Tanke, Joseph. “The Gentle Way in Governing: Foucault and the Question of Neoliberalism.” Philosophy & Social Criticism, (April 2022).
This essay challenges some of the recent scholarship which claims that Michel Foucault was more sympathetic to neoliberalism than is typically acknowledged. Accordingly, it considers the possible motivations for Foucault’s 1978-1979 lecture course, The Birth of Biopolitics; the relationship between liberalism and the various forms of power identified by Foucault; and, finally, claims that Foucault’s account of the ‘care of the self’ was itself informed by the neoliberal theory of human capital. It finds that Foucault regarded neoliberalism as coercive social arrangement on par with the other forms of power/knowledge targeted by his work. And it concludes with some reflections on how Foucault’s account of the ‘aesthetics of existence’ might facilitate resistance to neoliberalism.
neoliberalism, liberalism, governmentality, raison d’État, theory of human capital, aesthetics of existence, care of the self, homo oeconomicus