The Foucault Effect Summary

the Foucault effect studies in governmental rationality and Foucault power knowledge and Foucault quotes on education and Foucault questions of method
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THE FOUCAULT EFFECT STUDIES IN GOVERN M EN1l\LITY WITH MO LECTURES BY AND AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHEL FOUCAULT Edited by Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon and Peter Miller THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS CHAPTER ONE Govemmental rationality: an introduction Colin Gordon Between 1970 and 1984, Michel Foucault delivered thirteen annual courses of lectures at the College de France in Paris. Fouca ult's duties at the college, as professor in a specially created Chair in the History of Systems of Thought, were not to teach a syllabus but to report on the results of his own researches. Several of these lecture series, Foucault's own official summaries of which have been republished as a volume by the College de France, l are preliminary explorations of themes taken up in various of Foucault's later books. But others contain rich seams of material which he never chose or had time to work up in a final written form. Perhaps the two most remarkable annual courses of which this is true were those of 1978 and 1979, entitled respectively 'Security, territory and population', and 'The birth of biopoli tics'. One of the 1978 lectures was published (although not in French) in Foucault's lif etime, and is reprinted in this volume (Chapter 4). A provision in Foucault's will has been interpreted by his literary executors as precluding posthumous publication of the complete lecture series; but the exceptional interest of the 1978 and 1979 courses has been recognized by the recent publication on cassette tape of the initial lectures of the two series, and a complete tape edition of the two series is currently under consideration. Complete recordings of these lectures are available to researchers in .the Foucault archive at the Bibliotheque du Saulchoir in Paris. In these lectures Foucault defined and explored a fresh domain of research into what he called 'governmental rationality', or, in his own neologism, 'governmentality'. This work was not carried out single­ handedly. A group of fellow researchers, several of whom are among the contributors to this volume, took part in seminars held at the College de France which paralleled and complemented the programme of the lectures. In the subsequent lecture courses in Paris, Foucault shifted his attention away from these governmental themes in the direction of the topics of his final volumes of the History of Sexuality. But he continued to teach and organize research seminars on questions of government on his frequent visits to the United States, particularly at Berkeley. A number of lectures, essays and interviews published in the USA during these later years provide valuable documentation of this area of Foucault's work. Colin Gordon In the prese-nt e�say I shall attempt a brief outline of the meaning of the theme of 'governmentality' in Foucault's work and the studies which he and others carried out under this heading, constructing a composite picture of the kinds of political and philosophical analysis which this style of working produces in the hands of a number of dif ferent and independent researchers. In some ways this is a problematic and even a foolhardy undertaking. A condensed, syncretic account may risk glossing over important diff erences of perspective between diff erent individual contributions. One is describing a zone of research, not a fully formed product (although happily, it is now possible to refer to major subsequent publications by many of this volume's authors).2 The inaccessibility and the inf ormal oral structure of the lecture materials makes summarization at once an indispensable and an uncomfortable task. I can only hope that the richness of the material itself will encourage the reader to tolerate these presentational obstacles and their attendant irritations. As well as summarizing, I shall attempt to connect and to contextual­ .ize. We are only gradually becoming aware of, and are still far from having fully documented access to, the astounding range of Fouca ult's intellectual enterprises, especially in the later years from 1976 to 1984. The governmental theme has a focal place in Foucault's later philosophy; an ef fort needs to be made to locate this as accurately as possible. To understand the theme's wider resonance, something needs to be said about the interactions between a research agenda and a contemporary political world. To help to situate its distinctive value - and on grounds of good sense - it will be advisable to resist doctrinaire overstatement of this work's unique and unprecedented character, and instead to try to establish lines of communication with twentieth-century enquiries into allied areas of political philosophy and the history of political ideas. Such points of fruitf ul connection are, as Graham Burchell illustrates (Chapter 6), encouragingly numerous. Finally, and taking due account of wide­ spread extant discussion of Foucault's later published work, something ought to be said about the ethical and political considerations (if any) implicit in this way of working and thinking. What did Foucault have in mind by the topic 'governmental ration­ ality'? Foucault understood the term 'government' in both a wide and a narrow sense. He proposed a definition of the term 'government' in general as meaning 'the conduct of conduct ': that is to say , a form of activity aiming to shape, guide or aff ect the conduct of some person or persons. 'The government of one's self and of others' was Foucault's title for his last two years' lectures, and for a projected, unpublished book. Government as an activity could concern the relation between self and self , private interpersonal relations involving some form of control or guidance, relations within social institutions and communities and, 2 Governmental rationality: an introduction finally, relations concerned with the exercise of political sovereignty. Foucault was crucially interested in the interconnections between these dif ferent forms and meanings of government; but in his lectures specifi­ cally on governmental rationality he concerned himself principally with government in the political domain. Foucault used the term 'rationality of government' almost interchange­ ably with 'art of governme nt'. He was interested in government as an activity or practice, and in arts of government as ways of knowing what that activity consisted in, and how it might be carried on. A rationality of government will thus mean a way or system of thinking about the nature of the practice of government (who can govern; what governing is; what or who is governed), capable of making some form of that activity thinkable and practicable both to its practitioners and to those upon whom it was practised. Here, as elsewhere in his work, Foucault was interested in the philosophical questions posed by the