Saturday, 23 March 2019

Foucault & why Liberal Governments watch you poop.

Foucault, like Satre, had, if only fitfully, a dazzling literary style. Yet, at similar points of inflection in their careers, both constructed baroque labyrinths concealing the abomination of a hybrid intellectual paralysis- at once Marxist and Humanitarian.

Once one understands that the origin of their common malaise lay in Marxist Economics- which had embraced mathematical methods of great virtuosity in the works of people like Kantorovich- it becomes possible to read them more charitably. Essentially, they belonged to a zeitgeist which thought there was an 'intensional' solution to the Transportation problem- i.e. one could calculate shadow prices just from the Supply Side- which was effectively computable. In other words, the Aristotelian dream of establishing 'natural' or 'just' prices and wages had come true. Yet, the West was still providing better standards of living to the proletariat than the Warsaw Pact. How was this possible? Kantarovitch's 1975 Nobel lecture supplies the answer-
A problem that needs to be pointed out especially is that of decentralized decisions. The investigation of a two-level model complex leads us to the conclusion that in principle the decentralization of decisions with observance of the total object of the complex is possible by the means of a correct construction of objects in local models. We must point out here a brilliant mathematical formalism of the idea of decomposition given by G. Dantzig and Ph. Wolfe. The value of their paper of 1960 is far from the limits of the algorithm and its mathematical foundation. It gave rise to a lot of active discussions and various treatments in the whole world and particularly in our country
In other words, if Market Economies had overcome under-consumption crises, then something very sinister must be going on behind the scenes. A Dantzig-Wolfe type 'decomposition algorithm' was being occultly implemented such that 'objects in local models' were being 'correctly constructed'. Capitalism was succeeding because it was actually Communism with a set of occult mechanisms of a reprehensible sort. Indeed, around this time, the 'reverse game theory' of Mechanism Design was announcing itself in the Western Academy.

How must the Humanities respond to this sinister development?  Sartre could fall back on the Ethics of Terrorism or other such oxymorons. Foucault, a 'Historian', had to spell out for himself the absurd consequences of a foolish belief still not uncommon among elderly Economists and Political Psilosophers- viz that Capitalism had occult mechanisms of 'governmentality'. Interestingly, a few years later Chichilnisky & Heard showed that the only mechanism needed was 'local arbitrage'. Nothing 'global' or 'governmental' was involved. Two guys do a deal or don't do a deal and just talk, or even just observe something about each other and, voila!, so long as preference and endowment diversity meets a Goldilocks condition, everything else falls into place. Big Brother is otiose. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union ground to a halt because of 'concurrency' problems for the 'master program'. Decomposition was cool but re-aggregation was impossible because, as Djikstra pointed out, Philosopher Kings would starve because they could decide a rule that was optimal for deciding the correct sequence in which they should be fed. More generally, a multi-dimensional decision space was bound to engender 'McKelvey Chaos' and a struggle for 'Agenda Control'. Neither top down processes nor 'substantive' solutions could be efficiently implemented whereas 'the invisible hand' could stitch everything together using just 'limited arbitrage'.

I am anticipating things somewhat but this was the direction things were going in during the Seventies. Foucault was by no means au fait with mathematical economics, but- being French- was all the more susceptible to its Siren Song precisely because he was a land-lubber.

More concretely, it appears Foucault read a great and troubling significance into  Hayek's notion that the Market has no totalizing representation. As a matter of fact, it does but it is not effectively computable- but this is a movable feast. With some indeterminancy and imprecision, the thing is totalizable for practical purposes.

 Essentially, Markets feature co-evolved phenomena. Thus the interaction between fairly simple processes has high complexity and some inbuilt indeterminacy. But, the thing is robust and predictable enough most of the time.

 Where Foucault went bonkers was in thinking that if a thing is not totalizable, this means it can't be 'Sovereign'- i.e. a windowless monad unfolding through time according to its own intensional logic. Since Foucault wanted to overthrow the Sovereign/Subject syzygy replacing it with S&M style 'dominance/ submission' he jumped to the conclusion that Free Market Economics was something that did away with Sovereignty and Human Rights and Judges and Policemen and Psychiatrists and so forth, so everybody could just go to town on each other in a cozy little S&M dungeon.

Foucault is tedious to read and difficult to summarize, however there is an excellent essay here which I will quote and comment on-
In the work of Michel Foucault, the late seventies and early eighties are a period of important developments. To put it simply, the philosopher’s focus shifted from disciplinary apparatuses to the hermeneutic of the subject and care of the self, from subjectivation to the exercise of liberty.
Disciplinary apparatuses use up scarce resources. They are a fit topic for economic inquiry. However, the required analytical tools are
1) the folk theorem of repeated games which says that any coercive outcome can also be achieved non-coercively. Alternatively, we can calculate 'the price of anarchy' under different types of public signalling. The latter converges to the former.
More generally, such thinking throws into sharp relief the question- Why waste resources on 'disciplinary apparatuses'?
 The answer has to do with
2) Aumann's notion of the role of 'public signals' in achieving 'correlated equilibria' which are superior to Nash type competitive solutions. Clearly 'disciplinary apparatuses' have a 'signalling' and 'screening' function. So do Exams which is why Mao could mobilize the students by describing exams as tools of oppression. Later, after he had achieved his objective, he brought in workers from the factories to beat up the students who were then exiled to remote villages.

France too had its brief Maoist moment and Foucault had, if somewhat belatedly, gloried in it. However, it was even more evanescent than that of the Chinese students. Thus, Foucault was left with a mystery he had no means of explaining- Socialism was shite, but why was it shite?- because he was wholly cut off from developments in Economics over the period in question. Also, he was off his rocker- and not in a good way.

