Neo-liberalism, socialism and governmentality : has socialism yet developed an autonomous governmentality?
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Recent years have seen an increasing interest in the writing of Michel Foucault within political theory. This paper will examine two series of lectures Foucault presented at the Collège de France in which he discussed in detail a cluster of subjects with clear political connotations. Within the 1978 and 1979 series Foucault outlined the concept of governmentality, which he divided into two subcategories: the police-state and liberalism. He also considered socialism’s relationship to governmentality. In this instance, however, he argued that socialism had yet to produce an autonomous governmentality: meaning that it could not exist as an autonomous political entity, only serving as an appendage to liberal or authoritarian regimes. The fundamental interest of this discussion is to determine if socialist thought has advanced since Foucault offered his assessment. It is beyond the scope of this paper to survey the entire span of socialist literature produced since the 1970s; rather this paper will focus on the work of Antonio Negri and Micheal Hardt, who represent a particularly important strand in contemporary socialist thought. The conclusion drawn is that they have not proposed such a governmentality. In fact it is possible that a political system may appear to exhibit features of multitude but, at the same time, may adopt neo-liberal practices. Hence, multitude cannot entirely displace neo-liberalism. However, that is not to say the concept of multitude is without merit. For instance, it offers a method of establishing novel identities and communities, thereby protecting the diversity of cultures across the world. For those reasons multitude constitutes a qualitative step forward in an increasingly globalised political economy.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy