Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Jaeger, H.-M.
Governmentality’s (missing) international dimension and the promiscuity of German neoliberalism
(2013) Journal of International Relations and Development, 16 (1), pp. 25-54.

Further info

An important insight from the recent publication of Foucault’s governmentality lectures for International Relations (IR) is that international manifestations of governmentalities such as police and liberalism, rather than constituting mere domestic analogies, have inherently international dimensions. Police and liberalism are both constituted by and constitutive of the international contexts in which they emerge: historically, the European balance of power and a ‘globalisation’ of markets, respectively. However, Foucault’s account of German and American neoliberalism in the twentieth century omits references to the international context. This article first reconstructs the ‘domestic-international nexus’ in Foucault’s account of police and liberalism, and then recovers aspects of the missing international dimension of his analysis of German neoliberalism with recourse to Wilhelm Röpke’s writing on IR. The upshot of this recovery effort is threefold. First, the international remains pivotal to (mid-) twentieth-century neoliberal governmentality. Second, (German) neoliberalism’s association with multiple ‘international’ governmentalities, including liberal and non-liberal ones, exposes neoliberalism as a ‘promiscuous’ mode of governance. Third, German neoliberalism’s promiscuity is underwritten by (though not reducible to) a conservative ethos of moderation. More broadly, this article contributes to efforts to theorise the relationship between domestic and international politics, and to understand neoliberalism as a ‘variegated’ phenomenon.

Author Keywords
domestic-international nexus; Foucault; international governmentality; ordoliberalism; variegated neoliberalism; Wilhelm Röpke

Index Keywords
globalization, governance approach, government, international relations, neoliberalism, political power, twentieth century; Germany

DOI: 10.1057/jird.2012.6

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