Foucault can't be blamed for growing up in a period where Computability and Correlated Equilibria and so forth were scarcely 'common knowledge'. Thus, since he had no means or motivation to formulate a Structural Causal Model of public signals, he needed to concentrate on some supposed inner language and the manner in which it was interpreted and exteriorized as self-care and the exercise of liberty.

The ambition of (Foucault's last) two works is to write a history of “governmentality" and commences with the appearance, in the mid-eighteenth century, of a new type of power and mechanism of control founded upon what Foucault calls “security apparatuses.”
Since Foucault can't see that 'security apparatuses' are costly- i.e. economic- he can't give an account of their origin, burgeoning and decline. Rather, he just arbitrarily equates them with Economics itself.  Thus, he thinks some epistemic event occurred which caused a new type of apparatus- viz Economics as an academic subject with magic powers- to come into being. A naive young person might believe the world works that way. Hitler comes to power because of an epistemic event- i.e. the rise of Race Science- and then you have the Gestapo and the Concentration Camp. However, this is a false view. The German General Staff remained convinced that it could profitably expand to the East while holding France down. Since the French did not have an offensive military doctrine, the German generals made the same gamble twice and lost both times after which they were occupied and disarmed.

However, as we know from the demise of the Soviet Union, 'security apparatuses' can disappear if power over the economy is surrendered- Gorbachev's mistake which Xi is seeking to avoid.

Foucault was bound to fail because his premise was foolish. But then, the Mathematical Economics of the Fifties and Sixties was equally foolish. It assumed infinite resources were available for either creating a Market Economy or feeding information to a Planning Commission. In the real world information is costly- as is Law Enforcement.

Being prevented, by his foolish premise, from writing anything sensible, Foucault, like a Chomsky or Amartya Sen, had to move over to babbling impressive sounding nonsense.
 Then in a certain sense the text shifts, adding to this first objective, or even substituting for it, another set of issues: a reflection on economic liberalism and its political effects. This slippage of the problematic and Foucault’s construction of liberalism by way of political economy are at the heart of this article.
Chomsky couldn't find the 'i-language' which would have made a perfect universal translator possible so he started babbling paranoid nonsense. Sen and his ilk knew they were hampering Indian Development and so started babbling nonsense about 'Development as Freedom'. Foucault, before 'dying of ignorance', similarly babbled nonsense about 'bio-politics' while ignoring Public Health Advertisements about the dangers of unprotected sex in San Francisco bath-houses.
Political Economy and Liberalism
In these two books, then, Foucault explores the genealogy of the notion of government. The most interesting moment, according to him, is the second half of the eighteenth century, when security mechanisms appear, following on historically from the juridico-legal mechanism and the disciplinary mechanism.
In Foucault's day, many French intellectuals had little knowledge of English or the Economic History of any country other than their own- that too imperfectly. We should be careful not to judge the parochialism of the period too harshly. After all, the French seldom bathed and spent all their time eating smelly cheese and thus little from the outside world could pierce the thick, miasmic, fog in which they were wreathed.
In order to explain what a security mechanism is, Foucault refers to policies put in place to counter scarcity. The great transformation of the mid-eighteenth century is that from this point on, scarcity is considered as a natural phenomenon. Foucault’s guide here is a liberal economist, Louis-Paul Abeille, who explains in his Lettre d’un négociant sur la nature du commerce des grains (1763) how to analyze scarcity. All moral disqualification must be refused, since it is a question of a natural mechanism. Neither is it a matter of preventing fluctuations between abundance and rarity through regulation, for, in order to be overcome, the phenomenon must first have taken place. It is through working “within the reality” that is scarcity that it can be limited, or even eliminated. Thus it is a matter of connecting up a security apparatus to reality, and even of favoring price rises (by abolishing the policing of the grain trade), since the twofold effect of inflation would be to attract merchants from without and to encourage the extension of cultivation. By allowing this phenomenon to run its course, self-limiting processes will come to light. Whereas disciplinary mechanisms define what is permitted and what is prohibited, security mechanisms step back and grasp things as they happen.
What elementary mistake is Foucault making here? The answer is he assumes that people feel they won't be robbed. Why? Coz robbers are caught and chucked in jail. This means, if there is a food availability deficit here, then, if prices are allowed to rise, food will be attracted from other areas. But only if robbers are caught and locked up. Moreover, farmers respond to the higher incentive to produce. You can also have futures contracts and robust Credit arrangements such that overall uncertainty falls. But for all this to happen, actual disciplinary mechanisms- not Foucauldian shite- have to work if not efficiently, then in a predictable and incentive compatible manner.

Scarcity can never be 'countered'. So long as a resource has an alternative use, Scarcity exists. Another way of saying this is if you have to make a choice- like between eating your cake or keeping it for the next day- then there is scarcity.
The parallel that Foucault draws with vaccination against smallpox, which took off in the same years, suggests the generality of these mechanisms.
Foucault is being silly. Vaccination was a change in technology, not a change in social arrangements.
Here again it is not a matter of preventing the illness by putting in place disciplinary systems designed to prohibit all contact between the infected and uninfected, but, on the contrary, of provoking it so that individuals develop the means to nullify it. The central idea is that of a self-regulation of phenomena through a circular closed loop of causes and effects.
This is sheer nonsense. Vaccination is about artificially producing anti-bodies. Free markets are about not being robbed and being able to enforce contracts. Neither features 'circular closed loop'. There is a vaccinator or a constable involved who is exogenous.
The appearance of security mechanisms brings about a general transformation, for it concerns all aspects of economic, social, and even biological life;
Security mechanisms can be non-coercive because they are wholly reputational. It isn't against the law to publish nonsense but if your fellow savants laugh at you and your students defect to more sensible Professors then the same purpose is served.

