroundings!

The difference with what we lived and practiced in the Fellowship is tantamount! The Fellowship thinks consciousness is Bobby and Girard’s private property and their whole life experience is structured in proving that paradigm. To be able to do so, they have to dress themselves up in authoritarian glory and the followers support it by sacrificing consciousness in their lives, that is why there is no love, joy or creativity in the cult. It is not only that they sacrifice their own self, their own power to be, their own “raison d’etre”, it is that they sacrifice the “consciousness” that feeds their life.

This is worth following so let me chase it for my own sake. What we lost in the Fellowship Cult was the ability to live within the worlds “consciousness” or “love” if you’d rather, or “life”, if you want to be even more common sensical about it! We voluntarily gave it up and granted it to “That Man who became ever so sick with it” “Those men who became ever so sick with it”, and the natural but no less conscious objective interchange between life and the individuals was replaced by the members unnatural spoon feeding of “life” into the “gurus”. By granting him the status of an imaginary God who deserved all our energy and efforts, we channeled “life” to him but it died in him because the premise was mistaken, it was a deadly triad. We destroyed them as much as our lives for that period of time. People continue to live in that misery because it is addictive when the I becomes so absent that it cannot perform any act for itself so people allow the status quo to dictate to them the total agenda not only of their lives but of each and every moment of it: in keeping members busy at all times, what they perceive as the “void” of life but is actually the “life of life” is “put away” but by remaining “active” they think they are “alive”. To be brainwashed means to think one’s self alive while one’s self is actually dying. To be “brainwashed” is to live one’s life from one’s mind while one suffocates one’s self! I think ergo I exist might be the motto of every cult but the mind is only a tiny aspect of the human being. It can run along without anyone inside just like a sick person can be fed without knowing he’s eating.

No man can ever replace the objective power of life’s flow and that is what members of cults want the guru to incarnate. They want to own life and manipulate it, control it, organize it. They are so afraid of life’s freedom, its chaos that subjectifying it in the guru’s persona allows them to live their own chaos in his lowlessness. The more lowly the guru becomes, the more their own will-less-ness, is justified. They build themselves on his decadence for they have indeed bet their self on their selflessness. Being “organized” and “protected” by the cults “shadow”, keeps them from the chaos of light, life, the unknown. They allow the cult to sculpt their “appeareance” desperately trying to hide the lack of a mature self that they can rely on. I was there, all these things were true for me too, no matter how much I resisted. But the problem lies in the systematic surrendering of their lives until there is nothing left of it and suicide is just one coherent step beyond the living dead.

Life is not man or the world, life is man AND the world. If there is “love” in “life” then there is a more conscious interaction between a man and his or her world. They mutually feed each other as literally as we feed from the Earth. Our self feeds from the interaction with each other in no less a more critical relationship than our body feeds on OUR Earth’s creativity!

Perhaps what I am coming to understand is that love, consciousness, the quality of life can and needs to be “quantified” so that it is taken objectively and people know what they are loosing when we fail to love our selves, NOT our self, as usually understood, but “our selves”. Every single human interchange is an aspect of more or less consciousness! When there is more love and care and attention, consciousness, life, shines brighter. We do not own it: we “participate” in it and channel it as equal living beings if we can take “the other” and other “things” into consideration allowing them to LIVE in us. To consider is not just an attitude of kindness, it is an alchemical inner act in which the external world lives in us- In that interaction an objective quantity and quality of energy is mutually shared! We are constantly making love with the world! We are constantly giving birth to life! Then the natural dialogue between the world and the individual can take place, the world and the human being. The natural but no less divine process of life can then actualize itself in each individual as much as in itself.

In our time’s selfishness, we think that life is there only to feed us, quasi human beings, but life has an aim of its own and we are, much to our honor, participants in its process just like cells participate for a few months at a time, in our individual lives.
THAT, does not take any dignity away from our self! On the contrary, when we get a glimpse on the LIFE of LIFE, it is an honor to be even a tiny aspect of its marvel!

One more aspect to touch on: In our acts we emulate the creators. By OUR ACTS, I mean, when we act from our I allowing what we are acting on to live in us, we emulate the creators and the act emulates creation. That is why working on the things that help us evolve personally and socially gives such profound satisfaction. Each such act allows us to be more our selves and not just copies of our parents! Each act that is not just an imitation of something we saw somebody else doing structures a “new human being” in every generation and mankind evolves! If we think that we are as human beings perhaps a little over 21 years old, we might account for the many mistakes we’ve yet to make, before we can call our selves humans and not “quasi” human beings! Children and teenagers are no less human than adults but life is still far from living in them with all its flavour! If you are young: wish to live that you may taste its wine!

Hopefully your children and mine will free themselves from us and face their time with a lot more consciousness, love and life than we were able to will from our selves and still live with pride the fact that we did our best!

29. Elena - March 2, 2010

This is from Avaaz.org, seems worth replying for those who care about these things:

Dear friends,

In days, the UK government could create the world’s largest Marine Protected Area. But powerful commercial fishing interests stand in the way. Let’s send a flood of support to save our dying oceans. Sign the petition below, and forward this email widely:

This Friday, the UK government could make history by creating the world’s largest Marine Protected Area around the Chagos Islands.

Our ocean ecosystems are literally dying under pressure from mass, uncontrolled commercial fishing and pollution. This decision could start to turn the tide. But commercial fishing companies are opposing the move, putting short term profits ahead of all sense. We can’t let that happen — already, over 90% of big fish like tuna and marlin are gone.

Together, let’s send the UK government a tidal wave of global public support urging them to be bold and protect oceans from exploitation. Sign the petition below, then forward it to everyone you know. It will be delivered to Foreign Secretary David Miliband by the deadline this Friday!


The reports are dire: in 38 years, our oceans could be completely fished-out, in 100 years, all coral reefs might be dead. This action alone won’t be enough to turn the tide. But it will establish a 210,000 square-mile Marine Protected Area — bigger than the Great Barrier Reef.

To truly save the world’s oceans from collapse will require bold political leadership and dedicated citizens taking action. In 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, a UK decision to create the world’s largest Marine Protected Area would secure a conservation legacy almost unrivalled in scale and significance. This would set a clear example to other governments around the world.

Let’s drown out the voices of the commercial fishing companies, and lay the foundation for protecting our oceans for generations to come. Sign the petition below, and forward it to friends and family:


With hope,

Alice, Iain, Paul, and the rest of the Avaaz team

More info:
Protect Chagos:

Why is Overfishing a problem?:

World’s coral reefs could disintegrate by 2100:


Support the Avaaz community! We’re entirely funded by donations and receive no money from governments or corporations. Our dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way — donate here.

Avaaz.org is a 3.9-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 13 countries on 4 continents and operates in 14 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.


30. Elena - March 2, 2010

Short but to the point. Something that should be in the consciousness of every Public Square! The fish!


31. Elena - March 2, 2010

I present the following text on economy because I will need it in the future. I study it to educate my self and those who wish to do so in relation to the problems at hand.

If I understand it correctly (and this is doubtful for the language and knowledge presented here is alien to me), Foucault as much as the liberal position leaves economy out of the overall picture of what can be understood while at the same time, “Through the lenses of governmentality, the economy appears as an inextricable part of modern political rationalities. Foucault’s aspiration to deconstruct the “cold monster” of the state led him—however inadvertently—to engage simultaneously with notions of the market, the economy and economic man.”

Then at the end of the article we find:
“The liberal trope of the invisible economy, as it turns out, answers to different “politics of truth”. While it might have effectively barred “economic sovereignty”, it has also been invested with a prohibition to envision and to theorize, however uncertain and contested. In this regard, Foucault accepts and operates within this view of the market as the paramount and invisible machine of knowledge production.”

There a few points that I wish to keep in mind:

They seem to be talking about economy as was spoken of being third force blind in the System.

They seem to not be able to make the link between economy and power, economy and politics.

The little I’ve already presented on Foucault in previous posts clearly adjusts to the experiences lived in the Fellowship cult and his theories on how power manipulates people are easily verifiable in that context.

The “feeling” I have is that this theoreticians and society today argue for the “invisibility” of the economy and support that invisibility in theory, because that justifies the practice they are inclined to protect. They are themselves aspects of that power-politics and “machinery of knowledge”. It has been mentioned in previous posts that Foucault doesn’t necessarily stand against neoliberalism.

What I saw in the FOF Cult was that the economy was simply strictly conditioned to the power structure. It is such an interesting “case” because most of the neoliberal definitions presented by Foucault faithfully apply to the cult but if the life of the cult is a microcosmic reflex of what society itself will come to in the future, hold your breath and die before we start committing suicide en masse!

More than being “blind” to the economy within the cult, what happens to members is that they become blind to the connection between their self and their economy. They “sever” the connection between their personal wellbeing and their economic reality but they are able to do so because the connection between themselves and their “community” is severed in practice. The “community” is replaced by the “Arc” and the Arc is an “ideal” for humanity. This breach or hop between their self and the direct community to an idealized “Arc”, “humanity”, “community” is extremely interesting because it disconnects them from the sphere of their personal-social immediate reality but justifies the antisocial sphere of impersonal-social immediate reality. The members do not matter in practice, there is no camaraderie between them, they all look only at the guru and work for him disregarding each other completely, very much like neighbors in middle and upper middle classes in the cities who do not connect with each other. The members are not united. They are each independent from each other and connected to the cult only through their personal connection to the teacher and themselves. They all go to the weekly meetings, they all go to the weekly concert, the restaurant, the market but it is like a rehearsed opera without the music! They all think they are waking up and pay for it. Pay highly with extravagant percentages of their income or work. “Groups” or inner and more inner circle people privileged by the guru are formed that get the leftovers of the guru’s expenses. They live on the crumbs and this sole fact that they are not in themselves making “money” helps them justify the fact that they are unconditionally supporting the structure. It isn’t money what they are after but power and position and a place in the hierarchy that will allow them to participate as “social beings” but always as second to the guru but ahead of the outer circle members who they ignore or connect with, only if they pay the right “friendly” tribute to their ego.

Members give up their relationship with “life” and its inherent complexities and “idealize” it through the idolatry for the guru. In that idolatry and voluntary blindness to what happens to the money they pay, they give up their condition to participate in their own right.

It’s very complex and I’m not quite where I wish to get.

It is a little like pornography in the economic-social realm! In porn, I believe, but unfortunately have only external observation of it, the man (the only one I’ve witnessed) idealizes the woman and becomes aroused by his own imagination of what the woman is and then when faced with a real woman after years of porn addiction, he is no longer able to “connect” to her as a “reality”, he no longer cares about the woman or the human being inside the woman, he cares about the act and how it arouses his own imagination.

It is also like platonic relationship in which a person is so idealized that what the person does little matters to the one idealizing her or him.

In the cult, “life” is at the same time “idealized” and “cast out”. It is idealized in the “building an Arc for humanity”, “working for the future of mankind”, “creating a “cultural” community dedicated to the “classics” and life is “cast out” in the practice of separating from the society, family and immediate connections to people in the member’s lives with the exception of having a job that will bring money into the cult.

The dialogue between the individual and regular society is cut off and an artificial form of life replaces the habitual relationships that were held with society but still carry the imprint of those habitual relationships inside.

I will continue to work on this, it is far from comprehensive as it is.

32. Elena - March 2, 2010


 Ute Tellmann 2009
ISSN: 1832-5203
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24, February 2009


Foucault and the Invisible Economy
Ute Tellmann, Universität Basel

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses the extent to which governmentality provides a
critical visibility of the economy beyond its liberal imaginary. It argues that Fou-
cault’s conceptual and historical understanding of liberal governmentality has two
traits that encumber a de-centering of the economy from a Foucauldian perspective.
The first obstacle results from a persistent asymmetry of the concept of governmen-
tality as it remains solely geared towards replacing the monolithic account of the
state. Governmentality is therefore in danger of rendering the economic invisible in-
stead of advancing an analytics of power appropriate to the specificity of this field.
The second impediment relates to how Foucault reads the invisibility of the econo-
my asserted in liberal discourse. While Foucault emphasizes how the “invisible
hand” imparts a critical limitation towards the sovereign hubris of total sight, the
paper unearths a more complex politics of truth tied to the invisible economy. Draw-
ing on selected historical material, the papers shows that the liberal invisibility of the
economy rather functions as a prohibitive barrier towards developing novel and crit-
ical visibilities of the economy. A Foucauldian perspective on economy, the paper
concludes, benefits from piercing through this double invisibility of the economy.

Key words: liberalism, governmentality, invisible hand, economy, Foucault.

I. Promises of Governmentality

A profound re-articulation of the political and economic realm lies at the heart of the
notion of governmentality. Through the lenses of governmentality, the economy ap-
pears as an inextricable part of modern political rationalities. Foucault’s aspiration to
deconstruct the “cold monster” of the state led him—however inadvertently—to en-
gage simultaneously with notions of the market, the economy and economic man. In
doing so, he changed the very nature of these categories. Divested of their epistemo-
logical claims, these categories become intelligible as elaborations of liberal political
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


rationalities of governing. In effect, Foucault has taken up two “cold monsters” at
the same time: the economy and the state.
This article focuses on the simultaneous undoing of the inherited discourses
on the economy and the state that Foucault proposes. It takes the crossing of
boundaries between the economic and the political to be one of the most innovative
and intriguing aspects of the concept of governmentality. It is not doubted that Fou-
cault offers powerful tools and tremendous insights for posing and commencing
such a simultaneous de-centring of the state and the economy. But how far, this pa-
per asks, does the concept of governmentality answer to the insightful theoretical
agenda it implicitly and explicitly contains? Is the concept of governmentality useful
for challenging the prevalent conceptualization of the economy to the same extent as
that of the state? Unfortunately, as this article seeks to demonstrate, governmentality
does not keep the promise to undo both of these “cold monsters” at the same time.
In crucial ways, the conceptual architecture of governmentality stays strongly wed-
ded to the de-centring of the state, while the economy remains shielded from becom-
ing the proper object of a Foucauldian “analytics of power.”1 The economy becomes
therefore, as it will be argued, in an important and critical sense analytically invisi-
ble.2 Despite Foucault’s critical re-reading of economic discourse, the market ulti-
mately remains for him, as for liberalism itself, a space of invisibility, populated by
interested subjects, who are governed by the conditioning of their choices. One
hopes in vain for an analytics of the malleable forms of temporality, spatiality and
valuation inherent in the economic; Foucault provides us with no Economic Order of
Things, which would follow the epistemological authorities, legal frames and spaces
of comparison, which organize sociality through objects and money. Instead, the
governmental re-articulation of the economy ultimately leads us back to what turns
out to be a familiar liberal imaginary of the market.3
The vantage point for measuring and problematizing the contended invisible
economy is provided by Foucault’s ethos of investigation itself. As is well known,
this ethos of investigation furthers two related analytical tasks: to pierce through the

For Foucault’s uses of this notion see Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality. An Intro-
duction. Volume I (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 82.
This article takes the two lecture courses, Security, Territory, Population and The Birth of
Biopolitics as its main references, for the simple reason that they feature most prominently
the question of economy as part of an analysis of relations of power (Michel Foucault: Se-
curity, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-78. (Houndsmill, ENG:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2008) and Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. Lectures at the
Collège de France 1978-79 (Houndsmill, ENG: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)).
For the necessity of probing deeper into Foucault’s account of economy and liberalism
see also William Walters, “Decentering the Economy.” Economy and Society, 28, 2 (1999):
312-323. His argument concentrates more on how governmentality fails to properly ac-
count for the birth of “the economy” as a distinct field of reality. Ricardo, rather than
Adam Smith, should be the proper anchor for such a discursive emergence.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

“systems of veridiction” and to unfold a novel and critical visibility of the social, in
which the lines of force and their fragility are brought to the surface.4 By calling
himself a “cartographer”, Foucault emphasizes the importance of producing novel
and critical visibilities—a status which Gilles Deleuze affirms in his homage to his
friend.5 As such, Foucault exposes a profound commitment to visibility, understood
as the effect of a critical operation.6
The argument pursued here contains two parts, both of which deal with the
question of how the economy and its discourse are opened to an “analytics of
power” and contextualized within a “politics of truth” through an analytics of gov-
The following argument takes this ethos of inves-
tigation and this quest for critical visibility as its vantage point for problematizing
the protracted invisibility of the economy within governmentality.

The relevant part reads as follows: “Déchiffer une strate de réalité de manière telle qu’en
émergent les lignes de forces et de fragilité; les points de résistance et les points
d’attaques possible, les voies tracées et les chemins de traverse. C’est une réalité de lutes
possible que je cherche à faire apparaitre.” (Michel Foucault, Dits et Écrits II, 1976-1988
(Paris: Gallimard, 2001), 633). See also Wendy Brown’s account of genealogy for a discus-
sion of this understanding of knowledge-production (Wendy Brown, “Genealogical Poli-
tics,” in The Later Foucault: Politics and Philosophy, ed. Jeremy Moss (Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage, 1998), 45).
He does so in an interview with Les Nouvelles Littéraires titled “Sur la sellette”, in March
1975 (Michel Foucault, Dits et Écrits I, 1954-1975. (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), 1588). De-
leuze’s account of Foucault centers on this cartographic project. He speaks of ‘making see
and making hear’ what is determining our regimes of visibility and sayability (Gilles De-
leuze, Foucault (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1986), 42). That Foucault wanted the know-
ledge he produces to have a tactical and strategic use and had thus to present strategic
links and accounts of forces is a persistent theme in his interviews, lectures and writings.
See, for example, the lecture of January 7 in his lecture course Society must be defended
(Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-76, ed.
Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana, (New York: Picador, 2003).
The argument against the “hermeneutics of suspicion” as marshaled by Paul Ricoeur is
based on showing and exposing the superficiality of things in an “overview, from higher
and higher up, which allows the depth to be laid out in front of him in a more and more
profound visibility; depth is resituated as an absolutely superficial secret,” as Foucault
put it in an early work, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx (Foucault 1967, cit. in Hubert L. Dreyfus
and Paul Rabinow. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Second Edi-
tion. With an afterword by and an interview with Michel Foucault, (Chicago, IL: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1983), 107).
Foucault defined his form of doing philosophy as analyzing the politics of truth: “How-
ever, in one way or another, and for simple factual reasons, what I am doing is some-
thing that concerns philosophy, that is to say, the politics of truth, for I do not see many
other definitions of the word ‘philosophy; apart from this” (Foucault, Security, Territory,
Population, 3).
Throughout, the particular articulation of the political sphere and
economic discourse is paramount for understanding the invisibility of the economy.
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


The first part argues that the economy remains invisible because a persistent asym-
metry in the concept of governmentality privileges the state vis-à-vis the economy as
the object of a Foucauldian critique. The economy never becomes an object of analy-
sis in its own right; therefore the mediation of relations of power through money
and objects drops from view. Consequently, the specificity of this distinct, yet im-
pure form of ordering, that we refer to as economic, disappears. Despite the aspira-
tion of governmentality to a simultaneous examination of the reciprocity and co-
constitution of economic and political discourses, the concept of governmentality
itself remains asymmetrical in its aim and critical weight. The first reason, then, for
the persistent invisibility of the economy within governmentality research, derives
from the failure of the concept to properly address the political within the economic.
The second reason for the lack of critical visibility of the economy leads us to a dis-
cussion of how Foucault understands the “politics of truth” implied within eco-
nomic discourse. The main point of contention is Foucault’s reading of the “invisible
hand”. According to this reading, the liberal understanding of the invisible economy
amounts to an epistemological limit posited against the aspiration of an “economic
sovereign”: it disturbs critically any presumption to see a social totality from a single
vantage point.8 This reading of the invisible market has its merits, but attends only
insufficiently to the political problematique at stake in seeing the market as a space of
invisibility. The pervasive trope of invisibility is equally invested in regulating the
regimes of visibility circulating throughout the social body itself, determining what
can legitimately be rendered visible, and how. A more thorough genealogy of this
trope demonstrates that liberalism itself is in fact divided in respect to the politics of
visibility—a point that largely escapes Foucault’s genealogy of liberalism. Foucault,
who is usually inclined to demonstrate the “dispersion” and “minute deviations”
underneath a unified tradition, has unwittingly glossed over these differing liberal-
isms and the multiple politics of invisibility.9 Too quickly, the invisibility of the
economy is taken as a “tool for the criticism of reality,” rather than as a machine for
seeing, whose epistemological privileges, lines of exclusion and technologies of
knowledge need to be dissected.

II. Asymmetrical Views—Seeing like a State

Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 283.
Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History.” In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice:
Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, ed. Donald Bouchard (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1977), 146.
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. 320.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

In a sense, Foucault’s account of the economy has never outgrown the reluctance
with which he engaged this issue. Questions of economy were never Foucault’s pri-
mary concern; he rather aimed at circumventing and disturbing them. Since his early
writings, the struggle against the dominance of a Marxist form of economism led
him to establish his project to study power, conduct, subjectivity and truth as a field
clearly distinguishable and set aside from the study of economic relations proper.11
Of course, he never denied that relations of power should not be understood as an
additional layer within the socio-economic field.12 They reside instead in the very
interstices of other relations: “Mechanisms of power are an intrinsic part of all these
relations […]”.13 Nevertheless, such relations continue to possess their own density
and distinctively non-economic imperatives as they are directed to shape the “con-
duct of conduct”, and call forth their own struggles and resistances: “These ‘revolts
of conduct’ have their specificity: they are distinct from political or economic revolts
in their objective and form.”14 Whenever Foucault uses the notion of economy him-
self, this usage is usually a quite deliberate and strategic transposition of its meaning
into the field of power, playing with and countering the Marxist tradition: hence, he
speaks of “the economy of power”15 or power as a “political economy of the body”
as in Discipline and Punish.16 The materialist anchor usually associated with the econ-
omy is transposed into the notion of the governing of life—presented as a govern-
mental rather than an economic problematic.17
It is therefore justified to say that governmentality, however unwittingly,
proposes a simultaneous reading of the constitution of both the economic and the political. In this respect, Foucault comes close to a certain theoretical program for
which Bruno Latour has long argued, which asks for going beyond the traditional
divisions assumed by modernity by unearthing their common and entangled consti-
tution.18 What Latour suggests in respect to the division between society and nature,
Foucault suggests implicitly for the economic and the political sphere.19
Foucault suggests that the emergence of the modern meaning of economy as
a “level of reality” should not be understood as the mere effect of a presumed differ-
entiation of the economy into a functionally coherent subsystem of society.

It is thus in a way apt to say that Fou-
cault circumvents rather than takes up the issue of economy in his attempt to dis-
lodge the economistic and totalizing strands of the Marxist tradition. The lectures at
the College de France, in which he developed his notion of governmentality, con-
tinue with this strategic evasion. As indicated before, this time the circumvention led
paradoxically into the heart of economy. Transposing the question of the state into a
question of rationalities and technologies of governing entangled his argument in
economic discourses. Instead of the commonly assumed quasi-ontological difference
between the economy and the political horizon, Foucault suggests that an unbroken
plane of governmental strategies and reflections envelop both spheres. Hence, he
firmly treaded onto the territory of the economy itself, with the consequence of dis-
turbing its shape.

Foucault, Dits et Écrits II, 629.
Michel Foucault, “The Subject and Power”, in ed. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow,
Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Second Edition (Chicago, IL: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1983), 218.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 2. See also his elaborations of his analytics of
power in an interview with Pasquale Pasquino in 1978 “Precisazioni sul potere. Riposta
ad alcuni critici” (Foucault, Dits et Écrits II, 625ff.).
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 196.
Foucault, Dits et Écrits II, 631.
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books,
See paradigmatically the last chapter in Foucault, The History of Sexuality, 140f.
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


But while Foucault might pose the question of the symmetrical making and envisioning of economy and politics, his concept of governmentality retains a thoroughly asym-
metrical structure. For understanding this asymmetrical nature and the limits it en-
tails, we need to briefly revisit the basic elements of Foucault’s discussion of econ-
omy from the perspective of governmentality.
Instead, it belongs to a political problematization of a particular rationality of governing that aims at the social body as a whole. Foucault thus sees the conceptualization of econ-
omy as part of the “episode in the mutation of technologies of power and an episode
in the instalment of this technique of apparatuses of security that seems to me to be
one of the typical features of modern societies.”21 These technologies take the popu-
lation as their main target of intervention.22 Security, Population and Government—
this series defined modern politics for Foucault. The knowledge and rationalities of
economy prominently underlie this series.23

The novel conceptualization of economy as a self-regulated reality and the
birth of the new collective subject of the population are, Foucault maintains at vari-
ous points, inextricably tied together in their common function of framing new ob-
jects, technologies and techniques of governing.


Bruno Latour, “Postmodern? No, Simply Amodern! Steps Towards an Anthropology of
Science,” Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 21, 1 (1990): 145-171.
Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1993), 13ff.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 95.
Ibid., 34.
Ibid., 64f; 95.
Ibid., 76f.
The differentiation between the notion of technique and technologies in Foucault is noto-
riously indeterminate. In his lecture-course, Foucault suggests understanding technolo-
gies of power as the very “complex edifice” or “system of correlation”, in which different
specific techniques—as for example the “disciplinary techniques of putting someone in a
cell”—are aligned. While the history of techniques is precise and long-winded, the his-
tory of technologies is the “more fuzzy history of correlations” defining the “dominant
feature” (Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 8).
Evolving in tandem, the modern
concept of economy divests the object of population from the cameralist techniques
of the policey, with their administrative logic of minute control and encyclopaedic
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

knowledge.25 At the same time, the concept of population pushes the meaning of
economy outside of the narrow confines of the household. No longer referring to the
proper administration of the oikos or the prudential advice of saving on means,
economy projects a new social ontology: a plane of circulatory flows, naturalness
and internal forces, forging a complex causal intermeshing between a milieu and its
population.”26 It is therefore the problem of circulation and causality that is at stake
in this notion of milieu…The milieu, then, will be that in which circulation is carried
out. The milieu is a set of natural givens—rivers, marshes, hills—and a set of artifi-
cial givens—an agglomeration of individuals, of houses, etcetera. The milieu is a cer-
tain number of combined, overall effects bearing on all who live in it.”27
Resolving this question requires a discussion of Foucault’s somewhat incom-
plete analysis of the technologies and techniques of the security-dispositif.
prominently, the notion of the milieu and its circulatory structure articulate the
population as a composite figure comprising natural circumstances, habits, urban
settings or laws inter alia. Political economy thus appears as a form of knowledge in-
tegral to a new dispositif, whose outlines ignore the usual division maintained be-
tween the economy and the political sphere.
The conception of economy is thus firmly positioned within the field of gov-
ernmental reason and technique. To what extent does this transposition allow a con-
ceptualization of the economy and economic practices—now loosely referring to the
specificity of modes of ordering which rest upon the mediation through by money,
objects, valuations—as framed and shaped by a security-dispositif? Asking this ques-
tion is not a play on words, rather it posits and tests the viability of the security-
dispositif to function as a symmetrical analytical device capable of equally dislodging
both the state and the market. In other words: Does the discourse on economy suc-
ceed only in elaborating the new dispositif of power, being itself exclusively geared
toward the re-articulation of the state? Or does it allow the development of a chal-
lenging analytical perspective on the economy capable of addressing it in its specific-
The out-
line, he presents, juxtaposes the security-dispositif with disciplinary techniques in
terms of their organization of space, time and norms.29

Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 323f and 328.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 94; 30f; 45.
Ibid., 21.
The cursory explication of the security-dispositif by Foucault has given rise to the com-
plaint that Foucault’s analytical strategies focus too much on purely theoretical or textual
material (Pat O’Malley, Lorna Weir and Clifford Shearing, “Governmentality, Criticism,
Politics,” Economy and Society, 26, 4 (1997): 501-517). The question posed here has a differ-
ent concern: it inquires about the fecundity of inspiration, which Foucault’s analysis con-
tains for developing a richer, more detailed or more material account.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 44f.
The space of the security-
dispositif is no longer organized within the cells and grids of discipline, neither does
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


it rely on the temporality of homogeneous units of time, or impose the norms of dis-
ciplinary conduct on the individual body. Instead, it assumes a given milieu of circu-
lation, it assumes the aleatory occurrences of events, and it derives its norms from
statistical regularities calculated on the level of the population. It is, Foucault con-
cludes, an “idea of a government of men that would think first of all and fundamen-
tally of the nature of things and no longer of men’s evil nature.”30
Foucault’s analysis of this dispositif is not comparable to the dense materiality
and detail he marshalled in describing the dispositif of sexuality or the disciplinary
arrangements of visibility, knowledge and sanctions. Still, his cursory remarks on
this subject are inspiring because they call attention to the ordering of spatiality,
temporality and norms as unique aspects of economic regimes of circulation. But de-
spite his invocations of the economic as modulated by a specific dispositif of organiz-
ing time, space and economic norms, this line of research is not pursued consistently
through his investigations. The analytics of the security-dispositif are not geared to-
wards understanding the circulation of things and money. They do not point to-
wards unearthing what might be called an “economic order of things” in its epis-
temic, juridical, spatial and strategic dimensions, and in terms of their unique effects.
Today, as genetic engineering, intellectual property regulation, derivatives and
techniques of transplantations refashion the very ontology, obligations and meas-
urements tied to the order of things, the omission of these orders becomes even more
accentuated. Instead, Foucault directs our attention to the interplay between a milieu
and the wills and interests of the subjects by which “one tries to affect the popula-

Certainly, as Foucault states, within the security-dispositif, the “multiplicity
of individuals is no longer pertinent, the population is.”32 However, the individual
still plays a decisive role in his analysis of the economic government of population
“to the extent that, properly managed, maintained and encouraged, it will make
possible what one wants to obtain at the level that is pertinent.”33 Although the
population had been introduced as a composite figure including things and spatial
settings, this figure becomes more and more a composite of sentient, willing and in-
terested individuals responding with their calculations to given incentives.34

Ibid., 49.
Ibid., 21.
Ibid., 42.
Stuart Elden has discussed how territoriality has elapsed from the analytical perspective,
while being so prominently featured within the very title of the lecture-course: Security,
Territory, Population. He argues that this omission might be remedied within the very
framework proposed by Foucault, but remarks nevertheless this curious obliteration, at
the cost of an exclusive account of population analytically separated from territoriality
(Stuart Elden, “Government, Calculation, Territory,” Environment and Planning D: Society
and Space, 25 (2007): 562-580).
“conduct of conduct” through the manipulation of interest becomes the single most
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

important key for rendering this dispositif analytically intelligible. As a consequence,
the analytical visibility given to the market-economy in Foucault’s perspective in-
creasingly resembles the well-known outlines of the prevalent liberal understanding
of the economy. Sifting through his lectures, one finds the following all too familiar
imaginary of the (market) economy as part and parcel of the governmental re-
articulation: it is a bounded space of circulation, it answers to the forces of reality
itself, it is regulated through incentives. It is about exchange or competition and it is
situated—repeating the usual oppositions—vis-à-vis the interventionist welfare
state. Traditionally, Foucault’s genealogies and archaeologies have drawn their ana-
lytical power from a disruption of the known oppositions and options, already pre-
figured at the surface of dominant discourses. In respect to the question of economy,
governmentality appears to fall short in attaining this expected “Foucault-Effect”.
It seems, then, that one is confronted with an asymmetrical conceptual anat-
omy of the security-dispositif: the discourse on economy elucidates a specific rational-
ity of the security-dispositif, which contains plausible suggestions for thinking of the
state “without entrails”, while the elaboration of this dispositif fails to elucidate the
order of the economic itself, or, as I have tentatively put it, the economic order of
things. A limit appears in how the elaboration of the techniques of governmentality
can indeed function as a complete heuristic to displace effectively and productively
the implicit universality of both the state and the market—which is not to say that it
does not re-articulate the economy to a certain extent. Detecting these specific gov-
ernmental strategies in different lieux sociaux, including firms, consumer programs
or bureaucracies, exposes how deeply this type of power is enmeshed within economic
forms. Nevertheless, Foucault’s approach is capable of identifying only those strate-
gies of governing that operate through incentives, without successfully conceptualis-
ing the economy beyond its liberal imaginary. Wendy Brown’s statement—that the
governmental account of neo-liberal strategies is not about the economy—while
foregrounding the market, is more fitting than one might have hoped.35
At the end of the two courses at the Collège de France, Foucault summarizes
his “interpretation” of liberalism” as having pointed out those “types of rationality
that are implemented in the methods by which human conduct is directed through a
state administration.”

It is certainly surprising and misleading that Foucault re-
stricts the scope of his analysis to “state administration”. But Foucault’s approach
signals the awareness of the specificity of governmentality as it remains geared to-
ward dissecting the modes of “seeing like a state”—borrowing here somewhat po-
lemically the famous title by Scott.37

Wendy Brown, “Neo-Liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy.” Theory and Event, 7,
3 (2003). http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tae/v007/7.1brown.html#copyright (accessed June
16, 2008).
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 322.
James Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have
Given that technologies of governing emanate
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


throughout the social body, this allegation is misleading. But it captures nevertheless
the asymmetrical weight of the concept of governmentality. The point of contention
in respect to how Foucault draws the question of economy into the orbit of political
reason is not directed against the political horizon he spans over the economy. The
point of contention I am advancing here lies in how he does it: unearthing “the po-
litical” in economic forms of ordering could and should mean, from a Foucauldian
perspective, the development of an “analytics of power” appropriate to the specific-
ity of this field. But within governmentality, it means to excavate the economic, with
neither the mediations of relations through money or objects being fully addressed.
It is in this sense that the economy remains invisible within the political perspective
of governmentality.

III. Tropes of Invisibility—Seeing like a Market

The invisibility of the economy is not only an unwitting effect of Foucault’s elabora-
tion of the security-dispositif, it is also explicitly encoded within the genealogy of the
economic discourse that Foucault presents in his analysis. The invisible hand plays a
paramount and paradigmatic role in Foucault’s account of the liberal politics of
truth: key to this governmental interpretation of the invisible hand is the dispersion
of the epistemological authority it enforces, and its effect in undermining the author-
ity of the sovereign. But Foucault’s reading fails to account fully for the political prob-
lematique of visibility and invisibility in the social body; hence only a partial and one-
sided genealogy of the invisible hand emerges, one which privileges the critical
function of the invisible hand while underestimating the limitations imposed by this
trope. The question of what is determined as invisible or visible in respect to the so-
cial body, and to whom such visibility is accorded, has a far wider political texture
than Foucault is capable of conveying in his lectures. Furthermore, this wider politi-
cal texture correlates with the inner differences of the liberal tradition—a tradition
that, as McClure exemplifies in respect to John Locke, has always been guided and
disquieted by questions of knowledge and criteria of judgement.38

Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).
Kirstie McClure, Judging Rights: Lockean Politics and the Limits of Consent, (Ithaca, NY: Cor-
nell University Press, 1996), 63; 69.
Liberalism itself is
not unified in respect to the “politics of truth” inscribed within the visible hand. In
order to draw out these intrinsic differences within what passes as a purportedly
unified liberal tradition, the following discussion draws, if only cursorily, on histori-
cal select material. On the one hand, it takes up the short-lived radical democratic-
liberal thought of the eighteenth century (exemplified by Thomas Paine or Marquis
de Condorcet), and, on the other, it refers to the work of Friedrich A. Hayek, who
presents an important strand of liberalism prominent since the nineteenth century.
This division between strands of liberalism are not reducible to the historical gap
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

that divides them. Neither do these strands correlate with the distinction between
liberalism and neo-liberalism that Foucault discusses more prominently. Rather,
they foreground a difference within the politics of truth implicit within the liberal
tradition that has becomes particularly virulent at the end of the eighteenth century,
but exceeds this historical moment. Still, incorporating this particular historical mo-
ment is instructive, as Foucault knew, when he chronicled the break between the
classical and modern episteme at the turn of centuries in The Order of Things. Curi-
ously, for his account of liberal governmentality, this break plays no role. What he
disperses in The Order of Things, notably the discursive shifts in political economy,
remains surprisingly unified in the genealogy of the liberal account of economy he
offers in his studies of governmentality.39
The question of visibility and its related epistemology is central to how Fou-
cault related the concept of economy to the liberal rationalization of government.
Foucault sought to understand the very boundary between the spheres of politics

33. Elena - March 2, 2010

and economy as a specific epistemological construction: “Political economy was im-
portant, even in its theoretical formulation, inasmuch as (and only inasmuch as, but
this is clearly a great deal) it points out to the government where it had to go to find
the principle of truth of its own governmental practice.”
Pinpointing these inconsistencies is not
merely an exercise in scholarly erudition: these differences correlate with differences
in the “politics of truth” contained in the liberal tradition itself, and for this reason
their absence constitutes critical omissions. In order to recover these differences, an
explication of the trope of the invisible hand, as seen through Foucault’s limited
analysis, is required.
The decisive issue is not
this or that particular economic theory or fact, nor does this truth exist within “the
heads of economists.”41
The link established by liberalism between the truth of the market and the ra-
tionalities of governing does not constitute a straightforward relation. Key to liberal-
ism is the paradoxical nature of this relation as it refers political reason to an object
of knowledge that remains invisible. The economy, in other words, defies the aspira-
tions to know, resulting in a paradoxical epistemological ground. Paradigmatically,
the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith stands for this disruption of the authority of a
sovereign vision; it articulates the impossibility of seeing the whole of society from a
single vantage point. The singular most important point in respect to this invisibility
is the limit of power it produces, according to Foucault. The following words, which
Foucault puts into the mouth of the homo oeconomicus in a fictitious dialogue with the
juridical sovereign, nicely exemplify this stance: “He also tells the sovereign: You
must not. But why must he not? You must not because you cannot. And you cannot
in the sense that “you are powerless”. And why are you powerless, why can’t you?
You cannot because you do not know and you do not know because you cannot

Instead, of paramount importance is the very structure of
association established between political reason and truth. Political reason and the
sphere of politics are within liberalism, according to Foucault, tied to the market as a
“court of veridiction”.

Adam Smith, who assumed in the former account a middling position between the mod-
ern and the classical age, turns later into a paradigmatic figure for the modern liberal po-
litical rationality. Also, the modern “finitude of men” Foucault diagnoses in the Order of
Things is not properly translated into his account of governmentality. Attending to this
shift towards finitude might help to provide answers to the question of the relation be-
tween biopolitics and economy—which is not sufficiently addressed by Foucault. See Ul-
rich Bröckling, Menschenökonomie, Humankapital. Eine Kritik der biopolitischen Öko-
nomie,“ in Disziplinen des Lebens. Zwischen Anthropologie, Literatur und Politik, ed. Ulrich
Bröckling et al. (Tübingen, GER: Gunter Narr Verlag, 2004) for an argument about the
missing link between biopolitics and economy.
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 32.
Ibid., 30.
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


Therefore, the figure of the invisible economy has a pivotal role for the dis-
cursive initiation of these limits and their governmental effects. Foucault distin-
guishes on this ground between liberal political rationality proper and its
Physiocratic predecessor. The Physiocrats, Foucault emphasizes, referred political
reason not to an invisible economy, but, on the contrary, they procured a tableau
économique, which enabled a sovereign vision over the whole. The truth of the socio-
economic body, transparent to sovereign eyes, was to guide the decision of the sov-
ereign, without dislodging him. Liberalism proper, on the other hand, according to
Foucault, begins by asserting a barred vision of the social body.

At several places throughout these lectures, Foucault describes economic thought as the very discursive stronghold that establishes such limits, which is in fundamental ways also an epistemological limit. Hence, in contrast to the wisdom of political philosophy, Foucault thus ties liberalism—in its essential aspects—not to the form of law, but to the discourse on economy.44 The “heretics” of the police-state with its “megalomaniacal and obsessive fantasy of a totally administered society”45 were, he points out, the economists as they posed a reality, which had its own density and naturalness: “[…] It was the économistes who mounted a critique of the police state in terms of the even-

Ibid., 283.
Ibid., 285f.
To be precise, one has to add that Foucault’s argument here is strictly historical, as politi-
cal economy as a form of knowledge is not liberal “either by virtue or nature” (Foucault,
The Birth of Biopolitics, 321). For a more extensive discussion of the relation between law
in its function as a limit and the interpellation of the economy as a natural limit, see the
lecture from 17 January 1979 (Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics).
Nikolas Rose and Peter Miller, “Political Power beyond the State: Problematics of Gov-
ernment,” British Journal of Sociology, 43, 2 (1992): 189.
Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 347.
The discourse on economy, with
its attending notions of circulatory flows, milieus, interests and aleatory occurrences,
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

defies any aspiration to govern directly, minutely and en detail—to the same extent
that it made the sovereign vision over these processes impossible: “The possibility of
limitation and the question of truth are both introduced into governmental reason
through political economy:”47 “I think that fundamentally it was political economy
that made it possible to ensure the self-limitation of governmental reason.”48
We have thus arrived at the heart of Foucault’s reading of the trope of the invisibility
of the economy: The essential and politically relevant understanding of the famous
“invisible hand” centres on the very restriction it imposes on the sovereign hubris to
know and to rule the whole of society and its economy from a central position. With
an almost surprising verve, Foucault elaborates this point after having drawn paral-
lels between the limits Kant imposed on the proper uses of pure reason on the one
hand, and the self-limitation of political reason enacted by political economy on the

“Thus the economic world is naturally opaque and naturally non-totalizable.
It is originally and definitely constituted from a multiplicity of points of view […]
economics is an atheistic discipline; economics is a discipline without God; econom-
ics is a discipline without totality; economics is a discipline that begins to demon-
strate not only the pointlessness, but also the impossibility of a sovereign point of
view over the totality of the state he has to govern.”50
This account of the invisibility of the economy as an impossibility of a sover-
eign perspective is certainly kindred to the critiques of modern epistemological au-
thority and claims to universality presented by post-structuralism, feminism and
post-colonial theory. The sovereign ‘view from nowhere’ is de-authorized by refer-
ence to the multifarious and limited perspectives within the depth of the social body.
Hence, a certain proximity and fondness colours Foucault’s account of the trope of invisibility. This fondness might never have stopped him from telling a story of lib-
eralism that chronicles the mechanisms undercutting this announced ethos of de-
limitation. But the present argument is less concerned with the merits of Foucault’s
analysis of liberalism tout court, than with the particular reading of the invisibility of
the economy and its theoretical effects and omissions.

