This paper argues against a recent authoritarian turn of neoliberalism, pointing to its advocacy of authoritarian regimes in the 1970s and the use of illiberal practices for certain populations in “welfare reform” from the 1990s. Instead, it characterizes today’s neoliberalism as at the conjuncture of two contingent events: the failure of the over four-decade search for a “left governmentality” and the renewal of “liturgical power.” The latter arises from a displacement of public opinion in liberal democracy by the fluctuations of public mood as registered on social media, with a concomitant renewal of the public assembly. A rogue neoliberalism belongs to no one side and attaches itself to diverse political and economic formations: fundamentalist Christians and diversity advocates, finance and real-estate capital, progressive liberals and conservative authoritarians, and sovereign decisionism and the rule of law. Their opposition might be imagined as a low-intensity confessional civil war.
Rogue Neoliberalism, Liturgical Power, and the Search for a Left Governmentality
Mitchell Dean is a political and social theorist who has written seven books in English, including Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society (1999; 2nd ed. 2010). He is a professor of public governance in the Department of Management, Politics, and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School and the coauthor of State Phobia and Civil Society: The Political Legacy of Michel Foucault (2016). He has recently published on economic and political theology, and acclamation, and political liturgy.
Mitchell Dean; Rogue Neoliberalism, Liturgical Power, and the Search for a Left Governmentality. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2019; 118 (2): 325–342. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7381170
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