historical, con­ tingent and humanly invented existence of varied and multiple forms of such a rationality. In these two years ' lectures, Foucault applied this perspective of analysis to three or four dif ferent historical domains: the theme, in Greek . philosophy and more generally in antiquity and early Christianity, of the nature of government, and the idea of government as a form of 'pastoral power '; doctrines of government in early modern Europe associated with the idea of reason of state and the police state; the eighteenth-century beginning of liberalism, considered as a conception of the art of government; and, lastly, post-war forms of neo-liberal thought in Germany, the USA and France, considered as ways of rethinking the rationality of government. These dif ferent and discontinuous forays were linked together for Foucault by a common focus of interest, encapsulated in the formula of one of his lecture titles: 'Omnes et singulatim' (all and each).3 Foucault saw it as a characteristic (and troubling) property of the development of the practice of government in Western societies to tend towards a form of political sovereignty which would be a government of all and of each, and whose concerns would be at once to 'totalize' and to 'indi vid ualize ' . We can better locate this preoccupation of Foucault's by reconstruc­ ting some of the moves which took him there. In his preceding book Discipline and Punish, he had famously proposed and expounded a kind of political analysis called the 'microphysics of power', exemplified by the study of the application of disciplinary techniques as part of the invention of the modern penitentiary prison. A whole aspect of modern societies, Foucault was suggesting here, could be understood only by reconstructing certain 'techniques of power', or of 'power/knowledge', designed to observe, monitor, shape and control the behaviour of individuals situated 3 Colin Gordon within a range of social and economic institutions such as the school, the factory and the prison. These ideas encountered considerable interest and extensive criticism. Foucault's responses to some of these criticisms can be read as giving some of the key directions to his subsequent work. One objection frequently raised by the Marxist lef t was that this new attentiveness to the specifics of power relations and the detailed texture of the particular techniques and practices failed to address or shed light on the global issues of politics, namely the relations between society and the state. Another was that Foucault's representation of society as a network of omnipresent relations of subjugating power seemed to preclude the possibility of meaningf ul individual freedom. A third complaint was that Foucault's markedly bleak account of the effects of humanitarian penal reformism corresponded to an overall political philosophy of nihilism and despair. Foucault introduced his lectures on governmentality as being, among other things, an answer to the first of these objections. The same style of analysis, he argued, that had been used to study techniques and practices addressed to individual human subjects within particular, local institu­ tions could also be addressed to techniques and practices for governing populations of subjects at the level of a political sovereignty over an entire society. There was no methodological or material discontinuity between three respective, microphysical and macrophysical approaches to the study of power. At the same time, moving from the former to the latter meant something diff erent from returning to the theory of the state in the form demanded and practised by Foucault's Marxist critics. Foucault acknowledged the continuing truth of the reproach that he ref rained from the theory of the state, 'in the sense that one abstains from an indigestible meal '. State theory attempts to deduce the modern activities of government from essential properties and propensities of the state, in particular its supposed propensity to grow and to swallow up or colonize everything outside itself. Foucault holds that the state has no such inherent propensities; more generally, the state has no essence. The nature of the institution of the state is, Foucault thinks, a function of changes in practices of government, rather than the converse. Political theory attends too much to institutions, and too little to practices. Foucault takes the same methodological course here as in Discipline and Punish, where changes in the rationale and meaning of the practice of punishing are prioritized over transformations in the structure of penal insti tu tions. Foucault had already begun to develop his view of the links between the microphysics and the macrophysics of power in the final chapter of The History of Sexuality , volume 1 (1976). Here he had introduced the term 'biopower', to designate forms of power exercised over persons specifi- 4 the lif e and lif e-conduct of the ethically free subject, as in some sense the Perhaps, then, what Foucault finds most fascinating and disturbing in the history of Western governmental practice and its rationalities is the idea of a kind of power which takes freedom itself and the 'soul of the citizen', correlative object of its own suasive capacity. This was one of the crucial points where Foucault found himself among the inheritors of Max Governmental rationality: an introduction cally in so far as they are thought of as living beings: a politics concerned with subjects as members of a population, in which issues of individual sexual and reproductive conduct interconnect with issues of national policy and power. Foucault reintroduced this theme of biopower or biopolitics in his 1978 lectures, in a way linking it intimately with his approach to the theme of government. One of the key connections here was the perception that modern biopolitics generates a new kind of counter-politics. As governmental practices have addressed themselves in an increasingly immediate way to 'life', in the form of the individual detail of individual sexual conducts, individuals have begun to formulate the needs and imperatives of that same lif e as the basis for political counter-demands. Biopolitics thus provides a prime instance of what Foucault calls here the 'strategic reversibility' of power relations, or the ways in which the terms of governmental practice can be turned around into focuses of resistance: or, as he put it in his 1978 lectures, the way the history of government as the 'conduct of conduct' is interwoven with the history of dissenting 'counter-conducts'. In these matters Foucault had some important clarifications to of fer, notably in his American essays and interviews, on his views about power, freedom and hope. Foucault seems to have found fault afterwards a t least with his rhetoric in Discipline and Punish, where this may have seemed to give an impression of certain uses of power as having an almost absolute capability to tame and subject individuals. In his 1982 essay 'The subject and power', Foucault affirms, on the contrary, that power is only power (rather than mere physical force or violence) when addressed to individuals who are free to act in one way or another. Power is defined as 'actions on others' actions': that is, it presupposes rather than annuls their capacity as agents; it acts upon, and through, an open set of practical and ethical possibilities. 