It is the invisible economy that
provides the tool for this limitation.

Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 17.
Ibid., 13.
The comparison reads as follows: “Kant too, a little later moreover, had to tell man that
he cannot know the totality of the world. Well, some decades earlier, political economy
had told the sovereign: Not even you can know the totality of the economic process.
There is no sovereign in economics. There is no economic sovereign. This is a very impor-
tant point in the history of economic thought, certainly, but also and above all in the his-
tory of governmental reason“(Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 283).
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 282. The invisible hand is thus essential to liberalism,
which is, Foucault contends, pre-occupied with the question of limited or frugal govern-
ment and can be defined “as a technology of government whose objective is its own self-
limitation […]” (Ibid., 319). It is haunted by the constant question of why to govern at all
and subjects itself to the incessant critique of its own, […] I would be inclined to see in
liberalism a form of critical reflection on governmental practice (Ibid., 321). The theme of
limited government and the motif of critique circumscribe, according to Foucault, the
Janus face of liberalism: as an elaboration of mostly indirect forms of rule – which might
paradoxically turn out to be quite extensive – and as a “tool for the criticism of real-
ity”(Ibid., 320).
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


That this reading omits decisive aspects can be perceived by revisiting the
historical record. A reworked genealogical perspective provides the clues for un-
earthing a much wider political problematique of visibility than Foucault’s narrative
presents. Emma Rothschild’s history of Economic Sentiments draws our attention to-
wards the contested tropes of invisibility at the end of the eighteenth century. It is a
time at which, she emphasizes, the boundaries between the economic and political
spheres were far from clearly drawn.51 The turn towards the nineteenth century, in
the wake of the French Revolution, was rife with intense contestations of how and to
whom the social was visible. The political problematique at stake revolved in a much
more general sense around the uncertainty of vision within a situation defined by
the intense questioning of inherited structures of authority at a time of political up-
heaval. In contrast, if one follows Foucault’s account, one would expect the major
difference within the liberal tradition to reside between the nineteenth century and
the neoliberalism of the twentieth century respectively. But a more careful genea-
logical account, which intends to uncover the contestations, struggles and “the ap-
propriations of vocabulary,”52 would find rather, that such fissures were pertinent
and present around 1800, when economic reason did not yet pose a strict limit for
the exercise of its counterpart.53 Sheldon Wolin has remarked how easily these dif-
ferences in liberalism seem to slip from attention.54

Emma Rothschild, Economic Sentiments. Adam Smith, Condorcet, and the Enlightenment,
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 50.
Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, and Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, Histo-
ry”, 154f.
Rothschild, 38f.
Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought.
Expanded Edition, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 263. Sheldon Wolin
is more inclined to take such differences not as internal to liberalism, but as signaling two
different traditions easily “lumped together”: democratic radicalism and liberalism.
Thomas Paine would belong to the former, whereas Adam Smith to the latter. Emma
Rothschild tries to draw out the differences between Adam Smith and the liberalism of
the nineteenth century, which was ever more inclined to secure the foundations of un-
questioned (epistemological) order. These differences are here accounted for as they help
to distinguish the differences in respect to the politics of visibility or invisibility. But of
course, it is important to keep in mind that Adam Smith and David Hume’s skepticism
towards the democratization of judgment was profound.
But around the time of the
French Revolution, they came to the fore in an intense contestation about the ques-
tions of seeing and knowing the socio-economic body. The following historical ma-
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

terial does not only refer back to the end of the eighteenth century, it uses this mo-
ment to illustrate differences within liberalism between, on the one hand, thinkers
such as Thomas Paine, Condorcet and to some extend Adam Smith, and on the
other, Friedrich von Hayek.
We learn from the historical record that the socio-economic body was not
only, deemed invisible to the sovereign: the invisibility of society and its correlate
blindness were also prominently attested to those newly attending the political
stage, those who had but a limited “private stock of reason”, as Edmund Burke fa-
mously put it. It was allegedly they who could not see and to whom societal necessi-
ties and impending structures remained essentially invisible. Jacques Necker, Minis-
ter of Finance at the time, maintained that the people are like children, acting with-
out reflection, only enlightened by their instinct, as “in all this immense space which
is called the future… they never see more than tomorrow.”55 Similarly, Adam Fergu-
son complained that “every step and every movement of the multitude are made
with equal blindness to the future.”56 Only guided by the immediacy of their own
perceptions and failing to take the socio-economic rules properly into view, their po-
litical utterances lacked the intelligibility and vision necessary. “The mob”, as the
famous scholar of population and economy Thomas Robert Malthus has put it, was
“goaded by resentment for real sufferings but totally ignorant of the quarter from
which they originate.”57 For that reason, they were easily led to “follow the chimeras
of thought” and “flights of the imagination” and were easily “deceived by appear-
ances”. But of course, so were the philosophers and radical liberals, such as Thomas
Paine, “who has shown himself totally unacquainted” with the structure of society.58
Foucault himself has suggested that any writing of the genealogy of knowl-
edge in this period has to do away with the binaries of enlightenment posed be-
tween blindness and sight, night and day, knowledge and ignorance. Rather, it
should comprehend the extended struggle, not between knowledge and ignorance,
but between different forms of knowledge.

Visibility and sight, blindness and ignorance, virtues and vices were attributed vari-
ously among the sovereign, the people, and those who allegedly deceived them with
their theories. Hence, even such limited historical snapshots draw attention to the
multiple, highly debated and heavily charged allegations with respect to claims of

Cit. Rothschild, 39; 23.
Ibid., 123.
Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population. Sixth edition (London:
William Pickering, 1986), 501; 494.
Malthus, 526; 505.
Foucault elaborates this in a discussion about philosophy and science and the disciplin-
ing of knowledge. See the lecture of February 25 in the lecture course Foucault, Society
must be Defended.
Following these lines of conflict, even
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


minimally, shows that undoing the hubris of sovereign knowledge and asserting a
structural invisibility are two distinctive moves associated with invisibility and with
different effects.
One can observe a profound discursive break between the radical democratic
liberals of the eighteenth century such as Thomas Paine or Condorcet and the subse-
quently dominant form of liberalism since the nineteenth century.60 To the latter, the
social body appeared “frighteningly complex” and uncertain in all its overlapping
relations.61 This socio-economic ontology of countless interdependencies defied the
transparent tableau économique, just as Foucault would have expected. Yet, early lib-
eral political thought was busy producing certain forms of knowledge about the
socio-economic body that would answer to this complexity. Condorcet coined the
“social mathematics” in order to retrieve a probable truth amidst the uncertain and
changing opinions, while always remaining cautious in respect to proposing a truth
of society.62 Thomas Paine was equally busy determining a calculative and political
knowledge about shares of civilisation to be distributed. It would be the task of a
more thorough historical epistemology to unpack the “politics of truth” associated
therewith. But more important for this discussion was the mere fact that neither a
general nor structural invisibility of society was asserted, nor was a secure position
from which to judge and to know ever assumed. They projected a “fatherless
world”—using a term Rothschild coined—of unfounded and uncertain epistemo-
logical authority, but did not assume a barred vision in respect to the socio-economic
complexity. Even Adam Smith, whose scepticism led him to assume that “politics is
the ‘folly of man,’”63 did not venture to maintain the impossibility of any form of
theoretical visibility of the socio-economic. As Rothschild argues convincingly, the
assertion of the “invisible hand” had no deep prohibitive structure of vision in
Smith. For Smith, as for Condorcet, Rothschild argues, the “enlightened disposition”
was an uncertain condition. While no certain epistemological ground was to be had,
it entailed theorization and envisioning.64
But the trope of invisibility did turn into a prohibitive bar to the envisioning
of the socio-economic world later on. The liberalism of the nineteenth century, fil-
tered through the work of classical economists, was much more invested in establishing unquestioned foundations of order. Hayek’s liberalism, harking back more to
Edmund Burke than to Thomas Paine (contrary to what Foucault’s historical narra-
tive makes believe) is paradigmatic for the simultaneous assertion of invisibility and
foundation:65 it is the very invisibility of the whole which demands, according to
Hayek, submission to those rules of conduct “that we have never made, and which
we have never understood.”66 It is, he concedes, a “bitter necessity”, which is not
easily accepted by a “hubristic reason.”67 The decisive moment of submitting to the
assumed rules and regularities of the given is founded on the grounds of this essen-
tial invisibility.68 The extended order of the market answers to “that which far sur-
passes the reach of our understanding, wishes and purposes, and our sense percep-
tions, and that which incorporates and generates knowledge which no individual
brain or any single organisation, could possess or invent.”69 Economics is for Hayek
a meta-theory about the “dispersal of information”70 and hence it is the only form of reversal of the subject-positions of knowledge, which it effects. The general indict-
ment of the effort to see beyond the reach of one’s own interest has, as its underside,
the construction of the market as a site where the social body becomes legible: “It is
more than a metaphor”, asserts Hayek, “to describe the price system as a kind of
machinery for registering change, or a system of telecommunications […]”.71 In
Hayek’s account, it turns into a transmission belt for information, producing the
amount of knowledge functional to the whole.72 “The whole acts as one market
…because their limited individual fields of vision sufficiently overlap so that
through many intermediaries the relevant information is communicated to all […]
The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which
it operates, of how little the individual participants need to know .…”73 Thus, the
market is “like a telescope”, a tool for knowing the relevant, but it is itself neither
understood, nor to be revised.74 Without letting the market assume this epistemo-
logical position, Hayek threatens, we might develop a “different type of civilization,
like that state of termite ants”75 or will simply sacrifice the “nourishment of the exist-
ing multitudes of human beings.”76

The “fatherless world” of uncertain judgements offered no sovereign or certain vision, but neither did it impose any specific prohibition on rendering the economic visible per se.

Wolin and Rothschild.
Antoine-Nicolas de Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human
Mind. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1955), 131.
Johan Heilbron, The Rise of Social Theory, (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota
Press, 1995), 168, and Rothschild, 178f.
Albert Hirschman, The Passions and the Interest: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before its
Triumph, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 104.
Rothschild, 123.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

The paradox of the essential invisibility he posits lies not only in the wager-
ing between a critical impossibility to see and its prohibition. It also lies in the very
knowledge that informs us of our own limits to know in productive ways. Hayek
ties the impossibility of knowing the economy from a sovereign position to the pre-
scription of economics as the viable form of self-consciousness about this state of be-
ing; he intimately conjoins seemingly critical reflections about the limits of reason—
what Foucault associates with a Kantian operation—with a proscriptive ban on theo-
rization, that is, with the prohibition to envision the “extended order” (Hayek) in a
different light.

For the relations between the founder of conservatism Edmund Burke and the form of
neo-liberalism Hayek stands for, see Hayek’s own identification as an “old Whig”, draw-
ing parallels to Edmund Burke in the postscript The Constitution of Liberty titled “Why I
Am Not a Conservative.” (Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1960), 399f, 409). This title is misleading. Hayek argues against a
conservatism that is indistinctively reluctant to any change. Thus, he attempts to distin-
guish himself, as well as Edmund Burke from a type of “Tory-conservatism” that tends
to allow less experimentation than he would embrace. “I am as little a Tory-conservative
as was Edmund Burke “ (Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Mysterious World of Trade and Mon-
ey“, in The Fatal Conceit. The Errors of Socialism. The Collected Works of Friedrich August
Hayek, Vol 1. (London: Routledge, 1988), 53). For the intimate links between a form of po-
litical conservatism and this strand of liberalism, see also William Scheuerman, “The Un-
holy Alliance of Carl Schmitt and Friedrich A. Hayek,” Constellations, 4, 2 (1997)) and also
John P. McCormick’s discussion of this type of conservatism (John P. McCormick, Carl
Schmitt’s Critique of Liberalism: Against Politics as Technology (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press, 1997), 303f).
Hayek, “The Mysterious World of Trade and Money”, 14.
Ibid. 64; 76.
Ibid., 77.
Ibid., 71.
Ibid., 88.
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


In sum: omitting the dispersion within the discourse of liberalism may have
led Foucault to embrace the invisibility of the economy with too much fondness. At-
tending to the different “politics of truth” related to the invisible economy requires
simply a more extended Foucauldian genealogy. But it also requires an emphasis of the lines of exclusion present in a discursive order, which Foucault is sometimes less
adamant about.77

Within this discursive construction, the market becomes the sole site legiti-
mately producing this knowledge of the whole. The invisibility of the market and the construction of its epistemological authority go hand in hand. We have stumbled upon a
familiar construction: Only that which does not exhibit its particularity can be as-
sumed to be universal; only an invisible market can promise viable sight. In this con-
text, the invisible hand is not just about defying the hubris of “economic sover-
eignty,” as Foucault put it. It is more about defying the forms of critical visibility
commonly associated with Foucault’s work. The invisibility of the market is directed
against the very analytical perspective Foucault typically assumes, one aimed at de-
tecting the instruments, positions, and architectures that produce such epistemologi-
cal claims and privileges. A more typical Foucauldian approach would commence to
undo the invisibility of the economy and the market as an invisible “telescope” and
“information-machine”. This would mean rendering visible the market’s own “ma-
chine of seeing”, rather than seeing like the unseen market itself.

Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society”, in The American Economic Review,
Vol. 35(4), 1945: 527.
Hayek, “The Mysterious World of Trade and Money”, 94.
Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society”, 526f.
Hayek, “The Mysterious World of Trade and Money”, 104.
Hayek, “The Use of Knowledge in Society”, 528.
Hayek, “The Mysterious World of Trade and Money”, 100.
Foucault Studies, No 6, pp. 5-24.

For remedying this aspect, Judith Butler has always argued that the orders of discourse
need to be prominently related to what is undone in their midst (Judith Butler, Bodies that
Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” (New York: Routledge, 1993), 8). Very similarly,
Jacques Rancière stressed the divisions between what is rendered intelligible and what is
delegated to mere noise. The political artifice resides in creating these divisions and or-
ders of the sensible, as he phrases it (Jacques Rancière, “Ten Theses on Politics,” Theory &
Event, 5, 3 (2001). http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event/v005/5.3ranciere.html
(accessed June 16 2008)).
Searching for the political element within these figures of economic discourse involves relating the surface of discourse itself to the positions and forms of seeing they provide. Governmentality is right for deciphering the political within the economic; it is right for positing a co-constitution of the world of politics and of economic categories and practices. But the task of deciphering the political and of understanding this common constitution exceeds the reach of this concept.

IV. Epilogue

The foregoing discussion sought to engage the unfulfilled promise of governmental-
ity. The concept of governmentality promises to displace the hypostatizing catego-
ries of politics and economics with the critical visibility of the lines of force and the
politics of truth. However inadvertently, it drew the economy into the orbit of its
critical reach. But while it engaged profoundly with economic discourse in this vein,
it had the paradoxical effect of excluding the economy from its critical operation.
The economy remains invisible if measured against the critical visibilities Foucault
has elsewhere produced. Two reasons for this invisibility have been singled out. The
first consists in the persistent asymmetry ingrained within the concept of govern-
mentality itself. While economic discourse is de-essentialized in the governmental
account of the state, the economy does not become the object of an “analytics of
power” in its own right. Of course, the proliferation of strategies of “conducting
conduct”—which work through techniques of responsibilization, evaluation, and
choice—can be detected within the public and private realm alike. This is not, how-
ever, equivocal to understanding the artifice of economic forms, which produce spa-
tialities, temporalities and epistemologies of valuation. The second argument about
the invisibility of the economy within governmentality has concerned itself with
Foucault’s reading of the “invisible hand”. The liberal trope of the invisible econ-
omy, as it turns out, answers to different “politics of truth”. While it might have ef-
fectively barred “economic sovereignty”, it has also been invested with a prohibition
to envision and to theorize, however uncertain and contested. In this regard, Fou-
cault accepts and operates within this view of the market as the paramount and in-
visible machine of knowledge production.
Tellmann: Invisible Economy


If one were not afraid of overstating one’s case, one could say that the con-
cept of governmentality has to be guarded against the double danger of seeing like a
state and of seeing like a market. Fortunately, Foucault’s toolbox offers the appro-
priate safeguards itself.

34. Elena - March 2, 2010

Mandala for our rest's sake!

35. Elena - March 4, 2010


Transformation is rapidly seeping into the global psyche in quantifiable ways. In the face of impending world-wide catastrophe, our ability as humans to work and think collectively is more important than ever. The Shift Reports published by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, look at the nature of transformation on both a personal and global level, looking at the roots of our current plight and investigating the ways that we can play a part in our own evolution. Running counter to the selfish view of humanity purveyed by Neo-Darwinists, the IONS Shift Reports offer a more encouraging view, maintaining that intention, choice and will can catalyze change. From the blending of Western and Eastern medicine to ideas about human evolution and social change, the Reports point to a strong paradigm shift that is taking place all over the world at this very moment. If they’re right, this could be an age of Re-Enlightenment.

Below is an excerpt–Part III: Social Change–from the 2008 IONS Shift Report. Although attributed to Matthew Gilbert, it was written by Charles Shaw and edited by Gilbert, who oversaw all four sections of the report.

One of the most significant recent shifts in worldwide consciousness is a growing awareness and alarm about global warming and planetary instability, along with a decline in trusting governments and other mainstream institutions to tell the truth and take effective action. At the same time, trust in NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and other groups actively working to bring about positive change is strong and steadily growing. As just one “tipping point” in a series of crucial shifts necessary for global transformation, ecological issues may be the most important. In evolving from unusual to common, eco-consciousness is rapidly integrating itself into our social, political, and economic realities. We may be entering the opening stages of what industrial designer Bruce Mau calls the “massive change”—the emergence of a new culture with a new economy and new industries based in a new political system. With a growing understanding that humanity may not have a generation of time left for more trial and error, work that previously languished in the realm of theory has suddenly taken on new urgency and meaning, while new connections are being made among pressing issues that long appeared to be unrelated or fragmented.

Most significantly, we have come to recognize that our ecological crises are a by-product of a flawed economic system and that the system itself is becoming increasingly impacted by—and dependent upon—global conflict and natural disasters. Such a system, addicted to continuous economic growth as tracked by a narrow set of indicators, is proving catastrophic for large numbers of people and their land base. Those who offer a different way of measuring health and prosperity have brought strong challenges against this pervasive economic model. They are working to build a “green” or “caring” or “partnership” economy based on the values of social justice and sustainability, and they are attracting new levels of support while generating tangible, in-the-field results.

This unprecedented and widespread response has translated into a renewed sense of purpose and action. The instant availability of vast amounts of new information has allowed greater numbers of people to educate themselves about a variety of issues and to plug into both on-the-ground and virtual networks of change. These efforts are emerging in a multitude of ways as a kind of “swarm intelligence” that is attacking the problems at innumerable inner and outer tension points, constituting what is being called the largest movement of change on Earth.

Social Change: Institutional and Grassroots Movements

Organized responses to social inequities and injustices have struggled in recent years to evolve alongside rapid changes in world dynamics and the new challenges those shifts present. Many organizations and causes within a fragmented network clamor for support, and true progress is often difficult to discern. The perceived failure of the peace and environmental movements, for example, to bring about lasting change has burned cynicism into many activists, at a time when nearly all assessments point to an intensification of the problems facing humanity. As a result, many social change movements have become stuck.

But this period of frustration is also catalyzing a much-sought-after evolution in philosophy and strategy. The acceleration of change and the greater imperative brought about by the growing awareness of what are being called the “convergent crises”—resource depletion, peak oil, climate change, systems collapse, and economic instability—are forcing adaptation on both the individual and institutional fronts. Once-moribund activist practices and daunting social change work are being creatively reinvigorated. Effective alternatives to such traditional social change strategies as marches, rallies, and regulated not-for-profits reflect a wealth of new thinking on organizing models that take advantage of the emerging dynamics of collaboration, decentralization, autonomy, flexibility, and technological nimbleness.

With many postmodern theorists advocating a unification of ancient tribal wisdom with conventional science and reason as the next phase of human evolution, it is no surprise that neotribalism, particularly as it applies to organizing people into ad hoc tribal councils or councils of elders, has experienced a revival. One interesting and effective example of this is the growing popularity of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and its work with the largely science-and-action driven Bioneers organization, which has been sponsoring annual gatherings of scientists and social innovators since 1990. Another hopeful sign is the formation of The Elders, a group of thirteen global leaders—including Gro Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela, and Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu—who are applying their collective experience and leadership to such troubled areas as Darfur, the Middle East, and Zimbabwe.

In Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities, “urban tribes” of artists, activists, healers, and eco-practitioners are preparing for an uncertain future by forming councils to identify key issues and plans of preparation and action. Many of these tribes were born out of the Burning Man subculture and other communities of cultural creatives. These intentional groupings tend to self-organize in an egalitarian, nonhierarchical manner. Many are united by a common spiritual practice and share an understanding that personal transformation is the first step toward global transformation. This subculture also produced Burners Without Borders (BWB), which started when a group of participants left the 2005 Burning Man Festival to help clear debris in the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Autonomous and decentralized BWB groups are now active in community service in more than a dozen U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, and Peru.

In cities across the world, the urban garden movement has exploded as communities harness the potential of vacant, unused property, while urban farms are developing in response to concerns about obesity, food quality, and sustainable economics. Many U.S. churches have gone green, eschewing their traditional conservative partisan affiliations, while renewing their commitment to biblical stewardship of the Earth. Community-based solutions for the disenfranchised homeless and ex-offender population inspired the state of Vermont to create a program that reintegrates ex-offenders into their communities through “surrogate families.” The program helps to ease the difficulties of transition and to dispel negative stereotypes of the so-called ex-convict.

Underscoring much of these positive shifts in action is a sense that a spiritual approach to the convergent crises will, in the end, be most effective. The concept of spiritually-based activism, or the pairing of inner work and outer work, is a theme found in the teachings of most major religions. What is different about such activism in the emergent paradigm is that it acknowledges the limitations of both the detached, self-serving nature of the bliss-seeking personality and the angry self-righteousness of the activist personality.

Mystical scholar Andrew Harvey describes this “sacred activism” as “the fusion of the deepest mystical knowledge, peace, strength, and stamina with calm, focused, and radical action.” The spiritual grounding of the mystical allows the activist to turn fear into compassion; the clear agenda-driven work of the activist half gives applied expression to innate wisdom. There has been perhaps no greater symbolic expression of this idea in current times than what the world recently witnessed in Burma/Myanmar, as lines of solemn, saffron-clad monks marched in peaceful protest against an oppressive military regime. As Jungian influenced writer Paul Levy described it: “The situation in Burma/Myanmar is an out-picturing on the world stage of a deeper, archetypal process that exists enfolded within the collective unconscious of our species. What is being played out in Burma is a living ‘symbol’ of a deeper, mythic process which is currently enacting itself in a variety of scenarios around the world.”

In sum, the evidence suggests that a legion of autonomous individuals and groups connecting through a shared system of values into one global network of change, along with concurrent trends toward focused inner work, foretell an upswelling of profound social change throughout the world. These activists are perhaps the greatest symbols of our collective potential.

(c) 2008 Institute of Noetic Sciences. This article is excerpted from “The 2008 Shift Report: Changing the Story of Our Future;” Matthew Gilbert, Executive Editor and Project Director; a publication of the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

36. ton - March 4, 2010


“I think you just like to wind me up because your “angle” is so … simple!”

it is a simple enough idea, it started with knowing “what what we do does” — my point was that no one is omniscient. the first thought that came to mind to exemplify the fact is that no one can forsee what will become of their offspring or their offspring’s offspring etc, what parent could have predicted a Hitler, or Oppenheimer? it seemed to illustrate the point but you like to complicate things…. you can choose to look at things in a vague and general way and come to the conclusion that ‘it’s not difficult to know what will happen,’ that ‘we are just repetitions of our parents’ — but this is really the ‘simplistic’ view…. (if you take a careful look, you can’t really believe this, maybe you stated it for the sake of argument ?).

“An individual has offspring and it isn’t all that difficult to know what will happen a few generations down the line! The more I look at people, the more obvious it is that we are just repetitions of our parents with hardly any variations!! Have you noticed it? Have you seen yourself as you get older? Do you like things more and more like your parents did? Little things but the overall picture is quite shockingly similar! Sometimes I feel we’re on a spiritual train and people think of themselves as independent individuals but it is just because we don’t see the unbroken ties that we still carry from our ancestors”

i disagree. no, i am most certainly no repetition of my parents, yes i have inherited their dna/ biology so we share some things in common, but as for my individuality, formed through personal biography, i am nothing like my parents, and in that respect my children are nothing like me. without individuation it might be the case that we are simply repetitions of what came before us and like a ‘machine’ we produce replicas to carry on ad infinitum…. but this is really too simplistic a view, it’s ‘mechanistic’ (determinism) and even a pessimistic way of looking at the everchanging unfolding miracle that is life. the goal of a human life is individuality, this demands that each is unique and a ‘universe’ unto him/herself.

37. Elena - March 5, 2010

My Dear Ton, (if I may, with your permission, be that embracing)

It’s so good to get home and find someone to talk with! I worked hard all day and am very pleased but finding people to talk with deeply about things is so rare!

I don’t think we disagree, do you really? What you’re saying is so similar to what is in the previous post from reality sandwich. Not the thing that is being said but the spirit with which it is being said… can you hear the spirit with which things are being said?

“Hopefully your children and mine will free themselves from us and face their time with a lot more consciousness, love and life than we were able to will from our selves and still live with pride the fact that we did our best!”

For me the “spirit” of what I am saying is the same as the “spirit” of what you’re saying only we are parting from different perspectives.

I’m very glad you find yourself so different to your parents. I don’t. I’m almost a replica! And what is most disturbing is that it is so unconscious, it’s taken years for me to see it. As if there were differences in the surface but hardly any in the attitudes. The “plays” are also very similar with their innate differences: He’s a man, I’m a woman, he worked as an engineer, I’m a housewife… there are obvious differences but when you look at the mold it’s such an immovable imprint. I can’t erase the Gutiérrez Hincapie for father and mother’s surnames just like I can’t erase the Colombian. And it’s not that I wish to erase either one of them, on the contrary, it’s that I want to be conscious of what it means to be so conditioned by them. I’ve spent years working with my children so that I wouldn’t treat them like my parents treated me and years trying to live up to what they were in so many other areas and neither one has been easy.

What is so difficult is that once the mold is ready it goes out and lives according to the little kick it got without really knowing all the other options. It’s a “style” what gets copied and moving from it…. Just try it! The question would be, why would one? Precisely because individuation would benefit from it. I met everything beautiful about this world when I was able to love my parents beyond each and all their multiple shortcomings. But I, like my mother, had to try to commit suicide and survive, unlike her, before that was possible! It was just good luck!

How would you put it? I think we can generalize that we follow a tendency from our ancestors. If I look at my husbands it is amazing how they are each on their own train! One was Argentinian, the other Swiss-Colombian and the other American. My American husband is in the mold, no different to whatever he related to me about his father with their respective plays: one in the military but in a “serving” position very similar to the other in a cult. What is easy to observe is that the family mold and the nationality mold are true conditioners. This idea, that we “copy” our ancestors was of course part of the System’s credo but you can also find it in Steiner and probably regular psychology. I’m simply verifying it and find it so wonderfully and painfully revealing.

With my children it’s a lot more delicate because although they are by far wonderful young hard working women who people tend to praise, deeply admire and love, I see the mold so clearly and wish for them so much freedom from it! I am so far from being an ideal mold and their fathers likewise, had so much to offer and so many areas that could have been better, that I cannot help seeing it today! I can live with my self, I could say, I can live very well with my self at this point, but had I known earlier what it was like later, I would have definitely tried even harder to look after them more carefully! I was so busy trying to find out what my own conditionings were about!

I am glad for you if you’re able to go about life with full satisfaction about what you did or are but I am far from that. There are some truly very lucky wonderful people in this world who got a step ahead! I am still a beginner! A true beginner in so very many areas!

“Seeing” those things to me seems so worthwhile! I use to think that I never wanted to live again, that I didn’t wish to reincarnate, that I would work so very hard in this lifetime so that whatever was necessary to get out of this “stage” could be accomplished but now the idea of reincarnating and learning the lesson many times seems like a great opportunity first because I am beginning to enjoy living and second because it is so wonderfully complex! The idea of reincarnating so that I can “taste” life many more times, meet so many more people and those I love again and again, try other nationalities perhaps (not because I don’t love mine, I am so very proud of my Colombian essence and programming but because others are so equally beautiful)! Live in other “corners” of this Earth where people are so different to the few I know seems like something I would gladly experience… with all the hardships every life involves! I sometimes envy those Indians who still live in the Amazons and know nothing about our world! I think I would much enjoy that before the Amazon disappears!

Thanks for sharing, it was good to find you here.

38. ton - March 6, 2010

yes, elena, i agree the difference is a matter of perspective, and i don’t deny the truth of what you say. getting back to the original point — ‘knowing what what we do does’ — an increased ‘awareness’ might push the limitations but it does not change the fact that the human condition precludes omniscience, that anyone who claims otherwise is (imo) a fraud or simply delusional (as in the case of the self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ Burton).

i guess this gets back to questions of motivation and why one got into ‘the work’ in the first place. was it to gain some imagined ‘super-power’ which seemed to be the promise of increased ‘consciousness’ (?) and what did one intend to do with one’s new-found ‘super powers’ ? speaking for myself i can see with ’20/20 hindsight’ that much of my motivation was vanity, a desire for power and control all mixed-up with a lot of naivete’.

the ‘human condition’ referred to above is best summarized by your own words:

‘but had I known earlier what it was like later, I would have definitely tried even harder to look after them more carefully!’

on the other hand, all is as it should be, including our ‘mistakes’ — this too is a but a matter of perception; from another perspective there are no mistakes. dwelling on regret is counter productive but it may have a positive aspect in that it can lead to an impulse to do things better next time.

39. Elena - March 6, 2010

Hi ton,
I went to see the new Alice in Wonderland last night and enjoyed it very much! The butterflies came out to our chairs and flew around us. So pretty! They get better each day! They wont get to see it in the FOF because they are not supposed to go the cinema! Unless Robert organizes it and charges ten times the cost but Alice is too free of authority for him to allow them such films!

Can I take your post by paragraphs so that we know where we are?
Ton: yes, elena, i agree the difference is a matter of perspective, and i don’t deny the truth of what you say. getting back to the original point — ‘knowing what what we do does’ — an increased ‘awareness’ might push the limitations but it does not change the fact that the human condition precludes omniscience, that anyone who claims otherwise is (imo) a fraud or simply delusional (as in the case of the self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ Burton).

Elena: I would insist that “knowing what what we do does” is the same idea as “not being third force blind” and I do believe it is possible to “see” the third force if one is in a fairly conscious state! If we take the idea of the economy that Foucault was working on and simplify it in such a way that we assume that people don’t know what will happen with the market or pretend not to know because it is more convenient to them to affirm ignorance, we can see that the result is unpredictable and unexplained but if we are aware of the structure with which the market is functioning then it is not so difficult to understand the consequences of its premises. I must admit I am an ignorant on economy and I am guiding myself with what seems simple common sense: in an economy based on individual profit the consequences will turn out to be a loss for the whole of society; all the absurdities we are seeing in the world today are based on THAT! The “third force” is not independent of the first and second force.

If we take a different example about how our lives are developing today and observe our selves acting from our self-ish-ness or self centeredness without an awareness of the “whole” or the “community” (or the “human being” as one “wholeness” in “one” Earth), or even our “family” then we can account for the myriad absurdities we come across in our melodramatic lives with each pulling the strings towards him and her self. When we talk about the mistakes we made younger, they were mistakes: I was simply too self-centered to put my children before me, (for example when I tried to commit suicide leaving a five year old daughter!) so were most of the people before me and we roll down generations with the same pattern. When it happens to others, it is “swallowable”, but when we our selves experience the consequences of their and our acts, regret or metanoia is a perfectly necessary consequence. Pretending that our acts don’t have painful consequences and avoiding the necessity to change so that so much useless suffering doesn’t go on and on repeating itself, is a perfect formula for “not knowing what we do does”. On the other side of the spectrum, when our acts have joyful positive consequences, it is no less satisfactory to acknowledge the gratification that they bring.
The example of trying to commit suicide leaving a five-year old daughter is very good because we can see how critical most of our mistakes and situations are. Think of cults: who are we going to blame when they commit suicide? Then we can start seeing that the blame matters shit! If blame could solve anything in our lives we’d be in heaven! So the problem is definitely not the blame but taking responsibility before the tragedies continue to happen so consistently.

Selfishness will inevitably make one third force blind in one’s personal life as much as in the society one lives. The capitalist economy is a selfish economy on a big scale. The communist economy is equally selfish because it centered its power in the state’s control. I do believe, (in all my ignorance), that the economy needs to be decentralized and the individual must have a “community” consciousness, an “awareness” of the whole. It’s interesting because with the amount of technology we have today, we are not very far from being able to systematize what our goods are but the answer is not monopoly. Producing and distributing them is where “consciousness” would be required so that instead of millions of people being kept on a “survival” condition, a balanced state of basic wellbeing would allow for the development of “human culture” or a culture based on the development of the human being.

It is the same whether you look at it individually or socially. For a good part of our lives we see the world from our self-centeredness. Growing up, “maturing” for me simply means the moment when the individual realizes that he is not only not the center of the world but a simple particle, a simply beautiful, grandiose particle of a miraculous world! When one sees that, then it is inevitable to shift from the center to the periphery and one’s “consciousness” no longer dwells on one’s “belly button”, but on how to maintain the connection with the periphery alive. Between the center and the periphery, lives life! The connection is maintained by each act and how it is performed. As I said to a friend recently: may I share in the hands of the children that touch yours, meaning that in that daily act of interchange with young children, life realizes love! The mother and the child are the ending strings in which love and life “live” themselves out. Without the embrace, there is no music! It is not just the mother or just the child that make music, it’s the act of love where the music resides.

Likewise, it is not “only” in me or in you where consciousness rests! It is in our dialogue that it “also” resides. If we part from the aim of communicating with each other because we believe in each other’s humaneness (and in THAT beginning is our personal consciousness), the “song” will be completely different than if we part from a selfish position trying to undermine each other to elevate our personal self. I believe that in every single human activity there is an objective reality going on. Today, the objective reality of economy, politics, art, religion, culture, you name it, is one in which there is mutual exploitation not only economically but psychologically in the institutionalized structure, in the form. We are living in a hierarchic world that conditions our mutual exploitation. We live “cheating” on each other! But the FORM, the MOLD with which we are doing that has been active for so long that most people think that THAT is how life HAS to be. I don’t.
I believe we have to come to realize that ACTS are objective realities with consequences. We can’t just say that we don’t know what we do does and get comfortable with that, if we are willing to look and see and assume the consequences, we can know what we do does.
How we make money, how and what we work on, the things we produce, what we think, how we move, what we speak, etc, etc, etc, how we each act towards our self and the rest of the world, has definite consequences: we either remain chained to our self-centeredness and with that pull a world of consequences to our selves and others or we stretch out to the world and allow for love and life to live in us.

The paradox today is that the more we stretch out the more negative second force we find, but that is, like in Jesus’ times, perfectly coherent! Every struggle IS a struggle: the opposition is real: We do not “win” each other without it: we unify from separation and the “soldering” involves fire! We must be willing to burn and that is what self-centeredness is unwilling to do: it thinks only others have to make the effort.

The irony is that we are all making tremendous efforts whether we are acting against each other or for each other. The problem is not the effort that is being made but the lack of consciousness of what the effort is being made for: It is the same effort whether we talk stupidities or fairly enlightening things; whether we produce millions of useless toys and clothes that will damage in two years or produce a few quality things that will last longer; it is much more effort if we destroy people and things in war than if we help them build their society, just HELP them if we can afford to. BUT WE DON’T!

It is already one great step towards “knowing what we do does” when we realize that the effort is the same. It’s the aim and the consciousness and how we do what we are doing what changes.

So to go back to your paragraph:
“an increased ‘awareness’ might push the limitations but it does not change the fact that the human condition precludes omniscience”
we can have more or less consciousness and how much of it can anyone have is not something you and I can place a limit to. If you wish to believe that you cannot have it all, you can wish that, I choose to believe that a human being is in the fullness of his humanity capable of EVERYTHING! Omniscience can have such different understandings according to our state!

I guess I’ll have to leave the rest of your post for another occasion. I am very comfortable in this “long thoughts” as you can see. The post with those articles with fifteen and twenty pages are so good because the author can really say something and take a deep look at what they are trying to explore. Hopefully you will have the time to let it live in you as I enjoy doing with your thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I wish you well!

40. ton - March 6, 2010

Elena, thanks for keeping it short and concise… but seriously, you certainly seem to have a lot to say, and despite my attempts to keep it simple and to the point.

if i may just address a sentence from what you wrote:

“I would insist that ‘knowing what what we do does’ is the same idea as ‘not being third force blind’ and I do believe it is possible to ‘see’ the third force if one is in a fairly conscious state!”

I would question reliance on ‘4th way / fof jargon’ for framing the issue (“third force blind”), personally i find it much easier to think about things in general, without falling back on, or trying to frame things, fit things into limiting concepts and what are, for me by now, old and non-productive habits of mind. in some cases one might consider throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as one would be better served by starting with a blank slate so to speak.

i am suggesting that it’s impossible to completely know “what what we do does” but not as you seem to be interpreting it… i do not mean to suggest that this should or can be used as an excuse for indifference, or ignorance or lack of will/effort, or any other human frailty or ‘shortcoming.’ you miss my point if that’s what you’re inferring… or maybe i miss yours?

i acknowledge that one may be more, or less aware (in your terminology ‘a fairly conscious state’), and depending on one’s level of awareness, with MORE awareness one MAY POSSIBLY have more insight into this sometimes, and often unseen, murky area of knowing ‘what what we do does’ — but even with the most highly developed sense of human awareness, one cannot account for chance, the seemingly random unseen winds that the universe sends unexpectedly to influence our ‘conscious’ acts and actions, and especially when it comes to the longer term effects of our actions — that’s why i bring up the example of having offspring. in this connection — mentioned ‘butterflies’ in your post — see the “butterfly effect” —


41. ton - March 6, 2010


that’s not to say that i advocate abandoning the intention or the efforts required to know “what what we do does,” i’m just saying that there are definitely finite limits to human knowing and especially when it comes to unforeseen consequences. just to reiterate, anyone who claims otherwise, is imo out of touch with reality as i understand it, or intentionally and by design perpetrating a fraud on whom ever is gullible enough to believe it.

you ended with this:

“we can have more or less consciousness and how much of it can anyone have is not something you and I can place a limit to. If you wish to believe that you cannot have it all, you can wish that, I choose to believe that a human being is in the fullness of his humanity capable of EVERYTHING! Omniscience can have such different understandings according to our state!”

let’s keep it real… to imagine that humanity is capable of everything may be a fine ideal, that zeitgeist, that belief tends to keep things moving, it might keep the human race from too much resting on laurels and reaching a stasis point…. is that a good thing? sometimes i think so called human ‘progress’ is a going backwards. is on the surface this may be a fine ideal indeed but what is it based on ? it is a belief, as you express it, it is your belief and not mine. i think there are natural limits, and to think otherwise is unrealistic and maybe the byproduct of ego-inflation. have you heard, we humans are no longer the center of the universe, we cling to a very small niche on a very remote speck in the vastness of creation. there are limits whether you care to admit it or not… tangentially, a book comes to mind which i read back in 1974, it addresses the issue in practical and pertinent terms albeit in another context:


42. Elena - March 7, 2010

“……or maybe i miss yours?”

That would be one way to put it and another perspective would say that we’re right on track! Communication like consciousness hardly has to do with the words! They are just the flowers! Not the soil they are planted on! But they do make the garden Oh so much more worth visiting!

Ton: “— but even with the most highly developed sense of human awareness, one cannot account for chance, the seemingly random unseen winds that the universe sends unexpectedly to influence our ‘conscious’ acts and actions, and especially when it comes to the longer term effects of our actions — that’s why i bring up the example of having offspring.”

It is said that true leaders are planning three hundred years ahead! That’s only three or four generations! Not too far is it?

Chance? Luck? Death? Are you “by chance” trying to avoid death? How could what you do today not affect other human beings and especially those connected to you, three or four generations down the line? What makes you think that you are not connected? Perhaps because you know little about the lives of your great, great grandparents? Because in our times, we don’t keep a family record of what happened?
Because people don’t study history? Or care about it? There are different ways of “knowing” those things: one is by studying the actual facts and another by perceiving them within one’s self: not the facts but the experience of the facts, the being-effect that they rendered. i.e. the way my grandparents were brought up was pretty violent. Hitting children with the belt or a whip was a common practice. That violence lived in my parents in a different way but it was there, my generation experienced a different form of it but still felt it. My children never experienced a belt but I was verbally abusive like my father in only the tone I used. I could scream whispering! There was more violence in the tone than in the sound. My children were fortunately eight and three when I began working against those conditionings and still they tasted too much of it. I am still far from transforming them all I’d like. I think you could feel that in the fofblog couldn’t you?

What gets transmitted is not only the words that are said by the offspring but the “style”, the tone, the attitude, the manners, that, that we think is “us” or “me”. That is the result of what what we do does and it is mostly unconscious so yes, with more consciousness, we can definitely know what we do does. There is no point in talking if we cannot give concrete examples of what we are saying. What is it that you think is what what we do does?

Ton: “i’m just saying that there are definitely finite limits to human knowing and especially when it comes to unforeseen consequences.”

The limits of the mind are not the same limits of consciousness. Consciousness is not subject to the brain but to the I. It is it’s innate quality just like thoughts are a quality of the brain. The I of a human being is infinite, it is not subject to its body. And yet the body is not to be undervalued because of that. It is a precious vehicle. Just like a car is not the place one wishes to go.

