Michael Behrent on liberalism

Behrent’s paper analyzing Foucault’s account of liberalism, which was given at the UMASS conference earlier this year, receives some comments at this blog:

I have just finished reading a very interesting, and unpublished, article by Michael Behrent on Foucault and economic liberalism entitled, “Liberalism without Humanism: Michel Foucault and the Free-Market Creed, 1976-1979”. The article and its references will be very useful for me in thinking about Sorel’s context of reception in post-1968 France; in particular, the question of the meaning(s) of liberalism. Behrent does a wonderful job of situating Foucault and, it seems to me, of explaining what economic liberalism ‘did’ and meant for him. The highest praise: it made me want to run out and buy (perhaps I will tomorrow), the 1978 and 1979 Collège de France lectures on which the argument is based.

As much as I liked the piece, though, I find myself disagreeing with it on a fundamental level. I get the impression that Behrent more or less agrees with what he convincingly argues Foucault thought about economic liberalism. One reason I want to read these lectures is to see if Foucault does indeed seem to be endorsing the idea that the absence of explicit disciplinary practices in an ideal neoliberal regime necessarily means the absence of implicit, or hidden, disciplinary practices.

By the way, where is Behrent now? I cannot find his faculty affiliation at Denison University–has he moved on?


2 Responses

  1. He’s teaching at Appalachian State University now.

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