4 Hence, although power is an omnipresent dimension in human relations, power in a society is never a fixed and closed regime, but rather an endless and open strategic game: At the very heart of the power relationship, and constantly provoking it, are the recalcitrance of the will and the intransigence of freedom. Rather than speaking of an essential freedom, it would be better to speak of an 'agonism' - of a relationship which is at the same time reciprocal incitation and struggle; less of a face-to-face confrontation which paralyzes both sides than a permanent provocation. ; 5 Colin Gordon Weber.6 In the fresh way it re-poses the conjunction of the history of politics and the history of ethics, Foucault's later work rejoins a great theme of modem political sociology. A little more needs to be said about the political and critical value orientation of this work of Foucault's, beginning with a note on its place and time of gestation. Foucault's 1978 course overlapped with an unexpected defeat in French parliamentary elections of an alliance of Socialist and Communist parties. His 1979 course ended a few weeks before Margaret Thatcher's election as British Prime Minister. This work was being done at a time of the fading in France of the multitudinous blossomings of post-1968 social militancy, at a time when the intellectual prestige of Marxism was about to undergo a rapid collapse (partly stimulated by the influence of Eastern European dissidents, with whose welcome and reception in France Foucault was actively involved), and when the spreading influence of neo-liberal political thought, from the Germany of Helmut Schmidt to the France of Giscard and Barre and the Britain of Callaghan and Healey, had begun to present a challenge to the post-war orthodoxies of governmental thought. One of the conspicuous attributes of Foucault's governmentality lectures is their serene and (in a Weberian sense) exemplary abstention from value judgements. In a pithy preamble he rejects the use of an academic discourse as a vehicle of practical injunction ('love this; hate that; do this; refuse that ... '), and dismisses the notion that practical political choices can be determined within the space of a theoretical text as trivializing the act of moral decision to the level of a merely aesthetic preference. The terms of Foucault's accounts of governmental ration­ alities are devoid of the implicit pejorative sarcasm which Foucault's Nietzschean affiliat ions have so often led readers to hear in his writing. Foucault's accounts of the liberal and neo-liberal thinkers indeed often evince a sense of (albeit value-neutral) intellectual attraction an:d esteem. The perspective may be libertarian, but it is not anarchist. His reproach, if there is one, is addressed to critical culture itself . Foucault does not eschew practical maxims where the obligations of thought are concerned. In a nutshell, he suggests that recent neo-liberalism, understood (as he proposes) as a novel set of notions about the art of government, is a considerably more original and challenging phenomenon than the left's critical culture has had the courage to acknowledge, and that its political challenge is one which the lef t is singularly ill equipped to respond to, the more so since, as Foucault contends, socialism itself does not possess and has never possessed its own distinctive art of governing. The conclusion from this exercise in critical attentiveness to the present lies in the affirmation of the possibilit y and necessity. for those who wish to pursue certain ends and values, of fresh acts of inventiveness. 6 Governmental rationality: an introduction Some of these views are well attested in Foucault's later years. In an interview in 1981 where he candidly welcomes the election of a Socialist government, Foucault expressed the hope of seeing a new 'logique de gauche ' in the conduct of the regime, replacing the tutelary arrogance of its predecessor towards the governed with a practice of free dialogue between government and governed, 'debout et en face' (upright and face to face). He himself showed willingness to engage in discussion about problems and contradictions in social policy, notably in a long dialogue with a CFDT trade union representative on health funding issues and the need to devise new welf are policy mechanisms capable of providing the means of individual autonomy as well as the means of security. In the course of this discussion Foucault makes an emphatic plea for a renewal of inventiveness in political culture. Foucault also retained a conti�uing practical concern with the problems of the prisons which had so much occupied him in the 1970s. It is a matter of record that Foucault gave private advice to one governmental figure, the Minister of Justice Robert Badinter, his longstanding ally in the 1970s campaign against the death penalty.? Foucault is said also to have been on friendly terms with Michel Rocard, whose subsequent written references to 'le gouvernment des hommes' seem reminiscent of some of our present material. On the whole, however, Foucault seems to have been disappointed by the Socialists and their preferred role for intellectuals as a supporting ideological chorus line rather than as interlocutors in a discussion about how to govern. Paul Veyne recently wrote that, at the time of his death in 1984, Foucault was 'preparing a book against the Socialists'. I will return below to the practical philosophy contained in Foucault's later work. We must now look more closely at the 'governmentality' lectures. We have seen how Foucault distinguished his topic from that of certain forms of state theory. How does it relate to the more classic domain of political philosophy? Perhaps a classic distinction can be used to draw a doubtless oversimplified contrast. A major part, at least, of classical political philosophy, in its central concern with the legitimate foundations of political sovereignty and political obedience, is about 'the best government'. Governmentality is about how to govern. Foucaul t continues here his predilection for 'how' questions, for the immanent conditions and constraints of practices. The choice does not carry any immediate polemical implication. Foucault does not say that legitimation theory is empty (though in a lecture he does call the social contract a bluf f and civil society a fairy story); but only that a theory of the legitimate basis of sovereignty cannot be relied upon as a means of describing the ways in which power is actually exercised under such a sovereignty. Even here, though, the concern with 'how' is not a concern with the domain of the purely expedient or factual. Firstly, Foucault's topic is 7 Colin Gordon quite as much about critique, problematizations, invention and imagina­ tion, about