Foucault and liberalism: Rationality, revolution, resistance

Critical Horizons 8 (1):78-95 (2007)
In 1978 and 1979, the concept of governmentality was introduced by Foucault in his lectures at the Collège de France. Foucault finds the genealogical origin of this concept in the Christian figure of the shepherd. From this starting-point, he then embarks on a eulogy of liberalism, in stark contrast to the Marxist critique of political economy. These two grand narratives of modern liberalism differ markedly in their political and philosophical presuppositions. The latter, rooted in the tradition of natural law, is directed towards revolution. The former, rooted in the tradition of English radicalism, is directed towards resistance. Beyond their different reconstructions of liberalism, however, the article concludes by showing how these two narratives, can in fact be combined in a politically fruitful way.
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