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The Government of DesireA Genealogy of the Liberal Subject$
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Miguel de Beistegui

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226547374

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226547404.001.0001

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Neoliberal Governmentality

Neoliberal Governmentality

(p.63) 3 Neoliberal Governmentality
The Government of Desire

Miguel de Beistegui

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that the complex phenomenon known as neoliberalism reveals a radicalization and further internalization of the economic regime of desire, which defines liberalism, and which consists in a normalization of subjectivity through the promotion of self-interest and the maximization of utility. But it also departs from liberalism on a few key aspects, and introduces new norms and new technologies of desire. So, whilst neoliberalism inherits the normative framework initially introduced by the likes of James Stuart, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill, it also builds on it, and innovates: to the norms of interest and utility, through which individuals experience and govern their own subjectivity, it adds those of competition, efficiency, and management (of one’s life, one’s human capital, and the risks one is willing or encouraged to take). It sees those norms as inseparable, and as revealing the true mechanisms behind the actions and motivations of human beings.

Keywords:   neoliberalism, subjectivation, normalization, freedom, efficiency, competition, human capital, management, homo economicus, law and order

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