the changing shape of the thinkable, as it is about the 'actually existing'. Secondly, the perceived internal constraints of the activity of governing are no less capable of carrying normative meaning and content than the principles of legitimation. Thirdly, as we have already seen, the content and object of governing as biopolitics, as the conduct of living and the living, is itself already ethical. Fourthly, Foucault goes on to develop (in the first lecture of his 1980 course), the idea that government in Western cultures carries with it a concern with truth which exceeds the merely utilitarian relationship postulated in his earlier schema of power-knowledge. Extending the idea that sovereignty is seldom grounded on pure violence alone, Foucault advances the thesis of a regular, though variously actualized interdependence between the 'government of men' and what he calls the 'manifestation of truth'. One Western version of the art of government, accordingly, is 'government in the name of the truth'. EARLY MODER N Beginning his lectures in 1978 on the topic of 'pastoral power' in ancient culture, Foucault was returning in a new way to a classic theme in his own work. In The Birth of the Clinic, Foucault retraces the difficult origins of a style of medical knowledge structured around the interpretation of the individual case. Earlier medicine, he showed, had obeyed an Aristotelian interdict on a science of the individual: science concerned itself with genus and species; the individual diff erence was infra­ scientific . Plato's dialogue, The Statesman, concerning the nature of the art of government, discusses the possibility that the ruler's art is like the shepherd's who cares for each individual sheep in his flock. In Plato, this idea is dismissed as impracticable: a ruler's knowledge and attentiveness could never extend so far as to minister to each individual: 'only a god could act thus'. Greek politics chooses the game of citizen and laws, rather than the pastoral game. The pastoral model is adopted and vastly elaborated by Christianity, as the care of souls. In Western Christianity, however, the roles of sacerdotal pastor and secular ruler never come to be unified. The focus of Fouca ult's interest in modern governmental rationalities consists, precisely, in the realization of what he calls the 'daemonic' coupling of 'city-game' and 'shepherd-game': the invention of a form of secular political pastorate which couples 'individualization' and 'totalization '. Foucault singles out the emergence of doctrines of reason of state in sixteenth-century Europe as the starting point of modern govern- 8 Governmental rationality: an introduction mentality, as an autonomous rationality. The principles of government are no longer part of and subordinate to the divine, cosmo-theological order of the world. The principles of state are immanent, precisely, in the state itself . To know how to govern, one must know the state and the secret springs of its interes ts, a knowledge which in part may not and cannot be accessible to the ruled, and is liable to dictate governmental acts of a singular, unf oreseeable and drastic character. These are the key inter­ locking terms of the French politique theorists of the early seventeenth century: raison d'etat; interet d'etat; mystere d'etat; coup d'etat. As Etienne Thuau has written: The notion of state ceases to be derived from the divine order of the universe. The point of departure for political speculation is no longer the Creation in its entirety, but the sovereign state. Reason of state seems to have perverted the old order of values ... Born of the calculation and ruse of men, a knowing machine, a work of reason, the state encompasses a whole heretical substrate ... Set above human and religious considerations, the state is thus subject to a particular necessity ... Obeying its own laws, raison d'etat appears as a scandalous and all-power ful reality, whose nature escapes the intelligence and constitutes a mystery.s The state has its reasons which are known neither to sentiment nor to religion. A contemporary synonym of raison d'etat (condemned by a Pope as 'the devil's reason') was 'civil prudence': part of its genealogy has been seen to lie in the transf ormation of the Christian doctrine of prudence, con­ sidered as the virtue displayed by a ruler capable of just action in circumstances which are singular and specific: the governor as helmsman - another of Plato's metaphors - preserving ship and passengers from the hazards of reef and storm. The meaning of prudence evolves from a context where it can be identified with a knowledge of apt precedent (the singular is never the wholly unprecedented) to a context, as in Machiavellian Italy, where the uncertain and the unexpected come to be perceived as the norm of Fortune's empire. The Machiavellian political art invented in response to this observation has, as Foucault remarks, its own inherent limit: a doctrine whose focus is merely to 'hold out', to retain one's sovereignty, however acquired, can scarcely provide assur­ ance of holding out indefinitely. The importance of shif ting the seat of political reason from prince to state is that the latter is capable of being credited with a form of secular perpetuity (itself a notion with complex Christian antecedents, explored by Kantorowicz:) 'States are realities which must needs hold out for an indefinite length of time.' 9 'The art of governing is rational', Foucault writes, 'if re£1exion causes it to observe the nature of what is governed - here, the state': reason of state is 10 , government In . accor d ance Wlt . h h t state e ' s strengt h' . 9 Colin Gordon Foucault suggests that the style of political thinking which enables continental European raison d'etat to outgrow its Machiavellian limitations and to become a knowledge of 'the state's strength' can be found most fully embodied and articulated in the corpus of theory, pedagogy and codification developed in German territories after the Thirty Years War, under the rubric of Polizeiwissensch aJt, or 'science of police' (although the English word 'policy' is arguably a better equivalent to this meaning of Poliz ei). Perhaps one could say, very formulaically, that reason of state's problem of calculating detailed actions appropriate to an infinity of unforeseeable and contingent circumstances is met by the creation of an exhaustively detailed knowledge of the governed reality of the state itself , extending (at least in aspiration) to touch the existences of its individual members. The police state is also termed the 'state of prosperity'. The idea of prosperity or happiness is the principle which identifies the state with its subjects. Police theory shares the mercantilist economic policy of striving to maximize the quantity of bullion in the sovereign's treasury. But it emphasizes that the real basis of the state's wealth and power lies in its population, in the strength and productivity of all and each. This, Foucault writes, is 'the central paradox of police': the aim of the modern art of government, viz., to develop those elements of individual lives in such a way that their development also fosters the strength of the state.' 