Perhaps we need to understand what we are talking about. Knowledge or consciousness? There might be limits to knowledge but knowledge, the brain, is also not alone, the I is with it just like it is with the body. They work together. A body cannot fly but consciousness is too fast to fly!

Ton: “let’s keep it real… to imagine that humanity is capable of everything may be a fine ideal, that zeitgeist, that belief tends to keep things moving, it might keep the human race from too much resting on laurels and reaching a stasis point…. is that a good thing? sometimes i think so called human ‘progress’ is a going backwards. is on the surface this may be a fine ideal indeed but what is it based on ? it is a belief, as you express it, it is your belief and not mine. i think there are natural limits, and to think otherwise is unrealistic and maybe the byproduct of ego-inflation. have you heard, we humans are no longer the center of the universe, we cling to a very small niche on a very remote speck in the vastness of creation. there are limits whether you care to admit it or not… tangentially,”

Natural limits? Belief? Ideals? Ego-inflation? We are not the center of the universe? Does that make us any less worthy of existence? Did you really read my post? I said the same thing and yet take it as a blessing while you seem to take it as a curse!

What is it based on? We can unfortunately almost divide people into those like you who think this world is going down the drain and those who think it is going up to heaven! In the Fellowship cult it was clear to me that claiming that the world was going to hell and that he was the only solution, gave as much power to Robert as religion has amassed for centuries. I realized that the members had already been “programmed” by society with that fear and that they swallowed it from Robert without questioning it. The whole dogma relied on that paradigm that was already well rooted in member’s unconscious beliefs.

It is not that I don’t see, like you, the tremendous problems present in the world today but those problems have solutions if we are willing to work on them. The biggest problem is people, like you seem to be, who’ve already given up! Who cannot find within themselves enough trust on their ability to solve them, who are not willing to study the obstacles and push them out of the way, like FOF members in the fofblog who think laws cannot be challenged. Those stand aside and let the problems run by, participating in them and justifying it because “there is no solution!”

Think of the money we wasted on underwear for Bobby and the jets in FOFO land! Had we faced the problems life had without running into a cult and escaped, had not that money helped change our own society? had we been less ignorant to placed it better? And all our effort to build a winery and petite palais pour le roi? Wouldn’t that effort have made a difference if we’d invested it in the people we neglected?

The greatest irony I hear is ex-fellowshippers affirming that they were not interested in a community! What did they ever pay so much money and effort to if it wasn’t to build that pseudo-community of pimps? The problem wasn’t the ideal but where the ideal was planted. The fact that it was planted so avidly in such a decadent endeavor shows how “sick” we already were and incapable to avoid it. The fact that it continues to exist, shows how sick our society is and we, with it, who are unwilling to take serious action against it.

So yes, I agree with you, there is tremendous decadence in our times and if that is what you are looking at when you make your statements how could I not agree? But I am a human being! One who survived! Like me there are and will be millions!

We have all been to hell and back! Individually and socially! Individually almost every life is the story of a hero who made it out of hell, why would we not make it out of hell socially when there are so many of us who understand that it is possible to walk out of it?

One does not need heroic strength to face the moment, the second is simple, the effort is one: to stand there and be with all humility what one is!

Each man, each woman, carries the spirit of all humans. We are one! One is all and all are One. “That” is what IT is based on. When you know, when you see, when you feel, in sum, when you are conscious of that much beauty, why would you ever deny it?

43. ton - March 7, 2010

Elena, you say:
“It is said that true leaders are planning three hundred years ahead! That’s only three or four generations! Not too far is it?”

‘true leaders?’ hogwash… there’s a saying in my country that fits this…. “the best laid plans of mice and men…” are you familiar? these ‘true leaders’ can plan 3oo, or 1000 or 10000 years ahead, is that supposed to be impressive? do you believe in these ‘true leaders’? like you believed in burton, and gerald? these ‘leaders’ can do all the planning they want but it doesn’t mean that any of their plans will come to pass… it’s an illusion to think otherwise… maybe it’s an illusion some people need, the comfort and security of a father figure, a ‘true leader’ telling them how it’s going to be…. who are these ‘true leaders’ anyway?! it sounds like a simple case of vanity run amok…. all is vanity, but there are more extreme examples.

you know what elena, i think you like to argue, and you misjudge what i say and imply and extrapolate things that i have not said in order to create the basis for an argument. there are many examples but one is this, you wrote:

“We can unfortunately almost divide people into those like you who think this world is going down the drain and those who think it is going up to heaven!”

where in the world did you come up with the idea that i think “the world is going down the drain”?! this is absolute bullshit, and you completely misconstrue what i say to fit this convenient little black and white image you have of the way you generalize and categorize people en masse.

and you say this:

“We are not the center of the universe? Does that make us any less worthy of existence? Did you really read my post? I said the same thing and yet take it as a blessing while you seem to take it as a curse!”

did i say we are “less worthy of existence” ?? NO I DID NOT, IT IS YOU WHO IMPLY AND INFER THIS< IT IS YOU WHO SAID THIS!
i think the tenuousness of our existence makes it all the more precious and dare i say 'sacred' — so don't, please don't lay that bullshit on me.

you imply that it is i who pretend to place a limit on anyone's consciousness" but you completely misconstrue my point again…. i know that's what Burton and his sheep tried to do, but don't lay that bullshit at my doorstep, that's not what i'm about. based on my personal practical experiences of living on planet Earth for more than half a century, what i will say in this context is (speaking generally), that one is obviously free to believe whatever one chooses, to use the god-given gift of imagination as it pleases one to use it, and as long as one recognizes a belief and a fantasy for what it is, and does not mistake it for, or confuse it with practical reality, one should be able to maintain a healthy balanced connection to the real world. in the FOF we veered into an imaginary world which was intentionally concocted to mislead and as a result we were for a time not so well connected to 'practical reality.' from the sounds of some of your writing you may still be feeling the effects of living many years of your life in a fantasy world…. not that there's anything wrong with fantasy and imagination per se, as long as it is not mistaken for reality. it may take 5 or more years to get your feet back on terra firma (so to speak). i'll check in with you from time to time to see how you're progressing.

you might argue that an assessment of 'practical everyday reality' only applies to the physical senses and not to the imagination, even within my naturally imposed human limitations i can conceive of the 'omniverse' being so vast so infinite and so strange that true reality on a macro-macro scale is beyond what the 'human instrument' is even capable of imagining. humans as a species are like a seedling, just beginning to push a tendril up through the mud toward the warmth of the sun… again, that's not to belittle the marvels of the human being…. the reason i keep coming back to offspring and their offspring and etc, is that it is a simple illustration of the fact that knowing "what what we do does" has natural, inherent limitations… limitations that come with 'the package.' that is not to denigrate the gift of human air-breathing existence, don't get me wrong…. in a few years, you and i will no longer be here, but our children and theirs shall be…. our offspring and theirs are the result of what we do here, but in a few short years, when our time is finished on terra plane, we have no idea what the offspring and theirs will be up to… you might have a general notion about it now, but to say what's to come is fantasy. that's why i say there are limits to knowing "what what we do does," anyone who says or believes otherwise will be fooling themselves, not me.

a simple diagram might help to illustrate a point about limitations: the 'human instrument' has inherent limitations, surely you can't deny that ? for instance, our 'human instrument' can only detect audio, visual and tactile information within a very narrow band of frequency/vibration — see the electromagnetic spectrum below:


LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
 In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
 The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
 And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
 And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare

Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
  And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
      .      .      .      .      .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

44. Elena - March 7, 2010

Oh dear! If THAT upsets you so much, what wouldn’t?

Thanks for the poem, I’ll keep it well!

45. Elena - March 7, 2010

I am so sorry it sounded so bad to you, I was really trying to be gentle so it was a wasted effort. And I wasn’t trying to attack you, can you imagine if I tried? By your previous post I understood:

Ton: sometimes i think so called human ‘progress’ is a going backwards.

Going backwards to me meant going down the drain. You didn’t mean that?

I do believe in true leaders! There are some very great people in this world, in fact, everyone is so beautiful under the muck!! If it’s fantasy, I wish that fantasy in my life? Did you never have it?

I wasn’t even arguing! Imagine if I did?

Absolute bullshit? It’s all bullshit to you? Well, you already knew me from before, why do you insist on talking with someone who you think only talks bullshit and wants to argue with you?

Is there really a point in going on when all you can do is answer back with insults? Swear words?

I don’t enjoy the swearing. Why are you indulging so lavishly in it here?

So for you I’m just in illusion from the FOF? The FOFO didn’t even have illusions it was so poohr, just plain decadence! If it had had one worthy vision I would have never left it!

“a simple diagram might help to illustrate a point about limitations: the ‘human instrument’ has inherent limitations, surely you can’t deny that ? for instance, our ‘human instrument’ can only detect audio, visual and tactile information within a very narrow band of frequency/vibration — see the electromagnetic spectrum below”

You’ll go crazy with your limitations to the human instrument! There are no limits ton! None at all! We are one with the Universe, we are one with its vastness, we are like water, the drop and the Ocean at the same time!

Why do you wish to limit your self? What will that justify?

46. ton - March 7, 2010

i thought you were sounding better, that’s why i ventured to tread here on your site….

you write:
“Absolute bullshit? It’s all bullshit to you? Well, you already knew me from before, why do you insist on talking with someone who you think only talks bullshit and wants to argue with you?”

once again you misconstrue… i did not say nor did i imply that “It’s ALL bullshit” or that you “ONLY talk bullshit….” i was very specific in pointing out what i think fits that description…. maybe you should re-read what i said. look, you are obviously a bright woman, and i think a lot of what you say has value and deep insight, that’s not to say that everything you write is ‘golden,’ on the contrary, some of it misses the mark completely (imo). i apologize if the ‘swearing’ is offensive to you… since this is “your’ site, in any future posts i will refrain from using the arrangement of letters which so offends thee.

you write:
“You’ll go crazy with your limitations to the human instrument! There are no limits ton! None at all! We are one with the Universe, we are one with its vastness, we are like water, the drop and the Ocean at the same time!”

this sounds like ‘new age’ gobbldygook, sloganeering…. in my opinion although this piece of ‘pie in the sky’ may contain an element of truth, experientially speaking it is not based in practical reality. yes it is true, we are a part of the universe, but that misses the point i am attempting to make, the point being, the inherent limits of human cognition… that’s not to say that the human race has reached it’s maximum potential, but no matter how far we as a species go, there are some things a human being can never know. if you can’t recognize and admit to that, then apparently you have yet to catch a glimpse of the truth that lies beyond human comprehension — and all we as human can do is to glimpse what in it’s totality is beyond our capacity to know. i can admit to the fact, i think it’s an act of hubris to believe otherwise and it’s only your own limitations of imagination that keeps you from realizing that human beings, as wonderful and as horrible as they may be, are in fact limited… it’s a fact of life for the human organism. is this pessimism… absolutely not… right now and as of the moment, i have no problems living in the human vessel i find myself in, with all it’s limitations and imperfections, i love life, i recognize and accept the human condition for what it is and yet i still love life… but if you need to fool yourself in order to keep moving forward, that’s your prerogative, have another slice of ‘pie in the sky’ — there’s plenty out there.

47. Elena - March 8, 2010

Hi Ton,
We each express our selves according to our experiences. You obviously don’t believe I have had such experiences and cannot agree with you that we are limited in our consciousness. Knowledge and consciousness are different things. Clairvoyance is also something else. People who have it can know the future. It only happened to me once when I was ten. I said my grandfather was going to die and he died a week later. Never again. Reading the Tarot for a friend, her death showed up and she died six months later. That was difficult. I was very young. About fourteen, maybe sixteen. She was young too. I was unable to tell her and never read the tarot again to anyone else. Coincidences perhaps…Even though I have had beautiful experiences in which that vastness is real, and the power, I don’t consider myself particularly bright!

Have you ever seen God? I don’t believe in the God that people rely on so that they don’t have to make any effort. It took me a lot of work to free myself from that tendency. It was associated with seeing everything as if it were from outside and not taking responsibility for any of it! God, life, other people… This, the God I saw, had the face of eternity. How would you like me to describe to you what eternity looks like? The face of grace perhaps? Not those female graces one sometimes sees, he wasn’t like that for he was male, he was firm, very firm and gentle, very gentle at the same time and in a transparent marble robe! I was about seven. Only seconds but eternity is unforgettable!!

Is that too new agy for you? You seem so quick to judge what doesn’t fit your mold. If I need to fool myself I can have another pie? In the fof, I could go back to life and die if I didn’t agree with them!

Do we have to agree to speak? Can’t you tell your truth and let me hear it and let me tell you mine and listen? It is not important that we don’t agree. I love the company!
If you were a criminal like in the fof, it would matter, but you don’t sound criminal!

I much enjoy a good argument but you don’t give many. You get upset and tell me to eat pie! Talking of which I should go and have dinner! It’s been a lot of conversation for a Sunday, thanks! Have a good week. I imagine you’re as busy as I am during the week! I try to work on the blog in the early morning so that I move on with the things I’d like to understand but the rest of the day I’m working on other things… like Rio Cedro and the glass.

Here is the site of Rio Cedro for you. Maybe you’d like to come with your family one day!

I’ll send it again when it’s in English and more finished!

48. Elena - March 9, 2010
I continue to find these articles based on Foucault interesting because they are studying a different form of power over people than the one we lived in the FOF Cult but they are not unrelated. Another aspect in this article is that of how people perceive themselves and what we are able to aspire to according to that perception. Another term to look at that with the System was “the imaginary picture”. What imaginary picture are people “trained” to respond and live with throughout their lives in society? After going through a cult experience it is not difficult to realize how easy the manipulation of people’s “self” actually is; a manipulation that unstopped, will gradually lead to the annihilation of the individual after a life of apparently voluntary self sacrifice to the cult. The “annihilation” of the individual or rather the “mutilation of the self” is what we are witnessing in cults. It is the practice of rendering a human being a slave to an organization not through the use of force and the threat of death as was common in slavery but through gradual and methodical submission of the member’s will. As the member’s will is slowly “sucked” out of his daily life, the self weakens to a point of no return. It is “voluntarily” giving one’s self up to the Cult’s cause and absorbed by the guru’s will. What we are witnessing with the more than a thousand members of the FOFCult that have been unable to leave although it is clear that it is a criminal organization, is that they are already at a point of no return. It is no coincidence that over three thousand cult members have committed suicide under the guru’s direction in recent history all over the world. By the time the guru gives such instruction to his followers, decades have passed without their real existence even if they get up, go to work everyday and bear children. Automatons, is a good word for cult members. They are no longer humans for the human I is shrunk to its minimum expression, conditioned to function for the cult and not for the member. They are infrahumans: people who have discarded their human qualities intellectually, emotionally and have even allowed so much manipulation of their physical bodies that men become femenine while women become masculine if the guru so dictates. These are all truths about the Fellowship of Friends Cult where I belonged for seventeen years. http://ej.lib.cbs.dk/index.php/foucault-studies/article/view/2472 ARTICLE The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality: Temporality and Ethical Substance in the Tale of Two Dads Sam Binkley, Emerson College ABSTRACT: This paper considers debates around the neoliberal governmentality, and argues for the need to better theorize the specific ethical practices through which such programs of governmentality are carried out. Arguing that much theo- retical and empirical work in this area is prone to a “top down” approach, in which governmentality is reduced to an imposing apparatus through which subjectivities are produced, it argues instead for the need to understand the self-production of subjectivities by considering the ethical practices that make up neoliberal govern- mentality. Moreover, taking Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad/Poor Dad as an illustra- tive case, the point is made that the work of neoliberal governmentality specifically targets the temporalities of conduct, in an attempt to shape temporal orientations in a more entrepreneurial form. Drawing on Foucault’s lecture courses on liberalism and neoliberalism, and Jacques Donzelot’s work on the social, the case is made that neoliberal governmentality exhorts individuals to act upon the residual social tem- poralities that persist as a trace in the dispositions of neoliberal subjects. Moreover, the paper concludes with a discussion of the potentials for resistance in this relation, understood as temporal counter-conducts within neoliberalism. Key words: neoliberalism, governmentality, temporality, the social, Foucault, Don- zelot, counter-conduct. Every day with every dollar, you choose to be rich, poor or middle class. 1 Rich Dad Poor Dad is a best selling book on financial advice written by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Originally self-published in 1997 as supporting material for Kiyosaki’s fi- 1 Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad/Poor Dad, (New York: Business Plus, 2000), 197. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 61 nancial advice lectures, and later picked up by Warner Business Books in 2000, the text relates a rich allegorical narrative about the mental hard wiring required for fi- nancial success, and the concealed “ways of thinking” practiced by the wealthy. Kiyosaki’s method is comparative: he tells of his childhood relationships with two fathers; one a biological parent, the other a friend’s father who undertook the task of young Robert’s financial education. Each father presented radically distinct outlooks on financial life. His own father, the poor dad, was a government man, head of the Department of Education for the state of Hawaii who, in spite of his impressive qua- lifications and career accomplishments, remained “poor” his whole life, snarled in a plodding, credentialist faith in institutional advancement as a slow climb up the ladder of bureaucratic hierarchy. The rich dad, on the other hand, was a self-made millionaire with an eighth grade education who held a deep distain for the naïve ap- proach to wealth generation practiced by the majority of Americans—one that con- ceived of earned reward in terms of educational credentials and the patient advance to higher salaried positions within a single firm. Throughout the book, poor dad’s dour lectures on the virtues of patience, loyalty and circumspection were contrasted with rich dad’s exhortations to swashbuckling fiscal adventurism, self-interest and self-responsibility. Kiyosaki compares the advice offered by his two dads: My two dads had opposing attitudes in thought… One dad recommended, “study hard so you can find a good company to work for.” The other recommended, “study hard so you can find a good company to buy.” One dad said, “the reason I’m not rich is because I have you kids.” The other said, “the reason I must be rich is because I have you kids.” One said “when it comes to money, play it safe, don’t take risks.” The other said, “learn to manage risk.”2 2 Ibid, 15-16. At first blush, the case of Rich Dad Poor Dad might seem innocuous enough: another proselytizing tome in a long tradition of entrepreneurial boosterism extending from Horatio Alger through Norman Vincent Peale to Donald Trump—a discourse on fis- cal self-realization extolling the virtues of entrepreneurship and voluntarism as a personal ethic. Yet what distinguishes this example is not just its timeliness given the current zeal for anti-welfarist, anti-statist rhetoric, and its veneration for market cowboyism, (nor it’s stunning popularity, becoming a New York Times best selling title in 2002), but the specific way in which it dramatizes the dynamism within this space, what we might describe as the inner life of the neoliberal subject. This space is characterized by a specific tension between the inertia of social dependency and the exuberance and vitality of market agency—a tension that is, in Kiyosaki’s prose, barbed with exhortations to mobilize the latter against the former. Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 62 In what follows, the provocations posed by Kiyosaki’s tale of two dads will provide a backdrop for an inquiry into debates around what has come to be termed “neoliberal governmentality.”3 I take this term to indicate the ways in which subjects are governed as market agents, encouraged to cultivate themselves as autonomous, self-interested individuals, and to view their resources and aptitudes as human capi- tal for investment and return.4 Neoliberal governmentality presumes a more or less continuous series that runs from those macro-technologies by which states govern populations, to the micro-technologies by which individuals govern themselves, al- lowing power to govern individuals “at a distance,” as individuals translate and in- corporate the rationalities of political rule into their own methods for conducting themselves.5 However, in much recent work on governmentality, the emphasis has fallen on the institutional logics, the assemblages, technologies and dispositifs, as Foucault called them, through which the rationalities of neoliberal governmentality invest populations, while less emphasis has been placed on the practical, ethical work individuals perform on themselves in their effort to become more agentive, decisionistic, voluntaristic and vital market agents.6 3 Michel Foucault, “Governmentality” in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France. Translated by Graham Burchell. (New York: Palgrave, 2008). Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne and Nikolas Rose, “Introduction” in Foucault and Political Reason, ed. Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne and Nikolas Rose (London: UCL Press, 1996). Mitchell Dean, Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society (London: Sage, 1999). Graham Burchell, “Liberal Government and Techniques of the Self” in Foucault and Political Reason, ed. Andrew Barry, Thomas Os- borne and Nikolas Rose. (London: UCL Press, 1996). Thomas Lemke, “’The Birth of Bio- Politics”–Michel Foucault’s Lecture at the Collège de France on Neoliberal Governmen- tality” Economy & Society, 30, 2 (2001): 190-207. 4 Nikolas Rose, “Governing `Advanced’ Liberal Democracies” in Foucault and Political Rea- son, ed. Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne and Nikolas Rose (London: UCL Press, 1996). 5 Sam Binkley, “Governmentality and Lifestyle Studies” Sociology Compass, 1: 1 (July 2007): 111-126. Nikolas Rose, Pat O’Malley and Mariana Valverde, “Governmentality” Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 2 (2006): 83-104. 6 Sam Binkley, “The Perilous Freedoms of Consumption: Toward a Theory of the Conduct of Consumer Conduct” Journal for Cultural Research, 10: 4 (October 2006): 343-362. Barbara Cruikshank, The Will to Empower: Democratic Citizens and Other Subjects. (Ithaca, NY: Cor- nell University Press, 1999). The tale of Rich Dad Poor Dad reminds us of the dynamic practices by which neoliberal governmentalities are in- corporated. Moreover, it suggests that these practices are ethical, in the sense that Foucault used the term in his later work: they involve daily work performed upon specific objects or features of the self held to be problematic—“ethical substances,” as Foucault called them, which in this case implicates and acts upon the embodied, moribund collectivist dependencies and dispositions that are the legacy of poor dad’s mode of existence. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 63 In short, governmentality expresses a certain series or relation between pow- er and the subject, yet it is important to remember that this series is not seamless and complete. Instead, governmentality represents what Foucault called an unstable “contact point” between techniques of domination (or subjection), and the actual practices of subjectification by which neoliberal subjects govern themselves. Or, as Foucault put it in his 1980 lecture at Dartmouth College: The contact point, where the individuals are driven by others is tied to the way they conduct themselves, is what we can call, I think government. Governing people, in the broad meaning of the word, governing people is not a way to force people to do what the governor wants; it is always a versatile equilibrium, with complementarity and conflicts between techniques which assure coercion and processes through which the self is constructed or modified by himself. 7 More precisely, in seeking to emphasize these practical dimensions, I will highlight the precise object of everyday conduct that appears as the ethical sub- stance, or the specific material upon which ethical practices work—that part of the self that is made the object of the transformative work of neoliberal governmentality. This substance is defined by time and the changing practices of temporal calculation and practical orientation by which everyday conduct is undertaken. Considering the temporal sensibility of social dependence as the substance of an ethical problemati- zation within the practice of neoliberal governmentality, it is possible to consider how neoliberal subjects work to optimize, individualize and entrepreneurialize In other words, the relation of the subject before power is not reducible to the simple production of neoliberal subjects: what is involved is the production of self- producing subjects—subjects whose own self-production is prone to reversals and appropriations, to “mis-productions” through which the subject produces herself differently than is intended by power itself. By considering the specific ethical prac- tices through which individuals isolate and act upon certain elements within them- selves, as they work to transform themselves from socially dependent subjects into neoliberal agents (or from poor dads into rich ones), it is possible to draw out the ambivalence that operates in this point of contact. Between dispositifs and ethical practices, or between techniques of coercion and the processes by which subjects construct themselves, there is, implicit within neoliberal governmentality, an inde- terminacy that leaves open the possibility of doing things differently. Toward this end, I will attempt a theoretical reconstruction of the ethical dynamism that consti- tutes the work of subjectification, drawing anecdotally and for illustrative purposes on the allegory of the two dads, and the specific kinds of work on the self related in Kiyosaki’s gentle exhortation. 7 Foucault 1993: 203-4, cited in Thomas Lemke “Foucault, Governmentality, and Critique” Rethinking Marxism, 1, 3, (2002): 49-64(16). Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 64 themselves and their conduct—a program of subjectification centered on the vitali- zation and responsibilization of a dependent subjectivity, but also one shadowed by a certain ambivalence and instability, a technique of subjectification that remains open to the potential for being otherwise practiced. 1. Governmentality, Subjection and Subjectification I will begin with the question of this ambivalence within governmental practices. While it is not my intention to expand the already voluminous exegetical literature on Foucault’s oeuvre (much less evolve a prescriptive template for how “resistance” might be strategized), it is nonetheless helpful to locate my project within the famili- ar reference points of his scholarship. By considering governmentality not as a political rationality in a technical sense, but as an everyday ethical undertaking, I am attempting to incorporate ele- ments from what are considered distinct moments of Foucault’s intellectual trajecto- ry, drawing from his later work of the 1980’s on the ethics of the self, in order to re- solve problems posed elsewhere, in the late 1970’s, in his studies of governmentality, biopower and discipline.8 Indeed, between these two moments are distinct and con- trasting understandings of how it is that subjects are produced in relationship to the larger structures they inhabit. In a general sense, Foucault’s work of governmentali- ty occupies a position between his genealogical studies of dispositifs, (or the appara- tuses of power by which modern societies organize their populations through state apparatuses and institutional structures), and his studies of the ethical practices of the Ancient world, where the emphasis falls on the specific creativity of the individ- ual in fashioning a unique relation to herself.9 8 Foucault, “Governmentality”. Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-76. Trans. David Macey, ed. Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fonta- na (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003). Michel Foucault, Security, Territory, Population. Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977-78. Trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave, 2007) and Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. 9 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979) and Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume II: The Use of Pleasure. Trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1984). At the risk of over-simplification, it can be argued that, while in the case of the former, the subject is produced by power, in the case of the latter, the subject is produced by power as a self-producing subject. Foucault arrives at a discussion of the latter relation, the production of self- production, with the term assujetissement—a term that is variously translated in Eng- lish as subjection, subjectification or subjectivation, each term shaded with subtle differences of meaning. “While such a meaning implies the passivity of the subject,” Rosenberg and Milchman write, “Foucault also sees assujetissement as entailing more Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 65 than relations of domination, as involving the autonomy, and the possibility of resis- tance, of the one who is assujetti [subjected] as well.”10 Such shifts of emphasis become important in the pivotal lectures of the late 1970s, where Foucault began to unfold his notion of governmentality, the elabora- tion of which developed against the backdrop of his wider efforts to reform and ex- pand the analysis of power he had developed earlier, largely under the banner of discipline. Here power is a phenomenon of those “complete and austere institu- tions” so richly described in Discipline and Punish, whose power was the power to act on subjects, through the optimization of forces and the perpetual exercise of their ca- pacities. Foucault attempted to attenuate this constraint in the first volume of the History of Sexuality and later in his lecture course of 1976-77, Society Must Be Defended, through an engagement with biopower as a broader exercise of power encompassing a range of extra-institutional societal deployments, centered on the very life of the population. 11 However, in the lecture course of the following year, Security, Territory, Population, the concept of biopower is quickly abandoned for an analysis of go- vernmentality, understood not as a medico-juridical deployment, but as a state ap- paratus, first of popular security, and later, in his lectures of 1978-’79, The Birth of Biopolitics, as a technology of political and economic liberalism.12 While there are strong arguments to be made both for a marked shift of emphasis in Foucault’s work during this time (a case recently put forward by Eric Paras in Foucault 2.0) and for the persistence of underlying themes (as Jeffrey Nealon argues in Foucault Beyond Foucault), it is certainly the case that an incremental drift from discipline to biopower and ultimately governmentality is one which increasingly describes the production of subjectivity before power, or assujetissement, as a practice of self-formation, as the production of self-production.13 Or as Graham Burchell has argued: “the introduc- tion of the idea of techniques of the self, of arts or aesthetics of existence, etc. seems to imply a loosening of the connection between subjectification and subjection”.14 there remains, I would argue, the powerful imprint of Foucault’s genealogical study of power, and a depiction of the production of the subject before power as a funda- mentally top-down process of subjection/subordination—the production of subjects but not the production of self-producing subjects. 15 10 Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, “The Aesthetic and Ascetic Dimensions of an Ethics of Self-Fashioning: Nietzsche and Foucault” Parrhesia, 2 (2007): 55. 11 Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended. 12 Foucault, Security, Territory and Population and Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics. 13 Eric Paras, Foucault 2.0: Beyond Power and Knowledge (New York: Other Press, 2006) and Jeffrey Nealon, Foucault Beyond Foucault: Power and its Intensifications Since 1984 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008). 14 Burchell, 20. 15 Ben Goldner, “Foucault and the Genealogy of Pastoral Power” Radical Philosophy Review, 10: 2 (2007): 157–176. This is not to force a overhasty Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 66 Such loosening notwithstanding, within the framework of governmentality, reduction on these two moments in Foucault’s work, nor to assume that, in his work on dispositifs, Foucault left no room at all for a reflection on the self-forming activities of discipline, for indeed he did. Yet there is undeniably a shift of emphasis in the passage from his middle to later works, one which gradually gives increasing weight not only to the autonomy of these practices, but to the uncertainty of their outcomes. In this regard, this tendency has carried over into the expanding field of governmen- tality research that has emerged in recent years, wherein, as Katharyne Mitchell has argued: “the work often seems top heavy and seamless, with an inexorable and ines- capable quality to the situations and transformations depicted by governmentality scholars.”16 An alternative, bottom-up approach to governmentality, it would seem, would describe the negative operation of ethical work by which the rationalities of domination are extended into a program of self government itself—the actual prac- tices of shaping, changing or negating some feature of the self. Writing several years after his pivotal lectures on governmentality, and to a very different set of concerns, Foucault described these ethical practice as processes in which “the individual deli- mits that part of himself that will form the object of his moral practice, defines this position relative to the precept he will follow, and decides on a certain mode of be- ing that will serve as his moral goal.” 17 Moreover, an important element of such an operation could be identified in the “ethical substance,” the “prime material of his moral conduct,” or the raw material upon which the ethical practitioner works.18 For Kiyosaki, the path to riches is one that leads us through a difficult labor of self- transformation. Ostensibly written for children of poor dads, or readers who were in fact poor dads themselves, the text gently exhorts us to go to work on ourselves, to transform our poor dad habits into rich ones. The outlooks of the dads are described: One dad believed in a company or in the government’s taking care of you and your needs. He was always concerned about pay raises, retirement plans, medi- cal benefits, sick leave, vacation days and other perks. He was impressed with two of his uncles who joined the military and earned a retirement and entitle- ment package for life after twenty years of service. He loved the idea of medical benefits and PX privileges the military provided its retirees. He also loved the te- nure system available through the university. His idea of job protection for life and job benefits seemed more important, at times, than the job. He would often say, “I’ve worked hard for the government, and I’m entitled to these benefits.” …The other believed in total financial self-reliance. He spoke out against the “en- titlement” mentality and how it was creating weak and financially needy people. He was emphatic about being financially competent.19 2. The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 16 Katharyne Mitchell, “Neoliberal Governmentality in the European Union: Education, Training, and Technologies of Citizenship” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24 (2006): 390. 17 Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume II: The Use of Pleasure, 28. 18 Ibid., 26. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 67 For it is in operating on this ethical substance that the subject is both subjected to power, and enacts a practice of subjectification—an active shaping of the self as a subject. To locate the specific ambivalence operative in this point of contact, it is necessary to consider the active dynamics of self-governmental practices, the active negation of a prior ethical substance, or the work one performs on that dimension of the self one seeks to transform through government. In the case of neoliberal governmentality, this element appears, I have suggested, in the sedimented residue of earlier inscrip- tions of power, in the lazy predispositions to social welfare and institutional depen- dency that characterize the specific temporality of the poor dad. Although both dads worked hard, I noticed that one dad had a habit of putting his brain to sleep when it came to money matters, and the other had a habit of exercising his brain. The long term result was that one dad grew stronger finan- cially and the other grew weaker. It was not much different from a person who goes on to the gym to exercise on a regular basis versus someone who sits on the couch watching television. Proper physical exercise increases your chances for health, and proper mental exercise increases your chances for wealth. Laziness decreases both health and wealth. Poor dad’s sedentary life is embodied in the flabby matter of sedimented habits and unthought routines, shaped around social trust, institutional norms and the organi- zational protocols of managerial hierarchy. While poor dad plodded through life in a resigned, faithful spirit, seldom questioning the doxa of financial common sense, rich dad’s self-reflexive, hyper-voluntaristic outlook emphasized choice, agency, the examination of life and exercise of self-control on all levels. The transformative task to which Kiyosaki exhorts us takes the form of an exercise, the effect of which would effectively invigorate the body and the spirit by dissolving dependency and assum- ing full autonomy, injecting a vital life force into otherwise inactive material. 20 In his lectures of 1978-79, The Birth of Biopolitics, Foucault spelled out the radi- cally different ways in which classical and neoliberal thought confronted basic ques- Exercise, in this regard, indicates the work that is performed to facilitate the circula- tion of vital forces within the mind and the body—a vitality that is at once a funda- mental biological drive, and also a dispositional pre-requesite for neoliberal conduct. 19 Kiyosaki, 16. 20 Ibid., 15. Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 68 tions of autonomy and constraint.21 These differences can be briefly summarized: while classical liberalism viewed the agencies and initiatives constitutive of market conduct as generic to social life itself, from the standpoint of neoliberalism, such dis- positions had to be actively fostered through state interventions. The problem con- fronting early liberalism in the eighteenth century was how to establish a market within and against an existing state, and how to limit the interventions of that state in order that the market could assume the dynamism and rationality to which it was naturally inclined—a process which would, if allowed to occur, enrich the state eco- nomically and militarily through the practice of governing less.22 What distinguishes neoliberalism from classical liberalism, then, is their dif- fering views on the naturalness of these market rationalities, and consequently their contrasting views on the role of the state in creating the conditions for market activi- ties. In his discussion of the German post-war liberalism of the Ordo School, Fou- cault described how the problem facing liberalism in the aftermath of the Second World War was not to carve out a space of freedom within an existing state, as it was for classical liberalism. 23 Instead, the task was to devise a state capable of creating, through its own programs and initiatives, the voluntaristic, entrepreneurial and self- responsible dispositions, upon which market forms depend. Neither the market nor the competitive dispositions upon which market rationality draws, were considered sui generis features of social life: they had to be actively fostered through the inter- ventions of a liberal state, whereby individuals were brought to cultivate an entre- preneurial disposition within their own modes of conduct. From this perspective, neo-liberalism is seen to invert problems long attended to by the agencies of Key- sianism and the welfare state: against the Schumpeterian orthodoxy which holds monopolistic tendencies of capitalism as an intrinsic consequence of capitalism’s economic logic, Ordo liberals consider this a fundamentally social problem, whose remedy is open to forms of social intervention, which target the tendencies toward collectivism by aiming to ignite competitive conducts.24 21 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics and Lemke, “’The Birth of Bio-Politics”–Michel Foucault’s Lecture at the Collège de France on Neoliberal Governmentality”. 22 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, 27-51. 23 Ibid., 183-5. 24 Ibid., 185. Blockages to economic activ- ity originating in the social fabric, the Ordo liberals argued, could be negated through programs of state intervention, aimed at suppressing collectivism, and sti- mulating entrepreneurial, market behaviors. Practices of neoliberal governmentality express the extension of these interventionist strategies into the social field, but also into the very domain of subjectivity itself, where, as Graham Burchell has put it: “Neo-liberalism seeks in its own ways the integration of the self-conduct of the go- Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 69 verned into the practices of their government and the promotion of correspondingly appropriate forms of techniques of the self.”25 Yet while Burchell and others quite adequately account for this practice of self government by which market actors produce themselves through the inscription of a certain economic rationality, he does not say what stands in the way of this op- eration, what inner constraints within the individual have to be broken or what ma- terial was in need of work in order that such an ethical program be realized. In other words, the work of neoliberal governmentality entails important negative programs, undertaken through an active practice of self-transformation, requiring the break up and dissolution of those sedentary collectivist dispositions and anti-competitive ha- bits that were the accidental and periodic consequence of capitalist life itself—those very same forms of cooperative collective social life that Keynsianism and the wel- fare state actively sought to foster and solidify. “There is a clear sense,” writes Bur- chell, “in which neoliberalism is anti-society.” 26 Such collectivist dispositions originate with a figure of power characterized by Jacques Donzelot as “the social”—a mode of government which arose in the in- tervening period between classical and neoliberal forms of rule. To understand this negation as the active inner principle of a mode of ethics, we must better understand the ethical sub- stance upon which this work is carried out—a substance rooted in the collectivist dispositions fostered by social government. Moreover, it is in this collectivist dispo- sition that we discover the specific temporality, the time consciousness by which specific forms of conduct are oriented, and which appears, in the work of neoliberal governmentality, as the unique ethical substance of a practice of self-government. 3. Docility and Social Time Clearly, rich dads and poor dads conduct themselves within radically distinct tem- poral frames: while poor dads practice a docile compliance to the prescribed rhythms and schedules of the institutions within which their faith is invested and their trajectories marked (poor dads, we recall, count sick days and look forward to earned vacations), rich dads, or neoliberal agents, take this docility as the specific object of an ethical program, assuming full responsibility for the temporality of their own conduct, managing risks and projecting their futures against opportunistic ho- rizons tailored to their own unique projects. To grasp this process, we must under- stand the emergence of the temporality of the social both as a historical event, and as a residue accumulated in the bodies and dispositions of contemporary individuals. 27 25 Burchell, 29-30. 26 Ibid.,27. 27 Jacques Donzelot, The Policing of Families. Trans. R. Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1979). The social Jacques Donzelot, L’Invention du Social (Paris: Fayard, 1984). Jacques Donzelot, “The Promotion of the Social” Economy and Society, 17:3 (1988): 394–427. Jacques Donzelot, Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 70 represents a problem-space wherein the excesses of liberalism (in the form of an ac- celerated capitalist economy and the over-extension of market sovereignty) are held to be problematic, identified and acted upon as a force eroding other forms of popu- lar solidarity and creating fertile ground for revolutionary challenges to capitalism itself. From the early nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, social gov- ernment developed through a technology of rule entailing, as Mitchell Dean has de- scribed, “a set of problematizations of the liberal governmental economy (e.g., the ‘social question’, social problems, social issues), a set of institutions and practices (e.g., social welfare, social insurance, social work), a set of laws and legal jurisdic- tions (e.g., the juvenile court, family law) and a variety of actors, agencies and au- thorities (e.g., social workers, schoolteachers, police officers, general practitioners).”28 The solution proposed to the problem of too much liberalism was, as Donzelot has argued in his genealogical analysis of the welfare state, the production, through state programs, of new social solidarities and new collectivist units.29 Through the tech- nology of welfare, the state assumed a function described by the French legal theor- ist Charles Gide as the “visible expression of the invisible bond”—an instrument for the fostering of a normative moral order amid conditions of social disintegration re- sulting from the atomizing effects of industrialization.30 In his L’invention du Social, (1984) Donzelot traces social government to a spe- cific set of policy debates and legislative initiatives that developed in France during the nineteenth century. With an increasingly militant labor movement and the inci- pient threat of socialism, liberal legislators sought policies that would mitigate anta- gonism between labor and capital without mandating too radical an agenda of social reform. The resulting “social rights” legislation was a specific instrument of social government meant to foster solidarity, both among workers and between labor and capital more generally, as a means of ensuring social integration while blunting the specific indictment of the social order emerging from the socialist camp. Appropriat- ing key Durkheimian themes, Donzelot describes the welfare state as one in which Two important features of this new technology of rule must be understood if we are to apprehend it in terms of its specific temporal dimension: first, we must point out the capacity of social gov- ernment to shift responsibility for risks from individual to collectivist forms, and second, we must understand the resulting durational temporal sense that emerges from this allocation. These points will be discussed in turn. “The Mobilization of Society.” in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Gra- ham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 169-179. Jacques Donzelot, “Pleasure in Work” in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Go- vernmentality, ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller (Chicago, IL: Univer- sity of Chicago Press, 1991), 251–280. 28 Dean, 53. 29 Donzelot, “The Promotion of the Social. 30 Ibid., 403. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 71 “this concept of solidarity serves to define not only the framework but also the spe- cific mode of state intervention, one which affects the forms of the social bond rather than the structure of society itself.”31 Social rights legislation, Donzelot argues, extended a set of protectionist measures to workers, meant first to mitigate the specific risks and uncertainties aris- ing from the industrial labor process (principally workplace accidents), but later ap- plied more generally to a range of social and personal risks associated with health, fiscal security and social well being. 32 In its incipient form, this displacement ad- dressed the question of culpability for workplace accidents, whose occurrence typi- cally became flashpoints between labor and capital. In the industrial firm of the nine- teenth century, industrial accidents immediately raised difficult and often irresolva- ble questions of responsibility, with both bosses and workers seeking to blame each other in squabbles over compensation payments, the award of which could alter- nately drive owners into bankruptcy, or abandon injured workers to pauperism. The solution arrived at by social legislators was that of the “insurance technique”—a sys- tem successfully applied in Germany under Bismarck, wherein regular individual payments into a common fund served to finance compensation paid to the injured in the event of accidents.33 With so many cases remaining unresolved due to the characteristic difficulty of ascribing fault to anyone, wouldn’t it be better to regard accidents as effects of an unwilled collective reality, not of an individual will but effects arising from the general division of labour which, by making all actors interdependent, results in none of them having complete control over their work, or consequently being in a position to assume full responsibility. Such a seemingly simple policy measure, reproduced and disseminated across a range of institutional settings, carried with it a more subtle realignment in the practice of government: the insurance technique succeeded in shifting culpability from individuals (workers or managers) to the institutional con- ditions of work itself. Donzelot writes: 34 The institutionalization of such an “unwilled collective reality” entailed the sociali- zation of risk, relieving individuals and management of responsibility for unfore- seen outcomes of their own conduct. 35 31 Donzelot, “The Mobilization of Society”, 173. 32 Donzelot, “The Promotion of the Social,” 400 and Donzelot, “Pleasure in Work,” 256. 33 Donzelot, “The Promotion of the Social,” 399. 34 Ibid., 400. 35 Ibid., 398. A swarming of welfarist agencies and services throughout the industrializing world variously seized upon this model, fashioning solutions to the problem of social disintegration and strife resulting from too much liberalism, and particularly the profusion of risks, in the form of a renewed solidari- ty capable of absorbing those risks into itself. Moreover, this entailed state interven- Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 72 tion aimed at the normalization and regulation of workplace conditions (and later of social conditions more generally), as it became these conditions themselves, and not the owners of capital, that were ultimately liable for risks incurred.36 The application of Taylorism to the French industrial economy in the years preceding World War I is a process aimed at enhancing worker productivity, not only through the technical division of labor for which it is best known, but through the adjustment of the work- er to the mosaic of normalized interpersonal relationships into which work and its risks are socialized.37 Of course, the docile conduct into which the solidarities of social government induced its members did not originate with social rights themselves, nor did they appear with the normalized social units into which such individuals were adjusted. Such modes of conduct, and the specific temporalities through which they were enacted, were for two centuries already being quietly insinuated into the conducts of modern people through those disciplinary institutions Foucault so well documented in Discipline and Punish—the schools, prisons, hospitals and military barracks. In- deed, there is a specific link between the forms of social government by which risk was transposed from individual conduct to the collective responsibility of the social totality and the docile temporality of the disciplinary institution. Foucault has de- scribed the specific manner in which the production of docility is accomplished through technologies of temporalization, and specifically with the deployment of “duration” as a temporal frame. Better adjustment of the worker to the normalized conditions of production reduced the risk of accidents—a key governmental objective of welfar- ism, yet one that substituted a collectivist, institutional responsibility for the indi- vidual culpability for output and risks. As such, life under social government was characterized by a certain docility of conduct under the normalized conditions of an engineered solidarity—a “unwilled collective reality” in which individual agency was itself no longer willed, but instead suspended within a socialized horizon of ex- pectation, futurity and temporality. 38 The emergence of durational time is often tied to the dissemination of clock- time in the labor process. As a durational act, the temporality of an action is not bound to its immediate outcome—the risks it entails—which have become re- mote from the actor, incorporated into the institutional totality within which it is ex- ecuted. The time of the docile body (and by extension, the time of socialized risk) is measured simply as “duration”—as abstract, homogenous time, whose ultimate mo- tivation and endpoint is “unwilled,” remote from the responsibilities of the actor, fixed in the remote planning schemes of the institution. 39 36 Ibid., 412. 37 Donzelot, “Pleasure in Work,” 255. 38 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, 151. 39 E. P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Past and Present, 38 Linked with a wider rigidification of the intrinsic volun- Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 73 tarism and spontaneity that characterizes personal and social life, the notion of dura- tion is, in historical literature on temporality, associated with the reification of the natural rhythm and meter of everyday practice, specifically for the purposes of a more thorough exploitation of the productive capacity invested in the temporality of the act.40 E. P. Thompson’s well-known study of this process uncovers the manner in which a task-oriented temporality takes over and displaces traditional temporal sen- sibilities tuned to the rhythms of natural processes, such as the seasonal regularities of agriculture.41 However, durational temporality is not simply a medium for the ex- ploitation of labor: it is a means through which labor power is produced and sus- tained as a force, both within the individual and within the social unit as a whole.42 Foucault provides such an account in his detailed discussion of the produc- tion of docility in the incipient institutional temporalities of early modern societies. He describes the inscription of durational temporality as a positive operation, one that entails the decomposition of modes of conduct into administratively discreet moments, and their simultaneous recomposition in the sequence of a disciplinary practice. Foucault’s account of the “temporal elaboration of the act” describes the precise manner in which an increasingly refined demarcation and segmentation of temporal units takes place in the marching instructions given to French foot soldiers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wherein the simple step of the soldier is subjected to an increasingly precise division that expands from one to four basic movements in the course of a century. Thompson shows how the disciplining of work-time functioned as much to fashion the basis for collectivist opposition to capitalist exploitation as to ensure the condi- tions for the extraction of profits from the bodies or workers. Similarly, durational time is, as Donzelot has shown, a mechanism of social integration and for the forma- tion of unwilled collective realities and de-responsibilized conducts, wherein risk is socialized and the agency of individuals is transposed from to the horizons of indi- vidual actions to those of institutional norms. 43 “The act is broken down into its elements; the position of the body, limbs, articulations is defined; to each movement are as- signed a direction, an aptitude, a duration; their order of succession is prescribed. Time penetrates the body and with it all the meticulous controls of power.”44 This segmentation is not without aim, but neither is it specifically teleological. It is not completed with the exploitation of labor for profit, but is instead ongoing and productive, seeking as much to produce labor power as a permanent potential (1967): 56-97 and Evitar Zerubavel, Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press), 1985. 40 Zerubavel, 2-5. 41 Thompson, 61. 42 Foucault, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, 159. 43 Ibid., 151. 44 Ibid., 152. Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 74 of the individual and to articulate this potential together with the ongoing function- ing of the factory, as to secure its exploitation.45 Foucault describes the production of durational temporality: for the French foot soldier of the eighteenth century, bodily practice was reintegrated into a new docile temporality—the military march—which is directed to a new endpoint or goal, characterized by the general enhancement of productive forces, both for the individual himself, and for the institution of which he is a member. In other words, durational time acquires meaning as a permanent and ongoing exercise. “Exercise, having become an element in the political technology of the body and of duration, does not culminate in a beyond, but tends toward a sub- jection that has never reached its limit.”46 Keep working, boys, but the sooner you forget about needing a paycheck, the easier your adult life will be. Keep using your brain, work for free, and soon your mind will show you ways of making money far beyond what I could ever pay you. You will see things that other people never see. Opportunities right in front of their noses. Most people never see these opportunities because they’re looking for money and security, so that’s all they get. The moment you see one opportu- nity, you will see them for the rest of your life. As such, duration, measured by the rhythms of military training, the educational calendars of the public schools or the pay schedules imposed by the wage system, has no specific beginning and no end, and thus inscribes no agency or telos—no will. For the worker, the prisoner, the stu- dent or the soldier, the performance of a task is ongoing and often without purpose. Temporality itself has been socialized. It was precisely this durational temporal orientation, the unwilled faithful- ness to the rat race of a salaried job, that rich dad took as the object of the ethical work to which he exhorted his young student. He chastised this durational disposi- tion for the flaccid spirit it exuded, but also for the lack of reflective awareness, the truncation of the horizons of economic action it imposed. The way out was first through the renunciation of the mind- numbing comforts supplied by such conduct, from which would follow an revitalization of one’s willingness to confront risk, and a vast expansion of the horizon of economic opportunity. One of rich dad’s lessons involved inducing the two ten-year olds to work without pay for several weekends, under the argument that the experience would teach them that salaried labor reflect- ed a lazy and dull-minded faith in a structured reward system, and that the true re- ward of work lay beyond the narrow rewards of the wage system. Rich dad ex- plained his rationale: 47 The awakening intended by this exercise was one that was meant to turn the two boys to work on themselves—on the traces and residues, the inscribed habits and 45 Ibid., 161. 46 Ibid., 162. 47 Kiyosaki, 50. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 75 dispositions remaining from an earlier deployment of a collective social reality, and the displacement of responsibility and risk it entailed. The social, durational tempo- ralities that are the residue of docility and durational time can be identified, not just in the generational rift between poor dads and their sons, but in the historical sedi- mentations accumulated in the bodies of those sons themselves, and in the readers to whom Kiyosaki appeals—a body that, as Foucault wrote in his essay Nietzsche, Gene- alogy, History, can be understood as the repository of historical inscriptions, or as he put it, the “inscribed surface of events.” Indeed, it is in this work that the ambiva- lence between the institutional forms of self-government, and the individual practic- es of self-rule, or subjection and subjectification, becomes operative. 4. Conclusion: Temporality and Counter-Conduct The emphasis placed here on the work of neoliberal subjectification has indicated the need to consider the ambivalence between subjection and subjectification, or the “loose fit” between power and the subject. So far, however, little has been said of the specific content of this ambivalence, or of the general forms it might take. Of what, then, might this ambivalence consist? How is the work one performs on residual du- rational temporalities, the ethical substances of social conduct, or the residual in- scriptions of Donzelot’s “unwilled collective reality” to be practiced differently? I will close with a very general and brief suggestion for the direction in which such a study might move—a purpose for which it is useful to consult Foucault’s discussion of what he termed “counter-conduct,” or the tactical reversals to which rationalities of governmentality are prone. Arguments for the tactical reversibility of clock-time as a technology of do- mination in the capitalist labor process are not unfamiliar: Thompson has described the process by which, a generation after the appearance of clocks in the labor process, struggles increasingly took place within the framework of scheduled labor: “[workers] had accepted the categories of their employers and learned to fight back within them. They had learned their lesson, that time is money, only too well.”48 Foucault’s many statements on practices of resistance need not be rehearsed here, save to point out some elements that are relevant to our effort to understand the neoliberal government of temporality as a practice characterized by ambivalence and tactical reversal. Toward this end, two points will be made, the first concerning the persistence of earlier temporal sensibilities in the conducts of individuals. In his Yet the notion of a temporal counter-conduct within neoliberal governmentality requires that we move beyond Thompson’s analysis of time as an instrument in the exploita- tion of labor, to a consideration of temporality as an object in the ongoing and open- ended practice of government, or as the self-forming work of subjectification itself. 48 Thompson, 91. Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 76 statements on counter-memory and counter-history, Foucault describes the manner in which “subjugated knowledges” are carried over from previous, now forgotten struggles, “left to lie fallow, or even kept at the margins” of the body and in every- day rationalities that shape conduct, yet which contained “the memory of combats, the very memory that had until then been confined to the margins.”49 A second point derives from the idea of “counter-conducts,” or revolts of conduct, which Foucault elaborated in his lectures of 1977-78, and through which practices of government can be understood in terms of their own potential for rever- sal. Counter-conducts, Foucault explains, are distinguished from economic revolts against power (such as those described by Thompson), by their emphasis on the government of the self as the stake of revolt, and the specific rejection, through in- version and reversal, of the precise ways in which one is told that one should govern oneself. Counter-conducts emerge from within the specific logics of a given mode of conduct, inverting the series that runs from the macro-level technologies of rule to the specific ethical practices by which individuals rule themselves. Foucault de- scribes the “pastoral counter-conducts” developed in opposition to ecclesiastical rule during the medieval period, illustrated by the Flagellants, for whom extreme forms of asceticism took up specific features of Christian pastoral governance, while redep- loying them in practices that were ultimately antagonistic to the pastoral establish- ment itself. What I have described here as the residual temporalities of social conduct that appear as ethical substances in the work of neoliberal governmentality, share important features with such subjugated knowledges: to do the work of neoliberal governmentality diffe- rently is to engage differently the sedimented memory of social time that is the ethi- cal substance of neoliberal governmentality, to engage this trace, not through a prac- tice of disaggregation and responsibilization, but through a reactivation and redep- loyment of the “unwilled collective reality” that is the fabric of social time. 50 Similarly, temporal counter-conducts within neoliberal governmentality might choose to practice differently certain tenets of neoliberal rule, specifically the mandate to assume agency, to responsibilize oneself and to orient one’s actions with- in a temporal horizon specifically conceived around one’s own enterprising conduct. In doing so, such conducts might operate upon the ethical substance defined by the residual docility of social time in a manner opposed to that which it was intended by power. Rather than inscribing an individualizing responsibility through the tempo- rality of personal conduct, neoliberal counter-conduct might undertake to transpose that responsibility elsewhere, to undertake the work of an unwilled conduct, of not acting, or withholding agency, of refusing to project one’s conduct into the opportu- nistic temporal horizons that characterize the entrepreneurial outlook—the initiative to which rich dad inspired us. The temporal counter-conducts of neoliberalism 49 Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, 8. 50 Foucault, Security, Territory, Population, 207. Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality 77 might, instead of shaping new temporalities around the radical responsibilizing of one’s own conduct, remobilize the subjugated memory of poor dad’s unique pen- chant for the unwilled life, recovering the capacity for inaction, irresponsibility and the refusal to seek out opportunity. Indeed, it is possible that such moments of coun- ter-conduct punctuate the everyday lives of individuals in contemporary neoliberal societies. An illuminating example comes from the rising psycho-social phenomenon of procrastination—a cresting lifestyle affliction affecting larger numbers every year and garnering around itself an ever more verbose clinical discourse and practice, suggests some ways in which exhortations to self-responsibilization might provoke unique counter-conducts. Procrastination, recent studies have shown, is increasingly evident in public and private life, ever more present in the lives of students, spouses, taxpayers, politicians and professionals.51 In a 2007 study published in Psychological Bulletin, Piers Steel describes the growing prevalence of procrastination: among the general population, 15%-20% consider themselves procrastinators, while among col- lege students the figure is much higher, reaching 75%, almost 50% of whom procras- tinate “consistently and problematically.”52 Within the clinical literature on procras- tination, the phenomenon is defined in strictly utilitarian terms: “procrastination is most often considered to be the irrational delay of behavior,” where rationality en- tails “choosing a course of action despite expecting that it will not maximize your utilities, that is, your interests, preferences, or goals of both a material (e.g., money) and a psychological (e.g., happiness) nature.”53 Indeed, procrastination has become a growing topic in the self-help literature category, described in books with suggestive titles such as Do It Now: Breaking the Procrastination Habit, 54 and The Procrastination Workbook: Your Personalized Program for Breaking Free from the Patterns That Hold You Back;55 The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play,56 and The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now.57 The power of procrastination erupts from deep within. It often masquerades as a friend. “Let it wait,” we hear ourselves say, “for when you feel rested, you‘ll fly A description of the procrastinator’s disposition is offered: 51 Piers Steel, “The Nature of Procrastination: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review of Quintessential Self-Regulatory Failure” Psychology Bulletin, 133, 1 (2007): 65–94. 52 Ibid., 65. 53 Ibid., 66. 54 William Knaus, Do It Now: Breaking the Procrastination Habit, revised edition (New York: Wiley, 1997). 55 Ibid. 56 Neil Fiore, The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, revised edition (New York: Tarcher, 2007). 57 Rita Emmet, The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now (New York: Walker & Company, 2000). Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78. 78 through these tasks to create a tomorrow that all will envy.” This is one of those procrastination paradoxes, where a soothing idea has hidden barbs. You feel re- lief when you think you can later gain command over what you currently don’t want to do. The barb is found in practicing a negative pattern of retreat. When you procrastinate you needlessly postpone, delay, or put off a relevant activity until another day or time. When you procrastinate, you always substitute an al- ternative activity for the relevant one. The alternative activity may be almost as timely or important as the one you put off. But more likely, it will be irrelevant, such as daydreaming instead of writing a report. 58 58 Knaus, 8. In closing, and by way of illustration, I offer procrastination as just one opening into the wider question of the contemporary practice of temporal counterconduct within the context of neoliberal governmentality. It is possible to read the choice to “let it wait,” so antithetical to the rich dad’s swaggering self-responsibility, as a specific ambivalence within the production of the neoliberal subject as a self-producing sub- ject. The unwilling of procrastination calls back to the unwilled realities of duration- al temporality, cultivated in the collectivist time of social governance, and in the do- cile time of the disciplinary society, here worked differently, mobilized as a day- dream, against the writing of reports.
49. Elena - March 9, 2010

