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Human rights, liberal ontogenesis and freedom: producing a subject for neoliberalism?
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 17:32 authored by Louiza OdysseosLouiza Odysseos
Taking liberalism as a technology of government characterised by its signature impulse what Michel Foucault called 'the internal rule of maximum economy' , the article interrogates the ways in which human rights produce a distinct subjectivity, homo juridicus, which is a subject amenable to self-government and, as such, acts as a partner, indeed a predicate, to neoliberal governmentality. Taking its impetus from Foucault's discussion of homo oeconomicus , the article traces human rights, relations of subjectification, that is, the ways in which human rights call homo juridicus into being as a distinct type of subjectivity that, in parallel to homo oeconomicus, makes possible the contraction of the state and its governmentalisation. The article calls such subjectification liberal 'ontogenesis' and argues that it takes four distinct but related forms: rhetorical, epistemic, performative and structural ontogenesis. It provides an illustration of how each of these forms of ontogenesis produce, and produce globally, through their discourses, knowledge production, law-making and restructuring of the 'conditions of freedom' , a necessary subject for neoliberalism. The article thereby shows that human rights assist in the evolution of government as the conduct of conduct, and irrevocably recast the very meaning of freedom and the possibilities for agonism.
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- International Relations Publications
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