11 The police state, we might say in other terms, strives towards the prudential by cultivating the pastoral. Some citations and paraphrases from Polizeiwissenschaf t writers by Foucault and Pasquino are eloquent on this topic. 'Life is the object of police: the indispensable, the usef ul, and the superfluous. That people survive, live, and even do better than just that, is what the police has to ensure.' Police 'sees to living': 'the objects which it embraces are in some sense indefini te'. 'The police's true object is man.' Police 'sees to everything pertaining to man's happiness'. 'The sole purpose of police is to lead to the utmost happiness in this lif e. ' 12 Police is a science of endless lists and classifications; there is a police of religion, of customs, of health, of foods, of highways, of public order, of sciences, commerce, manufac­ tures, servants, poverty ... Police science seems to aspire to constitute a kind of omnivorous espousal of governed reality, the sensorium of a Leviathan. It is also (again in aspiration) a knowledge of inexhaustibly detailed and continuous control. Foucault (borrowing the title of an anti­ Gaullist polemic by Fran�ois Mitterrand) describes government in the police state as a 'permanent coup d'etat'. Police government does not limit its action on the governed to the general form of laws: it works by the means of specific, detailed regulation and decree. The exponents of reason of state described its executive actions as those of a 'special justice '; Foucault notes as a defining characteristic of the police state the 10 Governmental rationality: an introduction marginalization of the distinction between government by law and government by decree. What kind of a rationality of government is this? Perhaps one may usef ully refer here to Max Weber's vocabulary of reflect ion on the varieties of rationality and rationalization in world history and modern history. Somewhat as Weber remarks of Chinese Confucianism, police is a 'rationalism of order', which conceptually amalgamates the ordered course of the world and the ordering activity of administration.3 1 But police resituates both these notions within a secular, non-traditional ethos, under a reign of artifice. Meinecke, in his Macchiavelli sm, evokes the view of the state of Turkey in the writings of the Italian reason of state theorist Traj ano Boccalini (1556-1613): Turkey brought to life and exempl ified what the political thought of the Renaissance had always been striving after: an artificial construction which had been consciously and purposely built up, a State mechanism which was arranged like a clock, and which made use of the various species and strengths and qualities of men as its springs and wheels.14 In a somewhat similar sense, the assurance of order in the police state is the assurance of an order which it itself ha created. If the problem of � Macchiavelli's prince is the securing of a new and non-legitimate sovereignty, the equivalent characteristic problem of police, in the German states newly demarcated by the Treaty of Westphalia, is, as Pasquino shows, to create a polity, as it were ex nihilo, out of a war­ devastated no man's land. What the social market economy was for the Germany of 1945, the police state was for the Germany of 1648. Police science, or 'Cameralism', is also, in conjunction with the allied knowledge of mercantilism and political arthimetic, the first modern system of economic sovereignty, of government understood as an economy. The economy emerges here, as Pasquino has put it, as a specifi c, but not yet (as for liberalism) an autonomous form of rationality. The economy of a functioning whole is a machine which has to be continuously made, and not merely operated, by government. This governmental theme of economy retains here from the ancient context of the oikos all its implications of possession, domestication and controlling action. In German, Wirtsch aJ t (economy) has as its cognates the terms Wirt (householder/smallholder) and Wirtsch aJ ten (economic activity, the con­ duct of the Wirtsch aJ t). Max Weber signalled an equivalent feature of a concept which has a key relevance for the antecedents of Cameralism, the Stadtwirtsc haJt (city economy): this was a term which, as Weber critically observed, signifies indiscriminately both a mode of economic organization and an organism regulating the economy. If it is possible for Cameralists to speak of the state as being identical with the 'whole body of society', this 11 Colin Gordon is so largely by virtue of the state's corresponding oeconomic properties: the identity of state and society here is, in some senses, equivalent to the unity of the Wirt and the Wirtschaf t - or possibly, in a later vocabularly, to that of the entrepreneur and the enterprise (Otto Hintze argues that the 'spirit of state' in early modern Prussia is one and the same thing as Weber's Protestant spirit of capitalism). Police government, finally, is in Foucault's terms a form of pastoral power, a government which defines itself as being 'of all and of each': a universal assignation of subjects to an economically usef ul life. Police government is also an oeconomy, through its way of equating the happiness of its individual subjects with the state's strength. Police is theref ore a kind of economic pastorate (cf . Fouca ult's gloss in his lecture reprinted in Chapter 4, on the idea of a government 'of men and of things '), or a secular hierocracy, albeit somewhat diff erent in its regime from the Catholic pastorate which had placed its obstacles in the path of the early capitalists. The state does not sacrifice itself for the individual: the individual (as Richelieu declares) must sometimes be sacrificed for the state. The ruler is a shepherd (German Hirt) , but also a husbandman (German Wirt ). The population of the governed is likened to a herd as well as to a flock: welfare is conjoined to exploitation, as the police thinkers are coolly capable of recognizing. Mercantilism, Weber remar k s, means "h runnmg t estate l'k 1 e a set 0 f enterpnse " s, 15 . Alongside the moral ambivalences of the police state, however, it is necessary to recognize also the emergence of changing forms of ethical culture, Beside the startlingly ambitious promises current in this period on behalf of the new science of state, the second remarkable feature of early modern political culture is the sense of a prof ound connectedness between the principles of political action and those of personal conduct, As Foucault observes, it is possible that never before or since has the activity of government been perceived as so essentially interdependent with the government of self , on the part of ruler and ruled alike, The problem of government, it has been said, was posed in terms of a 'language of persons', Foucault was aware of his precursors in this domain of study, especially in German political sociology since Weber. There is also, as Pasquale Pasquino has rightly noted, a,striking complementarity here between Foucault's work and the concurrent research of Gerhard Oestreich on the role of neo-stoicism in the early modern state,I6 Why was 'conduct' such an important theme at this time? The answer has to do with the same broad antecedents as those of reason of state: the erosion of a feudal order in which personal identity was anchored in a hereditary status and an associated network of loyalties and dependences; the impact of the Reformation, in terms of the religious problematization of the individual, and the demand for a renovated and invigorated 12 Greater social complexity brought a greater deployment of authority. People had to be 'coache d', as it were, for the tasks created by the more . populous society and the claims which it made on its citizens ... a start was made on educati people to a discipline of work and frugality and on ?