This paragraph from the above article, is the key to what I am trying to understand. Cult members already have this “disposition” when they join the cult and giving their “self” up to the institution is just one small step ahead that is done “willingly” against their own lives, development and humanity.

The neoliberal status quo has already established a condition of unconscious submission in the people and when they join the cult they are looking for freedom from this condition but since they do not know any other option, they quickly submit to the continuation of the submission within a highly “protected” environment. “Protected” in that they “square their lives with the cult” and do not have to solve anything as the neoliberal state had begun to implant while at the same time continue to work, work, work as if they were doing so out of their own free will. The paradox is perfect for the cult because the member knows they are making effort, they are making more effort than they have ever made, but never quite understand why that effort has no gratifying effect for themselves while the guru swims in their laurels. THAT phenomenon is justified within the cult by the premise that the individual must not work looking for a benefit if he is aspiring to spiritual redemption! So the members labour for a lifetime, harder and harder each day and get used to disappearing in the act without ever claiming the benefit of their work. The level of self sacrifice is tantamount. The tragedy is that the self-sacrifice is literal and ends in suicide. The extreme members of cults have already proved that outcome. Those who don’t commit suicide and manage to eventually leave, know that they invested on an illusion and severed themselves from humanity, not only psychologically but economically. THAT separation from humanity, the justification of acts against regular society is what makes cults dangerously antisocial. They are the result of authoritarian forms of government that have unconsciously “subjected” the people so strongly that when they choose to become absolutely helpless subjects within a cult, they are convinced that they are making the one and only act of freedom in their lives. It is not more tragic, because tragedy can’t get worse than that!

“The solution proposed to the problem of too much liberalism was, as Donzelot has in his genealogical analysis of the welfare state, the production, through state programs, of new social solidarities and new collectivist units.29 Through the technology of welfare, the state assumed a function described by the French legal theorist Charles Gide as the “visible expression of the invisible bond”—an instrument for the fostering of a normative moral order amid conditions of social disintegration resulting from the atomizing effects of industrialization.30
In his L’invention du Social, (1984) Donzelot traces social government to a specific set of policy debates and legislative initiatives that developed in France during the nineteenth century. With an increasingly militant labor movement and the incipient threat of socialism, liberal legislators sought policies that would mitigate antagonism between labor and capital without mandating too radical an agenda of social reform. The resulting “social rights” legislation was a specific instrument of social government meant to foster solidarity, both among workers and between labor and
capital more generally, as a means of ensuring social integration while blunting the specific indictment of the social order emerging from the socialist camp. Appropriating key Durkheimian themes, Donzelot describes the welfare state as one in which “this concept of solidarity serves to define not only the framework but also the specific mode of state intervention, one which affects the forms of the social bond rather than the structure of society itself.”

50. Elena - March 9, 2010

Dear ACLU Supporter,

Check out the ACLU’s full-page New York Times ad calling on President Obama to stand firm on 9/11 civilian trials.

You were one of the first ACLU supporters to sign our petition urging President Obama to reject fear-mongering and stand by Attorney General Holder’s principled decision to try the 9/11 defendants in federal courts.

So, I want to make sure you’ve seen the attention-getting, full-page ad that the ACLU ran in Sunday’s New York Times.

It’s just the beginning of our all-out campaign to make sure President Obama stands up to fear-mongering politicians who are pressuring him to abandon the decision of Attorney General Holder to try those accused of the 9/11 attacks in federal court.

We need your continued help to impact one of the most significant decisions of the Obama presidency. That’s why we need you to do three things right now:

Call the White House at (202) 456-1414 to urge President Obama to hold firm and keep these prosecutions in federal court—where they belong.

Ask 10 friends to take action! We need every freedom-loving person to take action today. Please ask your friends to contact the White House today.

Support the ACLU as we mobilize people all across the country to take action before the president makes his final decision.

The trials of the defendants alleged to have had roles in the September 11 attacks are the most important terrorism trials in the history of our nation, and the world will be watching to see whether we stand up for due process, justice and the rule of law.

It would be a disaster to hold these trials in military commissions that have a record of failure and delay. Since September 11, 2001, more than 300 defendants have been convicted and sentenced in federal criminal courts for terrorism-related offenses—while only three defendants have been convicted and sentenced by military commissions.

You were one of the first to act. Now, I urge you to keep acting to encourage the president to stand strong in his administration’s decision to hold the 9/11 trials in federal court.

Thank you for standing with us.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

51. ton - March 9, 2010

“I much enjoy a good argument but you don’t give many. You get upset and tell me to eat pie!”

excuse me for upsetting you…. it takes two ‘sides’ to have an argument and i’ve always thought that it’s a shame that ‘sides’ are taken…. there are too many divisions already, not enough harmony, and someone who likes to argue for the sake of arguing only adds to the problem…. rarely a solution. such is life. personally i don’t particularly like to argue, but i think you understand and acknowledge my point of view anyway, so i won’t belabor it. i apologize for interrupting the wonderful and ‘penetrating research’ you’re involved in here, you seem to enjoy your own company anyway, so i leave you to it.

52. Elena - March 10, 2010

Have fun ton! I am definitely enjoying looking at the problem from a wider perspective than the purely personal one and beginning to understand what, how and why things happened the way they did.

Thanks for stopping by!

53. Elena - March 11, 2010

Another paragraph from the article in post 48.

This is all related to cult mentality and adjustment.

“As such, duration, measured by the rhythms of military training, the educational calendars of the public schools or the pay schedules imposed by the wage system, has no specific beginning and no end, and thus inscribes no agency or telos—no will. For the worker, the prisoner, the student or the soldier, the performance of a task is ongoing and often without purpose.
Temporality itself has been socialized.”

This particular sentence is of fundamental importance. HERE is where we begin to see how the individual of our time looses the connection with his own will. People work because they have to work but it’s the instinctive center what is involved in the transaction with minor involvement of intellectual or emotional effort and little or no creativity. The human being becomes a body for sale, a producer of things, it is itself made an object. People work to make money but not to develop themselves and their society. Just to eat, survive and make someone else rich. The problem is of course the absurdity of the transaction but beyond the economic absurdity is the human absurdity. WORK must develop the individual and his community. To work is above all a creative endeavor. Without the creativity it turns against the individual, reduces us to automatons which is what most cult members already are by the time we arrive in the cult. In the cult, members simply add a supposed spiritual ingredient to the transaction and continue behaving like the same automatons making money for the guru justified by the now so called “spirituality” of the transaction.

These are the facts and they are pretty obvious and easy to verify! But what matters from another angle is the “dream”. The things that make dream! The ideals that inspire people. Those rest in the heart of each human being and they are powerful. It is time to wake them up to real life! Creativity cannot be the private property of a few!

Back to the article:

Of course, the docile conduct into which the solidarities of social government induced its members did not originate with social rights themselves, nor did they appear with the normalized social units into which such individuals were adjusted.
Such modes of conduct, and the specific temporalities through which they were
enacted, were for two centuries already being quietly insinuated into the conducts of
modern people through those disciplinary institutions Foucault so well documented
in Discipline and Punish—the schools, prisons, hospitals and military barracks. In-
deed, there is a specific link between the forms of social government by which risk
was transposed from individual conduct to the collective responsibility of the social
totality and the docile temporality of the disciplinary institution. Foucault has de-
scribed the specific manner in which the production of docility is accomplished
through technologies of temporalization, and specifically with the deployment of
“duration” as a temporal frame.
Better adjustment of the worker to the normalized conditions of
production reduced the risk of accidents—a key governmental objective of welfar-
ism, yet one that substituted a collectivist, institutional responsibility for the indi-
vidual culpability for output and risks. As such, life under social government was
characterized by a certain docility of conduct under the normalized conditions of an
engineered solidarity—a “unwilled collective reality” in which individual agency
was itself no longer willed, but instead suspended within a socialized horizon of ex-
pectation, futurity and temporality.
The emergence of durational time is often tied to the dissemination of clock-
time in the labor process.
As a durational act, the temporality of an action is
not bound to its immediate outcome—the risks it entails—which have become re-
mote from the actor, incorporated into the institutional totality within which it is ex-
ecuted. The time of the docile body (and by extension, the time of socialized risk) is
measured simply as “duration”—as abstract, homogenous time, whose ultimate mo-
tivation and endpoint is “unwilled,” remote from the responsibilities of the actor,
fixed in the remote planning schemes of the institution.

Ibid., 412.
Donzelot, “Pleasure in Work,” 255.
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, 151.
E. P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism.” Past and Present, 38
Linked with a wider rigidification of the intrinsic volun-
Binkley: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality

tarism and spontaneity that characterizes personal and social life, the notion of dura-
tion is, in historical literature on temporality, associated with the reification of the
natural rhythm and meter of everyday practice, specifically for the purposes of a
more thorough exploitation of the productive capacity invested in the temporality of
the act.40 E. P. Thompson’s well-known study of this process uncovers the manner in
which a task-oriented temporality takes over and displaces traditional temporal sen-
sibilities tuned to the rhythms of natural processes, such as the seasonal regularities
of agriculture.41 However, durational temporality is not simply a medium for the ex-
ploitation of labor: it is a means through which labor power is produced and sus-
tained as a force, both within the individual and within the social unit as a whole.42
Foucault provides such an account in his detailed discussion of the produc-
tion of docility in the incipient institutional temporalities of early modern societies.
He describes the inscription of durational temporality as a positive operation, one
that entails the decomposition of modes of conduct into administratively discreet
moments, and their simultaneous recomposition in the sequence of a disciplinary
practice. Foucault’s account of the “temporal elaboration of the act” describes the
precise manner in which an increasingly refined demarcation and segmentation of
temporal units takes place in the marching instructions given to French foot soldiers
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, wherein the simple step of the soldier is
subjected to an increasingly precise division that expands from one to four basic
movements in the course of a century.

Thompson shows how the disciplining of work-time functioned as much to fashion
the basis for collectivist opposition to capitalist exploitation as to ensure the condi-
tions for the extraction of profits from the bodies or workers. Similarly, durational
time is, as Donzelot has shown, a mechanism of social integration and for the forma-
tion of unwilled collective realities and de-responsibilized conducts, wherein risk is
socialized and the agency of individuals is transposed from to the horizons of indi-
vidual actions to those of institutional norms.
“The act is broken down into its elements;
the position of the body, limbs, articulations is defined; to each movement are as-
signed a direction, an aptitude, a duration; their order of succession is prescribed.
Time penetrates the body and with it all the meticulous controls of power.”44
This segmentation is not without aim, but neither is it specifically teleological.
It is not completed with the exploitation of labor for profit, but is instead ongoing
and productive, seeking as much to produce labor power as a permanent potential

(1967): 56-97 and Evitar Zerubavel, Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life
(Berkeley, CA: University of California Press), 1985.
Zerubavel, 2-5.
Thompson, 61.
Foucault, Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, 159.
Ibid., 151.
Ibid., 152.
Foucault Studies, No. 6, pp. 60-78.

of the individual and to articulate this potential together with the ongoing function-
ing of the factory, as to secure its exploitation.45 Foucault describes the production of
durational temporality: for the French foot soldier of the eighteenth century, bodily
practice was reintegrated into a new docile temporality—the military march—which
is directed to a new endpoint or goal, characterized by the general enhancement of
productive forces, both for the individual himself, and for the institution of which he
is a member. In other words, durational time acquires meaning as a permanent and
ongoing exercise. “Exercise, having become an element in the political technology of
the body and of duration, does not culminate in a beyond, but tends toward a sub-
jection that has never reached its limit.”46
Keep working, boys, but the sooner you forget about needing a paycheck, the
easier your adult life will be. Keep using your brain, work for free, and soon your
mind will show you ways of making money far beyond what I could ever pay
you. You will see things that other people never see. Opportunities right in front
of their noses. Most people never see these opportunities because they’re looking
for money and security, so that’s all they get. The moment you see one opportu-
nity, you will see them for the rest of your life.
As such, duration, measured by the
rhythms of military training, the educational calendars of the public schools or the
pay schedules imposed by the wage system, has no specific beginning and no end,
and thus inscribes no agency or telos—no will. For the worker, the prisoner, the stu-
dent or the soldier, the performance of a task is ongoing and often without purpose.
Temporality itself has been socialized.

54. Elena - March 11, 2010

The ideas behind this paragraph are wonderful!! We will work on this for years to come!! These authors understand a lot of what needs to be understood about history, the individual and society, society and the individual. With exercises such as these, people can be both deprogrammed and reprogrammed! That’s what is so dangerous about cults! That people are reprogrammed but against their own self and society. This is basically an exercise on non identification with the institutionalized formulas but the possibilities it has are richer than the ones presented here. One option is the deprogramming against the purely instinctive result of the job but another is that of disconnecting the work from utility and connecting to the creative realm.

Reconnecting to the creative realm, that is what is needed, that will bring healing to the very sick society of our times.


From the article:

It was precisely this durational temporal orientation, the unwilled faithfulness to the rat race of a salaried job, that rich dad took as the object of the ethical work to which he exhorted his young student. He chastised this durational disposition for the flaccid spirit it exuded, but also for the lack of reflective awareness, the
truncation of the horizons of economic action it imposed. The way out was first through the renunciation of the mind- numbing comforts supplied by such conduct, from which would follow a revitalization of one’s willingness to confront risk, and a vast expansion of the horizon of economic opportunity. One of rich dad’s lessons involved inducing the two ten-year olds to work without pay for several weekends, under the argument that the experience would teach them that salaried labor reflected a lazy and dull-minded faith in a structured reward system, and that the true reward of work lay beyond the narrow rewards of the wage system. Rich dad explained his rationale:

The awakening intended by this exercise was one that was meant to turn the two boys to work on themselves—on the traces and residues, the inscribed habits and dispositions remaining from an earlier deployment of a collective social reality, and the displacement of responsibility and risk it entailed. The social, durational temporalities that are the residue of docility and durational time can be identified, not just in the generational rift between poor dads and their sons, but in the historical sedimentations accumulated in the bodies of those sons themselves, and in the readers to whom Kiyosaki appeals—a body that, as Foucault wrote in his essay Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, can be understood as the repository of historical inscriptions, or as he put it, the “inscribed surface of events.” Indeed, it is in this work that the ambivalence between the institutional forms of self-government, and the individual practices of self-rule, or subjection and subjectification, becomes operative.

55. Elena - March 11, 2010

The conclusions of the author are weak but very helpful. Procrastination as a symptom of the malady can also be explained by the lack of motivation. In a world without creativity people are not inspired to work. No effort is good enough. The job will get done, the money will get home to pay for the basic needs but there is no inspiration. Boredom ensues and is numbed with television and other distractions that will reduce the capacity to act even further. It is in that state that millions of people are joining cults. The cult offers an ideal, an inspiration, a hope. And kills it as soon as the individual steps inside but he’s too sick to realize that the cure he’s chosen is worse than the malady!

56. Elena - March 11, 2010

This joy,
this joy of being
this joy of life
is so deep
and so light
that even your absence
(dear, dear, dear friend),
is fine!

Be well, where ever you are.
May love reach you every day of your life!

57. Elena - March 11, 2010

“The emergence of durational time is often tied to the dissemination of clocktime in the labor process.
As a durational act, the temporality of an action is not bound to its immediate outcome—the risks it entails—which have become
remote from the actor, incorporated into the institutional totality within which it is executed. The time of the docile body (and by extension, the time of socialized risk) is measured simply as “duration”—as abstract, homogenous time, whose ultimate motivation and endpoint is “unwilled,” remote from the responsibilities of the actor, fixed in the remote planning schemes of the institution.”

This must be kept in mind for future reference.

58. Elena - March 11, 2010

Every day with every dollar, you choose to be rich, poor or middle class.
Rich Dad Poor Dad is a best selling book on financial advice written by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Originally self-published in 1997 as supporting material for Kiyosaki’s fi-nancial advice lectures, and later picked up by Warner Business Books in 2000, the text relates a rich allegorical narrative about the mental hard wiring required for financial success, and the concealed “ways of thinking” practiced by the wealthy. Kiyosaki’s method is comparative: he tells of his childhood relationships with two fathers; one a biological parent, the other a friend’s father who undertook the task of young Robert’s financial education. Each father presented radically distinct outlooks on financial life. His own father, the poor dad, was a government man, head of the Department of Education for the state of Hawaii who, in spite of his impressive qualifications and career accomplishments, remained “poor” his whole life, snarled in a plodding, credentialist faith in institutional advancement as a slow ladder of bureaucratic hierarchy. The rich dad, on the other hand, was a self-made millionaire with an eighth grade education who held a deep distain for the naïve approach to wealth generation practiced by the majority of Americans—one that conceived of earned reward in terms of educational credentials and the patient advance to higher salaried positions within a single firm. Throughout the book, poor dad’s dour lectures on the virtues of patience, loyalty and circumspection were contrasted with rich dad’s exhortations to swashbuckling fiscal adventurism, self-interest and

Taken from: The Work of Neoliberal Governmentality:
Temporality and Ethical Substance in the Tale of Two Dads
Sam Binkley


In these four sentences we see the two faces of neoliberalism:

1….snarled in a plodding, credentialist faith in institutional advancement as a slow climb up the ladder of bureaucratic hierarchy.

2. ….the naïve approach to wealth generation practiced by the majority of Americans—one that conceived of earned reward in terms of educational credentials and the patient advance to higher salaried positions within a single firm.

3. ….poor dad’s dour lectures on the virtues of patience, loyalty and circumspection

4. …contrasted with rich dad’s exhortations to swashbuckling fiscal adventurism, self-interest and self-responsibility.

There are seven aspects worth exploring here:

1. A bureaucratic hierarchy
2. Earned rewards in terms of educational credentials
3. Patient advance to higher salaried positions within a single firm
4. An attitude of patience, loyalty and circumspection
5. swashbuckling fiscal adventurism
6. self interest
7. self-responsibility

The poor and the rich dad are two sides of the same coin but the rich dad is a new “product” of neoliberalism which wouldn’t have been possible with the capital linked to traditional nobility and “clan” mentality of the burgeousy.

In the Fellowship of Friends aka Pathway to Presence, a cult based on the Fourth Way teachings by Gurdjieff, with a religious non political agenda, we find the same structures but distributed differently. The first four characteristics remain but somewhat modified:

1. The bureaucratic hierarchy is severely pressed on and the main authority figure, the guru, falls into the category of king-God while the inner circle that accompanies him falls way below his belt but nevertheless performs the hierarchic duties of administration necessary for his support, not only economically but psychologically. They are not only bound to the guru instinctively but intellectually and emotionally. Not only politically but religiously.

2. Earned rewards in terms of educational credentials.
In the cult almost everyone is “naked” when they arrive! Most remain without enough credentials to ever participate on equal grounds to those in the inner circle, but a few are chosen by the guru to build up his ‘idealized’ world. Some are chosen for his personal sexual gratification, the rest are used as middlemen between the members and himself in the different areas of cult life.

3. Patient advance to higher salaried positions within a single firm.
This attitude is definitely much implanted already in the mentality of cult members. The single firm becomes the single cult to which life is sacrificed with blind devotion. The economic reward no longer matters, what the cult member is looking for is approval from the guru. Any gesture from the guru towards them makes their day. No one else counts. No one else is high enough to merit attention. The guru and the Cult become the member’s platonic life and they can never reach either one. The guru is never accessible in full being and the cult is a never ending endeavor.

4. An attitude of patience, loyalty and circumspection
For ever and ever and ever also in the cult!

5. swashbuckling fiscal adventurism
This is what the cult incarnates towards regular society. It, the cult, is the rich dad that the members are unable to become! They fit the mold of for ever serving somebody else and justify it by making a religion of it! The “sublimize” their own inability to exist by sacrificing themselves to the King-God: the guru. Regular society is emptied of economic, cultural or authoritarian value.

6. self-interest
For the cult but not for the member. The member must give up every trace of self interest in his spiritual search. Their will is used to sacrifice themselves so literally that suicide in cults is a natural outcome. The member’s identity is disfigured, like in the neoliberal ideal, the masses are indiscriminate groups of people that everyone hates, especially those in power.

7. self-responsibility
Definitely! No one but the individual is responsible which is why in the end they’ll commit suicide instead of killing others. A well “cooked” cult can have no other ending! A half cooked cult will maintain the “sacrificing” status quo milking as many members as it can for as long as they are able to produce and letting go of them as soon as they become non-productive. It is not interested in people who cannot respond for themselves. Like in neoliberalism, the children and the old are given minimum to no attention.

59. Elena - March 11, 2010



Foucault Studies

© Antti Tietäväinen, Miikka Pyykkönen, & Jani Kaisto 2008
ISSN: 1832‐5203
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63‐73, January 2008


Globalization and Power ‐ Governmentalization of Europe? An
Interview with William Walters.
Antti Tietäväinen, University of Tampere
Miikka Pyykkönen, University of Jyväskylä
Jani Kaisto, University of Jyväskylä

Associate Professor of Political Science and Political Economy at the Carleton
University, Canada, William Walters is one of the leading researchers of
governmentality in the globalising world. His recent works, Global
Governmentality (edited with Wendy Larner, 2004) and Governing Europe (with
Jens Henrik Haahr, 2005), concern the different kinds, forms and rationalities of
international governance. Walters and his associates refuse to take international
institutions and forms of power as given, but carefully follow the development of
different genealogical processes. Governmentality does not mean any universal
form of power, but occurs differently in different contexts. For example, the
European Union is not a product of evolutionary development; rather, Walters
approaches it as a heterogeneous entity, formulated through – at least partly –
contradictory practices. The European Union does not have a direction of
development that could be known in advance. The following interview was held
in September 2006 in Tampere, Finland where William Walters was a guest
lecturer in the summer school of the Finnish Doctoral Program in Social Sciences

Q: Your latest texts have concerned the usefulness of a governmentality approach in
analysing the globalising world and its manifold phenomena. By focusing on the dispersion of government you have tried to grasp the contemporary transformations of power from the perspective in which the state is not the necessary centre of all ʺart of governmentʺ. What do you think are the major benefits of this concept?

WW: Well, I could of course mention the many things that I found attractive in this
literature, but if I confine the answer to the area of international affairs, I think a big
part of its promise could be thought about in terms of a wonderful essay by the
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63-73.
French historian Paul Veyne, “Foucault Revolutionizes History”. Veyne argues that
Foucault’s great revolution conceptually is to place practices at the centre of analysis.
With the great majority of social scientists there is a focus on objects and subjects.
They are always asking: What do these subjects do? Why did they do it? Why do
states act like this? How does the economy function and how do societies function?
Veyne says that what they neglect, what they fail to see is the world of practices that
constitute subjects and objects. The subjects and objects that social sciences are often
obsessed with are themselves the effects of practices. And Foucault’s innovation is to
place the practices first, to reveal in very concrete and empirical terms how practices
are constitutive for objects and subjects. By doing that he is able to denaturalize and
historicize whole sets of things that are simply assumed to be stable entities: Citizens,
individuals, states, corporations, parties, and classes, just to mention a few.
There is great potential in pursuing that kind of insight within the fields of
international politics and globalization studies. We could then begin to see the state
as an effect of practices rather than a given, self‐evident entity. For instance, rather
than focusing on development as either a policy or process, one would see
development as a space of practices or as a dispositif – a whole complex of practices
and knowledges. One would then ask: how does the emergence of this thing called
“development” give rise to particular knowledges of states? How does it give rise to
particular accounts of international space? How does it encourage or produce
particular ways for states to act, to position themselves, understand themselves and
others, advance and contest particular forms of politics.
I think that some of these insights are emerging from other theoretical
directions. For instance, Judith Butler’s ideas about performativity are proving
helpful in thinking about the ways in which states and international affairs are
enacted. There are different pathways along which to move international relations in
a more constructionist direction. I would see Foucault as having developed one of
the most, for my purposes, useful and significant set of insights for that kind of
enterprise. He changes the way in which one thinks about development. As Arturo
Escobar has shown in his book Encountering Development, the work on the question of
international development, people have more recently began to ask, how might civil
society and global civil society be considered as technologies in their own right or
how might they be understood as sets of practices? How are they particular
territorializations of international and transnational space?

Q: Many people argue that international networks or international organisations like the
European Union are displacing or replacing nation‐states, which earlier were seen as the
ultimate organisers of social forces and networks? Do you see this kind of approach fruitful?

WW: I am not sure if it is very productive to formulate the question in that way.
There is actually a strand in international relations of this way of thinking that asks:
is the European Union a sort of supranational future in the sense that it ultimately
Tietäväinen, Pyykkönen, & Kaisto: Globalization and Power
absorbs the nation state into something bigger. At least that is one possible way that
Europe has been thought about – often by people who want to problematize or to
politicize European integration in respect of a European superstate. So, the question
is certainly valid in that kind of context. But it does not seem to me a very likely
scenario. It seems that most of the time when we are looking at these international
organisations they are not in the business of replacing states. It is more a question of
how they reorganize and link states in new ways. It is not a kind of evolution from
one state to another. This kind of evolutionary approach includes a problematic
assumption. Genealogy as a method or an attitude tries continually to expose these
kinds of evolutionary and teleological assumptions that work in many different areas
and in different ways. And one of those assumptions is about the progression of
political forms and spaces – from a world of small communities and localities like
towns and villages to nation‐states and then on to to superstates and regions. I think
Foucault’s idea of governmentality should not commit us to any assumptions about
the necessary direction for political and social change, so there is no particular reason
why we should assume that such states are merging and that these larger entities are
rising. Instead we might take a more empirical attitude and ask what exactly do these
organisations do. In many cases what they are doing is harmonizing the relations
between states or regulating transactions between states so that perhaps extended
economic and social spaces become more viable.

Q: Let’s speak of the development of what Blair and Anthony Giddens call the ‘third way’
and what Nikolas Rose analyses in his texts of the late 1990s as a continuum of the process
that Foucault calls ‘the governmentalization of state’. How do you see that this development
influences the traditional trichotomy of the state, economy and civil society and how is this
governmentalization of the state perspective possible to adopt in observing the EU?

WW: The prominence of community kinds of themes comes partly as a reaction to a
certain perception of the limits or excessiveness of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism of
the 1980s turns out to raise a whole set of problems in its own right, so that many
things bundled under the heading of the ‘third way’ or community seem to be
attempts to rectify some of these excesses without going back to the strong state of
social democracy. So we have all this talk about partnership, third sector,
communities, networks, participation and those sorts of things. At one point Nikolas
Rose talks about ethopolitics, which I think is a more useful, a more general heading
under which to think of many of these things associated with the ‘third way’,
because it emphasizes that there is kind of governmentalization of a new kind of
territory, which partly explains the prominence that things like values or community
came to have , all of these kinds of warm words. These warm words like community
and individual have become central to political dialogue today. So it is a sort of
ethopolitics, a domain that has become governmentalized: the promotion of
community, the promotion of trust. Consider certain attempts by social scientists to
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63-73.
quantify these things: the social capital movement, with its theories and policies,
seems to connect to this theme of ethopolitics, because it says that prior policies and
approaches have largely ignored trust and association, and it is a way of bringing
them in. It is partly by saying, we can quantify them, measure them, we can prove
that they have beneficial economic and social effects. So the idea is that the more
trust we have and more associations we have, the less crime, the less unemployment,
the less unhappiness we have.


