New post by Gordon Hull:
The other day I read Miguel Vatter’s take on the issue (“Foucault and Hayek: Republican Law and Civil Society,” in Lemm and Vatter, eds., The Government of Life: Foucault, Biopolitics, and Neoliberalism (Fordham UP, 2014). I haven’t read the whole volume yet, but the essays are by first-rate Foucault scholars, and Vatter is a first-rate political theorist). Vatter pursues a novel thesis, and it’s one I’m not ready to endorse in its entirety, but it does a very good job of explaining the evidence on the table: that Foucault is, in essence, defending classical republicanism against (neo)liberalism. Neoliberalism – and here, Vatter follows Hayek’s work closely – stands for the proposition that it is wrong for the state to attempt to move the people (indeed, even to think of a “people” as opposed to a “population”) towards any substantive notion of the good life. For Hayek, suggests Vatter, there’s really two kinds of law: legislative (which is bad, because it tries to impose some notion of the good life on the polis, and/or tries to move the polis in that direction), and judicial (which is good, because it says the polis can’t do that).