However such mechanisms have very limited scope. If you rape your students, you will be arrested- or so we would all like to believe.
but the intellectual instrument that authorizes it is political economy, which first appears as a self-proclaimed discipline during precisely this same epoch.
Sheer nonsense. There were economists in ancient Greece and Cicero's Rome. 'Political Arithmetic' was practiced in Seventeenth Century Polities.  Wikipedia notes that 'The phrase économie politique (translated in English as "political economy") first appeared in France in 1615 with the well-known book by Antoine de Montchrétien, Traité de l’economie politique'. However, the first Professorships in the subject were in backward places like Naples and Vienna. England didn't have a Professorship of this nomenclature till 1805.
Foucault takes care to insist in various places on the fact that this invention is but one aspect of the transformation of technologies of power that characterize modern societies. Yet political economy plays an essential role, with no real competitor, in Foucault’s work, for it can be defined as the science of rational behavior (the allocation of rare resources to alternative ends). And aren’t all of our behaviors rational? Thereby it becomes the archetype of the security apparatus, but also the matrix of a wide-ranging reflection not only on limitation but also on the organization and distribution of powers in post-Enlightenment Western society.
Why call the Free Market a 'security apparatus'? Why pretend Stock Brokers form a type of Gestapo? One may as well say, 'all members of Parliament are actually cats'. Wide-ranging reflections on the limitations this imposes on political processes are wholly worthless because politicians don't say meow and spend a lot of time licking themselves.
Paradoxically, this central role of political economy, which the philosopher mobilizes in the most varied forms, from mercantilism to contemporary neoliberalism by way of eighteenth-century political economy, has been rather neglected by commentators on the Foucauldian diptych.
Coz highlighting it would make him look an utter cretin.
One way to explain the invisibility of this invasive presence is to suppose that perhaps it is only there so as to disappear later, because it does not interest Foucault as such.
Like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland.
Nevertheless it is true that this central role is surprising in certain ways. Why does Foucault make such extensive use of political economy—and so exclusively?
Coz he was trying to pretend to be some sort of Marxist just as Marx pretended to be a political economist similar to Ricardo.
A question all the more legitimate given that this is not quite the political economy we might expect. For he quite concertedly elaborates his own vision of the history of economic thought, making of it the intellectual instrument of the transformation of governmental reason.
A vision of the history of a particular type of thought must start from what is now known to be true- or at least plausible. If it does not know what has been proven false, how is it to proceed? It has no Structural Causal Model and thus no means to detect and compensate for errors in what it studies.

Foucault himself says-
Recalling all the erroneous things that doctors have been able to say about sex or madness does us a fat lot of good.. .. What is important is the determination of the regime of veridiction that enabled them to say and assert a number of things as truths that it turns out we now know were perhaps not true at all.
The regime of veridiction was not 'intensional'- it was 'extensional' based on success or failure or rather whether people were willing to pay for the thing or not. This is 'economic', but Economics- i.e. stuff taught in College- is not itself 'economic'. Why? Economics explains why it is useless but still worth getting a degree in, by showing that a costly to acquire Credential sends a certain sort of signal. It shows you don't mind being bored out of your gourd doing stupid stuff. You are also something of a sycophant and really really want a white collar job uttering worthless shite.

Foucault, that poor naive shiksa ready to put out to any hairy economist that accosted him, believed differently-
Foucault holds that from the middle of the eighteenth century, in particular with the different techniques put to work for the management of scarcity, the free market is on the way to becoming for contemporaries of the time “what I will call a site of veridiction” (BBP 32 [34]).
So, if you buy magic beans in the market, those beans really must be magic coz markets are 'sites of veridiction'.
According to political economy, the truth expressed by a market left to its freedom thus replaces the indefinite series of interventions of policy that mercantilism calls for.
Nonsense. Either there are market clearing prices or there is rationing of one sort of the other. But rationing isn't always a bad thing.
Foucault plays marvelously on semantic ambiguity here, since the economists of the epoch used precisely the expression “true prices”
completely incorrectly. So what? They understood things well enough.
to designate the price of goods obtained on a free market, and which are considered to be true because they validate individual behaviors
individual behavior is not 'validated' by the price of anything. Norms validate behavior. Thus if you start masturbating while giving a lecture you can't excuse yourself by mentioning the current price of widgets. You have to show that it is customary to vigorously masturbate while speaking of 'governmental practices' and that Foucault himself had set this precedent.
and also governmental practices consistent with the common objectives of the preservation of populations against scarcity and, more broadly, of the production of wealth.
Governments are welcome to introduce rationing or buffer stocks or make exogenous changes to Supply. What validates these actions is whether the outcome was in the Public interest.

Semantic ambiguity is not a good thing if scholarly 'akrebia' is desirable. This is true of the Law as well as STEM subjects. Econ 101 begins by distinguishing the 'terms of art' used by the subject. Playing fast and loose with such terms is productive only of nonsense.
Political Economy and Governmental Self-limitation

.. if the economic dimension is not absent from ... Enlightenment debates, the central question is that of political liberalism. Yet the latter does not interest Foucault, who concentrates exclusively and sometimes almost obsessively on governmental self-limitation alone.
Why? Foucault can't admit that 'self-limitation' arises out of bargaining and the extensional pragmatics of incomplete contracts. Instead he seeks an intensional definition of limitation such that a body- like a windowless monad- can impose it upon itself regardless of external circumstances.
In political liberalism, power finds the principles of limitation only outside of itself.
This is also true of language and thought and every type of behavior. Recently a Tory minister had to apologize for using the term 'woman of color'. She didn't know the current nomenclature is 'Black'. We often discover our behavior gives unintentional offence. We then change our behavior.

Even in mathematics- which appears an 'intensional' language- Mathematicians often find out, during peer review, that they had made a mistake. This happens even to the best of them.
Yet this type of limitation external to governmental reason, whether of religious, juridical, or political origin, does not enter into the problematic of Foucault’s two courses.

