Alex Moskowitz, The Production of the Subject: Foucault, Marx, and the Ontology of the Market, Polygraph, Issue 27, 2019. Special Issue: Neoliberalism And Social Reproduction
Though Michel Foucault certainly was not the first to write about the primacy of the market within capitalism, few have been able, with such precision, to provide the grounds with which to begin a radical and fundamental critique of it. This paper takes as its point of departure Foucault’s analysis of liberal ideology and the free market found in The Birth of Biopolitics—the series of lectures Foucault delivered at the Collège de France between 1978 and 1979. That this analysis, I argue in this paper, can be profitably related to his later seminar, The Hermeneutics of the Subject (1981-1982), is central to Foucault’s overall concern with subjectivity, truth, and the market. Foucault’s analysis draws its strength from the particular focus on the intertwinement of ontology and subjectivity with the market: if the market, as Foucault argues, has become the site of veridiction par excellence within capitalism, then not only will we look to the market to understand economic phenomena—we will also look to the market to understand ourselves. Indeed, the market’s ability to comprehend the subject depends upon the market’s having captured the logic of the subject within it: that is to say, subjectivity has been cast into the same category as economic phenomena, such that we are, as much as something like production reports and tax schedules, essentially economic beings.