Cynical Neoliberalism: Foucault and the Limits of Ethical Resistance
28 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016
Date Written: June 29, 2016
Foucault’s account of parrhēsia shows why it would have little critical traction today. In Foucault’s analysis, parrhēsia has both a political and an ethical phase; Cynicism is the most radical version of the ethical phase. The primary characteristic of Cynical parrhēsia is full visibility, something which Foucault does not endorse but which neoliberal biopolitics actively demands. More fundamentally, ethical parrhēsia fails as a resistance strategy because branding capital blurs the boundaries between affirmations of capital and its critique, enabling the full cooption of parrhēsia-as-visibility into the process of branding. Our problem is a lack of politics.
Keywords: Foucault, parrhesia, neoliberalism, cynicism, biopower
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