Internal limitation means that in looking for the principle of this limitation. .. we will not seek in it the natural rights prescribed by God to all men, for example, or in revealed Scripture, or even in the wills of subjects who at a given moment agree to enter into society. No, the principle of this limitation is not to be sought in what is external to government, but in what is internal to governmental practice, that is to say, in the objectives of government.

This is a futile quest. A Government's objectives include surviving to the end of the week- which is a long time in Politics. This means having to be more alert and sensitive to what is 'external to government'. Macron has found this out the hard way.
Alongside the exclusion of politics, another important consequence of this search for governmental self-limitation is the distancing of law, which runs like a thread through both volumes. This distancing takes place to the direct benefit of political economy, evoked many times as the antinomical figure to law. The latter is reproached not so much for its exteriority in relation to governmental reason, and still less for its insufficient capacity to make power respect legal rules or principles that would limit its field of action.
So- it is not reproached at all. Rather it is blamed for being itself rather than something else.
In a late reflection (lecture of March 28, 1979, the penultimate chapter) dedicated to homo economicus and the invisible hand, Foucault opposes the juridical subject produced by contract theory
this is nonsense. Contracts don't produce juridical subjects. Those must pre-exist or the Contract is void. Thus a minor can't enter certain types of contracts. Nor can a cat.
to the subject of interest imagined by political economy.
They are one and the same. An economic agent is defined as one who has capacity to contract.  This status persists even if the agent never enters any sort of contract.
He emphasizes how the two differ on a point that he considers essential: whereas the first is required to renounce certain rights in order to safeguard others, the second is never required to go against his or her own interests.
The Law does not require us to renounce any rights whatsoever in order to enjoy other rights. An inter partes contract deemed to involve such a renunciation would be unconscionable and therefore null and void. It is a different matter that exchanges of goods and services may be legal. However, as happens in America, a good may itself have legal personality. Actions, like civil forfeiture, may be in rem, against the thing itself.
As had been argued by the Jansenist Pierre Nicole, and Mandeville in his Fable of the Bees, what is in fact important is that each should always follow his or her own interest, cultivating and intensifying it in some way, in order that the economy should be brought to good.
However, a self-interested action which violates the rights of others is still punishable. The baker is welcome to sell bread- provided it is of merchantable quality- even though he is doing so purely to make money for himself.
“The market and the contract function in exactly opposite ways” Foucault concludes.
Sheer nonsense! They function in exactly similar ways. Only Hohfeldian rights in Goods and Services are transferred. Rights and Duties held by virtue of having judicial personality are not transferred or extinguished in any way.
This remarkable difference constitutes the second reason why political economy fascinates him: the governmental self-limitation that it justifies has as its corollary the absolute liberty of everyone to pursue his or her individual interest.
There is no 'governmental self-limitation' whatsoever because exigent circumstances require governments to take unprecedented measures and arrogate to themselves extraordinary powers. These may or may not be subject to judicial review. That is a separate matter.
As for 'absolute liberty'- it is a chimera. Actions have consequences- including 'dying of ignorance'. Liberty is extinguished by death or sufficiently severe injury.
Such an antinomical construction ends up making of law and political economy two totally incompatible approaches to the world.
It is true that some stupid Economists- like Amartya Sen- live in this La La land. However Coase and Posner have been very successful in proselytising for a 'Law & Econ' approach. Game theory and mechanism design have been moving in the same direction. Foucault can't be blamed too much for having lived in an ignorant age. However, his disciples have no such excuse.

One consequence of this is the impossibility of an economico-juridical science, whose nonexistence is the sign of this antinomy.
Coase got the Nobel in 1991. But his theorem was part of Econ 101 by the late Seventies.
The absolute heterogeneity of the politico-juridical world and the economic world is crucial in Foucault’s apparatus, which insists purposefully upon it: it implacably reinforces the very singular position of political economy, as the unique rational discourse capable of forcing government to limit itself.
This is mad. There was a thriving Marxist Political Economy which wanted the opposite.
This distancing of law has a cost. For it leads to the exclusion of property rights, a notion that is totally absent from Foucault’s reflections. The reason is obvious, since the right to property belongs to those external limitations that do not interest the author. It is even one of the first guarantees that is given to protect the individual against the arbitrary force of the king. A number of thinkers of sovereignty at the end of the sixteenth century, beginning with Jean Bodin, as well as theorists of absolute monarchy in the first half of the seventeenth century, such as Cardinal Le Bret, placed in doubt the king’s faculty to raise new taxes without the agreement of the representatives of the people in the name of the inviolable respect for private property. But above all, the absence of this latter is paradoxical given the fact that the liberal authors of the eighteenth century themselves placed it at the heart of their analysis, making respect for private property the central principle and raison d’être of political economy.
So, Foucault was a paranoid cretin who hadn't properly digested the very eighteenth century Econ he gassed on and on about.
Political Economy, Liberalism, and Naturalism
Foucault’s problem is now as follows: How to found political economy once one has withdrawn its principal justification, private property? The response resides in the omnipresent mobilization of the notions of “nature” and “naturalism.” If power does not have to intervene on behaviors, it is because they are natural, which confers upon them autonomy as well as rationality.
Tigers and rats are 'natural'. This doesn't mean we tolerate their depradations.
How was this “nature” elaborated historically, according to Foucault? The consciousness of the naturalness of social and economic phenomena goes back to the great rupture of the years 1580–1650. From then on, “there is. .. a nature that no longer tolerates government”  This essential assertion signifies the following: Before this transformation, the sovereign extended divine sovereignty over Earth. Here Foucault uses Thomas Aquinas, for whom the monarchical government has no specificity in relation to the exercise of sovereignty: to reign and to govern are two identical and indissociable things. If such a continuity exists, it is because the sovereign participates “in this great continuum extending from God to the father of a family by way of nature and the pastors.” It is this continuum that is broken between the end of the sixteenth century and the middle of the seventeenth century, at the very moment of the foundation of the classical episteme. The chronological coincidence with the scientific revolution is of course not by chance. For, as Copernicus, Kepler, or Galileo show, God governs the world by means of general and, once established, immutable laws. Thus God does not govern in a pastoral—that is to say, individualized—fashion; he reigns in a sovereign fashion, through principles.
But France went back to Catholicism. The continuum was re-established. Cardinal Richlieu wielded more power than any of his predecessors.
Aquinas had no difficulty accepting that 'God did not govern in a pastoral fashion'. That's why praying for a nice roasted goose did not mean any such dish magically appeared on one's table.
In the same epoch a very different theme develops, closely linked to the preceding one as it is in a certain sense its corollary on the political plane. If the monarch no longer has to (or does not only have to) extend divine sovereignty over Earth, he does on the other hand have a specific task that he alone can accomplish, and which is different from the functions that devolve to the sovereignty of the pastors, even if it may be inspired by them: he must govern.
The English Tories believed in the Divine Right of Kings and struggled mightily with their consciences over whether they had a duty to obey James the Second. However, they finally accepted that 'govern' means 'govern according to the Law'. James had broken the law by converting to Catholicism and by waging war on his own people. In Japan and Thailand, there is great reverence for the Monarch. But this does not mean they can't have successful Market based Economies or smart Scientists.