Well, it looks like the idea of “community” is not as absurd and rare as it was treated by the fofblog people towards my ideas. In fact it seems to be right on the spot of what is of importance in the world today.

I think that the context in which Foucault is talking about the
governmentalization of the state is one of an argument with people of a more
conventional bent. Perhaps he was thinking of Habermas’s thesis about the
“stateization of society” or “colonization of the lifeworld”; the idea that the state is
extending its power ever further into the pores and capillaries of society. So in a
certain sense Foucault is being a bit polemical or playing off that kind of image. On
the contrary, governmentalization of state is not a process that originates within the
state, but has more to do with the way that the state becomes connected to the
networks, techniques and programs of government that are in a sense already there.
The phenomenon of social insurance offers a nice example of this
governmentalization of the state. It reveals how the state will be reinvented
according to the diagram of the insurance method, a method that long predates the
existence of the welfare state.
So I think Foucault’s idea was to show how the state is remade on the basis of
an encounter with these already existing, or already in some way developed
techniques and practices of governing. In a way the state co‐opts them. It might be
the question of state officials wilfully appropriating them, copying them, borrowing
them or modifying them by making them universal, as in the case of social insurance.
Or it might be a case of these techniques being forced upon the state by political
struggles by political actors who demand that the state must take on some of these
functions. You know, it is necessary to consider the field of political struggles in
order to understand how the state becomes governmentalized and then becomes a
kind of site that will coordinate these practices, rationalize them, perhaps strengthen
them, spread them – and the outcome is a new kind of state, a governmental state, a
social state.
In the book Governing Europe we talked about the governmentalization of
Europe, which is again, and among other things, a way of distinguishing our project
from the mainstream of EU studies where the theme of the Europeanization of
government or state has become so popular. Of course, there is a large literature on
the history of the idea of Europe, but to speak of the governmentalization of Europe
is to think about the way in which it becomes possible to identify or to name
something as Europe, which is a very political act, because what Monnet and others
started to call Europe is obviously not Europe, but a particular combination or club
of states who want to speak in the name of Europe, as though they are its destiny or
embodiment.. But to speak of the governmentalization of Europe is to consider are
Tietäväinen, Pyykkönen, & Kaisto: Globalization and Power
the practices, technologies or techniques that made it possible at a certain time for an
organization to govern key dimensions of social and economic life in the name of
Europe. So Europe – which has long been an idea, a geographical idea, cultural idea,
civilization idea – at certain point begins to acquire a much more positive existence.
And here I mean positive in the sense of positivity, not in the normative sense. It is a
positivity because it becomes a domain of statistics, calculation and projections ‐ the
object and the subject of a whole range of policies. The governmentalization of the
Europe is the process of making Europe practical.
It is important to stress that the governmentalization of Europe is not a
singular process. It is not an evolutionary process of national economies becoming
more integrated, which is one kind of interdependence theory version of European
integration. Rather it would be about identifying discontinuous trajectories, and sites
and events, each of which culminates in or gives rise to certain Europe effects. So, for
instance, you might want to look at the history of thinking about and
experimentation with common markets or customs’ unions. That is an entire history
in its own right, the way in which customs’ unions were used as a practice of nation
building, for instance, in Germany. All of that provides a background to and helps to
account for the emergence of certain technologies of governing Europe being
applied in other spaces, at other times, at other levels, for other reasons, but
nevertheless it comes into existence as a certain technique which – by the 1950s – can
be applied and taken up in that particular context. So there is a genealogy in a sense
of European integration. But if we fast forward, as it were, to the Europe of
Schengenland, you know, it is not in any way a kind of moment that you can read off
extrapolate from that earlier history, there is nothing inevitable about it, it is not
simply the result of spillover. Whatever Schengenland is or whatever wherever this
area of freedom, security and justice is, it finds its particular conditions of emergence,
its particular practices, its particular political opportunity in quite different
circumstances from quite different places and it requires its own kind of history, its
own genealogy of its particular techniques and ideas involved in creating this area of
freedom, security and justice . So again when we were talking about the
governmentalization of Europe, I do not know if we were clear enough about it in
Governing Europe, but it is not a single line. It is more a question of these different
lines and how they overlap.
How, then, do these recent developments affect the traditional trichotomy of
state, economy and civil society? It is a common idea in political science that our
political space can always be divided in terms of this trichotomy. But I think that this
trichotomy is itself internal to certain liberal political discourse and one should not
essentialize it or think that these are somehow transcendent political categories. I
think it is more useful to attempt, especially when one is thinking about European
integration or global governance, to be empirical and say what are the different ways
in which political space or economic space are being imagined and classified and
acted on. One needs to ask what is a “region”. I tried to do that in a paper about
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63-73.
regionalism with Wendy Larner. Or one can refer to Andrew Barry’s work on
technological zones. The zone is a concept that becomes more and more common in
actual administrative discourse. For instance, governments talk about employment
zones. So one should ask what is a “zone” or what is a “network” or what is an
“area”, for example, this area of freedom, security and justice? How is an area
different from a territory? What is a sector? In all of these things it seems to me to be
more useful to analyse those things than to try to keep squeezing reality with all its
complexity and manifold aspects into this kind of pre‐given trichotomy, which is a
product of a particular historical moment. I think we have not paid enough attention
to the actual novel spaces and arrangements that are coming into existence and have
not asked what are the consequences of living with these kinds of things. Are they
politically useful or are they politically dangerous?
When you think of the governmentalization of the state, you consistently
think about the rise of the welfare state and welfareism in those terms. Does that
mean that we are facing the de‐governmentalization of the state today or is a sort of
ethopolitics, social capital and community schemes and all of these things, a
continuation of the governmentalization of the state? I think there are elements of
both. I mean there’s a kind of continuity in as much as the state tends to reinvents
itself by forging connections and instrumentalizing these other spaces and these
other projects. So there’s a sort of continuity there with the social project, the welfare
project. Except that the difference is that the aim is not to bring these directly into the
fold of the state, but rather keep them at a distance. So things are rather more
dispersed and decentralized. And it is not done in the name of the state. The image of
a big state is not a positive thing here. A big state is a bad thing. A community is a
good thing. So we will try to provide communities with resources or forge a
partnership with it. But there is not a degovernmentalization of the state in as much
as even when we have these most drastic schemes of privatisation – and this point is
made by many political economists – what follows is regulation. We have more and
more regulation, of private industries, for instance. So there are new kinds of
connections established between the state and these other sectors. It is very
important to study regulation and what is a regulatory state. Obviously the core
feature of what the European Union is about is regulation. This is a theme
emphasized by political scientists like Giandomenico Majone and also by Andrew
Barry, who has written extensively about the governmentality of Europe and

Q: When we normally talk about the governance in the European Union we refer to
European Union directives, which are hard labor–type legislative acts which require member
states to achieve a particular result. In your book, Governing Europe, you deal a lot with
the open method of coordination (OMC). The open method rests on soft law mechanisms such
as guidelines and indicators, benchmarking and sharing of best practices. This means that
there are no official sanctions for laggards. Rather, the methodʹs effectiveness relies on a form
Tietäväinen, Pyykkönen, & Kaisto: Globalization and Power
of peer pressure and naming and shaming, as no member state wants to be seen as the worst
in a given policy area. It seems to be a very interesting change at the field of modern

WW: One should be careful not to see the open method as any kind of evolutionary
framework, or future of international governance generally. Maybe the open method
comes into play in situations where you have already used binding agreements to
create extended economic and social spaces. So the EU is a good case of that: you
have a common market and unitary currency. The open method then operates in
relationship to the spaces and policies that already operate in that context. But if we
look somewhere else, we are probably going to see an even stronger push from some
of the major players like United States to enlist, say, South American countries in
new kinds of binding trade arrangements. The open method is one more expression
of governance, understood in political science sense: networks, dialogue and
coordination. Not that all things are inevitably moving in that direction. Again, if we
change the focus to other parts of the world, we often got violent politics in countries
like Mexico, we got trading arrangements, we got trade unionists who are still killed
by paramilitaries in different countries that are caught up in these struggles about
the future of their nations or constitution of their economies. And all of those things
are going on, right. If those battles are lost by the trade union and so on, and their
own economies are further liberalized, at some later point the open method may be
relevant there. But one should not see that as a smooth, bloodless or inevitable
process or anything like that.
I could not say how the balance between directives regulation and open
coordination has changed in recent years. I think one interesting line to pursue
would be to ask, what kind of assumptions lie behind this open method. I mean,
what does the open method as technique presume about the nature of states, nature
of economies and nature of regions ‐ how is it imagining those things? What kind of
world is it dealing with? One of its key motifs or themes seems to be that of
“learning”, a sort of ceaseless process of mutual learning. So, it seems to presume
governmental systems that are already set up and capable of more or less managing
themselves. It seems to presume that instead of organizing things around a strong
central authority that gives instructions or directives, we can have a regime that is
capable, to a large extent, of steering itself, that it can be constituted as a mutual
learning machine.
I think it would be interesting to relate the open method to Deleuze’s short
paper about control societies. The control society concept is usually used for thinking
about the transformations in domestic politics, for example, shifts in punishment –
from prisons to more open forms of control. But it would be interesting to think
about these logics of control at the level of interstate relations as well. Deleuze says
that one of the features of control is modulation. It is an excellent little essay that
opens up all sorts of things that have before been discussed as governance or the
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63-73.
network society, but I think it brings a slightly more critical edge to the idea of a
network society and also tries to do so, or should do so, in a way that avoids lot of
the evolutionary baggage of the idea of a network society.

Q: Could the open method of coordination be seen as in some way a violent technology, in
a way that it invites some of the actors to take part and leaves some others outside. Is there
some kind of process to that direction? Or what kind of actors can be invited?

WW: Of course this is an empirical question, but clearly it’s a kind of process that
selects. OMC kind of affirms the right of certain actors to speak on behalf of certain
sectors or certain populations. And as you say it, it includes some and keeps others
out of the game. When I was thinking of the question of violence, it was more on the
lines of what was the kind of violence that took place and eventually cleared the
space in which this thing could operate. In a same way that the Enclosure movement
(forcible removal of peasants from the land) made possible some certain forms of
capitalism.I think one could describe a traditional method of European Union as
centralized, but again it is a question of context, because if we go back to the creation
of the common market and we read the reflections of Monnet and the others who
were the intellectuals of the common market. Then, from their perspective this was a
promise of the kind of technology that would de‐concentrate or ward off the
possibility of a dangerous concentration of power. Because, after all, this goes back to
the context of European integration, and how it takes place in the shadow of World
War II, and in the shadow of fascism particularly and communism as well. They see
the common market as something that is going to consolidate principles and
procedures that will stop economic power for one thing becoming too concentrated,
because competition policy is one of its prominent features. It is also supposed to
ward off the possibility of one state’s becoming hegemonic or excercizing imperial
power over the European space. So the common market itself was seen from that
perspective as something that will keep monopolization and centralization away.

Q: In Governing Europe (2005, with Jens Henrik Haahr) you write that in addition to
Monnet’s liberal, federalist and functionalist dreams of Europe, the twentieth century saw
also authoritarian projects of European integration. By the latter you mean Europe perceived
in terms of an “extended economic space” onto which the Nazi dream of German economic
autarky, self‐sufficiency and racial supremacy was projected. Is it possible to compare these
two projects from a governmentality perspective? What are the differences between the
problematizations and discourses of German‐centered and liberal European integration?

WW: We drew our perspective from Keith Tribe’s brilliant book, Strategies of
Economic Order. Tribe has a chapter about the fascist’s conception of European
economic order and the centrality of principles of racial hierarchy and economic self‐
sufficiency. And he shows how there is a governmentality in this, right down to the
Tietäväinen, Pyykkönen, & Kaisto: Globalization and Power
scale of how these different races, as the Nazis conceived them, were to have
different levels of calorie intakes. Calculations about food, that a typical German
would require – this many calories in a week – whereas the Jews and the Slavs
could be given the absolutely bare minimum of food. The idea was to structure this
economic system partly along those kinds of lines. There were still to be markets but
they were structured, and often in a subordinate relationship according to these
governing principles of race and nation. We thought it was useful to offer such
observations about authoritarian mentalities of rule as something of a provocation to
European Union studies and European integration theory, which say nothing about
that. The history of European integration tends to start from the 1950s in EU studies.
It is not something we do in the book. I think it would be useful to push further some
of the possible comparisons between these different ways of imaging different sorts
of integrated European space, because it would bring into better focus the liberal
and neo‐liberal nature of the European project. As long the focus is only on European
institutions and the history of the European Union, there is a lot we take for granted.
One could compare the liberal project with the authoritarian conception of integrated
Europe. We can identify some of the peculiarities of the practices that are associated
with or underpin the European community or European Union.

Q: Giorgio Agamben has written that we can approach “refugee” as a somewhat
ontological and metaphorical figure of today’s biopower. How do you see the European Union
refugee regime’s discourse on refugees as outsiders relate to it?

WW: I found Agamben’s writing on this topic very interesting, because I think he
offers some concepts that are perhaps necessary or at least timely in a sense that they
deal with the fact of social orders in which there is a certain permanent exception,
and the ways in which certain populations find themselves in a kind of “in between”
status: ‘captured outside’. I mean the discourse of social exclusion and inclusion is
obviously very well established, it’s actually a part of official policy discourse in its
own, but I think Agamben is saying something a bit different about this notion of
being captured outside: it is not simply an inside or an outside: there is actually a
space; he talks about it in different ways, but the ‘camp’ is one of the names for the
space that is neither fully inside nor outside, but a kind of space in its own right.
What I was saying about transit overlaps with that. I do not want to go and call
everything ‘camp’, because the camp has become similar to panopticon. People find
the camp everywhere. The Italian political theorist Sandro Mezzadra has written
about some of the ways in which this is problematic, not least because this figure is
derived from Auschwitz, and the idea of the generalization of the camp can trivialize
that. Certainly it would make sense to speak about camps in relationship to refugee
detention centres, while maintaining that obviously they are not concentration
camps. But do we want to call gated communities camps as well? Or is it again the
point that we need additional concepts that recognize that there are elements of the
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 63-73.
camp that do materialize in these different ways. But they are not simply camps. We
need a more sophisticated and variegated taxonomy perhaps.
Engin Isin and Kim Rygiel have written a paper called “Abject spaces”. They
are talking about series of spaces, camp being just one of them. Frontiers, export
processing zones – a lot of these interesting mutations in territoriality. I see an
interesting question here, which I have not satisfactorily dealt with, but it is useful to
talk about what Monnet was doing as a kind of security project, or to ask what kind
of vision of security was embedded in or assumed by that kind of enterprise. It is not
a million miles away from social security; it is not a million miles away from what
Foucault sometimes says is governmentality, namely, apparatuses that try to enframe
social and economic processes to secure them, to strengthen the state and to promote
the increase of population. The common market is a version of that, but working on
transnational level and linking itself also to the threat, as you say, of interstate
conflict and providing a kind of security there. While that kind of project still goes on
and when the word security comes up now it is referring to a different regime, a
different set of practices, not that these are all coherent in their own right but when
people think or talk about security it is often a security that is like home security.
Security that is not so much related to governmental processes, but security that is
often imagined in relation to concrete individuals and subjects and in relation to
threatening personae. That is one of security’s features. Another of its features is that
it has a pronounced territorial dimension to it. Rather than playing itself out in a
space of markets, it is about identifying actual territorial and, in some cases,
geographic spaces. That is why border security is such a central practice within this
version of security that’s becoming more and more prevalent, more and more
influential. So the European Union is now connected to this space of security as well,
this territorialized space with its practices of security. This is one of the features of
the area of freedom, security and justice. Not its only feature, but it is a partly about
security imagined in terms of the movement of people and goods and other mobile
things, weapons, drugs, crime imagined as transactional moving things because
crime can be imagined in other ways; in this discourse the movement of things is
one of its key defining features. How can we govern those concrete movements in
time and space? Free movement in the European Union is actually a flipside of this
border control. Didier Bigo has argued that this version of internal security is the
flipside of the project of freedom of movement. It is a kind of security practice. But
border security is only one of its aspects.


Escobar, Arturo (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third
World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Global Governmentality: Governing International Spaces (2004). Edited by Wendy Larner
and William Walters. London: Routledge.
Tietäväinen, Pyykkönen, & Kaisto: Globalization and Power
Tribe, Keith (1995). Strategies of Economic Order: German Economic Discourse, 1750-1950.
Ideas in Context, no. 33. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Veyne, Paul (1996). “Foucault Revolutionizes History”. In Foucault and His Interlocutors.
Edited by Arnold I. Davidson. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL
Walters, William and Jens Henrik Haahr (2005). Governing Europe: Discourse,
Governmentality and European Integration. London and New York: Routledge.

60. Elena - March 13, 2010

This interview seems as pertinent to this blog as everything else I am presenting. It touches on areas we’ve already confronted on the blogs such as the idea of “WE” , the individual and the social. It places us in the present of a dialogue between these intellectuals. I am simply giving a superficial look at all this material. It should be studied more deeply by me and those involved. I include notes where the parallels with the cult are obvious. I will take those notes out and repeat them in another post for the clarity of it.

Foucault Studies

© Jacques Donzelot and Colin Gordon 2008
ISSN: 1832‐5203
Foucault Studies, No 5, pp. 48‐62, January 2008



Governing Liberal Societies – the Foucault Effect in the English‐
speaking World1
Jacques Donzelot, University of Paris X‐Nanterre
Colin Gordon, Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust

JD: In the two volumes of his lectures of 1978 and 1979, we see Michel Foucault
making a major intellectual change of direction, moving away from an analysis of
power as the formation and production of individuals towards an analysis of
governmentality, a concept invented to denote the ‘conduct of conducts’ of men and
women, working through their autonomy rather than through coercion even of a
subtle kind. Out of this concept and the extended analysis of political economy
which provides the material for its elaboration, Foucault never produced a published
work. He broke off this series of investigations to occupy himself up to his death in
1984 with the writing of two books, which were evidently closer to his heart, of a
history of the subject passing by way of the Care of the self and the Use of Pleasure
(Foucault 1989a 1989b). This however did not prevent this concept of
governmentality from meeting with great success in the English‐speaking world, in
many ways stimulating there an intellectual dynamic more intense than in the case of
his published works, which rapidly became classics and were treated as such and
with the deference that status entailed, but not with the excitement which met the
lectures on governmentality. In 1991, your volume The Foucault Effect (Burchell, Gordon, Miller 1991) set off this dynamic by centring the “effect” in question precisely on this notion of governmentality. But in France Foucault’s lectures on the subject were not published until 2004 and without at first arousing great interest. So what accounts for this singular success of Foucault’s reflection on governmentality in the Anglo‐Saxon world?

CG: We had a few advantages in Britain. In the first place, Foucault in his lifetime
was more easygoing about foreign translations of his interviews and lectures than he
was about their publication or reprinting in France. There may also have been more

Translated with minor revisions from Esprit, Novembre 2007, 82‐95: ‘Comment gouverner les
sociétés libérales? L’effet Foucault dans le monde Anglo‐Saxon’.
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

editorial latitude for juxtaposing this material with the work of people who were
collaborating, virtually or actually, with Foucault. Some of Foucault’s important later
lectures and texts dealing with government were given in America and originally
published there. In The Foucault Effect I was able to publish a summary, based on
lecture notes and tapes, of his governmentality lectures: many people could certainly
have done the same in France.
Secondly, there is the difference in the national political conjuncture. In France
after 1981, the dominant preoccupation remained socialism rather than liberalism,
whereas Foucault had seen the importance of liberalism as a political issue and (I
believe) conceived his 1979 lectures partly in response to the conjuncture of the Left’s1978 electoral defeat at the hands of Giscard d’Estaing. It is reasonable to suppose he
would not have greatly lamented the defeat of a Left coalition in which the
Communist Party played a major role. Here Foucault presents neoliberalism as a
modern political rationality worthy of attention and a certain intellectual respect,
while commenting that democratic socialism for its part has failed to engender a
distinctive governmental rationality. This seemed a prescient and pertinent
observation to some of us in Britain who were entering in 1979 on 18 years of
Conservative government, whereas in 1981 France was to enter on twenty years of
mainly socialist government, endowed with the legacy of the “trente glorieuses”, the
three French post‐war decades of notable socio‐economic progress. Viewed from
across the Channel, the French socialist governments seemed to be protecting, and
indeed extending these enviable accomplishments, while a right‐wing British
government was busy dismantling the semi‐corporatist post‐war national system,
and other English‐speaking countries over the same period were getting a dose of the
same medicine.2

JD: One can entirely accept this explanation of the success of governmentality
studies in the Anglo‐Saxon countries. There, neoliberalism triumphed and became an
object of study whereas in France, given the relative dominance of the Socialist Party,we had to struggle for twenty years to produce a reflection on the social which
uncoupled it from socialism and addressed it in terms of the governability of
democracy. Showing that there existed an acceptable exit from socialism seemed to
us more important than grasping the subtleties of liberalism as a political rationality.
I have in mind a series of authors working to that agenda, including Robert Castel
and myself, who were for a time close to Foucault, and others like Pierre
Rosanvallon, who were not, who exemplify this national particularity of our relation
to the question of government, in contrast to what you say about the destiny of that
question in the English‐speaking countries.

Though Thatcher had fallen from power by the time The Foucault Effect was published; in the 80s the British Left’s preferred intellectual guide for the understanding of Thatcherism was Gramsci, not Foucault.
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

One can also wonder if the fact that Foucault’s reflection was at odds with this
French conjuncture might not have contributed to a certain hardening of his political
stance in this terrain, a difficulty in positioning himself which led to abandoning this
aspect of his reflection to concentrate on the care of the self? Because the context wasa very delicate one : he had parted company with his “revolutionary” links without
lapsing into the kind of political philosophy which he hated, the question of regime,
of the State, of all those official objects which he had been so well able to bypass. It
was also the moment when the circle of friends around him in the 70s broke up and
he contented himself with a few close supporters. In a way you invented a French
Foucauldian school which never existed, or no longer exists in France, but, with this
“Foucault effect” where you assembled texts from this loose group of friends in the
70s, weren’t you fabricating an artefact which gave the illusion in Anglo‐Saxon countries of a dynamic which no longer existed in France…. and therebymanaged to produce one in those countries? Hence my second question –what was it that led to this interest in governmentality there?

CG: It is quite true that in our volume we did not inform our readers about some
political and personal disagreements between our authors, where we could not see
that these were linked to a clear intellectual difference. My introduction to our book
was (as I admitted) an attempt to construct a plane of consistence between the work
of individuals who, in some cases, had never met, and in others were no longer
collaborators or desiring to be perceived as such. 3 The fabrication of our artefact
ended up taking some time, nearly a decade in all: Foucault’s death in 1984
complicated and changed the terms of the project, which had been begun with his
knowledge and approval, in various ways. Now that five volumes of Foucault’s
lectures from the 1970s have been published, however, one can more easily see how
much of what became, for a time, a shared research programme was already well
developed in his own work, in parts well before 1978. As to Foucault’s trajectory, I think it is with his 1976 lectures, at the latest, that
he starts to distance himself from the militant ideal of the time. The discussion in
those lectures of Sieyès and the Third Estate seems already to prefigure his later
reflection on the formidable capabilities of liberalism as a political rationality. The
intellectual path that led Foucault from the analysis of disciplines to that of
governmentality is perfectly consistent, just as the theme of governmentality
connects consistently in turn with his later themes of care of the self and truth‐telling.
Let’s also remember that this ‘late’ Foucault, who is supposed to have retreated into
solitary study of the Church fathers and the history of the sacraments of penitence,
was also the treasurer of the French branch of Solidarnosc, engaged in public

Sylvain Meyet points out, accurately, that no contributor to our volume except Foucault himself
and the editors explicitly uses the term ‘governmentality’. Travailler avec Foucault. Retours Sur Le
Politique, eds. Sylvain Meyet, Marie‐Cécile Naves, Thomas Ribémont, L’Harmattan, Paris 2005.
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

discussion with the socialist trade union leader Edmond Maire, and in an institutional project with the law reformer and justice minister, Robert Badinter. It seems, as Michel Senellart rightly notes in his excellent editorial postface to the 1978‐ 79 lectures, that Foucault’s interest in liberalism and neoliberalism is very much connected, around 1978, with his support for the East European dissidents. There is a marked anticommunist context in his lectures of 1978‐9.
I have always been surprised that there was so little contemporary resonance
at the time in France for Foucault’s work on governmentality. In 1979, Foucault said that he would work in the following years’ lectures on the genealogy of political parties – especially, I believe, that of the French Socialist party. I suspect that he was discouraged from pursuing this plan by the limited success of his dialogue with friends in, or close to, the Socialist Party. Perhaps his anticommunism still posed too many problems. But there was never any sign that he had repudiated this series of analyses. In the following years, he encouraged and supported some young researchers he taught at Berkeley who did research into governmentality in America.

At the time of his death, he had a book announced for with Editions du
Seuil entitled Le gouvernement de soi et des autres. I never thought that Foucault would have been in serious political disagreement with your work at around this time or indeed that you would be likely to dissent from his views about security and autonomy in the Welfare State, as set out in his discussion with Robert Bono of the CFDT. Indeed I tried to show that Foucault’s analyses of liberalism were consistent with the approach of your L’invention du social (Donzelot [1984] 1994), notably in the lecture he gave in 1979 on
Fergusson’s History of Civil Society where he sees emerging a notion of society as a “transactional reality”, a mobile surface of engagement between the practices of government and the universe of the governed which constantly tends to escape their grasp. Whereas he had clear political differences with Deleuze – who was another philosophical genius, but no genius in politics. Nowadays, as you know, there as are many people in the world, academics in particular, who favour a Deleuzian Foucault interpreted by Antonio Negri, as there are people interested in governmentality studies. While the successive waves of posthumous publication and circulation of Foucault’s work are reaching and inspiring new generations of readers, some of those who responded to his by now be looking elsewhere for stimulating novelty.

As for the results of English‐speaking governmentality studies (not to speak of work in the rest of the world outside France), it is hard to give a short and summary answer. Nikolas Rose and Mitchell Dean published books which have been seen as aiming to systematise governmentality, to make it into a theoretical programme. But many people (and probably both of these authors) would deny that there is or was a ‘governmentality school’ in any clear‐cut sense. Apart from the reference to a limited set of canonical texts by Foucault, there is typically a focus round the issue of
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

liberalism and liberty, signalling the need to take liberalism seriously as an
intellectual force which is also subject to historical transformation. Some original
fields of research have been developed, such as the work of Peter Miller on the
genealogy of management, and of Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose on
biotechnologies; links have been made with other approaches, notably with Latour
and actor network theory, in work on “government at a distance”. James Tully,
Duncan Ivison, Tom Osborne, Graham Burchell, and I have been interested in the
affinities between Foucault’s works on governmentality and certain currents of
English‐language history of political thought, such as John Pocock’s work on civic
republicanism. Then there is work by people who were taught by Foucault at
Berkeley, including interesting studies of modern governmentality by David Horn
and Keith Gandal, and Jonathan Simon’s important work on American penal justice.
In recent years it is also becoming clearer that Foucault’s legacy, and particularly his
work on governmentality, has had major international impacts in the rapidly
changing disciplines of geography4 and anthropology and the new and important
sector of postcolonial studies.

Does this work imply a distinctive political orientation? In broad terms we are a
loose faction in the post‐New Left diaspora which is still in search of its moral and
ideological identity; more particularly, an episode in the experience of a Left coming
to terms with a fresh advent and partial triumph of liberalism. There is not much
evidence of a direct impact of this body of work on the political domain. I am not
aware that Blair ever read Foucault. Anthony Giddens, for a time the Blair‐Clinton
court philosopher, usually includes a caricatural account of Foucault only as a
marginal item in his doctrinal digests. But I think parts of the formulae of Clinton
and Blair for a ’third way’ may have effectively carried out a form of the operation
which Foucault might have been taken as challenging the socialists to contemplate –
the selective incorporation, in an updated and corrected social democracy, of certain
elements of neoliberal analysis and strategy. In some ways, it is the continuation of a
trend initiated in the 70s by Schmidt in Germany, Giscard in France and Healey in
Britain, and in her different way by Thatcher – the truth‐telling role of government,
in a world of global economic uncertainty and competition, as moral tutor of citizens
in an ethic of enterprise and responsibility. The success of this formula in Britain
seemed for a long time to be limited only by the irritability of citizens and the claims
of the fourth estate, the media, to make and unmake governmental power (both of
these reactions being severely aggravated, of course, by Blair’s extension of his governmental agenda to include the neoconservative enterprise of civilisational confrontation and global war on terror).

Space, Knowledge and Power. Foucault and Geography, ed. Jeremy W. Crampton and Stuart Elden,
Ashgate 2007.
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

“Governmentality studies”, where they are identifiable as such, have been an
academic activity governed by prevailing institutional and discursive norms;
Foucault’s work, while inspiring to many, does not have the capacity to turn lead into gold. As part of this discursive order, there has been an ongoing discussion about which side such investigations are, or should be, on: that of a new rationalisation of government, or that of a critique of such rationality? No one has quite followed the trajectory of Francois Ewald, from a genealogy of social insurance to an ethical ontology of risk as the noble spirit of the enterprising class. All the same, the theme of governmentality has become involved in a debate where some are accused by others of seeking to legitimate, rather than to problematise, the idea of a “risk society” considered as the ineluctable contemporary form of collective reality which all citizens and governmental techniques are necessarily obliged to confront.
The reception of Foucault’s analysis of neoliberalism unfortunately often
seems to be flattened into a set of polemical, ideological, and globalising generalities, dispensing with the kind of descriptive investigation Foucault undertook in 1979 of the different avatars of neoliberalism with their national, historical, and theoretical specificities. Indeed, neglect of post‐war history seems to bea frequent feature of this polemical discourse: from a recent book on neoliberalism by David Harvey, a post‐ modern geographer who views Foucault’s work as obsolete, one might think that neoliberalism had been invented in the 1970s. I hope the full publication of these lectures will revitalise this area of research. I think their publication will also show that this notion of governmentality can usefully be applied alongside Foucault’s earlier and later ideas (power/knowledge, discipline, government of self, perihelia). The theme of governmentality certainly needs to be seen in its continuity with the themes of the “late” or “final” Foucault (we are only talking here of an interval of five or six years): ethics, care of self, parrhesia or truth‐telling, the conditions of existence of critical discourse. To understand these implications in full we will have to await the publication of the final lectures.

JD: After this harangue, I plunged into the “governmentality studies” for which you had pointed me to some of the key protagonists. And I emerged – at least for the moment – with mixed feelings of pleasure and unease.

The pleasure was especially in reading sections of the books co‐edited and written by
Nikolas Rose – Foucault and Political Reason, The Powers of Freedom, and the articles of Thomas Lemke. All of these show the pertinence of analysis in terms of governmentality in addressing neoliberalism. They all rely on the Foucaldian refutation of a fixed distinction between the domain of the State and the domain of civil society, between the domain of power and the domain of subjectivity. They use it to show that the “retreat of the State” which is supposed to constitute neoliberalism in fact corresponds to an extension of government.
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

This extension is made possible by replacing the direct government of society
by the State with a form of government at a distance. There is a destatification of
government which goes in hand with the appearance of social technologies which
delegate responsibility for individuals to other autonomous entities: enterprises,
communities, professional organizations, individuals themselves. The use of
contractual agreements, defined of objectives, measures of performance, combined
with local autonomy, allows this shift of responsibility to governmental action at a
distance. In this perspective, “Individuals are to become “experts of themselves”, to
adopt an educated and knowledgeable relation of self‐care in respect of their bodies,
their minds, their forms of conduct and that of the members of their own families”
(Rose in Foucault and Political Reason (1997, 59f)). Individuals become “entrepreneurs of themselves”, and it is as such that they are bonded into society through the choices they make, the risks they take, and the responsibilities for themselves and others
which thereby arise and which they are required to assume. Citizenship is
consequently no longer exercised in a relationship with the State or within a public
space (such a space becoming indeed difficult to discern as such), so much as a
varied range of private, corporate or quasi‐public practices, ranging from work to
consumption : “the consumer citizen becomes an active agent in the regulation of
professional expertise ; the prudent citizen becomes an active agent of security, the
citizen as employee becomes an active agent in the regeneration of industry” (ibid.)
It is at this point, at this equation of the simultaneous growth of individual
autonomy and responsibility – one believes oneself autonomous: what is worse, one
is; but this autonomy is designed to make us into agents of the system – that my
unease begins. Not because the analysis is false – I entirely endorse it as a necessary
stage, as far as it does – but because it is presented as sufficient, whereas the
underlying questions start just at the point where it stops, sure of itself and of its
intellectual effect. The sophisticated social technologies of advanced neoliberal
society, it tells us, contain an enlarged component of freedom along with an enlarged
component of required responsibility in comparison with those of the Welfare State.
Just as the latter marked an advance on old‐style political economy, so political
economy had represented a move beyond the model of reason of state. Each new
model is evaluated only against the performance of its predecessor: they are always
analysed at their ‘technical’ level, never in terms of a political criterion or in terms of
value. This is the cost of the ability of governmentality studies to describe the
materiality of social technologies while avoiding, for instance, the habitual
denunciations of neoliberalism as an ideological rhetoric designed to mask a false
economic theory and a practical anti‐humanism, as Marxists and antiglobalisers like
to put it. But doesn’t the avoidance of that kind of simplification lead, in its turn, to a
central ambivalence at the core of this kind of analysis? Isn’t that what you yourself
point out when you say that this kind of analysis can lead either to a critique of
political rationality or to a rationalisation of this same set of policies?
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

In terms of political rationalities, in France we can all think of Francois
Ewald’s celebration of risk written from his current standpoint as a leading official of
the national employers’ organization. This is a classic case of counter‐transference where the analyst falls blindly in love with his object, in this case thetechnology of insurance, and finds in it the key to all problems of social and political life. But the other standpoint, the critique of political rationality, can be no less irritating when it is presented as a self‐sufficient conclusion. I will givetwo examples which have struck me from my recent remedial reading course in governmentality studies.
The first is from Nikolas Rose’s book Powers of Freedom. In a chapter called
“the community‐civility game“, he tries to establish a parallel between Bentham’s famous Panopticon and the virtues claimed for it by Bentham in terms of preserving morality, stimulating industry and spreading education, and the qualities attributed to the notion of community promoted by authors like Etzioni, Putnam, Fukuyama and Belloch (already a somewhat hastily amalgamated group), or with that of the idea of associational networks considered as new diagrams of power, promoting “moral” conducts in likewise subtly imperious ways. The “we” of community is shown as exercising a technico‐moral authority akin to that of the penitentiary Panopticon. At a stroke the Foucauldian analysis of governmentality as ”conduct of
conducts”, as action at a distance, loses its distinction from the disciplinarising
techniques of the 19th century. But more serious is the way this assimilation serves the cultivation of a posture of radical critique.
In Barbara Cruikshank’s analysis of the function of the notion of empowerment in the USA, I found this same inclination to adopt a posture of radical
critique at the cost of losing the subtle capabilities inherent in of this notion of the ‘conduct of conducts’. When she denounces the invitation to self‐empowerment, she is not so far from our own Jean Baudrillard and his celebration of the inertia of the silent majority as a form of resistance to the modern injunctions to participation and expression. One needs to be aware that she is analysing Californian ”Welfare to work” programmes which are more systems of forced labour under harsh conditions than steps to the empowerment of individuals over themselves or in their relation
with others: whereas this theme of empowerment does also and above all have a dimension of acquisition of power over oneself thanks to the power which the collective one belongs to is able to produce.

Elena’s note:

Barbara Cruikshank’s work needs to be looked at for that kind of “invitation to self-empowerment” is what is laid out for a lifetime in cults. Members do exactly that: concentrate on their own self empowerment while they give up their social empowerment to the guru which turns against them so radically that they’ll end up committing suicide in a classically perfect cult!

What I am after is showing that there is no healthy development of the individual or society if they are conceived of independently of each other as this neoliberal paradigms seem to be affirming. Looked at superficially as I am doing, the cult is an extension of neoliberal society, its coherent consequence, because the state neither assumes the responsibility it is endowed with leaving the individual at a loss and the individual does not assume his social responsibility, leaving the community at the hands of the guru who, inevitably will structure it to his own benefit and according to his talents as much as his limitations. In the transaction, all parties avidly promote self-destruction. End of note

The collective in this case is not thought of as demanding a sacrifice from the individual, but rather as a necessary support for individual self‐affirmation. But the choices as examples of these caricatural initiatives may also serve as indicating a wish to cultivate an exclusively critical posture. One can also wonder if this ambivalence of these analyses in terms of governmentality may not lead them to incline towards one side or the other, the critical or the laudatory side, depending on the location where it is conducted. In Anglo‐Saxon countries where neoliberalism was imposed from the start of the 80s, Foucault studies provide the means of a sophisticated critique, albeit one which is
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

visibly lacking a capacity to propose alternatives. Does this political ambivalence in
the notion of governmentality not condemn it to serving an ideological function,
determined by political circumstance, whereas it aspires to be precisely the antidote
of an ideological reading of forms of government?

CG: One negative feature of the Foucauldian diaspora is that people can be
seduced by the idea of revealing the truth of the present, but this is can be
contaminated by a taste for hyperbolic discourses which exceed any critical purchase
on the real. The leading example of this is no doubt the work Giorgio Agamben, who
detects in all government a virtual programme of extermination, and views the
condition of the governed as universal reduction to the condition of homo sacer, and
the like‐minded commentators who in the UK see every Blairite innovation in the
policing of families as a step on the road to serfdom.

Elena’s note:

This is very interesting. It parallels the cult’s extreme condition. That reality is carried out in the cult as a microcosmic experiment of the neoliberal status quo. All government would be a virtual programme of extermination only if the economic interests are disconnected to the well being of the whole. What the neoloberal status quo is promoting is production for the benefit of the opportunist which is no foundation for a society or the well being of the many unprepared people, not necessarily in the lower classes which turn out to be more practically efficient in the long run, precisely because of the economic pressure they are in. End of note.

As for the question behind your question, that is to say Foucault’s critical
standpoint vis‐à‐vis governmentality in terms of its potentiality for progressive
technical invention, I suggest this brings us back to the distinctive quality of
liberalism itself. Foucault says that the liberal art of government consists in the production and consumption of freedom, the creation and destruction of freedom. It is (as some say) the government of freedom and (as others remind us) the
government of unfreedom – or rather, the government of a freedom which is itself
an unfreedom. Liberals (Keynes and Beveridge) were architects of the Welfare State:
other liberals have been its critics and reformers. It is the paradox of liberalism in all
its forms (neo, advanced, post…) that much action is necessary before one can laisser
faire – action even to the extent of acting to bring into existence the reality (freedom,
society) which it is desired to laisser faire “faire société”, as indeed you have it in the
title of your recent book. Hence, one might partly counter some of your reproaches
by saying that this kind of analysis brings out the ambiguity and ambivalence of
liberal realities, in advance of any question of the practical consequences one chooses
– or fails to choose – to infer from the analysis.

The detached, Weberian value‐freedom of Foucault’s description of the constitutive
operations of liberalism as a governmentality may look to some like a disarming of
the power of critique. You are asking whether and how, having unlearned the easy
rhetoric of denunciation, one can then reintroduce a pertinent basis for critical
In the first place, the very experience of a degree of discomfort at the
paradoxes, antinomies and aporias of liberal liberty may help lead to healthy lucidity
rather than moral incapacitation. Further, this element of detachment does not
prevent, but even encourages the introduction of certain counter‐analyses within the

Hindess, B. (2001) ‘The Liberal Government of Unfreedom’, Alternatives: Social Transformation
and Humane Governance, 26: 93‐111.
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

terms of the liberal paradigm: for instance, the theory of social capital invented by Robert Putnam (that is, of the resources which individuals draw from relational networks of solidarity and local and private forms of mutual support), or again, in relation to the Lockean theory of self‐ownership as the necessary foundation of the liberal economy, the requirement that each person be endowed with the necessary resources to enable that self‐ownership to be effective in practice (as Robert Castel argues in his recent book on Social Insecurity, in terms interestingly similar to those of Amartya Sen’s work on “capability rights”).

