January 09, 2009

The Birth of Biopolitics (4.1): State-phobia redux Foucault's March 7, 1979 lecture begins with a set of methodological reflections. It then turns to neoliberalism in France. I focus here on the methodology, skipping the discussion of the French case. 1. Foucault has been trying to see if the governmentality (now defined as the way in which conducts the conduct of men) would be a useful concept for analyzing the management of the entire social body. Does a perspective useful in analyzing the conducting of the conduct of smaller groups--delinquents, children, the mad--also work at the larger level? (The implication is, yes, of course it does.) 2. Foucault says that it's also important to consider neoliberalism for 'a reason of critical morality.' This lets him return to the idea of state-phobia. Nearly everyone is critical of the state, its growth, the violence of welfare paternalism, its seeds of fascism. These criticisms tend to highlight two themes: a. That the state has an intrinsic tendency to expand, an endogenous imperialism. And what is its target? Civil society. (Btw, this fits with Habermas's account of the juridification of the lifeworld.) b. Forms of the state give rise to each other; they are all kin and move into and out of each other as part of the state's intrinsic dynamism (I think of this as a critique of the idea of the becoming-fascist of the state). 3. These two themes 'put in circulation' an 'inflationary critical currency.' a. The themes encourage the growth and acceleration of the interchangeability of analyses. The...
Committee on Revolutionizing the Academy: Call for Ideas A friend sent me this call for ideas: Reworking the University: Visions, Strategies, Demands April 24-26, 2009, University of Minnesota The current “financial meltdown” has exacerbated the ongoing crises within the university, resulting in even greater budget cuts, tuition hikes, hiring freezes and layoffs. Responses from university administrations have been predominantly reactive and have served to fortify the university as an institution of neoliberal capitalism. The administration and others have narrated this crisis as an external force that, while dramatic in the short run, can nonetheless be managed properly. It is clear to many, however, that the neoliberal logic that has been used to transform the university over the past few decades has failed at a systemic level; the neoliberal death spiral has come home to the university. In contrast to these reactionary responses, we seek to create a space for collective re-evaluation of the university in crisis as an opportunity for real transformation. Last year’s conference, “Rethinking the University: Labor, Knowledge, Value” (April 2008), sought to challenge the supposed inevitability of the neoliberal university. As a continuation of this project, “Reworking the University” seeks to draw together academics, artists, and activists, to share and produce political visions, strategies and demands for building an alternative university in common. “Reworking the University” seeks to generate a vibrant, political exchange by troubling the traditional format of the academic conference. To this end, we hope to produce spaces for individuals and groups from different backgrounds and across a variety of institutional boundaries to...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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