It is no great discovery to say that the head of Government must govern. Moreover, government continues by refurbishing existing mechanisms of Government.
With this new apparatus, we thus have on the one hand a nature that is detached from the governmental theme and that follows its own principles (principia natura), and on the other an art of governing that must occupy itself with that new object that appeared at the end of the sixteenth century, the res publica, the public thing.
Is it plausible to suggest that an epistemic revolution would lead to fundamental changes in how we conceive of Politics? If so, the question arises, what great change occurred when Relativity and Quantum Theory took hold? Which new 'apparatus' of the State suddenly appeared? What great innovation in the 'res publica' occurred?

On which occasion did a guy in the dock for raping his nephews and nieces, get acquitted for saying 'Einstein's theory of Relativity shows Time is Relative. Thus my relatives were not minors at the time I was fucking them.' ?

If some such change had occurred, why would anyone bother to study the works of thinkers from a bygone age? History- and the history of ideas- would indeed be 'bunk'.
This art of governing must seek for itself a reason that can be inspired neither by the imitation of nature nor by the laws of God.
Must it? Why? What good would it do? Suppose a foreign army has invaded the country. We go to the Monarch and say 'raise an army and repel the invader'. He replies 'Before I can do that I must seek a reason inspired neither by the imitation of nature nor by the laws of God.' What happens next is that the fellow is tossed in a loony bin and someone else takes charge.
This will be the reason of the state, the objective of which is to maintain the state and to manage it in its everyday functioning.
Before we can consider the reason of the state, we must seek the reason of reason which is to maintain reason and to manage it in its everyday functioning. Before we can consider the reason of reason, we must seek the reason of the reason of reason which consists of... etc.
A first characteristic of this reason of state, in relation to Foucault’s objective, is that it knows nothing of the population in the prior sense—that is to say, as constituted by economic subjects capable of autonomous behavior.
If a particular type of reason has as its first characteristic complete ignorance of its subject matter, then it is not reason, but stupidity. Cats have this primary characteristic with reference to Chemical Engineering. That's a good reason not to appoint Cats as Professors of that Subject.
This opposition between principia naturae and ratio status continues to dominate right up to the middle of the eighteenth century, when a sort of reunification occurs by way of political economy.
Yet 'Political Arithmetic' was alive and well in late Sixteenth Century London. The term 'Political Economy' was sufficiently well understood for a treatise on it to be published in Paris in 1615.
From now on the government of the world will rely on the very young political economy that itself belongs to nature.17
No. Since political economy has a prior knowledge of the people who constitute its subject matter, it can't have a 'reason of state'. Cats could do so. Thus the government of the world, according to Foucault, must have been relying, not on 'very young political economy' but cute little kittens which themselves belonged to nature.

One paradox of Foucault’s text is the pairing he proposes between political economy and nature. Traditionally the history of economic thought has explained that it was the discovery of a natural order in the physical world that suggested to Enlightenment economists that the same order must prevail over the social world, thus authorizing political economy to claim the status of a science, at least from the physiocrats onwards, and to discover laws. This aspect does not interest Foucault, who leaves aside the scientific argument with which the political economy of the 1760s claims to justify liberalism, and in particular the idea that the free market is the most efficient and most just organization for the production and allocation of wealth. If the economy is a part of nature, he holds, it is because economists describe the behavior of individuals as a part of nature. This is the invention—a crucial one—of the notion of “population,” thanks to which the principle of the self-limitation of governmental action is put into place. This is an “absolutely new” political character, totally foreign to the juridical and political thought of preceding centuries. Foucault opposes it to the idea of the panopticon, the old dream of the sovereign, which aims at the exhaustive, individualized surveillance of people, whereas the security apparatus is interested only in natural mechanisms.
A population is a statistical concept. Economic growth meant that statistical evidence became valuable. This affected administrators as well as actuaries- i.e. both the Public and Private Sector sought for statistical laws so as to reduce uncertainty- for a price.