Having said this, many who work in governmental studies do not feel called upon to
take up the tasks you propose to them. In the book you quote, Nikolas Rose writes that in this type of work the aim is to destabilize and think beyond “all those claims made by others to govern us in the name of our own well‐being”, and that studies of governmentality ”do not try to put themselves at the service of those who would govern better” [59‐60]. This sounds like a form of knowledge which wants to serve only on the side of contestation. However, while recognising the critical contribution which his analyses have indeed made, others might wish at least to qualify those statements of position (which Nikolas himself firmly refuses to assert as group doctrines). Because it is hard to see why it should be a necessary axiom of the study of governmentality that all government (even one which claims to take account of the good of the governed) is an evil in itself, or that the wish to govern better should
necessarily be something from which one ought ethically to disassociate oneself.
Certainly, Foucault himself said that critique is not obliged to harness itself to the programming of a reform designed only to maintain an existing relation of forces, but he also said that in talking with a government one can be “debout et en face” – that is, engage in dialogue as independent and equal interlocutor. In this view of things, critique, struggle, discussion and collective invention are compatible and complementary tasks. I suppose that it was not out of pure malice that Foucault suggested to the French Socialists in 1979 the project to invent a governmentality of their own; he indeed subsequently showed some evidence of willingness to assist with that task.
The seductive element in Foucault’s rereading of liberalism was the thought
that the art of better government was presented as the art of governing less, and that in this sense liberalism forms an autocritique of governmental reason: a governmentality which develops and corrects itself through its own critique.
Alongside this there was his other seductive notion of critique (inspired by Kant’s definition of Enlightenment as an emancipation from tutelage) as an indocility of the governed, a will not to be governed so much or in such a way. That is where the permanent task of critique would demand an inventive sequel: how to govern in order to be governed less, how to govern in order to be governed or to govern oneself in the way one wishes? Here we meet Foucault’s refusal of the double blackmail, by the policy experts for whom a critique is invalidated if not
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

accompanied by a prescription for reform, and by those who use the converse charge
of recuperation, for whom every unprejudiced discussion of what is possible or
desirable comes down to a capitulation of critique before the status quo.6
It is true that most of us have remained at a certain distance from the attempts,
in the English‐speaking world as in France, to “remoralise” politics through the
injection of new or revived doctrines of civic and democratic virtue. Some thinkers,
like William Connolly and James Tully, have made interesting attempts to
incorporate values of difference and multiplicity in political ethics. My reading of
your recent book Faire société suggests to me that you also subscribe to that general
Why have we kept our distance from these initiatives (apart from the
consideration that today’s civic pedagogues are sometimes too easily recognisable as
recycled revolutionary ideologues)? For heuristic reasons Foucault drew a distinction
between his field of research on governmental practices and the history of the
political doctrine of sovereignty and its legitimate foundation, the history of citizens
and their rights. This may have been initially necessary and effective as a means to
establish and make visible a new object of study (except in respect of making that
new object visible to historians of political thought), but I think it is time now for a
more connected approach so that we can look, for instance, at what relation there
might be between a certain notion of citizenship and a certain way of being
governed7. This might help us to think more effectively about what we are becoming
and what we wish or do not wish to become.
Another benefit of Foucault’s initiative which has been noticed recently is that
it anticipates the effects of globalisation in relativising the status of national state
institutions.8 It surprised me that François Ewald and Blandine Kriegel said recently
that Foucault was concerned with problems of his time and that now we have other
concerns. Foucault’s concerns in his later years seem to me to include notably
neoliberalism, Islam, security, ethics, and the rights and global solidarity of the governed, all issues which I think we still recognise as pertinent today.

JD: I agree with this idea that the concept of governmentality has a prescient value
in relation to globalisation, because it registers, in a sense in advance, the
relativisation of States and nations, and I would also see in this advantage an
enhanced possibility of linking the ”technical :” analysis of governmentality with the
‘moral’ analysis of forms of citizenship corresponding to this new historical context.

To state what may be obvious: Foucault’s insistence on recognising the critical and anti‐essentialist components of liberalism and neoliberalism does not mean that these doctrines are therefore to be considered as the permanent homeland of critical thinking in general.
As early as Histoire de la Folie, Foucault had identified the modern political problem of reconciling the two incarnations of the citizen, the “man of law” and the “man of government”.
CF. W Larner and W Walters eds. Global Governmentality. Governing International Spaces. (2004)
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

The analysis of neoliberal governmentality shows a common orientation of
developed countries striving to adapt to new realities. This orientation involves
reducing the direct role of States in the economy and social relations, in favour of a new economy of social relations which emphasises autonomy and individual responsibility at all the local levels where autonomy and responsibility can be brought into interaction. In this sense, neoliberal governmentality is indeed a pure ”technical” product of critiques addressed to the Welfare State for the past forty years: left critics denouncing the creation in the name of progress of an order ever more disposed to control individuals, reducing their effective autonomy under the guise of an enhanced solicitude, and critics on the right who indicted the dismantling of the order necessary for progress through the deresponsibilising of individuals living under the increasing care of the State. The difficulty of sustaining
an ever‐rising burden of State revenues without affecting the global competitiveness of enterprises prompted governments to use and play off these two critiques against each other, to counter the growth of demands and recriminations addressed at the State.

The ‘civic’ question is so little foreign to this ‘technical’ solution that it arises out of the very fact of its application. For it is all very well to govern at a distance, relegating to the local level the play of encounters between the needs for autonomy and the demand for responsibility. That still requires that these “localities”, these diverse groupings, communities, enterprises, collectivities, form a society, and are not too disparate, too mutually estranged, too indifferent to anything outside of their own destiny, too incapable of a shared appreciation of what is right and just for all members of these constructed collectivities. Here there arises the question of consent to shared institutions, and therefore to the shared costs they impose. This consent is a form of civic engagement (civisme), its abstract incarnation, which we can counterpose to the direct mutual trust of people and citizens within the local frame of the specific community where they live.
Trust and consent are two relative values, the balance of whose roles can vary in the production of a civic society. They are in some sense the equivalents for citizenship of what autonomy and responsibility represent in the context of governmentality. They call for a similar concern for their mutual adjustment – what is the right relation of these two registers to permit the establishment of a civic society? And the intersection of these two registers, the ”technical” register of autonomisation and responsibility, and the ”civic” relation of consent and trust determines the way the concern for governmental effectiveness succeeds or fails to connect with the realisation of a civic society. Bringing together these two demands allows us to pose the question of how to make society exist in the context of neoliberalism. It seems to me that Europe is the place par excellence for the search for
equilibrium between these two lines of transformation, the one which affects the governed and the one which affects the citizen.
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

CG: Consent and trust and also, if possible, respect, are certainly things which
every government today desires to produce and to enjoy – respect being incidentally
the item which others most like to deny government, at least in Britain. The
production of respect demands, in turn, persuasion and pedagogy. Persuasion for
the social classes which are resistant to change because they feel insecure, and pedagogy for the minorities who may be inclined to disorder or revolt. On these
subjects, alongside Foucault’s accounts of the pastoral function of government it is
worth reading Paul Veyne’s essay on the irritability of the governed, ”When the
individual is fundamentally affected by the power of the State“ (Economy and Society,
Vol. 34, No. 2, May 2005, translated by Graham Burchell). Veyne explains how
Roman opinion was humiliated and violated by the spectacle of a ruler, the emperor
Nero, who forced the ruled to serve as the audience of an aesthetic performance. In
Britain we until recently had a political leader who was the great tenor of what you
yourself in the 80s dubbed the coming ‘civilisation of change’: the man of truth as
‘change‐maker’, telling the truth of global competitive modernity and the consequent
obligation of all and each to be changed. But, just as Foucault taught us, it transpires
that people can resist anything, even governmental parrhesia, even the pedagogy of
reality and the ethic of change. The man of change and truth was not assassinated,
but he was accused by a vocal segment of public opinions of being a corrupter and a
liar. No governmentality will abolish resistance to government.

Could the currents of work and reflection we have been discussing contribute to the
formation of a European political culture? ”It would be a good idea”, as Gandhi said
of Western civilisation. Foucault talked perhaps less about the common market than
the social market (expect perhaps in that enigmatic question in one of his 1976
lectures:” and what if Rome, once again, were to conquer revolution?“): is anyone
writing the history of the linkage between those two themes? 9
Foucault sketched the 20th‐century international transfers (sometimes covert,
often mediated by emigration and exile) of neoliberal techniques and formulae, much
as he had outlined the international movement of ideas around 1900 on crime,
security and social defence. It would be interesting today to continue this kind of
analysis, tracing for instance the transfer between national and political camps of
notions and techniques of social exclusion and inclusion.
Perhaps we need to enlarge our thinking even beyond the still growing
European space. It is worth noting that the global (at least Anglophone) impact of the

It is interesting that in his 1979 lectures on liberalism Foucault cites Kant’s Perpetual Peace on the
cosmopolitan right, prescribed by nature, of global free trade. “The guarantee of perpetual
peace is, in effect, commercial globalisation (la planétarisation commerciale)” [2004, 60: my
translation]. Cf. W Walters and J H Haahr, Governing Europe. Discourse, Governmentality and
European Integration (2005).
Foucault Studies, No. 5, pp. 48‐62.

notion and theme of governmentality has coincided and in several cases interacted
with the growth of the new discipline of postcolonial studies. The relation between
proponents of postcolonial studies and Foucault’s work have been, in a somewhat
similar way to the situation in feminist studies, contested and often contestatory;
sometimes one has the impression of a generation of fractious and needy orphans,
afraid of their own freedom, who cannot forgive Foucault for failing to write their
books as well as his, or for only having written the books he lived to write;
nevertheless, the encounter has led to some beginnings of analyses of colonial and
post‐ or neo‐colonial styles of governmentality.10 Perhaps we are also seeing the
beginnings of a new analysis of the question which preoccupied Foucault, along with
neoliberalism, in 1978‐9, namely “Islamic government”, together with the now very
current question of the possible civil and political modes of existence of Muslim
citizens in societies with a liberal regime of government. If a European political
culture was capable of accommodating and welcoming such reflections, it would be a
step forward for Europe and the world.

Translated by Colin Gordon


Barry, Andrew, Thomas Osborne and Nikolas Rose, Foucault and Political Reason:
Liberalism, Neo‐Liberalism, and the Rationalities of Government. London: Routledge,
Burchell, Graham, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller, The Foucault Effect: Studies in
Governmentality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Cruikshank, Barbara, The Will to Empower: Democratic Citizens and Other Subjects.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.
Dean, Mitchell M., Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society. London: Sage
Publications Limited., 1999.
Dean, Mitchell M. and Barry Hindess, Governing Australia: Studies in Contemporary
Rationalities of Government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Ivison, Duncan, The Self at Liberty: Political Argument and the Arts of Government.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.
Rose, Nikolas, Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1999.
Steven Legg, ‘Beyond the European Province: Foucault and Postcolonialism,’ in

For a useful survey see Steven Legg, ʺBeyond the European Province: Foucault and
Postcolonialismʺ In Jeremy Crampton and Stuart Elden (Eds) Space, Knowledge, and Power:
Foucault and Geography (op. cit.)
Donzelot & Gordon: Governing Liberal Societies

Jeremy Crampton and Stuart Elden, Space, Knowledge and Power: Foucault and
Geography. Kent: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006.
Tully, James, An Approach to Political Philosophy: Locke in Context. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1993.

61. Elena - March 13, 2010

Elena’s note:

Barbara Cruikshank’s work needs to be looked at for that kind of “invitation to self-empowerment” is what is laid out for a lifetime in cults. Members do exactly that: concentrate on their own self empowerment while they give up their social empowerment to the guru which turns against them so radically that they’ll end up committing suicide in a classically perfect cult!

What I am after is showing that there is no healthy development of the individual or society if they are conceived of independently of each other as this neoliberal paradigms seem to be affirming. Looked at superficially as I am doing, the cult is an extension of neoliberal society, its coherent consequence, because the state neither assumes the responsibility it is endowed with leaving the individual at a loss and the individual does not assume his social responsibility, leaving the community at the hands of the guru who, inevitably will structure it to his own benefit and according to his talents as much as his limitations. In the transaction, all parties avidly promote self-destruction. End of note

Elena’s note 2:

This is very interesting. It parallels the cult’s extreme condition. That reality is carried out in the cult as a microcosmic experiment of the neoliberal status quo. All government would be a virtual programme of extermination only if the economic interests are disconnected to the well being of the whole. What the neoliberal status quo is promoting is production for the benefit of the opportunist which is no foundation for a society or the well being of the many unprepared people, not necessarily in the lower classes which turn out to be more practically efficient in the long run, precisely because of the economic pressure they are under. The irony of it all is that those in power will self annihilate together with the system they invented! Just like in cults! End of note.

62. Elena - March 13, 2010

“The irony of it all is that those in power will self annihilate together with the system they invented! Just like in cults!”

This is an even more interesting phenomenon because we are then faced with the question of who is really in power! What is in power! Where is the power?

If we look at the cult phenomenon without individual blaming without justifying because of that the lack of responsibility, in the long run the cult leaders are as corrupted and drained by the experience as the members. What ever s/he and his inner circle did, they became victims of it like the rest of the members. Beyond the blame, this is important because what we begin to realize is that “good will” is not enough. Who would convincingly affirm that there wasn’t good will in the beginnings of such enterprises?

It is a very interesting and frightening position to be in because it would practically imply that at least the western world is at a loss. A critical point in which it does not know how or where it stands. When even “good will” is not enough, “essence” is questioned and has to mature. How much suffering and destruction will be necessary before it rests on its self?

63. ton - March 14, 2010

“Who would convincingly affirm that there wasn’t good will in the beginnings of such enterprises?”

apologies for interrupting this very interesting conversation you’re having with yourself… based on previous experience, i know that if you are convinced of an idea then it is impossible to dissuade you, so that’s not the intention (some might view the “courage of conviction” to be a strength, but all too often it’s simply a condition of being closed minded — there are always other perspectives that are just as valid, just as ‘truthful.’ what is more to the point: “Rather than dispute world-views, it can be more beneficial to understand WHY someone holds the view they do. A view is held not because the view is more correct than another, but rather because of the outlook disposition of the person”).

i will not pretend to “convincingly affirm” the lack of good will “of such enterprises” for a couple of reasons: one, i cannot speak to the general notion of “such enterprises” (but i will base the following comments on my own experiences about a specific example of such an “enterprise”). secondly, if you, elena, are already convinced of the ‘good will’ involved, then i know (also from experience) that any argument to the contrary will not convince you otherwise, but will in fact have the opposite effect causing you to become further entrenched in any point of view you identify yourself with.

with the above being said, ‘good will’ as applied to the “beginnings” of the FOF was not the motivating factor. from the beginning, burton was a sociopath, he was only looking for a way to satisfy his own appetites at any expense…. and he found a way to do so at the expense of others. granted he had to start somewhere, so he might have started relatively small and “humbly” enough, but as he found a way to feed his appetites and have them catered to, confidence in his power over others grew and his delusions inflated. as for the FOF ‘students,’ those who did/do the ‘catering to’ — even at the beginning, were their motivations entirely based on “good will” ? let’s not mistake naivete’ and ignorance for “good will.” there might have been elements of good will that would cause a person to seek a better way of life, for self and for others, but upon closer scrutiny that does not entirely explains it. what was the lure in the first place? the promise of unlimited “consciousness” ? thinking of yourself as being better than and hoping to rise above “the masses” and beyond the ordinary? separating oneself from the rest of the human race as FOF members did/do, possessing “powers” vicariously (through burton), or hoping to develop “personal powers” that other ‘mere mortals’ did not possess… what motivates people to have power over others, to be better than others? fear and an innate drive for self-preservation factors into the equation too, burton certainly plays on peoples’ fears. i suggest that prying back the veneer of “good will” will reveal the desire for power, control, and vanity and narcissism had more to do with motivation than did genuine good will. anyone who is drawn into the web of the fof is not yet “conscious” enough for a genuine motive of good will, they do not possess the requisite self-knowledge…. you live and learn. from “the beginnings” and even in “students” as well as burton, genuine good will was at best a flimsy facade and a rationalization…. it’s a nice thought but you fool yourself (again) if you think it was about “good will.”

“Cult members can’t just be normal good people; they have to be moral titans, playing out grand heroic roles in an epic cosmic moral melodrama. Many members feel that their lives will be pointless and meaningless if they don’t play such grand roles in life — to live an ordinary life and be a normal good person is merely meaningless, pointless, existence”.

sorry again about interrupting, i’ll leave you with something from a book i’m reading:

“The way to peace is to realize that the world-outlooks conjointly, in their reciprocal action on one another, can be in a certain sense explained, but that they cannot lead into the inner nature of truth if they remain one-sided. One must experience in oneself the truth-value of the different world-outlooks, in order — if one may say so — to be in agreement with truth.”
Rudolf Steiner, Human and Cosmic Thought P. 54

64. Elena - March 14, 2010

Hi Ton,

I don’t know why you feel you need to apologize so insistently when I have consistently welcomed your participation. The sarcasm is so unnecessary and does neither you nor I any good.

You do not interrupt me, I enjoy your participation! I work on a blog because I am looking for communication such as yours. Your ideas matter to me whether I agree with them or not.

So let’s bite on the question of good will.

What I understand you are saying is that Robert Burton from the beginning was an ill man looking to abuse other people and by deduction, the same could be said about Girard Haven, Linda Tulisso, Rowena and Charles Taylor, and three or four hundred other inner circle members of the Fellowship cult. Those for you are just naïve people? Like me and the rest of us who supported it for decades?

Ton: anyone who is drawn into the web of the fof is not yet “conscious” enough for a genuine motive of good will,
You seem to think that good will is an aspect of consciousness and that people who join the fof don’t have enough of it to have good will while for me, good will is an aspect of human essence, it looks for things naively and bumps itself against reality!. I stand with the idea in law that people act on good will and you must prove ill will before you can prove their criminality.
You seem to treat the fof as a “conscious” fraud perpetuated by its leaders on the members and I on the contrary believe that the fof is a tragedy precisely because of the unconsciousness of its leaders as much as its members. A “tragedy” that should nevertheless be confronted legally!

You and I don’t disagree in the essential understanding of the problem. What we are discussing is a difference in the why and how it happened. Perhaps it’s easier if I take sentence by sentence:
Ton: let’s not mistake naivete’ and ignorance for “good will.”

E: that’s unconsciousness to me, aspects of it. I think even Robert was naïve about the task he was aiming for. He was right about self-remembering but that was only half of the System and severed from external consideration it turned against itself. Instead of developing conscious beings, it developed slaves at his service!
Ton: there might have been elements of good will that would cause a person to seek a better way of life, for self and for others, but upon closer scrutiny that does not entirely explains it. what was the lure in the first place? the promise of unlimited “consciousness” ? thinking of yourself as being better than and hoping to rise above “the masses” and beyond the ordinary?

E: Was it like that for you? Did you think you were better and wanted to rise above the masses and beyond the ordinary?
I personally don’t think that any one of us wanted that and am convinced that those inside are equally convinced that THAT is not what they are there for even though that is what they are actually doing. In other words, I don’t think they are CONSCIOUS of the fact that THAT is what they are doing: that Robert Burton and the Fellowship cult, induces their “shield personality” to become active in such direction. At the other end of the spectrum what I believe essence wants and wanted in members was to “better” themselves, rise above their own limitations and live in greater harmony with other people, in “culture” with other people!

(You will again tell me the system’s vocabulary and ideas are not worthwhile for you so how can we progress in this discussion when for me it is pretty absurd to try to understand phenomena without a clear understanding of the human being? A child is a child. They are naive, innocent but not evil. The idea that man has an essence, develops a “shield” personality and has the capacity to develop a personality true to his own self, not just one that complies to the outside world he or she is growing up in, is simply a map to understand different moments of human development according to ideas presented in not only the system but psychology but beyond those, it is also my own experience. If we had been “mature” we wouldn’t have joined the fellowship, we weren’t. It’s very simple but how that immaturity was turned into a “legion of pimps” fostering the systematic rape of people not only sexually but economically and psychologically is what we are trying to decipher.)

Ton: …..separating oneself from the rest of the human race as FOF members did/do,
E: as you well know, separating oneself from the rest of the human race is not a fourth way idea, in fact it’s the opposite of the fourth way. The CULT separated the members from the rest of the human race and became a cancer of the human race. Where you and I simply seem to differ is in how that happened. You seem to think that these people are CONSCIOSLY choosing that, I am convinced that they are victims of their own invention, victims of our own unconsciousness, as all tragedies happen to be.

Ton: possessing “powers” vicariously (through burton), or hoping to develop “personal powers” that other ‘mere mortals’ did not possess…

E: Powers! My poor comrades in the Fellowship cult! How many years is it since you last saw them? When I remember the pathetism of people walking out of the Sunday meetings I could sit and cry! Some would come out with big, wide open eyes, convinced that they’d been to heaven and back through a third state shot of presence! We all were for different reasons! Some because we kept controlling the impulse to scream at the tediousness and domination of Robert’s never ending monologue and form. Powers! No one has been more disempowered than Fellowship members in this world. You can kill a person and still not disempower them psychologically the way they are disempowered in the Fellowship cult. Physical death is better than psychological death. Surely the I takes less time to recover its forces. Can you imagine what processes will be necessary to recover from that disempowerment? If we think that those of us who leave take a lifetime to recover from the experience, what will take for those who die still inside? What happens to the soul or the spirit of such people?
You and I don’t disagree Ton. Power is a two faced dragon and cults develop the evil dragon while consciousness develops consciousness!

No one wanted to become a pimp supporting rape, everyone wanted to become a conscious being supporting culture! Our most human being WANTED that but developed the opposite! That is essence and good will but it isn’t enough. How and what we do to acquire conscious qualities matters and what we did was give our self, our lives and humanity up and literally sacrificed everything for the benefit of no one, not even Robert, for decadence is not a benefit. Useless suffering is useless suffering: decadence.

Ton: what motivates people to have power over others, to be better than others?

E: nice questions, you help me think about an article I was reading this morning that I’ll post subsequently. In our shielded personality to have power over others is the practice of elevating your self as a superior being in relation to the other. One who is therefore justified in “exploiting” him or her, economically, sexually, morally or ethically. Economic and sexual exploitation have much been looked at but the “energy” that passes between individuals in every interchange has hardly been discussed and it is as objective as if it were an economic or physical transaction. In an ethical realm, power is what both individuals experience when they treat each other respectfully: “power” as flow, as being, as existence. They mutually “empower” each other in the mutual acknowledgement, while when one places him or herself above the other, he or she dis-empowers the other. So going back to the FOF and the authoritarian relationship imposed by Robert, it is obviously a disempowering relationship which in classic tendencies in cults, leads to self-annihilation.

THAT is not what anyone wanted, not even Robert. THAT is what happened. THAT is what even today, exfellowship members are not willing to avoid in the fofblog and greater fellowship, by their unwillingness to take legal action against the cult.

Ton: fear and an innate drive for self-preservation factors into the equation too, burton certainly plays on peoples’ fears. i suggest that prying back the veneer of “good will” will reveal the desire for power, control, and vanity and narcissism had more to do with motivation than did genuine good will. anyone who is drawn into the web of the fof is not yet “conscious” enough for a genuine motive of good will, they do not possess the requisite self-knowledge…. you live and learn. from “the beginnings” and even in “students” as well as burton, genuine good will was at best a flimsy facade and a rationalization…. it’s a nice thought but you fool yourself (again) if you think it was about “good will.”
E. Desire for power, control and vanity
Power is a quality of the I. The power to move within different realms; the power to be one with the whole: the power of unity. Everyone is looking for that power. When that Power of Love, of unity, is turned upside down and backwards and used as a hierarchic tool of separation between people, you have a cult: a guru feeds on the power of the self the members give up to him or her. The process of evolution turns against the participants who “involute” instead and will inevitably self-annihilate even if that takes the form of cancer or other such illnesses.

It is similar with control. Control is a form of power and can be the control of one’s self and the control of social behavior. In cults the guru controls people against their development, people control themselves against their own development. They give up the possibility to make decisions to the guru who then controls each and every aspect of their lives. No one wants that but too many people are succumbing to that. It is ingrained in the unconsciousness of our present social practices.

Vanity? Pride of being is the other side of vanity. Essence in each member, in each human being, rightfully experiences pride in being. Who would not want that? Who didn’t want that when they joined a Conscious School? But under the conditions of such structures that move under authoritarian power, that false vanity develops that stands on the role people are given by the authority instead of their own being and understanding.

We all want the power of being, the control that comes with such power and the pride it arouses. They are beautiful things to develop! The question is HOW!

The great role of cults, the unfortunate role of cults, is to have shown us what NOT to do to achieve such qualities!

65. ton - March 14, 2010

e: “Are those for you are just naïve people?Like me and the rest of us who supported it for decades?”

elena, if we stick to the original point, “GOOD WILL IN THE BEGINNINGS OF SUCH ENTERPRISES,” i would say that in the case of these associates you’ve named, all are people like you and i, who IN THE BEGINNING, that is, when they joined, didn’t know what exactly they were getting themselves into and so in relation to “BEGINNINGS,” yes, naivete’ and ignorance (not in a pejorative sense) is the major factor. speaking personally, when i finally caught on to the scam i extracted myself from the situation. as for these others you name, including yourself, if they know and purposely perpetuate the scam, then obviously it’s not a question of naivete’ but one of complicity and criminality.

e: “You seem to treat the fof as a “conscious” fraud perpetuated by its leaders on the members and I on the contrary believe that the fof is a tragedy precisely because of the unconsciousness of its leaders as much as its members.”

then we disagree… i think it is a ‘conscious’ fraud but that certainly doesn’t make the situation any less a ‘tragedy’ — in fact it may add to the tragedy. i agree that continuation of the organization relies on a lack of awareness in the neophytes, and perpetuation of the organization relies partly on the ignorance and avoidance of the facts of the situation on the part of those who stick around beyond the neophyte stage and continue to enable. but the ‘vampires’ at the center of things, those who ‘benefit’ at the cost of others are aware of what they’re doing…. they may not know how else to live, what else to do with themselves or how else to relate to others, so in a sense they’re trapped by the situation and although you might consider that “tragic” (and it is), they’ve brought it on themselves, so i can’t feel sorry for them. i’m talking about people in positions of power in the organization, those who are in on the scam and actively perpetrating it — being trapped in a situation by their own doing does not imply ‘unconsciousness’ — it says more to me about the moral fiber of these individuals, or rather the lack thereof.

i think i can speak generally for many who like myself, figured out the scam and at that point made the choice to leave, what other options were there? stay and become ever more enmeshed in the problem ? no! after devoting my entire being to the FOF, and burning all my bridges in the process, i too, (much like the vampires who stay), didn’t know what else to do, where else to go, how to even begin to leave…. but i did it anyway. an enabler CAN quit enabling when they “grow a pair of balls” (figuratively speaking) and stand as an individual, these parasites can continue to perpetrate the fraud or they can do otherwise if/when they choose to.

e: “Was it like that for you? Did you think you were better and wanted to rise above the masses and beyond the ordinary?”

yes, in hindsight, and based on who i am now, i see that although i certainly had idealistic notions about life, what motivated me then was based on immaturity and the narcissism of youth.

e: “I don’t think they are CONSCIOUS of the fact that THAT is what they are doing: that Robert Burton and the Fellowship cult, induces their “shield personality” to become active in such direction.”

maybe i just misunderstand you… much of the allure of belonging to the FOF is based on vanity, “members” believe that they are special because of their affiliation, they are the select, the best, the ‘chosen few,’ that they’re better than everyone else on the planet, everyone else is simply moon-fodder…. this is all about vanity. if these continuing enablers catch on that they’re being “played,” then they could find a way out, or they could choose to play along and try to take advantage of the situation. of course many of us who did choose to leave know how difficult that can be, but is that an excuse?

some people like having their vanity stroked, they believe that they are in fact special, so much better than the “common” person, people can find reinforcement and support for this addiction in the fof. that IS their life, if they left the fof they would no longer be “special” — is that to say they are not “CONSCIOUS” ? i think at some point, the “unconscious” argument just becomes a lame excuse, i think many, maybe not all, but many and especially people who’ve been members for a while, know what’s going on and decide to stay on, for whatever reason… in any case, after a period of time in the organization, ignorance cannot be used as an excuse. getting back to the original point, in the beginning there were motivating factors other than what might have appeared to be “good will” — with time layers of illusion are stripped away… what changes?

66. Elena - March 14, 2010

I agree with everything you are saying in the surface. I think where we differ is that you seem to part from a position in which you think this people are “consciously” doing evil to others; That they know that what they are doing is wrong and continue to do it. I don’t believe that is true about cults of this particular type.

To begin with I don’t believe there is conscious evil! For me evil is precisely lack of consciousness in any of its forms. I do believe that there are people who intentionally deal in black magic which is about as evil as it can get to me but that most evil in our world is simply due to unconsciousness or a lack of contact with one’s self and hence with the world!

I don’t believe that anyone in the FOF including Robert or Girard ever set out and said, we are going to make a wonderful duo or team to reap these fools off. Reap or rip? What I have seen is that they divided into different personalities and their “right side doesn’t know what their left side is doing” rather literally specially in Girard! Strange that he would completely disenable half of his physical self.

The real problem in the world today and in the cult in particular is not that people are evil and harm each other, it’s that people have no consciousness of the harms they’ve suffered and continue to reproduce the same harm unaware of what and how they are doing it. The need to believe that they are not only not doing harm but that they are doing good is so powerful that no one in any harmful institution would admit to you that they are doing harm. Harm has become an acceptable way of living with each other. We are all disappearing behind the harm because no one wishes to take responsibility for it.

Take the motor industry? Would the owner of Ford admit the harm he’s done to nature and the human being? When we get in our personal vehicle, are we willing to admit even to our selves that we are damaging the ecological balance? Are the United States willing to take responsibility for the damage that the car industry is doing in the world?
The US or any other country for that matter?

The whole economic system has and is still using people for the benefit of a few individuals. There is nothing “human” about the economic system! We know that, we are not inventing a theory. The earth belongs to all of us but a few think it belongs to them and have the power to make of that a reality. It’s not about communism, we know under communist regimes “equality” was also not possible but it is about a different consciousness that is able to acknowledge the problems and their consequences.

The problem of cults will not be solved by closing one Cult like the FOF but by addressing what in people is attracted to cult life, what made the development of such cancers possible and what stops people from leaving them. What in our societies has become so corrupt that people are escaping into a different form of addiction: the cult: an addiction that is by far more dangerous to society than any drug.

Going back to the question of good will, I continue to believe that it is not ill will what draws people to cults and not ill will what keeps them inside. Being brainwashed affects the will in such a way that people are convinced they are doing good even if they are not. They are not connected with their own self and humanity; they are living in “pockets” of reality that prone them to act against themselves and others. They are essentially immature human beings who do not have the will to stop themselves or others from perpetuating harm. They do not have enough trust on their own judgement and act in harmony with what everyone else in their milieu is doing. Millions of dollars are poured out in society each day to maintain extremely harmful practices to humanity. The cult is just a cancer, it is not the cause of the illness.

The question of goodwill, will, trust, are all important in the understanding of this issues. Seeing the phenomenon is not understanding it. We have to get in there and dig out the inner life of people to understand why the outer life is so destructive and vice-versa, we need to look at the outer practices of society to understand why our inner lives became so harmful.

Thanks for sharing.

67. Elena - March 14, 2010

Here is an interesting approach to the problems we are discussing.


Boris Cyrulnik
Surviving the trauma of life
Interview by Sophie Boukhari, UNESCO Courier journalist

Boris Cyrulnik

“When you don’t know who you are, you love it when a dictatorship takes charge”

In the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, street children in the midst of winter look for warmth underground, near hot water pipes.

In a rehabilitation centre for former child soldiers, in Sierra Leone.

“In most cultures, victims are regarded as guilty of something”

The unclassifiable Cyrulnik

Boris Cyulnik is, beyond a doubt, resilient. Despite a war-wracked childhood and the deportation of his parents, he still managed to become a distinguished scholar and well-balanced individual: happy with his family, respected by his peers and famous for his many books.
Born in Bordeaux, France, in 1937, Cyrulnik only refers to his personal wounds in “third person,” while writing about children. Clearly, this is a man who has learned to transform weakness into strength. “I was never put on the ‘conveyor belt’ of life—I’ve always made my own path,” he says. “I do only what is absolutely required to be considered ‘normal.’”
Instead of distancing himself from people, his personal trauma drove him to try to understand what it means to be human. After studying medicine, he followed diverse branches of psychology, such as neuropsychiatry and psychoanalysis, before breaking the sacrosanct barriers between academic disciplines. Yet by moving into fields like ethology (which focuses on animal behaviour), the maverick scholar made considerable enemies in the scientific community.
This anti-specialist, globetrotter and incurably curious academic has never hesitated to question some of the dogma of psychoanalysis. While Freud holds guilt responsible for neurosis and social discontent, Cyrulnik feels that there is a “good” kind of guilt, through which “we try to avoid causing harm because we can empathize with others. This is probably the basis of morality.”

Trauma and anxiety are the lot of a growing number of young people, as violence holds sway and traditional notions of the family disintegrate. But there are roads to recovery, says French globetrotting psychologist, Boris Cyrulnik

You must have been quite intrigued by the descriptions of the September 11 terrorists in the media. These young men had fairly balanced childhoods and were quite educated. Yet they turned into violent fanatics. How do you explain that?
By their total lack of empathy. Germans became Nazis in exactly the same way, by not being able to imagine someone else’s world. For them, you had to be blonde, dolichocephalic (having a long head) and not Jewish. All other people were inferior beings. The terrorists in the U.S. attacks had good upbringing and education but they never learned to accept forms of human existence other than their own.

Why not?
In some Muslim countries, fanaticism is manufactured. Just like in France, where people were taught to hate Germans after the 1870 Franco-German war. Teachers were actually paid to tell children they would be glorified if one day they went off to “smash” the Germans. I’ve seen the same thing in the Middle East. I’ve seen books that told little boys that if they died for religion, they’d go straight to heaven to live with Allah. These schools that teach there is only one truth, are schools of hatred.

But some of the terrorists were children of immigrants who adjusted well in Europe…
These individuals never made it through adolescence into adulthood. There are more and more young people in Europe who fail on that score, about a third of the total, because we don’t know how to help and support them properly. They drift and become perfect targets for sects and extremist movements. When you don’t know who you are, you love it when a dictatorship takes charge of you. The moment you submit to a master, to a single message, you become a fanatic. Many people are also suffering from a growing sense of anxiety over globalization. They feel depersonalized and disconnected from their feelings. Disturbed people feel secure obeying someone who tells them what to do. Submission is a good way for them to get rid of their anxiety.

So you don’t think economic globalization induces a kind of “collective global sub-conscious” that helps us to come to grips with all the ideas and information coming at us from all sides?
No. On the contrary, if I want to see the world, I have to accept that I won’t understand everything. Identity is like speech. When a baby is born, it has the capacity to make several thousand different sounds. But to speak, it has to whittle them down to between 100 and 300, according to the language. The same principle applies to forging an identity. I must give up a thousand elements or dimensions which cannot be integrated into the person I want to be. Today, with globalization, a lot of people are looking to their roots to “whittle themselves down” in order to forge an identity.

So people return to their roots because the Western “model” is spreading too fast?
Some people are fanatically seeking refuge in their roots. But this approach leads to alienation. Since it’s the West that has the weapons, the money and the technology, there’s a very good chance Western attitudes will become globalized and spread across the world. Either you unhappily submit to this trend or your hatred of the West increases, which is what is happening today. Imaginary identities, many hundreds or even thousands of years old, will continue to resurface. It’s as if the only choice is between “de-identification” and alienation.

Is there a compromise solution?
Yes. To avoid feeling alienated, people must recognize that an identity is like a patchwork of different elements. All identities are the product of a father’s and mother’s past and of a religion everyone interprets according to their cultural surroundings. In France, for example, Bretons are very proud of the painted crockery made in Quimper but not many know that the style was invented by an Italian who emigrated to Brittany a century ago.

You’ve talked about the serious problems of today’s teenagers, who are “drifting” more and more. Yet children have never been better understood by society than today, so why are so many youngsters becoming neurotic, committing suicide and taking to crime?
That isn’t a contradiction. Progress always has a price. The price of freedom is anxiety. Today children get help to develop their personalities and become aware of all kinds of things. They’re more intelligent and more lively, but also more worried. We look after them very well when they’re young and then we abandon them as soon as they’re teenagers. Society doesn’t take over where parents leave off. So a third of all teenagers fall apart, usually after leaving high school. To avoid that, we need more social and cultural structures that will help them give meaning to their lives by encouraging them to be creative, to speak openly, to reach out to each other. But we don’t do that.
A teenager’s problem lies in the question: “What am I going to do about what I’ve been made into?” To answer that, they must be surrounded by the warmth of feeling that comes from a group, from friends, from the confidence of being able to find a job. But the technological revolution has been so massive that schools now have a monopoly on social selection—they determine the possibilities open to an individual. If a boy or girl blossoms, they do well in school and learn a skill. They’ll be among the two-thirds of teenagers who benefit from the improved facilities and support available in early childhood. But the other third don’t like school, feel humiliated and don’t get a chance to shine elsewhere. They find themselves at a loose end on the street, without a job and often without any family. How do kids like this recover their self-esteem? They indulge in “tough” activities, testing themselves and proving their existence by adopting primitive social rituals such as violence, fighting and drugs.

You say, “there is no family.” But isn’t it just that the family is changing?
There’s no family and it’s changing, as it always has. When kids get home, there’s no one there. No father, no mother. Why should they shut themselves up in an empty house when there are pals out in the street? I’ve worked in some Latin American countries where kids say they had a row with their mother or stepfather and just left. Life is physically very hard in the street but there’s always something going on—a celebration, a theft, something to share. You talk and you live. These children get used to not having a family by turning to petty crime. A street boy in Colombia who isn’t a delinquent has a life expectancy of about 10 days. He’s eliminated if he doesn’t join a gang. Delinquency is a way of adapting to a crazy society.

But what should be done? Make women stay at home?
No, but there has to be someone there, man or woman. In some cultures that still have extended families, there’s always a grown-up at home. Elsewhere, we have to innovate. In Brazil, for example, people construct families that have nothing to do with blood or biology. An old man says to an old lady: “I’m sick of going down the steep slopes in the slums, I’m going to take care of the house.” And the old lady says: “Well, I’m going to look after the kids in the neighbourhood.” And then another, a bit younger, says: “I’ll chip in with some money because I’ve got an odd job.” These are verbal families, people who’ve made understandings to protect each other, to be friends, to celebrate and fight together, like all families. Delinquency vanishes immediately in these households as soon as this kind of family develops.

In the West, the family has changed dramatically, yet laws and attitudes haven’t.
That is because we often make the mistake of talking about the “traditional family.” Yet this structure only emerged in the West in the 19th century, at the same time as the factories. It was a way of adapting to industrial society. A man was an appendage of a machine and a woman an appendage of a man. There was order in every facet of life. Individuals—just about all women and most men—were psychologically crushed. Only a minority, about two percent of the population, was able to develop healthily. And so they married to pass on their property and other goods. But this version of a traditional family wasn’t very common at the time because most workers didn’t get married, since they had no property to pass on.
That society has disappeared and there are fewer and fewer traditional families, but the model is still in people’s minds. And the laws are only just starting to change. When there’s just one concept around, it takes a long while for people to change their attitudes. You have to wage “a war of words,” writing and debating, to drive things forward. You can invent a thousand different variations of the family as long as children still have a place where they’re protected, where there’s love and growth and where some things, like incest are absolutely forbidden, while other rules can be negotiated.

The idea of resilience you discuss in your recent books1 is becoming very popular. Why?
Epidemiological research by the World Health Organization shows that one out of two people has been or will be seriously traumatized at some time during their life (by war, violence, rape, cruelty, incest, etc.). One in four will experience at least two serious traumas. The rest are also bound to fall on some hard times. Yet the notion of resilience, which is a person’s ability to grow in the face of terrible problems, had not been scientifically studied until recently. Today, it’s all the rage in many countries. In Latin America, they have resilience institutes, in Holland and Germany they have resilience universities. In the United States, you hear the word all the time. The World Trade Center towers have even been nicknamed “the twin resilient towers” by those who want to rebuild them.

So why wasn’t this idea investigated earlier?
Because for a long time people have despised victims. In most cultures, they’re regarded as guilty of something. A woman who’s been raped, for example, is often condemned as much as her attacker because “she must have provoked him,” it is said. Sometimes a victim is punished even more than an aggressor is. Not so long ago in Europe, an unmarried woman who had a baby was thrown out on the street while the father risked virtually nothing.
This disdain or hatred has also been directed against the survivors of war. The families and villages of these victims are suspicious and say: “He’s coming home. That means he must have hidden somewhere or collaborated with the enemy.” After the Second World War, the most deadly in human history, things swung to the other extreme. The victims became heroes. By pushing these individuals into making careers as victims, societies found a convenient way of downplaying the crimes of the Nazis. The fact that these victims survived was used to downplay the savagery.
At the time, René Spitz and Anna Freud2 described children whose parents had been killed in the wartime bombing of London. They were all profoundly impaired and shut-off people, suicidal and unable to relax their bodies. When Spitz and Freud saw them again a few years later, they were amazed at how well they’d recovered and wrote that these abandoned children had gone through four stages: protest, despair, indifference—all students learned about those three—and then recovery, which nobody was interested in studying.

How did resilience become accepted among psychologists?
The word, which comes from the Latin “resalire” (to jump up again), appeared in the English language and passed into psychological parlance in the 1960s thanks to an American psychologist, Emmy Werner. She had gone to Hawaii to assess the development of children who had no family, didn’t go to school, lived in great poverty and were exposed to disease and violence. She followed them for 30 years and found that in the end, a third had learned how to read and write, acquired a skill and started a family. Two-thirds of them were still in a bad way. But if people were just machines, all of them would have failed.

What’s a typical resilient child like, socially and culturally?
There is no typical profile. But a traumatized child can still be resilient if she or he has acquired a gut or primitive confidence in the first year of life. Such children take the attitude that “I’ve been loved therefore I’m worth loving, so I live in hope of meeting someone who’ll help me resume my development.” These children feel a lot of grief but still relate to other people, give them gifts of food and look for an adult they can turn into one of their parents. Then they give themselves a narrative identity – “I’m the one who was… sent to the camps, raped, forced to become a child soldier” and so on.
If you give them a chance to make up for lost time and to express themselves, nearly all—90 to 95 per cent—become resilient. They have to be given a chance to be creative, to test and prove themselves as kids, through things like joining the scouts, studying for an exam, organizing a trip and learning to be useful. Problem youngsters feel humiliated when they’re given something, especially if there’s a lecture along with it. But they regain their balance when asked to give something themselves.
When they grow up, such children are drawn to selfless professions. They want others to learn from what they’ve gone through. They often become teachers, social workers, psychiatrists or psychologists. Having been problem children themselves helps them to identify with and respect those who have been psychologically hurt.

