Michel Foucault's The Birth Of Biopolitics

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On initial reading of lecture nine (‘American neo-liberalism (I)’), in Michel Foucault’s 1979 seminal lectures entitled The Birth of Biopolitics, it seemed rather clear to me that he was critiquing the neo-liberal order. Foucault mocked economist Gary Becker’s theory of human capital , and how humans are demoted to robots, with the sarcastic repetition of “ability-machines”. However, in 2013, after looking into Foucault’s work, Becker states, “but as I read the essay [lecture 10] it’s hard for me to see something in that essay that Foucault doesn’t like in terms of my work.” (Harcourt, Becker & Ewald 2013, 7). He made this fascinating observation in a dialogue with Bernard Harcourt, and Foucault’s close associate and producer of the lecture…show more content…
One is not under control of the master, there is no prophet telling you the truth, but a teacher enacting in a discourse—the logos. In an interview with Rux Martin, in 1982, Foucault sees himelf as a “teacher”, and not a prophet of truth, and I think this is an important connection in his liking for Stoicism (8). Foucault doesn’t believe it is in his job to say ‘do this or do that’ but to offer a tool for ones own resistance. In his lectures entitled ‘Security, Territory, and Population’ he states, “If you want to struggle, here are some key points, here are some lines of force, here are some constrictions and blockages.’ (1977, 18). This is paralleled to the way in which the Stoics take the truth of the teachings from the teacher and retreat to apply their own subjective rules of conduct (Foucault 1988, 35). Furthermore, I think this is Foucault’s style, and gives us grounds to see his view on neoliberalism as a critique. In ‘the Birth of Biopolitcs’ he is giving us a description of what is happening, and—analogous to the stoic strategy—giving us a strategy to resist as individuals. On first viewing, it would seem Foucault’s interest in the Stoic ethics of ‘care for the self’ could be viewed as similar to the neoliberal ideal of self-governance or entrepreneurship. However, I think there is a difference in that in
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