Bentham originated the notion of a Panopticon. He was a Utilitarian concerned with productivity, not some sort of sinister Spy Master commanding a vast surveillance apparatus.
Population is fundamentally characterized by regularities that can be qualified as natural. They are of two types. Firstly, as the statisticians of the eighteenth century discovered with admiration, there are constants, stable or probable proportions in the variables that characterize the population (number of deaths, number of sick, regularity of accidents, and so forth). In addition, there is a behavioral invariance that confers on the population taken as a whole a unique motor of action and desire—or, in economic language, the pursuit of individual interest that, if one gives it free play, will lead to an outcome that conforms to the general interest of the population.
This analysis gives onto two distinct ways of envisaging governmental intervention, both of which are equally present within liberal thought. In the eyes of the first, the population is opaque and sovereign since, on one hand, the variables that define it are too numerous and autonomous to be accessible and, on the other hand, the individual alone is capable of knowing his or her interests, and what means must be put in place so as to realize them. Therefore no power can replace the individual. What is more, the interaction of these personal behaviors produces situations that are quite simply of too great a complexity to be accounted for. They are therefore inaccessible to governmental knowledge. This theme is encountered frequently in the second half of the eighteenth century, particularly in the context of discussions regarding free trade in the grain sector. Friedrich von Hayek most systematically developed this conception in the twentieth century. The second perspective considers that the very existence of these regularities makes the behavior of populations partly predictable and accessible to governmental techniques. Certain of these stable constants and proportions are calculable, and interest, since it tames the passions—as a number of eighteenth-century authors emphasized—is a guarantee that individuals will be at least partly intelligible to power. `
All this is perfectly sensible- though scarcely original or earth shaking.
We shall see that this ambiguity of diagnosis is equally present in Foucault when he comes to consider the intervention of government and its limits.
What ambiguity? There is none. If most people do x, then the likelihood of a given person doing x is greater. The diagnosis is univocal- it can be expressed in two different ways- either as a proportion or a likelihood.
For now, we must insist on the originality of the notion of population as developed by Foucault in the first part of his course.
Where is the originality? Foucault was not a Statistician.
Certainly, everything begins from political economy, the science of the management of populations, that is to say the intellectual model on whose basis government must be considered.
Nothing begins with political economy as Adam Smith very thoroughly explained. Everything begins with the Law and the efficacy of its enforcement.
But the governmentality that takes its inspiration from this has a far more general vocation than “pure and simple economic doctrine,” since it is applied to multiple aspects that are linked, in one way or another, to economic processes.
The governmentality that took inspiration from political economy did not come into existence till Peel and Gladstone rose to power. But the intellectual tide turned against Free Trade and the Nightwatchman state almost immediately. Chruchill was the last Free Trader to hold office as Chancellor. But his period in office was disastrous, indeed he did more than anyone else to kill off his beloved  British Empire.
Foucault has a very broad perception of them, for they encompass not only demography and health, but also “modes of behavior” -that is to say everything that relates to nature or natural phenomena. “The population is therefore everything that extends from biological rootedness through the species up to the surface that gives one a hold provided by the public.” 
This is not true. Population is a 'term of art' and is trait specific. Statisticians partition populations to get to what is interesting with respect to the Structural Causal Model they are testing or seeking to formulate.

This is what affords the conclusion that political economy, and more broadly liberalism, is a naturalism.
It is a super-naturalism because it does not take account of the costs and limits of computability and the difficulties of solving concurrency and other such problems.
Whereas historically liberalism is born of a progressive restriction of the passions and from an interest in their economic dimension alone, that is to say in the pursuit of profit and the acquisition of material goods, Foucault proceeds in the opposite direction thanks to the notion of population, making the knowledge of political economy a model for an expanded governmentality—with the consequence, at this stage, of an exclusion of the political.
Foucault misuses a 'term of art' and then, as we might predict, prattles paranoid nonsense.
Consider what happens when Amartya Sen went to Cambridge. He acquired knowledge of a shite type of political economy. On his return, he and his silk did not 'expand governmentality'. Rather they enfeebled it. Why? Because they had no knowledge of actual Indians. Mahalanobis was a good Statistician but, when it came to agricultural sampling, he seriously underestimated variability in crop yield thus imperiling food security for millions of Indians. Why? He didn't know what any farmer can tell you. You have to take big rectangular samples. Small circular ones will completely mislead you.

Real life Econ is idiographic not nomothetic. Knowledge of Political Econ means you can teach that shite to kids who are just interested in getting a Credential for signalling purposes. Everybody else ignores you once they discover you are a cretin.
Let us emphasize that this discovery
what discovery? Everybody has always known that people like cool stuff and will trade stuff they have too much off for other stuff they don't have.

What happened in the Eighteenth Century was that a few people could make money writing about this, instead of concentrating on porn or sycophancy or making out they were great mystics or mages or whatever.
by the authors of the eighteenth century, reread and interpreted by Foucault, of the importance and the naturalness of social phenomena, leads the analysis in two very different directions. One insists on the notion of biopower exerted by the state on the population.
Bio-power? Human beings have bodies which can be beaten or incarcerated or destroyed. So what? Everybody has always known this.

Were Foucault's contemporaries terrified of Voodoo or having their souls damned for all eternity? If so, instead of writing stupid shite about bio-power, why didn't Foucault just tell his students that Black Magic does not work and nobody can consign their immortal souls to perdition?

The answer is, he'd have been laughed at. His students may have been stupid- which is why they weren't doing STEM subjects- but they weren't that stupid.
This is the continuation, but from a more radical point of view, of the Foucauldian project of the study of the control of individuals, insisting in particular on the body in its biological dimension—a project that brings to bear certain elements of the philosopher’s legacy from the beginning of the 1990s.
OMG! Bodies only have biological dimensions. Minds may not. Souls may not but nobody has ever suggested that Bodies were mystical or imaginary.
The other, inversely, is oriented toward a liberalism of abstention, which finds in itself and in the autonomy of populations arguments for less intervention.
Foucault might still be alive if people had been arrested for having unprotected sex in bath-houses.  A positive type of 'bio-power' is exerted when we are stopped from smoking or driving drunk or torturing each other in S&M dungeons.
Foucault is no doubt interested in both projects, as can be seen—sometimes a little allusively, it is true—in the opening lectures. But in these two courses he clearly turns out to be more interested in the second project and in the exploration of the heuristic effects of political economy, which he quite obviously finds intriguing.
What are the 'heuristic effects of political economy'? Talking stupid shite, is the answer. By contrast, doing actual economics- i.e. finding ways to economize on the use of scarce resources- is a wholly idiographic project which is judged entirely on the basis of results. Thus it pays for its own theoretical apparatus. Money talks, bullshit walks.
But of which political economy is he speaking? Foucault very clearly associates political economy with least government.
Why? Most political economists of his own period were Leftists or Marxists.  Why? Because it was obvious that Centrally Planned Economies can mobilize resources more effectively during a War or, after it, to improve National Security. The question was- could the State do the same thing for living standards? Samuelson thought the Soviets might overtake America in this respect. The thing was feasible. However, the incentive structure was lacking and, anyway, a senile gerontocracy had entrenched itself.

