The ’73 Graft: Punishment, Political Economy, and the Genealogy of Morals

19 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2015

Date Written: October 12, 2015


In this essay, I explore the place of a genealogy of morals within the context of a history of political economy. More specifically, I investigate the types of moralization — of criminals and delinquents, of the disorderly, but also of political economic systems, of workers and managers, of rules and rule-breaking — that are necessary and integral to making a population accept new styles of political and economic governance, especially the punitive institutions that accompany modern political economies in the contemporary period.

The marriage of political economy and a genealogy of morals: this essay explores how the moralization of certain groups of people has been necessary to render tolerable the great American paradox of laissez-faire and mass incarceration. How, in effect, practices of moralization are necessary to make tolerable the intolerable.

Keywords: Punishment, political economy, genealogy of morals, Weber, Nietzsche, Foucault, Quesnay, The Punitive Society, The Illusion of Free Markets

Suggested Citation

Harcourt, Bernard E., The ’73 Graft: Punishment, Political Economy, and the Genealogy of Morals (October 12, 2015). Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-485, Available at SSRN:

Bernard E. Harcourt (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

Jerome Green Hall, Room 515
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States


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