Eric Wilson, Precarious Politics, The Blackstone Review, December 2016
Review of State of Insecurity: Government of the Precarious. by Isabell Lorey, Verso, 2015
Using Foucault’s notion of self-governance, Lorey helps to demonstrate how the hustler internalizes the imperative to hustle. Self-governance implies the ways in which a population is made, through a variety of state- and work-disciplinary mechanisms, and comes to make, through self-discipline, itself into a subject. Neoliberal self-governance takes place under conditions where the burden of life has been shifted from the state to individuals who are made to appear solely responsible for their lives, their successes or failures, their employment or imprisonment. This transition produces precarious subjects who are increasingly called upon to live lives of constant precarious labor, to manage their precarity at all times, to constantly hustle, at work and at home. In this way, precarity becomes a way of life, a condition that not only structures employment, but also structures the governing of the self. The uncertainty produced by neoliberalism looms within the texture of daily life, informing not only conscious decisions about how to allocate resources for an uncertain future but also unconscious thoughts and behaviors. It is the production of radically isolated individuals who are driven by one imperative: to pursue security in a world of financial, political, environmental, and humanitarian crises.
The individual hustler, hustling, working multiple jobs, learning to love and identify with exploitative conditions, all appear variously in this moment of neoliberalism.