Judith Butler and the analytics of power

Claire Pagès and Mathieu Trachman conduct a concise but wide-ranging interview with Judith Butler at Books & Ideas, in which she asks this about neo-liberalism and the economic:

‘[I]f we claim that neo-liberalism disposes populations to become disposable, and exposes populations to precarity, we have to ask whether we are speaking about a purely economic rationale and regime of power (by “ neo-liberalism ”), a regime of power that governs the practices of subject-formation, including self-making, and the valorization of the metric of instrumentality in ways that include and exceed the sphere conventionally denoted as “ economic ”.  Indeed, does the power and pervasiveness of “ neo-liberalism” compel us to think about the heteronomy of the economic and the way that the rationalities that govern its operation exceed the purely economic. Must we give up an idea of the purely economic by virtue of neo-liberalism at the same time that we cannot do without the economic?’

Judith Butler, Parting Ways (2012)Incidentally, readers who have followed the sometimes repellent response to Judith’s receipt of the Adorno Prize can find her speech at the award ceremony in Frankfurt on 11 September  – ‘Can one lead a good life in a bad life?’ – here (I think this is the Radical Philosophy version, with images that speak to the controversy) or, in unadorned form, here.

You can also find details of her new book, Parting ways: Jewishness and the critique of Zionism (Columbia University Press) – which, in its closing chapter, engages with Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwishhere.  Like all her work, this book – which also includes reflections around Arendt, Benjamin and Levinas – admirably fulfils her own beautifully understated view of what it is to be critical: that is, to be ‘willing to examine what we sometimes presuppose in our way of thinking, and that gets in the way of making a more livable world.’