68. Elena - March 15, 2010

Trained as an ethologist, Boris Cyrulnik has opened the field of research into human ethology in France in a resolutely multidisciplinary approach [1], overturning many generally accepted ideas on the human being. His two latest works, Un Merveilleux Malheur (A Marvellous Misfortune) and Les Vilains Petits Canards (The Ugly Ducklings), which have been hugely successful in France, record his work on the concept of resilience, that ability to overcome the most serious psychic trauma and emotional wounds (illness, grief, rape, torture, assassination attempts, deportation, war). So many acts of physical and moral violence to which millions of men, women and children are exposed in today’s world. Backed up by many examples observed in the field, in his psychotherapist’s office as well as on his foreign missions – from Bosnia to Cambodia, passing through Brazil or Russia – he explains how, even in the most terrible cases, people are able to pull through and resume their lives, thanks to which faculties acquired in childhood and what support they received after the traumatizing experience.
Label France: What is it that characterises trauma and distinguishes it from a simple moral or physical ordeal?
Boris Cyrulnik: In order to be able to talk about trauma, you have to “have been dead” to adopt the expression used by writers such as Primo Levi, Jorge Semprun [survivors of the Nazi extermination camps], or the singer, Barbara [victim of incest by her father], as well as by many people with whom I have worked. Whereas in an ordeal we suffer, fight, we are depressed, angry, but we feel very much alive and we manage to overcome things, in the case of trauma, people remain prisoners of their past and very often relive the images of the horror they have experienced for years.
On the one hand (and it is the psychoanalyst Anna Freud who has explained this), we have to be struck twice to create a trauma, once in reality (that is the ordeal itself, the suffering, the humiliation, the loss) and once as represented in the person’s mind and in the way others talk about the person after the event. It is very often in social discourse, in fact, that we have to try and understand the devastating effect of the trauma.

“You have to be struck twice to create a trauma: in reality, and as represented in your mind”

The way we interpret what has happened to us depends to a great extent on the view of others. If you feel disgust, pity or horror for what has happened to me, it is your view that will transform my ordeal into trauma. In saying this I am thinking of women who have been raped. Almost all of them say that it is not compassion that has helped them pull through, but when a man has said to them “I am counting on you”. The fact that someone once again has respect for them has restored them as women.
LF: The impact of a trauma therefore also depends on the perception, on the meaning that the affected person attributes to it. The causes of trauma may well be relative…
BC: Freud was surprised at the great inequality of traumas. It is actually very striking to see that a person collapses for reasons which, for most people and seen from the outside, are not at all serious. On the contrary, we see people going through immense ordeals and getting their lives going again, whereas the majority of us claim that we would never have been able to pull through. This difference in reaction is explained notably by the significance that events take on in the life of each person.
LF: What type of upbringing and links with the child from its earliest age, and even before it is born, encourage the development of its capacities for resilience?

Lebanon, 1991.
BC: We would suggest the distinction between inner and outer resources. Inner resources are those in which our biological memory was steeped before speech, in the course of the baby’s early interactions with the people around him. We note that when a child is raised in an emotionally stable environment, he acquires this early preverbal confidence (the cognitive subconscious and not the Freudian subconscious of the repressed) which means that if problems arise, he will receive the “first blow”, he will suffer, he will be unhappy, he could even be depressed, but he will have deep within him the feeling that he has been loved, and therefore that he is lovable, and this will enable him to keep hoping and to bounce back.
This emotional security starts building up within the last six weeks of pregnancy, if the mother is not stressed, and particularly in the first year after birth. On the other hand, it develops provided that the child is part of a triangular relationship that includes both parents, or any other strong emotional partner of the mother, whether this is another man, her own mother or father. It is these three persons who, in their interactions, are the developmental collaborators of the child, who is not a passive recipient.
After the trauma of Nazism in Europe, which glorified authority to the point of destroying personalities, we witnessed a rejection of authority. We thought then that the less constraints were imposed on children, the better their development would be. This wrecked one or two generations of Americans in particular. The new notion that emerged in conjunction with resiliency was that children should be given opportunities for success in order to build up their confidence in themselves; we should not take things out of their hands or overprotect them because this creates people who are often forced to put themselves to the test in adolescence through risky behaviour, by acting out their desires in order to find out who they are and what their real value is.
LF: What are the developmental support mechanisms you talk about, and what is their role?
BC: Giving birth to a child is not enough. He must also be introduced to the world, and he must have sensorial and sensible networks around him that act as his developmental supports. Even if a child is genetically and neurologically sound, but around him there are no ways of touching him, talking to him, washing and dressing him, or even of scolding him, his development will be seriously impaired. Deprival of contacts and affection may go as far as causing physical and cerebral degeneration. In institutions where orphaned children become depersonalised, we even see girls not turning into women hormonally.

LF: Which shows to what extent sexual identity is both a social and cultural structure…
BC: Indeed, the difference between the sexes is a hormonal, anatomical one, but also a hugely emotional and cultural one. It is our Western civilisation that has split the biological on the one hand and the cultural on the other, but they do actually interact. This is why a child, in order to develop, needs just as many glucides as words.

LF: What may an individual’s reactions be after a trauma and what pattern do they follow?
BC: It should be understood that a trauma can be repaired but not reversed. There is a constraint to metamorphosis. If we have acquired inner resources and there are outer resources around us after the trauma (resilience support mechanisms), we have a greater chance of pulling through than of remaining hurt. Otherwise, we become vulnerable. The impact of traumas is therefore very uneven, depending on people’s history and their environment.

Ivory Coast, 1999.
Human beings have adaptative strategies, post-traumatic disorders, the purpose of which is to make them suffer less. But this adaptation to a trauma, particularly with children, is not always beneficial when it causes a loss of part of their personality, submission, abnegation of one’s own development, the quest for intellectual indifference, emotional freezing, the distrust of the assailant or an attempt to win him over.
“In order to develop, a child needs just as many glucides as words”
Some reactions can be redemptive despite being condemned by society. Abandoned children living on the streets, notably in Latin America, can only survive if they become delinquents. The child who cannot steal, who cannot join in with others in attacking adults, has a life expectancy of eight to ten days. In their case, delinquency has an adaptative value to a crazy society.
Another healthy reaction in some cases after a trauma is memory denial. I think that it is respectable, for example on the scale of a country that has gone through a civil war and needs to be rebuilt. In Cambodia, for instance, where the Khmer Rouge today eat at the same table as the children of those they assassinated. How could we possibly co-exist and move forward after such tragedies if we did not practise denial?
LF: Would it therefore be better for societies not to publicly assume responsibility for certain horrors committed or suffered in the past in order to be able to build themselves up again?
BC: The South Africans, being familiar with our work, decided to organise discussions between blacks and whites immediately after the abolition of Apartheid, and these ended in disaster. This revived tensions and enlarged the gulf between the communities, and people left with hatred in their hearts because the wound was too recent.

LF: Do you not think that, in the long run, it is nevertheless important for a country to be able to face up to its history?
BC: That depends. I am comparing denial with the reaction of road casualties who, when they manage to find a pain-killing position, refuse to be moved if you want to help them. They are right because if you touch them in any way, you may add to their wounds and make them suffer. But they are also wrong because you cannot save them by leaving them by the wayside. I think this aspect needs to be taken into account. Ideally, it should be possible to open cases immediately while avoiding civil war, which unfortunately rarely seems possible.

LF: What attitude should close relations, professionals and the authorities adopt to help the traumatized, particularly children, to recover and blossom?

BC: It is crucial that we emphasize that even in the most terrible cases, such as those of children who have witnessed the massacre of their entire family, there is always hope, because most human determinism is not definitive. But it is vital here that we do not regard the person as done for. To say that a child is done for and to abandon him to his fate comes down to creating the conditions for what was predicted. A person should not be reduced to his trauma or be trapped in the position of victim.

“Silencing the traumatized prevents their healing”

On the other hand, being able to be resilient depends to a large extent on the emotional reactions of those around you, for whom it is often very difficult to cope with the image of the assault that their child, spouse or parent has suffered. But it is certainly not by sinking with them that we shall help wounded men, women and children.
LF: What is the importance of talking in the healing process?

A street in Antigua,
Guatemala, 1998.
BC: It is very important that the traumatized are not silenced. If they are reduced to silence because it is too hard to hear what they have to say, because we cannot take it on board, their personality will split. A part of them, which will be forced to remain secret, could then be expressed by mood swings or seemingly inexplicable aggressiveness. Soldiers in wars not accepted by their country (Algeria, Vietnam) may therefore never pull through, whereas those supported by their close relations or society do not develop post-traumatic syndrome.
Finally, victims should be offered the opportunity of giving, of making themselves useful so that their self-esteem can be restored. There we have an entire cultural job to do, so that we don’t just restrict ourselves to giving them help. This involves making problem, violent and delinquent children aware of their responsibilities by entrusting them with paid tasks that increase their sense of worth and that are useful to the community, as is done in Greece, Sweden and Iceland, for example.
LF: And the resilience support mechanisms?
BC: Traumatized children have to be surrounded by support mechanisms to help them resume their development. What is important is to ask these children to make something of their trauma without expecting that the fortunes of life will put an encounter, a passion on their path that will enable them to get going again. This is why, if it is too difficult for them to express what has happened to them verbally, we offer children other ways of expressing themselves, notably through artistic means (drawing, writing plays, poetry…), which enable them to master their emotions and to distance themselves from the trauma.
A huge number of former child casualties get involved in artistic or militant activities for the benefit of others. Almost all of them try to understand the reason for what has happened to them and develop a great ability to intellectualise it. What is to them an invaluable defence mechanism also has the merit of benefiting society as a whole. These methods of resilience are cultural and beneficial for everyone. They could easily be used by all cultures.
LF: Are there experiences that are insurmountable in themselves?
BC: There are situations where the shock of the real is so strong that the human being can no longer bounce back. There are others, too, where the lack of meaning deprives the individual of his defense to react. In the Nazi death camps, for example, those who were the first to go wondered why they were there. They did not understand, whereas the communists, political opponents and resistance fighters who knew why they were there, coped better and managed to fight and get organised.
LF: Do capacities for resilience vary according to age and do they differ a lot between a child and an adult?
BC: What traumatises a child is not what traumatises an adolescent or an adult. Before it learns to speak, what traumatises a child is emotional loss, its world becomes empty. Afterwards, when it can speak, it is what is said about its trauma, “the poor thing, he’s lost his mother, he’s worth less than the others”. That’s the kind of expression that was used for bastards. To adults, it is the meaning that their history gives to what has happened to them that can be traumatic.
A child is more malleable than an adult, but even when they are older, human beings still have the capacity to recover and adapt, and we can verify this in the case of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. If they forget how to talk, they develop other methods of communicating with others that we have to learn to decode.
LF: Is there one type of culture that is more favourable than another to the development of resilient people?
BC: In order for culture to provide resilient support, it has to generate protagonists rather than spectators. It’s why I set the “creative culture” against the “passive culture” that dominates our consumer and entertainment societies.
Cultures that favour resilience are cultures where everyone has access to and participates in culture by going out, going to the theatre, reading, discussing what they have seen and felt in the stories that deal with everyone’s problems. Art has an important role in staging our intimate perceptions, which we will be able to talk about with those close to us.
LF: How do you explain the violence of certain adolescents in our society ?
BC: I think that it is based notably on the problem of early education. Prohibitions mostly come into being during the second year of life. This is the time when children have to learn behavioural taboos, when empathy and the ability to imagine the other person’s world is established, the child has to know that he cannot permit himself to do anything. Now, if a child is surrounded by parents who do everything for him and are reluctant to forbid him anything whatever, he stands a very good chance of becoming a violent adolescent because he will not be able to set limits on his desires.
LF: What balance should be found between disciplining and educating children and adolescent delinquents?
BC: Punishment is necessary because if they are not punished, they will punish themselves, notably with self-destructive behaviour. I shall cite the case of these two brothers, who were fighting in play; the eldest child was hit in the stomach and died from internal bleeding before the arrival of the emergency services called by their parents. The parents decided not to reveal the circumstances of the death of their son so that their younger son would not be sent to prison. This boy, who received psychotherapy at my practice and was highly gifted and exceptionally intelligent, punished himself in different ways for fifteen years. I maintain that if this boy had been punished by society, whose duty it is to set out and remind people of the law, he would have paid, he would have suffered and he would have been released from this guilt.
On the other hand, we have to set greater importance on giving people a sense of responsibility through the processes of compensation. A youth who attacked old ladies, for example, will be asked to go and do their shopping. Through the link established between them and their “victim” and through the usefulness of what they do, these youngsters acquire a sense of pride and a surprising respect for others or for the area in which they live. These experiences give very good results because the children who commit such acts are generally excluded, all at sea and have lost their points of reference. They often drift towards sects and gangs that glorify violence and brutality, but where they find rules and laws that are indeed often very hard.

What do you think of prison? Is it always the solution?

BC: Prison is a school of crime, it’s a perversion. Every patient I have treated who went there has told me that in prison they learnt to lose the sense of the other person and to quell in themselves any human feeling in order to avoid suffering. When they came out of prison, they were even more violent than when they went in. Society has to find real solutions to the problems of violence and to think about its socio-economic causes.
Interview conducted
by Anne Rapin

69. Elena - March 15, 2010
Hi ton, Don’t think I am not here for our conversation when you wish to continue it. I’m just continuing with work I had already begun before that is equally connected to our discussion. file:///Users/clara/Downloads/893-2973-1-PB.pdf I’ve been working on this text which is rather obscure in my opinion but at the same time very valuable. Here is all of it. I will take parts of it and work on them independently in relation to the subjects I wish to address in relation to Cults. I apologize for the cut up pieces that result in the transfer from its original site but reading it in its site, having to move the text back and forth because it doesn’t fit in a window is even more difficult for me than here. foucault studies © Michael Ure, 2007 ISSN: 1832-5203 Foucault Studies, No 4, pp. 19-52, Feb 2007 ARTICLE Senecan Moods: Foucault and Nietzsche on the Art of the Self Michael Ure , Monash University It is well known that self‐examination and the guidance of conscience was widespread among … the Stoics and the Epicureans as a means of daily taking stock of the good or evil performed in regard to one’s duties … The guidance of conscience was also predominant in certain cultured circles, but as advice given … in particularly difficult circumstances: in mourning, or when one was suffering a setback. (Foucault)1 Introduction In this epigraph, taken from a lecture he gave during the early stages of his research into the practices of the self, we find Foucault, the archaeologist of culture, at work excavating and reconstructing the fragments of the Hellenistic practices of the self. What he unearths beneath two millennia of Christian civilization are practices of the self that differ “radically”, as he puts it, from Christian conscience‐vivisection. Nor, as the epigraph makes clear, do the cultural practices of self‐cultivation he pieces together from the fragments of antiquity bear much resemblance, if any, to the vain self‐display and preciosity of the nineteenth‐century Dandy. Rather, Foucault uncovers a “golden age of self‐cultivation” in which individuals undertook the work of the self not in order to attain salvation from this world or aristocratic distinction within it, but as a therapy that enabled them to remain composed in the face of the sufferings and losses of mortal life.2 According to Didier Eribon, this excavation of the Hellenistic and Roman care of the self left an unmistakable mark on Foucault’s writing style. 1 Michel Foucault, ‘Omnes et Singulatum: Toward a Criticism of ‘Political Reason’ in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values II, ed. Sterling McMurrin (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1981), 238, emphasis added. The published essay is the text of two lectures Foucault delivered at Stanford University on October 10 & 16, 1979. 2 Michel Foucault, The Care of the Self, trans. by Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1986), 45. (Hereafter CS). 19 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 In his last two works, Eribon notes, many of his former admirers and fellow travellers found themselves disappointed by this change of style, much as a century earlier Nietzsche’s readers and erstwhile friends were alienated by the dramatic transformation that Nietzsche’s own turn to Hellenistic philosophy had wrought on his style. Indeed, this parallel goes further, for Foucault’s interpreters describe his stylistic shift in almost identical terms to those that Nietzsche’s critics had employed to define his transformation from disciple of Dionysus to sober positivist. Foucault’s interpreters, Eribon reports, contrasted the “fiery” style of his early works with the calm, dispassionate, “sober” style of his late research on antiquity.3 Eribon claims that the style of Foucault’s life and work in his last years bears testimony to the extent to which he assimilated Stoicism, especially in its Senecan moods: It is as if approaching death and the foreboding he had of it for several months had led Foucault onto the path of serenity. Seneca, whose works were among his favorite reading, would have praised such a model of ‘the philosophical life’. Foucault seemed to have internalised the ancient wisdom to such a point that it had become imposed upon his style itself – his style as a writer and his style as a man.4 The sober, dispassionate style of Nietzsche’s middle works and Foucault’s late works signpost their return to the conception of the philosophical life and practice that dominated philosophy from Epicurus to Seneca, that is to say, to the idea of philosophy as a therapy of the soul. Both turned back to the Hellenistic therapies as the question of the self, or more specifically and pressingly, of their “ego ipsissimum,” took centre stage in their thinking.5 3 Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, trans. Betsy Wing (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 331. Eribon quotes from Deleuze and Blanchot, respectively. In his last interview Foucault himself discusses his stylistic change in strangely enigmatic terms; see Michel Foucault, ‘The Return of Morality’, John Johnston (trans) in ed. Sylvère Lotringer, Foucault Live: Interviews 1966‐1984 (New York:Semiotext(e), 1989), 317‐331, 317‐318. Paul Veyne also notes that Seneca’s Stoicism played an important role in Foucault’s “interior life” in his last years as he was living under the threat of AIDS; see Paul Veyne, Seneca: The Life of a Stoic, trans. David Sullivan (New York: Routledge, 2003) , ix‐x. 4 Eribon, Michel Foucault, 331, emphasis added. According to Paul Veyne, in the last stages of his life Foucault himself practised this Stoic mode of philosophising and writing of the self: “Throughout the last eight months of his life, writing his two books played the same part for him that philosophical writing and personal journals played in ancient philosophy – that of the work performed by the self on the self, of self‐stylization” (quoted in Eribon, Foucault, 325). By contrast, James Miller attempts to downplay the importance of this Stoic turn in Foucault’s work; James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault (London: Flamingo, 1994), 342. 5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits vol. 2, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), Preface §1. (Hereafter 20 Ure: Senecan Moods Nietzsche in his middle works and Foucault in his last, incomplete researches both draw on the Hellenistic and Stoic traditions that analyse and treat the pathologies which threaten to arise from “setbacks” to our wishes, especially from that “most touchy point in the narcissistic system”: the mortality that shadows our lives and loves and which compels us to learn how to work on ourselves and mourn our losses.6 Toward the end of his own life, Foucault himself was evidently captivated by this motif of Greco‐Roman philosophy: “That life, because of its mortality, has to be a work of art is a remarkable theme”.7 Of course, the more common Foucault‐Nietzsche discussions turn on perceived similarities or linkages in their ideas of power and knowledge, genealogy and interpretation, will and agency. Indeed, on this latter point, there is almost universal agreement that the critique of the metaphysics of subjectivity that forms the theoretical underpinning of Foucault’s thinking in the 1970s largely derives from Nietzsche’s genealogical analysis of the fabrication of subjectivity. The disagreements in this debate do not concern the extent of Nietzsche’s influence on Foucault, but the philosophical validity and political implications of his Nietzschean‐inspired critique of the “magisterial illusions of subjectivity”.8 There is also widespread agreement that in his late texts Foucault once again returns to Nietzsche, but this time to rescue a positive model of the exercise of subjectivity from his own unrelenting critique of the illusions of agency; as Keith Ansell‐Pearson explains: (I)n his later works on ethics Foucault was to recognise that his notion of the subject as a mere effect of power constituted one of the major deficiencies in his thinking, and it was precisely to a Nietzschean HAH 2). Hollingdale translates ego ipsissimum as “my innermost self”. Nietzsche’s use of this phrase deliberately underlines the Latin roots of his idea of the care of the self. 6 Sigmund Freud, ‘On Narcissism’, trans. James Strachey in On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis, Penguin Freud Library, Vol. 11 (London: Penguin, 1991), 85. 7 Michel Foucault quoted in Timothy O’Leary, Foucault and the Art of Ethics, (London: Continuum, 2002), 175, footnote 14. 8 Michael Janover, ‘The Subject of Foucault’ in Clare O’Farrell (ed.), Foucault: The Legacy (Queensland: QUP, 1997), 215‐227. The nature and extent of Foucault’s debt to Nietzsche’s critique of the metaphysics of subjectivity has been rehearsed too often to require further elaboration here; for a lucid discussion of this issue see Peter Dews, Logics of Disintegration: Post‐Structuralism and the Claims of Critical Theory (London: Verso, 1987); and Peter Dews, ‘The Return of the Subject in the Late Foucault’, Radical Philosophy, 51, Spring (1989), 37‐41. 21 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 aesthetic conception of ethics that he turned in his thinking about an alternative non‐juridical model of selfhood.9 However, as we have noted, the shift in Foucault’s philosophical orientation and style derives from a tradition that can be better understood in therapeutic rather than aesthetic terms. Foucault clouds the true nature and significance of the Hellenistic and Stoic care of the self insofar as he presents it as a purely aesthetic project akin to nineteenth‐century Dandyism.10 On the other hand, if we bracket Foucault’s comments glossing these practices as purely aesthetic, and examine instead his historical analyses of the care of the self we discover the clear outlines of Hellenistic philosophy and Stoicism as philosophic therapeia of the soul.11 In other words, Foucault’s research reveals a much richer conception of the work of the self than he can capture with this aesthetic gloss. As we shall see, it is this richer conception of the self that stands at the centre of Nietzsche’s middle works. Once we suspend Foucault’s misleadingly aestheticised rendering of the Hellenistic and Roman tradition, therefore, we can use his historical excavation of the practices of the self to clarify the ethics of subjectivity (or agent‐centred ethics, to use analytic parlance) that lies at the heart of Nietzsche’s middle works. Indeed, in his 1981‐1982 lectures Foucault himself suggests in passing that it might be possible and fruitful to re‐read Nietzsche’s thought as a difficult attempt to reconstitute the Hellenistic ethics of the self.12 Finally, as we saw above, the care of the self addresses the psychological traumas of loss and transience, and it is for this reason that Nietzsche’s renovation of this tradition can be explicated as a treatment that addresses the loss of narcissistic plenitude and 9 Keith Ansell‐Pearson, ‘The Significance of Michel Foucault’s Reading of Nietzsche: Power, The Subject, and Political Theory’, in Peter Sedgwick (ed.), Nietzsche: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 13‐30. 26‐27, emphasis added. 10 In his remarkable systematic reconstruction of Foucault’s ethics, Timothy O’Leary makes a similar point. He claims that Foucault often imposes a nineteenth‐century aestheticist cult of beauty onto a Greco‐Roman philosophic tradition that was preoccupied with aesthetics in the much narrower sense of a series of technai (techniques) for working on and transforming the self, and that he overstates the extent to which beauty was the telos or aim of these techniques; see O’Leary, Foucault and the Art of Ethics, 14‐15, 86, 102‐104, 172. For a rigorous account of the Stoics’ technical conception of philosophy ‐ i.e., its understanding of philosophical wisdom as a technical knowledge analogous to the expert knowledge of the craftsmen ‐ which functions to transform one’s bios or way of living see John Sellars, The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003). 11 David M. Halperin develops another angle on why we should avoid reducing Foucault’s aestheticism to Baudelairean or Wildean dandyism; see Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). 12 Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981‐ 1982, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 251. (Hereafter HS). 22 Ure: Senecan Moods its pathological manifestations, which, in one way or another, seek to restore the magisterial illusions of subjectivity. Foucault’s recuperation of the Hellenistic care of the self establishes two points that clear the way to comprehending Nietzsche’s ethics of subjectivity: (1) that the Christian hostility to pagan self‐love blocks our comprehension of Hellenistic ethics and continues to pervert the critical reception of its modern renovations and (2) that the ethics of the care of the self, properly conceived, is a philosophical therapy guided by the notion that the self constitutes itself through the voluntary exercise of a range of reflexive techniques and practices oriented towards treating the affects of revenge, envy and anger. In sum, Foucault’s recuperation of Hellenistic ethics clarifies both the general conception of ethical practice and some of the substantive ethical and psychological issues at stake in Nietzsche’s middle works. For our purposes, the significance of Foucault’s resurrection of the Hellenistic and Roman practices of self‐cultivation lies in the way he clears several obstacles that stand in the path of comprehending Nietzsche’s own concern with these practices. In the first place, Foucault demonstrates the extent to which the reception of Hellenistic self‐cultivation has been marred by Christian polemics against self‐love, which its early theologians consider the besetting sin of all paganism. These polemics, Foucault shows, have cast a long shadow over every attempt to recover a positive notion of the work of the self on itself. In other words, one of the great merits of Foucault’s excavation of the Hellenistic practices of the self lies in the way it frees the reception of this tradition from the incrustations of Christian polemics. He demonstrates that Christianity wrongly interprets Hellenistic self‐cultivation as closely connected, either historically or analytically, with a “conceited ontology” that gives license to various brands of hyper‐individualism.13 Foucault’s interpretation of Hellenistic self‐cultivation sets it apart from individualism understood either as a solipsistic withdrawal into the private sphere, a crude exaltation of singularity, or, as indeed Augustine saw it, an inflamed self‐love that blossoms into a love of power over others.14 According to Foucault, an intense labour of the self on itself can, as it did with the Stoics, fuse with fulfilling one’s obligations to humankind, to one’s fellow citizens and to a denunciation of social withdrawal.15 Once it emerges from the shadows of Christianity, he argues, the Hellenistic tradition can be rightfully seen as a rich vein of philosophical therapy that takes as its starting 13 Romand Coles constructs pagan subjectivity as founded on a “conceited ontology”; see Romand Coles, Self, Power, Others: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992). 14 CS, 42‐43; and Michel Foucault, ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress’, in Paul Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader (London: Penguin Books, 1984), 350 (Hereafter GE). 15 CS, 42 23 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 point a conception of the subject as a series of reflexive spiritual and material exercises. We can then recover the remnants of a philosophical therapy, “a treasury of devices, techniques, ideas and procedures”, focussed on analysing how the self can work on itself in such a way that it does not rage vengefully either against the mortal losses it suffers or against those who brim with such vengefulness.16 It follows that if Nietzsche anchors his middle works in the Stoic tradition’s intensification and valorisation of the practices of the care of the self then his ethical project must also be sundered from any necessary connections with the chain of synonyms that Augustine associates with this tradition: perverse self‐love, love of domination, apostasy from God and the sin of pride.17 If this can be established then it is also plausible that those critics who equate Nietzsche’s ideal of self‐cultivation with narcissistic self‐ involvement and/or grandiose exaltation of the self over others, merely reprise Christianity’s moral and hermeneutic prejudices against the Hellenistic arts of living. Secondly, Foucault’s schematic presentation of the concepts and practices of Hellenistic self‐cultivation, especially his analysis of the Roman Stoics, can be used to clarify the extent to which Nietzsche takes up not just its general ethical orientation, but its substantive conception of the work of the self.18 Like the Hellenistic thinkers, Nietzsche conceives this ethics as a continuous, difficult and sometimes painful labour that the self performs on itself, rather than as a heightening of narcissistic self‐preoccupation. We can measure the distance between narcissistic self‐absorption and self‐cultivation by the fact that both the Hellenistic thinkers and Nietzsche see it as a labour mediated through social practices that draw on and enrich the bonds of friendship.19 Nietzsche’s ethics of self‐cultivation also rests on the central organising principle of Hellenistic discourse: its analogy between the arts of medicine and philosophical therapy. Nietzsche follows the Epicureans, but especially the Stoics, in charting the movements of the soul as a series of cycles of illness, convalescence and health, in conceptualising philosophers as doctors to the soul, and in employing medical metaphors to designate the operations necessary to perform the care of the soul. Foucault’s research opens up an ethical perspective that, with the exception of Nietzsche’s middle works, modern philosophy has until very 16 GE, 349 17 John M. Rist, Augustine: Ancient thought baptised (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 190. 18 The analysis here follows CS, 39‐68. 19 For an excellent synopsis of Nietzsche’s shifting reflections on and evaluations of friendship see Ruth Abbey, ‘Circles, Ladders and Stars: Nietzsche on Friendship’ in Preston King and Heather Devere (eds.), The Challenge to Friendship in Modernity (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 50‐73. 24 Ure: Senecan Moods recently neglected.20 Yet his reconstruction of the ethics of the care of the self is marred by the conceptual limitations and blindnesses of his own formulations of an aesthetics of existence. Foucault’s recasting of the work of the self in terms of Baudelairean Dandyism or the freedom of undefined, unrestricted self‐invention, elides something fundamental to this ethics: viz., the fact that it addresses the pathos that arises from mortality and loss, and that it does so in order to identify, temper and overcome the individual and political pathologies that arise from these wounds to our narcissistic wish for immortality and omnipotence. In closing, this paper suggests that we can establish a better grasp of Stoic and Nietzschean ethics of subjectivity by framing their central concerns in terms of the psychoanalytic problem of narcissism, its pathologies and cures, rather than, as Foucault does, in terms of aesthetic modernism’s ideal of radical creativity. Both the Stoics’ and Nietzsche’s ethics of the care of the self, it is argued, can be seen as attempts to analyse and overcome various pathological expressions of the desire for narcissistic omnipotence. If this is so, then we must sharply demarcate both from the aesthetic modernist currents that Foucault advocates. By framing his aesthetics of existence in terms of the Baudelairean Dandy’s feline “cult of oneself as the lover of oneself”, the paper argues, Foucault reduces the idea of the self as a work of art to a personality tour de force, and in the process he suppresses the important therapeutic and psychological concerns that both the Hellenistic thinkers and Nietzsche made central to the work of the self on itself.21 To state the difference in bold terms, the Stoic and Nietzschean ethic of self‐constitution analyses and attempts to treat narcissism, whereas Foucault’s Baudelairean aesthetic self‐fashioning is merely a symptom of narcissism. oucault: Classical, Roman and Modern Arts of Living rnment in mappi F Foucault’s critics and defenders in philosophy and social theory, rarely, if ever, recognise that his historical investigation of subjectivity uncovers a series of quite different practices of ethical self‐constitution, rather than a single, uniform art of living.22 They devote most of their interest to demonstrating that his history of practices of self‐constitution contradicts his earlier genealogical unmasking of humanist notions of a centred, self‐ determining subject. As a result, they have shown much less disce ng the historical terrain that Foucault covers in this research. 20 On this point see Martha C. Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1994), 4‐5. 21 See Charles Baudelaire, Intimate Journals, trans. Christopher Isherwood (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1983), 49. 22 For an exception to this rule see O’Leary, Foucault and the Art of Ethics, Ch. 3. 25 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 Yet an examination of his history of the self suggests that he detects three quite distinct forms of the artistic elaboration of the self: the Greek or classical arts, the Roman Stoic practices of self‐cultivation, and the distant echoes of antiquity he claims to discover in Baudelaire’s Dandyism.23 His critics particularly neglect the distinction he draws between the classical Greek and Roman arts of living. In casting doubt on the contemporary significance or desirability of these ancient practices commentators invariably frame their concerns in terms of the classical Greek practices. “In what way” as one critic asks “is the liberty of the Greeks ours?”24 According to Foucault, however, the Stoics of the imperial age significantly modified the classical Greek arts of existence. Stoicism, so he argues, refined and reworked pre‐ existing classical forms. It did so, he suggests, by refashioning the way in which subjects recognised themselves as ethical subjects, the ascetic practices which they used to constitute themselves as subjects, and the very telos of those practices.25 Unlike the classical practice of self‐fashioning, as he sees it, Stoic self‐cultivation was not pursued for the sake of exercising domination over others or attaining personal glory. For the Stoics, caring for oneself was not a prelude to, a primer for, or an analogical representation of political authority.26 Rather, he claims that Roman Stoics like Seneca and Epictetus conceived self‐cultivation as an occupation that revolved around “the question of the self, of its dependence and independence, of its universal form and of the connections it can and should establish with others”.27 Importantly, yet seldom noted, Foucault describes this Stoic art of living, as “the summit of a curve, the golden age in the cultivation of the self”.28 Foucault, in other words, chroni cles Stoicism as the crowning glory of the ancient ethics of the care of the self. 23 Foucault twice mentions the Renaissance arts of living as distant echoes of antiquity, but this remains nothing more than a gesture. It is impossible, therefore, to assess whether he believed that a study of these Renaissance practices might yield a distinct form of self‐cultivation; GE, 362, 370. 24 Christian Bouchindhomme, ‘Foucault, morality and criticism’ in Michel Foucault: Philosopher, trans. Timothy J. Armstrong (New York: Harvester, 1992), 317‐27, 324; Andrew Thacker also claims that “(p)erhaps the main problem with Foucault’s map is that it is a Greek one”; see Andrew Thacker, ‘Foucault’s Aesthetics of Existence’, Radical Philosophy, 63, Spring (1993), 19. 25 Of the four structural features of the practices of the self that Foucault identifies, Stoicism leaves only the ‘ethical substance’ unchanged; see GE, 357. 26 See HS, 75, 82‐83 27 CS, 238 28 CS, 45, emphasis added; see also CS, 238‐39; GE, 348, 357‐58; and HS, 81. Foucault seems to have Hegel’s deprecation of Hellenistic philosophy in his sights. Hegel treats the Hellenistic schools and the Stoic care of the self as little more than poor substitutes for civic participation in the polis; see Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The History of Philosophy, trans. J. Sibree (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900), 328; The editors of Foucault’s 1981‐1982 lectures elaborate this point; see HS, 23, n 47. 26 Ure: Senecan Moods While his critics devote much of their attention to contextualising Foucault’s history of the different practices f the self in terms of its place in his overall philosophical development and its significance for contemporary critical theory, they give less attention to his efforts to o reshape the assum e what the Greeks called an ethos”.31 Foucault makes the same casual association in lamenting the demise of the Greco‐ life, one’s t ptions that frame the reception of Greek and Roman practices of the self, and to his conceptualisation of these practices themselves.29 Foucault contributes to this neglect by blurring the lines that separate the ancient practices of the self from aesthetic modernist cults of self‐ fashioning. He emblematises modern self‐fashioning through Baudelaire’s figure of the Dandy. Baudelaire’s decadent self‐absorption is, he claims, “the attitude of modernity”.30 Glossing over the differences separating Greco‐ Roman technologies of the self from the aesthetic modernist’s manner of fusing life and art, he describes Baudelaire’s attitude as “a way of thinking and feeling … [a] bit, no doubt, lik Roman ethos of self‐stylisation: We have hardly any remnant of the idea in our society, that the principal work of art which one has to take care of, the main area to which one must apply aesthetic values, is oneself, one’s existence … We find this in the Renaissance … and yet again in nineteenth century dandyism, but those were only episodes.32 Encouraged no doubt by such cavalier associations, when they analyse Foucault’s late works his critics also tend to neglect the radical differences between the Greco‐Roman arts of living and aeshetic modernism. As Foucault does in this passage, they are inclined to reduce the arts of living to one undifferentiated category, the “aesthetics of existence”. However, Foucault’s historical analyses demonstrate that this category conceals a number of disparate conceptions of the self, each of which demands analysis on its own terms. This becomes apparent when we examine the philosophical and ethical chasm dividing the self‐fashioning of Baudelaire’s Dandy and the ethical practices of Stoicism. Between Baudelaire’s “exclusive cult of the passions” and Stoicism one could reasonably admit only the very faintest, if any, family resemblance.33 It is true that in defining Dandyism, Baudelaire briefly touches on its penchant for stoic gestures, but the accent he places on 29 See for example Rainer Rochlitz, ‘The Aesthetics of Existence: Post‐conventional morality and the Theory of Power in Michel Foucault’ in Michel Foucault: Philosopher, 248‐59. 30 Michel Foucault, ‘What is Enlightenment?’ in Paul Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader (London: Penguin Books, 1984), 33‐50 (Hereafter WE). 31 WE, 39 32 GE, 362, emphasis added. 33 GE, 421 27 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 originality and excess demonstrates just how far removed this ethos is from Stoic philosophy and morals. The grandeur of folly and excess Baudelaire describes in the following passage is antithetical to the Stoic ideal of rational self‐ma mixture of the grave d n acknowledge the significant differences between the various artistic practices he stery: It is, above all, the burning desire to create a personal form of originality, within the external limits of social conventions. It is a kind of cult of the ego … A dandy may be blasé, he may even suffer pain, but in the latter case he will keep smiling, like the Spartan under the bite of the fox. Clearly, then, dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism, but a dandy can never be a vulgar man. If he were to commit a crime, he might perhaps be socially damned, but if the crime came from some trivial cause, the disgrace would be irreparable. Let the reader not be shocked by this and the gay; let him rather reflect that there is a sort of grandeur in all follies, a driving power in every sort of excess. 34 Here we might invoke one of Foucault’s own rhetorical strategies to correct his tendency to gloss such differences: while some of the Dandy’s ascetic precepts and gestures might distantly echo the classical and Stoic arts of living, the Dandy’s moral ethos in fact defines a very iffere t modalityof the relation to the self.35 Even if Foucault occasionally fails to adhere to them, and his philosophic critics rarely recognise them, it is important to of t self.36 Stoicism’s philosophical therapy should not be confused with the Charles Baudelaire, ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Artists trans. by P. E. Charvet (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972), 420, emphasis added. It is worth noting that in Discipline and Punish Foucault took umbrage at Baudelaire and other nineteenth‐century writers’ recasting of crime as a game played by the elite for aesthetic stakes, which replaced the far more politically charged eighteenth‐century popular broadsheets and gallows speeches that had once served to transform petty criminals into epic heroes and saints. Through literature like Baudelaire’s Fleur du Mals, Foucault lamented, “the people was robbed of its old pride in crimes; the great murders had become the quiet game of the well‐behaved”; see Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 65‐69, 69. However, if in Discipline and Punish Foucault laments Baudelaire’s aestheticization of evil and crime, its sublimation into a literary game for the cultural elite, he does so, according to James Miller, in the name of a nostalgia for the splendour ofthe carnivals and rituals of cruelty that were banished from the stage of public life with the emergence and spread 34 of modern 35 ce of similar precepts in the Late 36 s it is invoking; see disciplinary technologies; see James Miller, “Carnivals of Atrocity: Foucault, Nietzsche, Cruelty”, Political Theory, vol. 18, no. 3 (August 1990), 470‐491. This is how Foucault argues that despite the presen Hellenistic practices of the self and early Christianity, they are in fact radically different ethical systems and practices; see CS, 239. Martin Jay rightly claims that the analysis of every ‘aestheticisation’ of politics or existence must begin by identifying what notion of aesthetic 28 Ure: Senecan Moods Dandy’s project of elaborating one’s existence according to the principles of aesthetic formalism, a project fuelled by the desire to establish aristocratic social distinctions against the rising tide of democratic vulgarity.37 Nor, as we shall see below, should Stoicism simply be equated with the classical Greek practices of the self. In truth, however, Foucault passes over such crucial distinctions in his pronouncements about the contemporary relevance of the arts of the self.38 By contrast, his historical analyses of these practices, especially his 1981‐1982 lectures published as The Hermeneutics of the Subject, identify and reinforce the notion that there are significant discontinuities between these practices of the self. Indeed, in mining the philosophical, moral and medical texts of Hellenistic antiquity, Foucault discovers the lineaments of a conception of the self’s relationship to itself that seems more properly called therapeutic than aesthetic, or, in which ‘aesthetic’ practices merely serve as part of a larger philosophical therapy. It is this account of Hellenistic therapy, especially the Roman Stoics’ care of the self, rather than his fleeting glances towards Baudelairean self‐invention, that provides a schema for interpreting what Nietzsche identifies, self‐consciously advertising its Latin foundations, as his “disciplina voluntatis”.39 The Flaming Gaze of Vanity In order to excavate and then distinguish the classical Greek and late Roman technologies of the self, Foucault first had to challenge the Christian polemics against the immorality of pagan “self‐pleasers”.40 Such criticisms, he observes, first appeared among the early Church Fathers who cast a suspicious eye on pagan self‐love. The early Church Fathers, he recollects, saw the care of the self as a source of diverse moral faults, and gladly denounced it as “a kind of egoism or individual interest in contradiction to the care one must show others or the necessary sacrifice of the self”.41 As the inheritors of the Christian traditions and their secularised derivatives, Foucault claims, ‘we’ moderns easily fall into the trap of conceiving the care of self as intrinsically immoral: ean to Aestheticize Politics?’, Cultural Critique, Spring (1992), 42‐61, 43. Martin Jay, ‘“The Aesthetic Ideology” as Ideology; or, What Does It M 37 Cesar Grana , Modernity and its Discontents: French Society and the French Man of Letters in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1964), 148‐54. 38 On this point see also, Thacker, ‘Foucault’s Aesthetics of Existence’, 13. 39 HAH 2, Preface, 2 40 Augustine, City of God Against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson (Harmondsworth,: Penguin, 1984), Bk. XIV, ch. 13. 41 Michel Foucault, ‘The Ethics of the Care of the Self as a Practice of Freedom’, trans. J. D. Gauthier, Philosophy and Social Criticism, XII, no. 2‐3 (1984), 113‐131, 115‐116 (Hereafter ECS). 29 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 We find it difficult to base rigorous morality and austere principles on the precept that we should give ourselves more care than anything else in t e world. We are more inclined to see taking care of ourselves as an immorality, as a means of escape from all possible rules. We inherit the tradition of Christian morality which makes self‐ renunciation the condition of salvation … We also in h herit a secular tradition which respects external law as the basis of morality. How f r itself the less it has for others, he argues, merely sums up in quasi‐positivistic terms the entire drift of the dominant strand of moral discou e e the phenomenon of falling in love as an impoverishment of one’s self‐ discourse. It has impaired our philosophical and ethical thinking, he suggests, by conflating all self‐love with a disavowal or negation of others.44 One legacy then can respect or the self be the basis of morality? 42 Erich Fromm supports Foucault’s historical point. According to Fromm, beginning with Christian theology and reaching through Protestantism, German Idealism and psychoanalysis, the notion of caring for oneself or self‐love has been maligned and salvation associated exclusively with austere self‐renunciation. Freud’s assertion that the more love the ego reserves fo rse: The doctrine that love for oneself is identical with ‘selfishness’, and that it is an alternative to love for others has pervaded theology, philosophy and the pattern of daily life … According to Freud, there is an almost mechanical alternation between ego‐lov and object‐love. The more love I turn toward the outside world the less love I have for myself, and vice versa. Freud is thus moved to describ love because all love is turned to an object outside of oneself.43 Fromm claims that the Christian construction of self‐love as a negation of altruism has shaped the very foundations of philosophical thinking about the self’s relationship to itself, including the psychoanalytic conception of the subject. He argues, as Foucault does in his later works, that Christianity’s highly charged critique of self‐love profoundly distorts modern ethical Michel Foucault, ‘Technologies of the Self’, in L. H. Martin, H. Gutman, P. Hutton (eds.), Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (Amhers 42 t: University of 43 l k of the International Erich 44 Massachusetts Press, 1988), 16‐49, 22, emphasis added (Hereafter TS). Erich Fromm, ‘Selfishness and Sef‐Love’, first published in Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Process, The William Alanson Psychiatric Foundation, Washington, Vol. 2 (1939), 507‐523; reprinted in the Yearboo Fromm Society, Vol. 5 (Münster: LIT‐Verlag 1994) , 173‐197. Heinz Kohut’s challenge to the psychoanalytic tradition also supports this point. See Heinz Kohut, ‘Forms and Transformations of Narcissism’ in Self Psychology and the Humanities: Reflections on a New Psychoanalytic Approach (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1985), 97‐123. Graham Little sums up his central point nicely “[Kohut’s] heresy was to think that in certain forms and in certain respects self‐love, the bête noire of 30 Ure: Senecan Moods of Christianity, therefore, is the presumption that anything other than the self’s abasement before God (or his secular representatives) is a symptom of the pagan vice of pride or self‐love. Foucault sets out to demonstrate that the Christian conception of the self’s relationship to itself, a relationship in which the self submits itself to a divine law, is not the only practice through which the self can constitute itself as an ethical subject.45 “(T)here is,” he hypothesises, “a whole rich and complex field of historicity in the way the individual is summoned to recognise himself as an ethical subject”.46 However, unlike Fromm, Foucault also establishes specific historical sources that make it possible to theorise different practices and discourses of self‐love. His excavation of classical and Hellenistic practices enables him to flesh out the claim that, at least in this theoretical and historical context, self‐ love takes the form of a complex work of the self on itself. Christianity’s polemical interpretation of classicism and Hellenism, he maintains, elides from our philosophical and ethical heritage a fertile tradition that offers us alternative images, techniques, ideas and practices for theorising the self’s relationship to itself. In Greco‐Roman antiquity he discovers an ethical tradition which accentuates the self’s relationship to itself as its central concern, and whose philosophies and schools elaborate or invent a series of practices through which the self becomes an ethical agent. Here the self’s fashioning of itself is not considered antithetical to, but constitutive of, ethics. For the classical and Hellenistic philosophers, he argues, ethics is self‐ cultivation. Fromm and Foucault, then, trace back to Christianity a peculiar torsion in our ethical discourse: the condemnation of self‐love as the ‘sin’ of self‐deification. Foucault adds that this torsion has erased the Greco‐Roman ethics of the care of the self from our ethical landscape. Foucault believes contemporary attempts to renovate various Greek and Roman conceptions of the arts of living continue to be stymied by this Christian polemic. In our conception of the self, according to Foucault, we still live in the shadows of the Christian God. “There is a certain tradition” as he puts it “that dissuades us (us, now, today) from giving any positive value to all [the] expressions, precepts, and rules” concerned with caring for the self, and “above all from making them the basis of a morality”.47 (If in political theory we have yet to cut off the psychoanalysis as it had been of religion, could be both a good thing and psychologically essential”; Graham Little, Friendship: Being Ourselves With Others (Melbourne: The Text Publishing Company, 1993), 48. 45 See Michel Foucault, ‘About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self’, Political Theory, vol. 21, no. 2 (May 1993), 198‐227 (Hereafter BHS). 46 Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1985), 32 (Hereafter UP). 47 HS, 12 31 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 king’s head, as Foucault claims, then in the theory of the self we have yet to he Ethics of the Care of the Self: From Classical Greece to i e s concerning codes or interdictions and their applica Christianity and antiquity “the topography of the parting of the kill God). T Imperial Rome Foucault’s frst step towards throwing off th constraints of Christian prejudices against the care of the self is methodological. In order to understand antique ethics he introduces a tripartite framework for interpreting the history of morality. In The Uses of Pleasure, he distinguishes three fields of inquiry, which, he claims, encompass three different realities: moral codes, moral behaviours and what he calls ethics. The history of moral codes studies the system of values, rules and interdictions operative in a given society, the history of behaviours investigates the extent to which the actions of individuals and groups are consistent with these rules, and the history of ethics examines the “way in which individuals are urged to constitute themselves as subjects of moral conduct” and concerns itself “with the models proposed for setting up and developing relationships with the self, for self‐reflection, self‐knowledge, self‐examination, for the decipherment of the self by oneself, for the transformations that one seeks to accomplish with oneself as object”.48 Simplifying this framework, Foucault identifies a field of ‘moral’ problem tion, and another field of ‘ethical’ problems about how the self turns itself into a moral agent. According to Foucault, the decisive transformations in the history of moral experience lie not in the history of codes, which reveals only the “poverty and monotony of interdictions”, but in the history of ethics, where this is understood “as the elaboration of a form of relation to self that enables an individual to fashion himself into a subject of ethical conduct”.49 In concrete historical terms, he suggests that we can distinguish the Greek, Roman and Christian traditions not so much in terms of their moral prescriptions, which, he claims, remain “formally alike”, but in terms of the different forms of self‐relationships which they encourage individuals to practice.50 Although Foucault acknowledges that in any attempt to identify the break between waters is hard to pin down”, he nonetheless selects two key points of differentiation.51 48 UP, 29 49 UP, 251 50 UP, 250; see also GE, 355. 51 Foucault quotes Peter Brown in “The Battle for Chastity” in Phillipe Aries and André Béjin (eds.), Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, trans. Anthony Forster (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1985), 14‐25, 25. 32 Ure: Senecan Moods In the first place, he claims that although the necessity of respectin d customs was often underscored in Greek and Roman antiquity, … more important than the content of the law … was the attitude that caused one to respect them. The accent was placed on the relationship with the self that enabled a person to keep from being carried away by the appetites and pleasures, to maintain a mastery and superiority over them, to keep his senses in a st g the law an ate of tranquility, to remain free from interior bondage to passions, and to achieve a mode of being lf‐elaboration, were supplem ve their existence the most gracefu that could be defined as full enjoyment of oneself, or the perfect supremacy of oneself over oneself.52 While Foucault clearly compresses many different conceptions of the practices of the self into this passage, he nevertheless believes they share a close family resemblance insofar as they place the accent not on the strict codification of conducts or the authority that enforces it, but on what is required of individuals in their relationship to themselves, to their actions, thoughts, and feelings as they seek to form themselves as an ethical subjects.53 In Greco‐ Roman culture, he argues, both the codes and the practices through which the self constitutes itself, its forms of self‐examination and se ents or luxuries that individuals voluntarily adopted. Its various schools proposed rather than imposed “different styles of moderation or strictness, each having its specific character or ‘shape’”.54 Secondly, Foucault claims that in the Greco‐Roman tradition the choice to apply these codes and practices to the shaping of one’s existence, and the constitution of oneself as a self‐disciplined subject, was determined by the aim of transforming one’s existence into a work of art. “From Antiquityto Christianity” he asserts “we pass from a morality that was essentially a search for a personal ethics to morality as obedience to a system of rules”.55 For the classical Greeks, for example, sexual austerity was not a matter of internalising, justifying or formalising general interdictions imposed on everyone, rather it was a means of developing an “aesthetics of existence”, or “a stylisation of conduct for those who wished to gi l and accomplished form possible”.56 In the Greco‐Roman world, this aesthetic care for the self was, as Foucault puts it, “the manner in which individual liberty … considered itself as ethical”.57 52 UP, 31 53 UP, 29‐30 54 UP, 21 55 Michel Foucault, ‘An Aesthetics of Existence’, in Sylvère Lotringer (ed.), Foucault Live: Interviews 1966‐1984, trans. John Johnston (New York: Semiotext(e), 1989), 309‐316, 311. 56 UP, 253, 250‐51 57 ECS, 115 33 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 However, if we narrow our focus to Foucault’s treatment of ethics within Antiquity, it quickly becomes apparent that he differentiates between the classical Greek practices of liberty and the late Roman Stoics’ care for the self. During the golden age of self‐cultivation, so he claims, important shifts occur in the mode in which the self recognises itself as an ethical subject, the ascetic practice through which it constitutes itself, and the goal of its work on itself. In the classical Greek perspective, he claims, the self defines its relationship to rules or norms as the means through which it achieves “beauty, brilliance, nobility, or perfection”.58 Foucault describes this as an aesthetic mode of adjustment to norms. The Stoics, by contrast, recognise norms as those which apply to all rational beings.59 Between classical Greek ethics and Stoicism, he claims, there is also a dramatic shift in the range and type of ascetic or self‐forming practices. Indeed, he associates Stoicism with a veritable burgeoning of self‐forming activities, exercises and practices. Finally, Roman Stoicism changes the telos of ethical subjectivity.60 While the Roman Stoics, in conformity with the classical tradition, till defin the artof the self in terms of achieving the rule of the self over itself, “this rule broadens out into an experience in which the relation to self takes th s e e form not only of domin re or disturb neself with a h c c ation but also of an enjoyment of oneself without desi ance”.61 Foucault correlates this shift towards the enjoyment of o shift away from the goal of domination over others: I think that t e difference is that in the lassi al perspective, to be master of oneself meant, first, taking into account only oneself and not 58 UP, 27 59 UP, 354, 356. The classicist Pierre Hadot correctly observes that in treating the Hellenistic and Stoic spiritual exercises as sources for his own idea of aesthetic self‐ fashioning Foucault fails to “sufficiently stress” the connection the between self‐ cultivation and the exercise of reason that was integral to these traditions. By contrast with the Hellenistic traditions, Hadot maintains, Foucault’s own notion of the cultivation of the self was “too purely aesthetic – that is to say, I fear, a new form of dandyism, a late twentieth century version”, and for that reason could not legitimately claim descent from ancient sources. In this respect, Hadot confirms one of the central claims of this paper: that Foucault anachronistically attributes a late twentieth‐century dandyism to the ancient practices of the self; see Pierre Hadot, ‘Reflections on the notion of the “cultivation of the self”’ in Michel Foucault, Philosopher, 225‐232, 230. 60 Timothy O’Leary correctly observes that while in volumes 2 and 3 of the History of Sexuality Foucault clearly distinguishes between the teloi of classical and late Stoic ethics ‐ the former aiming at political power, and the latter at self‐composure and self‐enjoyment ‐ in his interview he nevertheless insists on attributing a single, purely aesthetic telos, the cultivation of beauty, to these two ethical traditions. O’Leary claims that Foucault deliberately engaged in this mystification for the sake of a contemporary project, viz., jolting his readers out of a habitual acceptance of a particular form of universalist morality. See O’Leary, Foucault and the Art of Ethics, 7, 86, & 172. 61 CS, 68, emphasis added; see also, UP, 63, 70. 34 Ure: Senecan Moods the other, because to be master of oneself meant that you were able to rule others. So the mastery of oneself was directly related to a dissymmetrical relation to others … Later on … mastery of oneself is something which is not primarily related to power over others: you have to be master of yourself not only in order to rule others … but you have to be master of yourself because you are a rational being. And in this mastery of ourself, you are related to other people, who are masters of themselves. And before.62 akes the figure of Socrates in the Apology as the seminal source of the Greco‐Roman ethic of caring for oneself. Unfort ation of the Socrates was defending himself with all his might against this arrogant neglect of the human for the benefit of the human race, and y this new kind of relation to the other is much less non‐reciprocal than Stoicism and Nietzsche: The Golden Age of Self-Cultivation A brief examination of Foucault’s schematic depiction of the golden age of Stoic self‐cultivation suggests that it is precisely this kind of self‐cultivation which provides the groundwork for Nietzsche’s conception of the art of living.63 Foucault follows in Nietzsche’s footsteps by identifying the origin of the tradition of caring for oneself, the organising principle of the classical art of existence, in the early Socratic dialogues. It is the neglect of this Socratic tradition, Nietzsche asserts, that “transforms the earth for so many into a ‘vale of tears’”.64 Like Foucault, Nietzsche t unately, Nietzsche laments, the Christian orientation to the “salv soul” has buried this tradition: Priests and teachers, and the sublime lust for power of idealists of every description … hammer into childrenthat what matters is … the salvation of the soul, the service of the state, the advancement of science, or the accumulation of reputation and possessions, all as a means of doing service to mankind as a whole; while the requirements of the individual, his great and small needs within the twenty‐four hours of the day, are to be regarded as something contemptible or a matter of indifference. Already in ancient Greece 62 GE, 357‐358, emphasis added. Gretchen Reydams‐Schils amplifies and clarifies this quick gloss on the connection the Stoics drew between the care of the self and relationality; see Gretchen Reydam‐Schils, The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006), Ch. 2. 63 Jim Urpeth makes a similar claim about the “fundamental, though largely implicit contribution” Foucault’s history of the ancient care of the self makes to arriving at a clear understanding of Nietzsche’s idea of askēsis. Urpeth, however, conceives Nietzsche’s ‘affirmative ascesis’ as in some sense ‘Dionysian’ rather than Stoic. See Jim Urpeth, ‘Noble Ascesis: Between Nietzsche and Foucault’, New Nietzsche Studies, vol. 2, no. 3‐4 (summer 1998), 65‐91, p. 72. 64 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1991), §6 (Hereafter WS). 35 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 loved to indicate the true compass and content of all reflection and care with an expression of Homer’s: it comprises, he said, nothing other than ‘that which I encounter of good and ill in my own house’.65 a assumed its conception of the self, its ethics and its practic According to Foucault, this Socratic ethic of caring for the self reaches its summit in Roman Stoicism. In the Hellenistic and imperial periods, he observes, the Socratic notion of ‘taking care of oneself’ became a common philosophical theme. The Roman Stoics, in particular, conceived the care of the self as an end in itself and transformed it into a way of living that extended cross thewhole of the individual’s life.66 In Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, Foucault contends, the thematic of caring for oneself, their “meticulous attention to the details of daily life, with the movements of the spirit, with self‐analysis”, became the centre of philosophical life and “gradually acquired the dimensions of a veritable ‘cultivation of the self’”.67 Indeed, they defined human existence as a permanent exercise of the self on itself. As the imperative to care for oneself assumed centre stage in Roman philosophic culture it organised itself around a conception of the self as a reflexive exercise, an exercise of the self on itself mediated through certain forms of self‐examination and ascetic practices. A brief analysis of Stoicism’s care for the self, as Foucault presents it, suggests that in his middle works Nietzsche self‐consciously es, as his own.68 Like Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Nietzsche extracts the principle of caring for oneself as the key Socratic legacy, and he identifies the chief cause of all psychical frailties as the failure to attend to this principle and undertake the continuous, careful observation of the most minute and closest details of one’s mode of life.69 In common with the Stoics, Nietzsche conceptualises self‐observation as labour of the self on itself. The Greek term epimeleia, as Foucault points out, designates not a preoccupation with oneself, or an ‘idle’ gazing at oneself, but a whole set of occupations, a work of the self on itself.70 Epimeleia heautou, Foucault observes, describes the activities of the 65 WS §6; see Plato, Apology 29e, Homer, Odyssey, Bk. IV, l. 392; Foucault cites this passage from the Apology as the fountainhead of the ethics of the care of the self in CS, 44 and TS, 20. 66 See HS, Lecture 5. 67 TS, 28, CS, 44 68 Günter Gödde demonstrates that the Hellenistic therapeia are the starting point for Nietzsche’s (and Freud’s) notion of the work of the self; see Günter Gödde, ‘Die Antike Therapeutik als Gemeinsamer Bezugpunkt für Nietzsche und Freud’, Nietzsche‐ Studien, Bd, 32 (2003), 206‐225 69 WS §6; see also Friedrich Nietzsche, Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality, trans. R. J. Hollindale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985),§462 (Hereafter D). 70 CS, 50 36 Ure: Senecan Moods master of the household, the work of agricultural management, and a doctor’s treatment of patients. Nietzsche’s middle works are studded with examples of these forms of labour being used as metaphors for the work of the self on itself. s cultivation of itself, and the flourishing garden as the image of its purpose: is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him! 73 a Stoic and the work he undertakes on himself as a Stoic spiritual exercise: swamp grounds usually cause to flourish like poisonous fungi.75 71 In criticising those who take pity on others, for example, he alleges that their actions and prescriptions prevent the pitied from properly managing their own domestic economy.72 In other places, he takes gardening as the metaphor of the self’ Gardener and garden. – Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze at us, morose and grey. Woe to the thinker who In the 1886 preface to the second volume of Human, All Too Human, he recasts the entire enterprise as a work he undertook on himself in order to weed out Schopenhauer’s pessimistic judgements from his own soul. Here he brings together Stoic notions of the exercise of the self, its insistence on constant inward vigilance, with the Stoic emphasis on self‐composure and equanimity in the face of loss and sorrow, and its resolute defence of life against the judgements of melancholia. Nietzsche confronts what we might describe as Schopenhauer’s revolt against mourning ‐ or against the possibility of coming to terms with loss ‐ with the Stoic endurance of separation and solitude.74 In this context, he portrays himself as [In Human, All Too Human, volume 2, and The Wanderer and his Shadow] there is a determination to preserve an equilibrium and composure in the face of life and even a sense of gratitude towards it, here there rules a vigorous, proud, constantly watchful and sensitive will that has set itself the task of defending life against pain and of striking down all those inferences that pain, disappointment, ill‐ humour, solitude and other 71 GE, 49‐50. Graham Parkes gives a brilliant and exhaustive treatment of Nietzsche’s metaphors of the soul; see Graham Parkes, Composing the Soul: Reaches of Nietzsche’s Psychology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994). 72 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), §338 (Hereafter GS). 73 D §382; see also D §560. 74 For Schopenhauer’s Augustinian inspired critique of Stoic eudaimonism see The World as Will and Representation, volumes 1 & 2 (New York: Dover Publications, 1969), vol. 1, §16, esp., 86‐91 and vol. 2, Ch. XVI. 75 HAH 2, Preface, §5 37 foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52 But Nietzsche, again following the Stoics, in whom this tendency reaches its zenith, reserves a privileged place for medical metaphors in his articulation of the art of living. The Hellenistic schools, and most comprehensively Roman Stoics, correlate the care of the self with medical thought and practice. Indeed, as Nussbaum observes, this correlation had become s
70. Elena - March 15, 2010