-� . changmg the spIrItual, moral and psychological make-up of political, Governmental rationality: an introduction structure of pastoral guidance; and the pervasive dislocation of public and private lif e by religious wars. In France, raison d'etat had its origin in the choice made, notably by the politiques, for a 'detheologization' (Oestreich) of politics, in pref erence to a religious path of mutual annihilation. The development of a secularized manner of refle ction on personal ethics is a close corollary of this shift. The trend should not be mistaken for a move towards irreligion. It provided, as well, an instrument of active mobilization on each side of the confessional battle lines: Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran - a kind of competition in moral armaments. The rediscovery and renewal of Stoic ethics studied by Oestreich owes its influence in early modern political thought to an elective affinity with these conditions. The Roman Stoics were read with especial attention because of a perceived similarity between the public disturbances of ancient Rome and those of modern Europe. Philosophy was studied here in a search for resources for the recovery of moral and ethical orientation out of outward chaos and inner conf usion, as a weapon and a medicine. This neo-Stoic culture regarded its philosophy above all as a pragmatic, practical form of knowledge, a methodology of order. The Stoic style postulates a world-order, the 'police of this world', yet is at the same time hospitable to, and consonant with, artifice and technique: hence its affinity, certain appearances notwithstanding, to the thought of raison d'etat. One of its main moral and technical virtues was the promise, developed notably in the extremely influential writings of Justus Lipsius, of a common prudential ethic of 'constancy' (constantia ) for ruler and ruled: both were required to cultivate in their separate stations the same basic virtues of life-cond uct. Neo-stoicism provided perhaps the first distinct secular ethic of command and obedience: to obey meant not a mere abnegation or servitude of the will, but an active form of life­ conduct: Oestreich cites here testimonies to the spirit of almost religious zeal among the executant personnel of French raison d'eta t. By relating these developments to the 'regulation-mania' of the police state, Oestreich helps to convey better the moral tenor of the latter's global regulatory endeavours, particularly relative to newly urbanized populations: military and economic man.17 At the same time, Oestreich usef ully remarks, of the disciplines of Court lif e, that 'All social intercourse was governed by strict order: this, 13 Colin Gordon however severe, was not seen as slavery, but as a moral stif fening which prevented one from falling.' Or, as Hobbes writes at the beginning of his 18 De Cive, 'Man is not fitted for society by nature, but by discipline.' REAL LIBERALISM Economic Government As we have seen, Foucault sees the early modern conjunction of raison d'etat and science of police as momentously original in both an epistemo­ logical and an ethical sense. It constitutes the activity of government as an art with its own distinctive and irreducible form of rationality; and it gives to the exercise of sovereignty the practical form of a political pastorate, a government of all and each for the purposes of secular security and prosperity. Some of the attributes of the contemporary welf are state can, or so this seems to suggest, be seen as originating with the Polizeis taat. But only some. Foucault's lectures on modern governmental rationality attach equally close attention to the other great intervening mutation in the history of his topic, namely the advent of liberalism. In some respects (as Graham Burchell shows in Chapter 6), Foucault's approach to this subject converges with some recent moves in the study of early liberal thought by English-speaking historians: the r�jection of a narrowly anachronistic reading of the origins of political economy solely within the co-ordinates of a historical autobiography of present-day economic science; an emphasis on the unity of economic, social and governmental reflec tion in the work of Adam Smith and his contempor­ aries; and a scepticism about the Marxist interpretation of eighteenth­ century liberals as conveniently prescient apologists of nineteenth­ century industrial capital. What is distinctive, albeit not unique, about Foucault's perspective here is his concern to understand liberalism not simply as a doctrine, or set of doctrines, of political and economic theory, but as a style of thinking quintessentially concerned with the art of govermng. Foucault sees Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations as eff ecting not only a transf ormation in political and economic thinking but also a trans­ formation in the relationship between knowledge and government. For Cameralist thinkers, police science and state action are isomorphous and inseparable; the notion of 'science' carries here an immediately pragmatic connotation, akin, as Foucault puts it, to the calculating know-how of diplomacy. For political economy, on the other hand, scientific objec­ tivity depends on the maintenance of relative distance and autonomy 14 Governmental rationalit y: an introduction from the standpoint and preoccupations of state, while the content of economic science affirms the necessary fmitude and frailty of the state considered as a knowing subject. Liberalism can thus be accurately characterized in Kantian terms as a critique of state reason, a doctrine of limitation and wise restraint, designed to mature and educate state reason by displaying to it the intrinsic bounds of its power to know. Liberalism undertakes to determine how government is possible, what it can do, and what ambitions it must needs renounce to be able to accomplish what lies within its powers. Foucault distinguishes two stages in this politico-epistemological revolution. In France, the Physiocratic sect of economistes inverts the once scandalous heresy propagated by the earlier sect of politiques, the initial proponents of rais on d'etat. The artificial, invented reason of Leviathan is rebutted by the proclaimed discovery that the aff airs of human society constitute a quasi-nature. Society and its economy can and must only be governed in accordance with, and in respect for, the laws of that nature, the autonomous capability of civil society to generate its own order and its own prosperity. In Physiocratic doctrine, this version of a laisse z- fa ire policy is associated with a specific technical proposal, Quesnay's econ­ omic 'Table', a device intended to permit a sovereign to monitor the totalit y of economic processes within the state. Here the ruler is in a position to permit economic subjects freedom of action just because, through the Table, the sovereign can still know what is happening in the economy, and how. There is here, in Foucault's terms, a relation of adequation between the sovereign's knowledge and his subjects' liberty, a kind of transparent superposition of the political and the economic. Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' represents, for Foucault, an oblique but radical criticism of the technique of the Table: it means that the Physiocratic model of economic sovereignty is an impossibility; the knowledge intended to be compiled in the Table is, even in principle, impossible for a sovereign reliably to obtain. Of the choices and calculations of the individual economic agent, Smith writes that 'he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention': 19 an end which serves the public good. Smith also makes it clear that the workings of the invisible hand are possible only because it is invisible; little good would follow if an individual were so perverse as to attempt to trade for the public good.20 Foucault notes that this thesis of the benign opacity of economic processes holds good not only for the individual citizen but also for government; it is not as though the workings of the 'invisible hand ', while remaining inaccessible to the common citizen, could yet become transparently intelligible when seen within a totalizing scientific perspective, comparable to God's knowledge 15 Colin GorJon of the operations of Providence. To endeavour to constrain individual economic actions towards the public good is an undertaking no more feasible for the sovereign than for the subject: it is 'a duty, in the attempting to perf orm which he must always be exposed to innumerable delusions, and for the proper perf ormance of which no human wisdom or knowledge could ever be sufficient ,.21 The finitude of the state's power to act is an immediate consequence of the limitation of its power to know. Kant, soon after Smith, was to declare the unknowability for man of the cosmos as totality: political economy announces the unknowability for the sovereign of the totality of the economic process and, as a conse­ quence, the impossibility of an economic sovereignty. Political economy is a form of scientific knowledge of which government must needs, in its own interest, take cognizance: what political economy cannot do for govern­ ment is to generate a detailed, deductive programme for state action. Political economy assumes the role of a knowledge which is, as Foucault puts it, 'lateral to', or 'in tete-a-tete with' the art of governing: it cannot, however, in itself constitute that art.22 Thus the immediate unity of knowledge and government which typifies raison J'etat and police science now falls apart. The regularities of economic or commercial society display a rationality which is fundamentally different in kind from that of calculative state regulation. The new objectivity of political economy does not consist solely in its occupation of a politically detached scientific standpoint: more pro­ foundly, it inaugurates a new mode of objectification of governed reality, whose effect is to resituate governmental reason within a newly complicated, open and unstable politico-epistemic configuration. The whole subsequent governmental history of our societies can be read in terms of the successive topological displacements and complications of this liberal problem-space. This complex event cannot, however, properly be understood if it is thought of as a moment of total discontinuity in governmental thought: this would also, one might add, be quite foreign to Foucault's usual methodological practice.23 As many commentators have emphasized, The Wealth of Nations is not an ivory-tower edifice of theory, any more than it is a propaganda tract on behalf of the rising bourgeois class. The Wealth of Nations is, among other things, a collection of arguments for a series of quite specific policy recommendations addressed to the state. Smith, for all his scorn of the insidious and crafty race of politicians, does not disdain to enter into pragmatic calculations of particular questions of state security, such as those of military policy. Smith's Edinburgh lectures introduce the topic of political economy as falling within a branch of the art oflegislation, namely police: 'The objects of police are the cheapness of commodities, public security, and cleanliness, if the two last were not too 16 Governmental rationality: an introduction minute for a lecture of this kind. Under this head we will consider the opulence of a state.' 24 In contrast to the Cameralists (some at least of whose writings Smith appears to have been acquainted with), but in common with many of the Camera lists' own jurisprudential colleagues and rivals, Smith swif tly dispatches the extra-economic concerns of police science: 'the proper method of carrying dirt from the streets' and 'the method of keeping a city guard' are 'though usef ul ... too mean to be considered in a general discourse of this kind'.2s This is not, as we shall see, the whole story so far as liberalism is concerned. But in any case, and even though Smith represents modern levels of 'public opulence' as having been attained largely despite, rather than because of, the endeavours of rulers, this does not mean that he does not still place this opulence, or 'cheapness', 'plenty' and 'prosperi ty', in precisely the same spirit as did the Cameralists, at the heart of the objectives of state policy. Only the method espoused is different. A further complexity emerges when one examines that method itself , or its most celebrated slogan-formula, laissez- jaire. Laissez- jaire is a way of acting, as well as a way of not acting. It implies, in Foucault's words, an injunction 'not to impede the course of things, but to ensure the play of natural and necessary modes of regulation, to make regulations which permit natural regulation to operate': 'manipuler, susciter, faciliter, laissez-f aire '.26 The permissive meaning of laissez- jaire needs to be under­ stood in an activist, enabling sense no less than in its character of passive abstentionism. Albert Hirschman has drawn a contrast between the liberalisms of Adam Smith and James Steuart which perhaps bears on this point. Steuart likens the 'modern economy' to a watch mechanism, in two respects. 