Still, Xi's China appears very enviable to Modi's India.
This is the reason why he focuses on the middle of the eighteenth century, and more precisely on the decade of liberal edicts (1754–1764), a period of great change in the techniques of power and the time of the appearance of modern governmental reason.
This is not true even of France, much less of England or other nations.
When he speaks of the “economic knowledge” that serves as the model for governmentality, he is therefore referring only to a rather limited body of texts, which leads him to neglect or obscure other forms of this knowledge. Thus he can hardly understand the rationality proper to the system for the control of grain 
There is no rationality proper to the control of grain. Supply side measures are required.
He is thus led to harden the opposition between security apparatuses—that is to say, liberal political economy—which is based on the reality of things, and other forms of social organization.
Utterly mad! 'Liberal political economy' is a purely academic affair. Its practitioners enjoy little prestige and seldom command respectable salaries. The same is true of whatever shite Dept. Foucault worked in. Why? Coz these silly pedants are completely disassociated from 'the reality of things'. Their University Departments are highly dysfunctional forms of social organization.
“Security, unlike the law that works in the imaginary
Case Law is stare decisis on the basis of real people involved in historical cases. It has no use for the 'imaginary'. Hypothetical cases are discussed in 'moot court'. That is why, in the US to say a case is moot means that there is no point arguing about it anymore. Hypotheticals have no juristic value.
and discipline that works in a sphere complementary to reality,
discipline does not work in a sphere complementary to reality. You really are sent to prison.
(Security) tries to work within reality, by getting the components of reality to work in relation to each other” (STP 69 [49]).
When is the last time someone said 'What's cool about Economic Theory is how realistic it is. It describes everything accurately and then figures out how to make things work better with each other.'?

The thing has never happened and never will happen.
Foucault insists a great deal on this aspect of liberalism, which operates on the basis of the reality of things as they happen, on the basis of the objectifiable phenomena of nature.
Yup! Everybody agrees them libtards got a great grip on reality. Problem is, the reality they've got a grip on is wholly incompossible.
Yet the opposition is fragile, given that the mechanism of scarcity upon which its reasoning, and more generally the economy is based, is also the consequence of a work of the imaginary.
So, the fact that gold Rolexes are scarce in my little hovel is a 'consequence of the work of the imaginary'. Fuck you, Imagination! Why can't you imagine me having cool stuff for a change?
This is what is demonstrated by Necker, never cited by Foucault, in his Legislation sur le commerce des grains,[7] Jacques Necker, Sur la legislation et le commerce des...[7] which emphasizes the extent to which the functioning of the market is related to a collective psychology that thwarts the existence of regularities and prevents the formation of any natural or normal price for commodities.
Necker was a successful banker before holding high office. His dismissal led to the storming of the Bastille. We might recast his doctrine in terms of Uncertainty and risk-minimization and why volatility ought not to be considered as bad in itself.
Consequently, although Foucault evokes “economic knowledge” in a general sense, he concertedly elaborates his own political economy, retaining only that which contributes to the construction and confirmation of the idea of population.
In other words, Foucault talks nonsense because he does not understand the Statistician's 'term of art'.
Frugal Government
As will have been understood, a central role is played in this by the couplet population (nature)/government (artifice).
A population is a Statistical construct. Governments are real.
Although Foucault declares that he is principally reflecting on the history of governmentality, what ultimately interests him most is the question of population—that is to say, the autonomy of society.
There is no such 'autonomy'. We need Armies and Gendarmeries to protect us.
The difficulty is that the general definition proposed for governmentality says nothing as to its content. First of all, why intervene? Even if self-limitation specifies the nature of liberal governmentality, and even if Foucault insists on the necessity of a “frugal government,” nevertheless intervention is necessary. Why?
It's coz bad men might beat us and take away our cool stuff.
The first reason is that the interests of individuals within the population are contradictory, or even opposed to each other. The liberal art of governing thus finds itself constrained to determine with precision to what point this divergence may constitute a danger for the general interest.
Nonsense! The liberal art of governing has to do with letting the Judiciary, wholly independently, 'determine with precision' what is or isn't allowed.
Both liberty and security must be guaranteed, which inevitably supposes a certain amount of danger and the taking of a certain risk that belongs to the exercise of all liberty, but equally supposes the protection of the collective interest against the individual interest (and vice versa).
Liberalism thinks an independent Judiciary, which acts in a protocol bound manner, should discharge this function internally. For external defense, we have a professional Military and Intelligence function subject to various types of oversight.
The second reason is that since security mechanisms must be large “consumers” of freedom in order to function, they must also be “producers” of it.
I am a large consumer of pizzas. This does not mean I must be a large producer of them.

Markets may be wholly non-coercive because penalties are wholly reputational. No freedom is 'produced' or 'consumed' by their working.
This paradox, which Foucault does indeed emphasize, is in fact something that applies to all liberalism, but it is aggravated in the case of self-limiting liberalism.
Where is the paradox? Liberalism has separated the powers so that each can function in an intensional, protocol bound, fashion and act as a check or balance on each other.