But Nietzsche, again following the Stoics, in whom this tendency
reaches its zenith, reserves a privileged place for medical metaphors in his
articulation of the art of living. The Hellenistic schools, and most
comprehensively Roman Stoics, correlate the care of the self with medical
thought and practice. Indeed, as Nussbaum observes, this correlation had
become so pervasive in Stoic thought that Cicero felt the need to complain of
their “excessive attention” to such analogies.76 Cicero succinctly expresses the
medical analogy on which Hellenistic philosophy pivots:
There is I assure you, a medical art for the soul. It is philosophy,
whose aid need not be sought, as in bodily diseases, from outside
ourselves. We must endeavour with all of our resources and all our
strength to become capable of doctoring ourselves.77
Like his Hellenistic predecessors, Nietzsche obsessively returns to the idea
that philosophy is a therapeutic art that heals the sufferings and diseases of
the soul.78 Unsurprisingly, therefore, he contests or challenges other
philosophic perspectives by accusing them of quack‐doctoring or medical
negligence.79 Nietzsche adopts the collectively shared view of the Cynics,
Epicureans and Stoics that such maladies are often perpetuated and
reinforced by erroneous beliefs and value judgements that translate into
disorders or affects that carry the soul away from itself. Nietzsche interprets
his own philosophy as so many signs and symptoms in his soul’s cycle of
illness, convalescence and health. He frames his writings in much the same
way as Seneca, who reports to Lucilius that he is recording the stages in his
self‐treatment for those who “are recovering from a prolonged spiritual
sickness” and on “behalf of later generations”:80
I am writing down a few things that may be of use to them; I am
committing to writing some helpful recommendations, which might
be compared to formulae of successful medications, the effectiveness of
which I have experienced in the case of my own sores, which may not have
been completely cured but have at least ceased to spread.81

76 Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, quoted in Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire, 316.
77 Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, quoted in Nussbaum, The Therapy of Desire, 316.
78 Nietzsche mines this seam of Hellenistic thought in countless places and contexts; for
just a few examples see, D §52, §449, §534 and the 1886 Prefaces to HAH, vols. 1 & 2,
and GS.
79 WS §83
80 Lucius Annaeus Seneca L.VIII.2 in Letters from a Stoic, trans. Robin Campbell
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977). All subsequent references to Seneca’s Letters are
taken from this translation except where noted.
81 L.VIII, emphasis added.
Ure: Senecan Moods
In recounting his own middle works, Nietzsche adopts Seneca’s rhetorical
pose, describing them as “the history of an illness and recovery”, “a spiritual
cure” and “self‐treatment” which teach “precepts of health that may be
recommended to the more spiritual natures of the generation just coming up
as a disciplina voluntatis”.82 Nietzsche, like Seneca, recommends these precepts,
and he also counsels that these spiritual natures “in whom all that exists
today of sickness, poison and danger comes together” become doctors to their
own soul. Permanent medical care, as Foucault relates, is one of the central
features that the Stoics introduced into the practice of self‐cultivation. In the
imperial age, he explains, paideia increasingly took on a medical coloration
that was absent in Platonic pedagogy.83 “One must” according to the Stoics
“become the doctor of oneself”.84
In the 1886 preface, in what is indisputably a homage to Stoic and
Cynic practices of the self, Nietzsche describes how he forged his philosophy
as an attempt to become the doctor of his own soul. In a passage overloaded
with allusions to the figure of Diogenes and to the Stoic soul‐doctors,
Nietzsche reports that it was their disciplines that enabled him to overcome
that pessimistic malaise, whose main symptom he identifies as an oscillation
between extreme denial and manic affirmation. It is worth quoting this
passage at length in order to gauge the full extent to which Nietzsche
identifies his philosophy with Cynicism and Stoicism from this passage:
Just as a physician places his patient in a wholly strange environment
so that he may be removed from his entire ‘hitherto’, from his cares,
his friends, letters, duties, stupidities and torments of memory and learn
to reach out with new hands and senses to new nourishment, a new
sun, a new future, so I as physician and patient in one compelled myself to
an opposite and unexplored clime of the soul, and especially a curative
journey into strange parts, into strangeness itself, to an inquisitiveness
regarding every kind of strange thing … A protracted wandering
around, seeking, changing followed from this, a repugnance towards
all staying still, toward every blunt affirmation and denial; likewise a
dietetic and discipline designed to make it easy as possible for a spirit
to run long distances, to fly to great heights, above all again and again
to fly away. A minimum of life, in fact, an unchaining from all coarser
desires, an independence in the midst of all kinds of unfavourable
outward circumstances together with pride in being able to live
surrounded by these unfavourable circumstances; a certain amount of
cynicism, perhaps, a certain amount of ‘barrel’ but just as surely a
great deal of capricious happiness, capricious cheerfulness, a great
deal of stillness, light, subtler folly, concealed enthusiasm – all this

82 HAH 2 Preface, §2, §5
83 CS, 55
84 TS, 31
foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52
finally resulted in a great spiritual strengthening, an increasing joy
and abundance of health. Life itself rewards us for our tough will to
live, for the long war that I then waged with myself against the
pessimism of weariness with life, even for every attentive glance our
gratitude accords to even the smallest, tenderest, most fleeting gift life
gives us.85
Nietzsche spells out here his debt to the philosophic therapy of Cynicism and
Stoicism without any reservations, a debt so great that a complete
interpretation of this passage would entail an exposition of almost every
significant aspect of these two philosophical schools. For the moment, we
need only note that Nietzsche explicitly affirms the Stoic medical analogy and
its notion that philosophic practice should act as a tonic to the soul, a means
of overcoming the torments of memory and the violent oscillation between
melancholia and mania that disturbs the soul’s equanimity and composure.
The Stoics took the medical analogy with sufficient seriousness that
they could designate the procedures of the care of the self with a whole array
of medical metaphors. Foucault reports a series of medical metaphors that
they regularly employed: “put the scalpel to the wound; open an abscess,
amputate; evacuate the superfluities, give medications; prescribe bitter,
soothing or bracing potions”.86 Nietzsche borrows many of these metaphors
to describe his art of psychological examination and its objects, confirming his
commitment to reviving their therapeutic model of philosophy. In Human, All
Too Human, he proposes that we see his work as a “psychological dissection
table” and his analyses as the “knives and forceps” he uses to remove
diseased moral, religious, aesthetic, and social “sensations”; and he writes of
applying conceptual “icepacks” to reduce the fevers of the soul produced by
metaphysical and religious errors.87 This conception of philosophic
procedures and the ethics of the care of the self it carries with it pervades
Nietzsche’s thinking, down to the most minute details, which are easily lost in
the polemical storm that surrounds his work. We can see this, for example, in
the way Nietzsche urges a medical response to the treatment of human
suffering. Following the Stoics, Nietzsche believes individuals must cure
themselves of pity and self‐pity, otherwise they will be incapable of enabling
others to overcome their own sufferings. Nietzsche makes this case against
pity in the name of an alternative medico‐philosophic therapy. In doing so, he

85 HAH 2 Preface, §5, emphases added. Nietzsche also touches on Diogenes the Dog at
HAH §1, §34, §275. For a recent account of Nietzsche’s relation to the Cynic tradition
see Heinrich Nichues‐Pröbsting, ‘The Modern Reception of Cynicism’, in R. Bracht
Branham & Marie‐Coile Goulet‐Gaze (eds.), The Cynics (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1996), 329‐365, 354ff.
86 CS, 55
87 HAH 1, §37, §38; D §53.
Ure: Senecan Moods
leans on the Stoic conception of the philosopher as physician who skilfully
employs various procedures in search of a cure:
… to serve mankind as a physician in any sense whatever one will have
to be very much on guard against pity – it will paralyse him at every
decisive moment and apply a ligature to his knowledge and his subtle
helpful hand.88
Finally, to complete this picture Nietzsche, along with the Stoics,
believes this medical practice of the self is best pursued through the
application of tests that function as diagnostic procedures for assessing the
health of the soul and, if applied frequently and rigorously, as partial cures or
tonics for the soul. The Stoics famously counsel the practice of praemeditatio as
a means of testing the extent to which the soul has risen above the tumult of
anger, vengeance and envy, and as a way of moving towards achieving the
goal of philosophical therapy.89 The practice aims to establish a rational soul
whose self‐composure is founded on a joy in itself that cannot be perturbed
by the sufferings and deprivations fortune ceaselessly inflicts on mortals.
Foucault correctly notes that the purpose of these testing procedures “is to
enable one to do without unnecessary things by establishing a supremacy
over oneself that does not depend on their presence or absence. The tests to
which one subjects oneself are not successive stages of privation. They are
ways of measuring and confirming the independence one is capable of with
regard to everything that is not indispensable and essential”.90 Seneca exhorts
Lucilius to ‘rehearse’ poverty, suffering and death not because he ought to
value renunciation or mortification for their own sake, but so that he can
maintain his equanimity in the face of all circumstances.91 Foucault correctly
observes that this relationship of the self to itself is antithetical to the Christian
hermeneutic of self‐decipherment and self‐renunciation.92 In Stoic self‐testing,
one does not seek to decipher a hidden truth of the self for the sake of self‐
renunciation. Rather, in the philosophic tradition dominated by Stoicism,
askēsis “means not renunciation but the progressive … mastery over oneself,

88 D §134; For the Stoic critique of pity, see Lucius Annaeus Seneca, On Mercy, esp. Ch. 6
in Minor Dialogues, trans. Aubrey Stewart (London: George Bell and Sons, 1902).
89 See for example Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Helvia, in Minor Dialogues, trans. Aubrey
Stewart (London: George Bell and Sons, 1902), 324‐325. Foucault treats the Stoic
practice of praemeditatio in HS, Lecture 23, 468‐473.
90 CS, 59. Foucault elaborates the Stoic notion of life as a test in HS, Lecture 22.
91 See L.XVIII, XXIV & XXVI where he counsels Lucilius to rehearse poverty and death
so that he can maintain his liberty and equanimity should he in fact lose his fortune
or suffer the threat of the Emperor’s sword.
92 Foucault develops this point in BHS.
foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52
obtained not through the renunciation of reality, but through the acquisition
and assimilation of truth”.93
Nietzsche explicitly recalls the Stoic tradition of self‐testing to explain
the philosophic therapy he undertook in the middle works. Like the Stoics, he
claims that if we wish to “return to health, we have no choice: we have to
burden ourselves more heavily than we have ever been burdened before
…”.94 He explains his own exploration of a resolutely post‐metaphysical
perspective as part of a campaign that “I conducted with myself as a patient”,
or as a form of “self‐testing” that all pessimists should use as a signpost to the
health of their soul.95 Nietzsche’s most famous test of the soul, the potentially
crushing burden of the eternal recurrence, the “greatest weight”, as he calls it,
is cut from the Stoic cloth: it is both diagnostic and curative.96 Bernd Magnus’s
groundbreaking study of Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence
(unwittingly) discloses the close link between the goals of Stoic askēsis and
Nietzsche’s doctrine. He structures his entire account of Nietzsche’s
philosophy in terms of the Stoic medical analogy without, however,
acknowledging its Hellenistic and Stoic provenance.97 According to Magnus,
Nietzsche’s philosophy centres on the diagnosis of a particular disease,
‘kronophobia’, the identification of its various symptoms (Platonism,
Christianity, and romantic pessimism) and its treatment or therapy. He
conceives Nietzsche’s philosophy, in short, as a therapeutic treatment of the
‘kronophobic’ malaise. Platonism and Christianity and romantic pessimism,
each in their own way, express the kronophobe’s “need to arrest becoming,
the need to make transience abide. The flux cannot be endured without
transfiguration. Time, temporality must be overcome”.98 In this context,
Magnus claims that the “value of eternal recurrence … lies primarily in its
diagnostic thrust”; that is to say, he sees it as a test that the self applies to itself
to determine the extent to which it suffers from the disease of kronophobia.99
Indeed, he sees the idea of eternal recurrence as a diagnostic tool which
enables us to become aware of suffering from a disease, a morbid suffering
that we would otherwise fail to detect in ourselves.
For Nietzsche the testing of the self that the eternal recurrence enacts
shares a goal in common with the ethical practices of his Hellenistic and Stoic
predecessors. According to Foucault, they aim at a “conversion to the self”

93 TS, 35. Foucault spells out the difference aims of Stoic and Christian askēsis in HS,
Lecture 16, esp. 321‐327
94 HAH 2 Preface, §5
95 HAH 2 Preface, §5
96 GS §341
97 Bernd Magnus, Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative (Bloomington: Indiana University
Press, 1978), p. 7, 42‐43.
98 Magnus, Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative, 194
99 Magnus, Nietzsche’s Existential Imperative, 156.
Ure: Senecan Moods
that expresses itself in a certain relationship or disposition of the self to
itself.100 This conversion succeeds where the self takes joy in itself in the same
way that one takes pleasure in a friend. “What progress have I made?” Seneca
writes to Lucilius “I am beginning to be my own friend”.101 “Such a person”
he adds “will never be alone, and you may be sure he is a friend of all [amicum
omnibus]”.102 The Hellenistic thinkers believe that the labour of establishing
this friendship between the self and itself enables individuals to sustain
themselves without vengefulness, and take joy in their existence regardless of
the blessings or curses of fortune. Hellenistic ethics is not about fortifying
oneself against loss, which, if the Stoics are right, is an impossible, self‐
defeating and anxiety‐inducing project, but about fortifying oneself against a
vengeful response to loss. “The geometrician teaches me how to keep my
boundaries intact,” Seneca quips, “but what I want to learn is how to lose the
whole lot cheerfully”.103
In formulating the doctrine of eternal recurrence, Nietzsche echoes the
Stoic notion that the aim of self‐testing is to transform one’s relationship to
oneself, or to become, as Seneca puts it, one’s own friend: “(H)ow well disposed
to yourself and to life”, Nietzsche remarks in the concluding line of his
famously dramatic invocation of recurrence, “to crave nothing more fervently
than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal”.104 It is a test, in other words,
that is designed to measure and move one towards acquiring the virtue of
being well disposed or friendly towards oneself. Here the point of Foucault’s
distinction between morality and ethics, and its application to the Stoics and
Nietzsche becomes apparent: their ethics of the care of the self principally
concerns the manner in which agents or subjects relate to, and transform
themselves in the process of becoming agents or subjects of action, rather than
with establishing or adjudicating normative codes. How the self relates to
itself, especially to “the greatest weight” it is burdened with, its memories and
its losses, lies at the heart of Nietzsche’s and Stoicism’s therapeia.105 Like the

100 CS, 64
101 L.VI
102 L.VI, emphasis added.
103 L.LXXXVIII.11 in C. D. N. Costa’s translation, Seneca: 17 Letters, (Warminster: Aris
and Phillips, 1988); Seneca here takes the loss of property as an allegory for all the
losses we must endure, including mortality. His point then is that Stoics must learn
how to lose their property, and ultimately their ownmost property, cheerfully; it is
thus the difficult art of learning how to lose without bitterness or vengefulness that is
central to the Stoic’s practices.
104 GS §341, emphasis added.
105 Commentators often neglect the Stoics’ account of the therapeutic function of
memory in the composition of the soul. As Gretchen Reydam‐Schils observes,
“(b)ecause memory is ranked among the indifferents, and time is one of the
incorporeals in the Stoic system, the importance of these two notions has been
overlooked in assessments of the Stoic idea of selfhood. But they are, in fact,

71. Elena - March 15, 2010

foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52
Stoics, then, Nietzsche’s conception of the self’s work on itself is more
properly speaking therapeutic than ‘aesthetic’. In elaborating the nature and
purpose of the specifically ‘artistic’ elements of the self’s work on itself
Nietzsche makes it clear that they are subordinate parts of a therapeutic task
or work (Aufgabe) that treats outbreaks of psychical fears and torments:
Against the art of works of art. – Art is above and before all supposed
to beautify life, thus make ourselves endurable, if possible pleasing to
others: with this task in view it restrains us and keeps us within
bounds, creates social forms … Then art is supposed to conceal or
reinterpret everything ugly, those painful, dreadful, disgusting things
which all efforts notwithstanding, in accord with the origin of human
nature again and again insist on breaking forth: it is supposed to do
so especially in regard to passions and psychical fears and torments …
After this great, indeed immense task of art, what is usually termed
art, that of the work of art, is merely an appendage.106
It is not surprising therefore that when Foucault turns to elaborating a new
perspective on Hellenistic philosophy in his 1981‐1982 lectures, he very briefly
identifies Nietzsche’s philosophy as one of several nineteenth‐century
German attempts at reconstituting the Hellenistic and Roman arts of living.107
Indeed, it seems that Foucault undertook his journey back to the golden age
of self‐cultivation for the sake of understanding how Nietzsche and other
representatives of modern German philosophy sought to resurrect the
Hellenistic conception of philosophy as a way of life, to borrow Pierre Hadot’s
term.108 Foucault claims that this strand of German philosophy attempted to
recover the Hellenistic model by once again connecting the “activity of
knowing” with “the requirements of spirituality”.109 Following Hadot,
Foucault draws a sharp divide between this Hellenistic therapeutic‐practical
conception of philosophy, on the one side, and the strictly cognitive
understanding of philosophy that has dominated the discipline since
Descartes, on the other.110 Hadot and Foucault share the view that Hellenistic

revealing and crucial to the question”. See Reydam‐Schils, The Roman Stoics, 29, & 29‐
106 HAH 2, §174, emphasis added.
107 HS, 28 & 251.
108 See Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to
Foucault, trans. Michael Chase (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), esp. Ch. 11.
109 HS, 28
110 HS, 14‐16. Foucault actually refers to the ‘Cartesian moment’ rather than Descartes.
Foucault uses this phrase merely as a convenient signpost for a broad shift in the
conception of philosophy rather than as a comment upon Descartes’ philosophy. His
caution here relates to the fact that even in Descartes’ philosophy, as Hadot observes,
elements of the ancient spiritual exercises such as meditatio survive; see Hadot,
Philosophy as a Way of Life, 271
Ure: Senecan Moods
and Roman philosophy differs dramatically from post‐Cartesian philosophy
insofar as it pivots on the assumption that the activity of philosophic knowing
is always tied “to a transformation of the subject’s being”.111 If they are
correct, the acrimonious contemporary conflict between ‘Continental
philosophy’ and analytic philosophy revolves around the issue of whether the
practice of philosophy can and ought to transform the whole of the
individual’s way of being, or, in Hadot’s words, whether wisdom should not
merely cause us to know, but to make us ‘be’ in a different way.112
As we have seen, Foucault is undoubtedly correct to identify Nietzsche as a
key figure in the German philosophic movement that sought to reanimate the
spiritual‐cum‐therapeutic ambitions of Hellenistic philosophy, though he errs
slightly in claiming that Nietzsche and his fellow travellers do so only
“implicitly”.113 It is clear that in his middle works Nietzsche explicitly
assumes the stance of a philosophical therapist on the model of the Hellenistic
and Roman examples. Indeed, as early as his inaugural Basel lecture (1869),
Nietzsche memorably invokes Seneca’s lament that the rise of sophistic
teaching had transformed philosophy, the study of wisdom, into philology,
the study of mere words.114 In what he calls a “confession of faith”, Nietzsche
declares his intention of performing the reverse operation: turning philology
into philosophy; that is to say, of transforming a discipline that teaches us
how to commentate into one that teaches us how to live.115 Nietzsche self‐
consciously models his philosophic enterprise on the Senecan/Stoic notion of
philosophy as a mode of knowing that transforms who one is.
In his 1981‐1982 lectures Foucault follows Nietzsche’s lead: his positivistic
account of the shifts and transformations in the history of the ancient care of
the self is fuelled by a similar enchantment with the prospect of rekindling a
mode of knowing that transfigures or liberates the self. Like Nietzsche,
Foucault seems to lament the fact that philosophy after Descartes came to be
conceived as a purely cognitive activity that ought to be purged of the
misguided Hellenistic notion that the acquisition of truth must transform
one’s being. In one of the rare moment of pathos in these lectures, Foucault
conjures up the lonely figure of Faust lamenting that all his scholarly
lucubrations, “philosophy, jurisprudence, medicine and theology” have

111 HS, 14‐16.
112 Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life, 265. Simon Critchley takes up Hadot’s distinction in
his attempt to mediate the debate between analytic and ‘Continental’ philosophy; see,
Simon Critchley, Continental Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) , Ch.
113 HS, 28
114 LCVIII. 23 “Itaque quae philosophia fuit facta philologia est”.
115 “Philosophia facta est quae philologia fuit”. The passage is from Nietzsche’s inaugural
Basel lecture (May 1869), later privately published as ‘Homer and Classical
Philology’; quoted in James I. Porter, Nietzsche and the Philology of the Future (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 2000), 14 & 35.
foucault studies, No 4, pp. 19-52
yielded nothing “by way of his own transfiguration”.116 Foucault himself
clearly sympathises with this Faustian nostalgia for the ancient figure of
knowledge as a source of spiritual transfiguration.117
At the same time, however, he remains sceptical about the possibility of any
attempt to reconstitute an ethics of the self. Though he declares that
establishing a contemporary care of the self is “an urgent, fundamental and
politically indispensable task”, Foucault suspects that not only are all
nineteenth‐century German attempts like Nietzsche’s “blocked and ossified”,
but that despite our recent efforts in this direction we may well simply find it
“impossible to constitute an ethics of the self”.118 Regrettably, Foucault never
had the opportunity to explore the different ways German philosophy sought
to renovate and recover the ancient arts of living and their spiritual
modalisation of knowledge. We will never know, therefore, the exact reasons
for his scepticism about both Nietzsche’s and his own efforts to restore
philosophy as a spiritual and therapeutic adventure. It seems reasonable to
suppose, however, one of the central difficulties that may have prompted this
note of doubt is the collapse of the cosmological and mythical beliefs that
were essential to the conceptual structure and psychological efficacy of the
Hellenistic therapeia. It is a problem Nietzsche also faced insofar as he found it
impossible to frame his key ‘spiritual exercise’, the thought of eternal
recurrence, without recourse to Stoicism’s cyclical cosmological doctrine.119
We might surmise that Foucault saw how problematic it is to think that
Stoicism’s spiritual exercises are philosophically sustainable or
psychologically plausible in the absence of the Stoics’ foundational belief in a
providential or divine logos.120
Foucault’s account of the Hellenistic and Roman therapeia remains then a
prolegomenon to a study of their modern renovations that he never had the

116 HS, 310.
117 In UP Foucault puts the point in the form of a rhetorical question: “After all, what
would be the value of the passion for knowledge if it resulted in a certain amount of
knowledgeableness and not in one way or another … in the knower’s straying afield of
himself?” The answer obviously is that pursuing knowledge would have very little
value unless it put at stake the very being of the knower. The question Foucault does
not raise here, and which I discuss below, is whether his way of straying afield of
himself is compatible with Stoicism’s fundamental normative assumptions; see UP, 8
(emphases added).
118 HS, 252, 251.
119 The exact nature of Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence remains a matter of
considerable dispute. It is still a matter of debate whether Nietzsche considered it a
cosmological doctrine or an existential test that one could undertake without
committing oneself to belief in the literal eternal return of all things. For the latest
installment in this debate see Lawrence J. Hatab, Nietzsche’s Life Sentence: Coming to
Terms with Eternal Recurrence (New York: Routledge, 2005).
120 Pierre Hadot attempts to address this problem in Philosophy as a Way of Life, 273, 282‐
Ure: Senecan Moods
opportunity to undertake. As we have seen, in the 1981‐1982 lectures he goes
a long way to establishing that their fundamental point of convergence
between the ancient and modern ethics of the self is the link they establish
between knowledge and self‐transformation. However, these lectures only
give us a tantalising intimation of the manner in which Nietzsche and others
sought to rework the Hellenistic therapeia and to challenge the Cartesian
separation of knowledge and spirituality, truth and su