'On the one hand, the watch is so delicate that it is immediately destroyed if ... touched by any but the gentlest hand '; this means that the penalty for old-f ashioned arbitrary coups d'autoritl is so stif f that they will simply have to cease. On the other hand, these same watches 'are continually going wrong; sometimes the spring is found too weak, at other times too strong for the machine ... and the workman's hand becomes necessary to set it right'.27 Steuart thus argues 'both the impossibility of arbitrary and careless handling and the need for frequent . , 8 2 corrective moves y t e so lCltous an expert statesman . n am ·· b hi d " " 1 Ad Smith's thinking, on the other hand, the accent appears to fall on the need not so much to augment governmental expertise as to set a limit on its ineptitude: Smith seeks 'less a state with minimal functions than one whose capacity for folly would have some ceiling,.29 Steuart appears to present liberal government as entailing an order of skill more exacting than that of government by police; Smith's somewhat lower expectation of the talents of rulers backhandedly emerges in his commendation of the ease and convenience of laissez- jaire. Can liberalism 17 Colin Gordon be both more and less difficult than its alternative? Perhaps: one may opt to read the difference between Steuart and Smith as largely one of tactic and temper, and their underlying objective as ef fectively the same; but one also senses here one of the elements of an enduring puzzle of liberalism, the conundrum of how to establish a viable boundary between the objects of necessary state action and those of necessary state inaction, or between what Smith's disciple Jeremy Bentham designates as the agenda and the non-a genda of government. Liberal theory problematizes the methods of government no less than it does the nature of the reality which government has to address. It is by their examination of these methods, together with their attendant problems, that Foucault and his co-researchers help to show how liberalism has functioned historically not so much as a web of inveterate contradiction (reverie of a minimal state, as background music to a real state that ceaselessly grows), but as a prodigiously fertile problematic, a continuing vector of political invention. Here lies the force of Foucault's stress on the theoretical originality of liberalism: 'Liberalism is not a dream which clashes with reality and fails to insert itself there. It ' constitutes - and this is the reason both for its polymorphic character and for its recurrences - an instrument for the criticism of reality. ' 30 The theoretical closure of the world, the conception of reality as the scene of a potentially total eff ectuation of political doctrine, is the very essence of what liberalism, in contradistinction both to the science of police and to scientific socialism, denounces and abjures. This is not, of course, to say that liberal ideas have no real eff ects. If there nowhere exists a truly liberal society, this is not because liberalism is a utopian doctrine. We now accept that there is (or has been) not only socialist thought, but also an 'actually existing socialism' which can be something rather diff erent. What some of our authors are undertaking could be described as collating and analyzing the phenomena of what might be termed 'real liberalism ' - undeterred by their complex, diagonal and often disconcerting relation­ ship with what conventional wisdom recognizes as 'true' liberal precepts. Foucault - in common with other recent authors - takes issue with the neo-Marxist thesis of a kind of pre-established liberal harmony between Lockean political jurisprudence (civil society, the social contract and the sanctity of individual property rights) and the political economists' conception of a commercial society, as a kind of casuistic synthesis whereby eighteenth-century liberalism prepares the philosophical legitimation for the capitalist appropriation of surplus value. The formation and development of liberalism as a governmental method can only be properly grasped when one recognizes that its constituent elements are far less mutually cohesive than ideology-critics have been apt to suppose. 18 Governmental rationality: an introduction Foucault sees the neo-Marxist interpretation as a misconception of the place of law in liberal thinking. Liberalism, Foucault argues, 'was not born out of the idea of a political society founded on a contractual relationship': if it proposes to recast and constrain regulatory acts of state into a predominantly legislative format, this is: not at all because ofliberalism's affinity for the juridical as such, but because law provides general forms of intervention which preclude particular, individual exceptional measures, and because the participation of the governed in the elaboration of such law through a parliament constitutes the most effective system for a governed economy.3 It is a concern with the adequate technical form of governmental action (the form of expert ise of Steuart's watchmender), rather than with the legitimation of political sovereignty (and, by. extension, of economic exploitation), which determines the specific importance of the rule of law for economic liberalism. Foucault suggests that this mode of technical reflection and elaboration needs to be envisaged in terms of a further category, distinct alike from the purely legal and the purely economic: that of security. And it is here that a certain dialectical interleaving of the universe of police with that of political economy becomes crucial to Foucault's account. The preoccupation with security, with a 'holding out' of the state over an indefInite span of time, is both a founding and a unive rsally mediating principle of the Cameralist 'state of prosperity'. Prosperity is the necessary condition of the state's own security, and prosperity in itself is nothing if not the capacity to preserve and hold on to, and where possible even to enhance, a certain global level of existence. Bentham's legislative science is as categorical on this matter as is the science of police: Among the objects of the law, security is the only one which embraces the future; subsistence, abundance, equality, may be regarded for a moment only; but security implies extension in point of time with respect to all the benefits to which it is applied. Security is therefore the principal object.3 2 Bentham says as well that 'if we are to have clear notions, we must mean by liberty a branch of security'. 33 Foucault adds that, for liberal government, the converse is also true: liberty is a condition of security. The active meaning of laisse z-f aire, the devising of forms of regulation which permit and facilitate natural regulation, comprises what Foucault terms: the setting in place of mechanisms of security ... mechanisms or modes of state intervention whose function is to assure the security of those natural phenomena, economic processes and the intrinsic processes of population: this is what becomes the basic objective of governmental rationality. Hence liberty is registered not only as the right of individuals legitimately to oppose 19