The making of the neoliberal subject: Response to Whyte
(2019) Political Theory, 47 (2), pp. 185-193.
In her recent essay, Jessica Whyte has challenged the tendency to repurpose Friedrich Hayek’s thought for a progressive and participatory politics. Objecting to such thinkers as Michel Foucault and William Connolly who find inspiration in Hayek’s critique of the monolithic political sovereign and his defense of spontaneous order, Whyte contends that his neoliberalism is actually predicated on the cultivation of politically submissive subjectivity and the curtailment of democratic politics. While agreeing with her substantive conclusions, I suggest that her conceptual frame centered on the themes of invisibility and providentialism is limited in explaining Hayek’s ideas and, more generally, the operation of neoliberalism. Pace Whyte, I argue that Hayek’s neoliberalism does not simply stave off political challenges by obfuscation, but wages an active and highly visible campaign to recruit and interpellate individuals as market subjects. © The Author(s) 2018.
Friedrich Hayek; Neoliberalism; Political theory; Spontaneous order; Subjectivity