Logical paradoxes- like Russel's- are resolved by Type theory in a similar fashion.
Thus, staying with a simple example, the freedom of the market necessitates that there should be no monopoly, which supposes legislation that restrains competition and the free action of agents.
Nonsense! There is always a monopoly. Only I can supply my own labor. What matters is substitutability. Since my labor can easily be substituted for, there is a countervailing power which causes me to be a price taker. A Mononopoly has to fear its potential competitor. Thus, absent legal barriers or non-convexities, Monopolies will act like price-takers.
There must therefore be a permanent arbitrage between liberty and security.
Quite unnecessary. That's why Myerson got a Nobel Prize and why good auction design- like Ken Binmore's for the 3G spectrum- can net the Government billions in revenue.
One important consequence of this is that the liberal art of governing thus conceived generates a great boom in procedures of control, the necessary counterpart to liberties.
Sheer nonsense! Countervailing power need only be potential, not actual. Moreover, producers and consumers quickly and cheaply formulate signalling and screening devices without any need for Govt. action.

In India, we want less 'Inspector Raj' because Govt. Inspectors take bribes and don't give a toss about Public Safety.
Government’s primary function therefore is to surveil the general mechanics of behaviors;
The general mechanics of behavior is stuff I know about by observing myself. I don't need to surveil anybody to know that eating nice food is nice whereas eating shit leads to horrible consequences.
but subsequently it must intervene when this surveillance reveals dysfunctions.
Nonsense! Surveillance may discover that there are a small number of people who use the rest-room in order to feast upon their own poop. The Govt. must not intervene coz then we'd discover Homeland Security is watching us perform our Bowel Motions. That would be so not cool.
The figure of Bentham, so prominent in Discipline and Punish, reappears here, the panopticon seeming to be the very formula of liberal government.
Coz this so called 'liberal government' of ours gets off on watching us poop! Fuck, is that a black helicopter I can hear? OMG, the Govt. gonna Guantanamo my ass for daring to blow the whistle on their toilet cameras!
This new art of governing that is liberalism thus implies a complex, perhaps ambiguous relation with liberties, for it must produce them, and yet in doing so it risks destroying them.
Very true. The Government first builds all the toilets in the world- thus producing the right to take a shit in comparative privacy- but then it risks destroying this right coz of all dem toilet cameras which zoom in on your anus just as you are turtling and then you get all self-conscious so the turd gets sucked back in. Fuck you Liberal Government! Why can't you let me shit in peace?
If Foucault sees very well that liberalism alone does not define a governmental practice, he makes no attempt to outline a precise definition of “good intervention.” Many times he emphasizes the unique direction in which the reasoning must go, namely the recourse to utilitarianism, which is no longer to his mind an ideology of the organization of society, but a technique of (the limitation of) government.
Peter Singer is watching me poop! Help! Won't someone please think of the children? What sort of world are we bringing them into?
With utilitarianism, calculation thus becomes the sole form of governmental reason. “Governmental reason will have to respect these limits inasmuch as it can calculate them on its own account in terms of its objectives and [the] best means of achieving them” (BBP 11[13]).
So, the Government isn't really watching me poop coz it calculates the thing would cost too much. Still, what with digital cameras getting cheaper and Data Mining and so forth- it's only a matter of time.
This theme of the rationality of government (one might even say of its hyper-rationality, given the exclusive importance accorded to calculation) is important, for it makes of governmentality almost the direct outcome of an objectivation of natural phenomena.
The objectivation of natural phenomena occurs coz human subjects exist. Not till we get rid of Humanity will we be rid of Liberal Governmentality which wants to watch us poop.
It is of great interest to Foucault, who identifies its emergence in the eighteenth century, in maritime law and in the projects for perpetual peace, for example; and it is upon this idea of “the art of governing rationally” that the last lecture, that of April 4, 1979, ends. Yet these historical examples are hardly satisfying, for in fact what they illustrate is the idea of naturalism and of the natural order. On the other hand, the reference to utilitarianism and to calculation says nothing as to the difficult arbitrage between liberty and security, a central problem of liberal governmentality that leads the author to paradoxical propositions such as this surprising return of the panoptic figure of Bentham at the heart of security apparatuses, when the positing of the latter earlier in the book had seemed to place him at a distance. The key to these difficulties lies in the question already raised above: How to fix limits to government intervention—that is to say, how to guarantee the autonomy of the population once resistance in terms of rights has been disqualified?
Our erudite authors explain that Foucault disqualifies rights coz he has a beef with the concept of 'sovereignty and obedience' which he wants to replace with 'dominance and submission'. 

Clearly, perverts who secretly watch you poop feel dominant. When we discover we are being spied on we feel violated- like a roofied submissive in an S&M dungeon.

How are we to stop Liberal Governments from watching us poop once resistance in terms of justiciable Human Rights has been disqualified?

If the Courts can't help us, who can?

Rather meanly, our erudite authors won't tell us

Why? The answer is that they are 'entrepreneurs' deploying their own 'human capital' in a neo-liberal manner so as to earn money for themselves. Foucault was no better.

That is why his 'bio-politics' which appears to be about useful stuff- like how to get Liberal Governments to stop watching us poop- goes nowhere at inordinate length.

After all, these great savants would be out of a job once we knew how to liberate ourselves from the bunch of perverts who constitute 'Liberal Governmentality' and who can only get their rocks off watching us go potty.

OMG, I can hear those black helicopters again. They are coming for me. Pod people.... the horror, the horror!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Governmentality evolved out of communal defecation and reciprocal examination of feces to monitor inequalities in nutritional intake. The absence of such monitoring is evidence of the collapse of Governmentality and the re-establishment of pure Sovereignty. Thus only if Liberal Government's watch us pooping can an abrupt descent into Fascism be averted.