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The Redesign of Biopolitics 
through Keynesian Economics 
DANIELLE GUIZZO 
Graduate Program of Public Policy – Federal Uni...
Overview 
•Introduction; 
•Main motivations; 
•Hypothesis; 
•Foucault and the concept of biopolitics; 
•Keynes’s genealogy...
Introduction 
• Keynes’s view about the role of the State has been a 
recurrent issue among Post-Keynesian scholars intere...
Introduction 
• The concept of biopolitics proposed by Michel Foucault 
can help understanding this dynamics. 
• This stud...
Introduction 
• My goal here is to demonstrate how Keynesian policies also 
affected the reality of the living subjects in...
Main motivations 
• Studies involving Foucault and the HET are quite scarce in 
economics. 
• Curiously, Foucault never me...
Main questions 
• If the State was a key institution within the dissemination 
of biopolitics, how could Foucault leave Ke...
Hypothesis 
• According to Post Keynesian authors such as Holt & Pressman 
(2001), Keynes gave the State an essential resp...
Hypothesis 
• This promoted a redesign of biopolitics which started first 
in the golden age of capitalism and it has been...
• This study demands a critical reading about: 
(i) Foucault’s notion of biopolitics and his contemporary 
scholars; 
(ii)...
Foucault and biopolitics 
• Modern subjects are a product of knowledge, power relations 
and truth systems. 
• Economics (...
Foucault and biopolitics 
• Biopolitics “starting from the 18th century [has 
rationalized] the problems posed to governme...
Foucault and biopolitics 
• Classical liberalism and neoliberalism were responsible for 
creating biopolitical practices i...
Keynes’s Genealogy 
• Keynes’s view about how should State manage the population 
and civil society is crucial to understa...
Keynes’s Genealogy 
• Which exterior, discontinuous and specific conditions were 
relevant? 
Keynes’s ethical and ontolog...
A Keynesian art of government 
• How did Keynesian economic thought and policies inspire 
new forms of power relations? 
•...
Were Keynesian economics capable of 
changing biopolitics? 
• The action of the State caused an increase on public 
invest...
Final Remarks 
• The critics of Keynesian economics to liberal pillars created 
a different art of government. 
• This dif...
References 
Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An 
Introduction. (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Panth...
Thank you! 
Any questions or comments: 
guizzo@ufpr.br
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The Redesign of Biopolitics through Keynesian Economics

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Distribution and Government Policy session at 12th International Conference

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The Redesign of Biopolitics through Keynesian Economics

  1. 1. The Redesign of Biopolitics through Keynesian Economics DANIELLE GUIZZO Graduate Program of Public Policy – Federal University of Parana, Brazil 12th Post Keynesian Conference – Kansas City, USA
  2. 2. Overview •Introduction; •Main motivations; •Hypothesis; •Foucault and the concept of biopolitics; •Keynes’s genealogy; •A Keynesian art of government; •Were Keynesian economics capable of changing biopolitics? •Final remarks.
  3. 3. Introduction • Keynes’s view about the role of the State has been a recurrent issue among Post-Keynesian scholars interested in Keynes’s ethics and philosophy (such as John B. Davis, Steven Pressman, Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, etc.). • But the way how Keynesian economic policies affected power relations – especially those that involved State and population – still remain rather obscure within PK literature.
  4. 4. Introduction • The concept of biopolitics proposed by Michel Foucault can help understanding this dynamics. • This study applies Foucault’s genealogical principle to J.M. Keynes’s intellectual context and ideas in order to understand how Keynesian policies influenced the redesign of biopolitics throughout the Golden Age of Capitalism.
  5. 5. Introduction • My goal here is to demonstrate how Keynesian policies also affected the reality of the living subjects in terms of power relations. • Policies that involve well-being, security, equality and prosperity of the population.
  6. 6. Main motivations • Studies involving Foucault and the HET are quite scarce in economics. • Curiously, Foucault never mentioned Keynes in his biopolitics writings. He only pointed out 19th century classical liberalism and neoliberalism as the responsible schools of thought for producing new regimes of power through economic and political practices. • Biopolitics = “a set of mechanisms through which the biological features of the human species became the object of a political strategy” (Foucault, 1978).
  7. 7. Main questions • If the State was a key institution within the dissemination of biopolitics, how could Foucault leave Keynes and Keynesian economics aside? • Which elements were relevant in Keynes’s intellectual and ethical formation that influenced in his view of the State and how did they emerge? • How a Keynesian art of government managed to regulate and control the population through its policies? Which consequences can we derive from this phenomenon?
  8. 8. Hypothesis • According to Post Keynesian authors such as Holt & Pressman (2001), Keynes gave the State an essential responsibility for overall macroeconomic performance, rejecting the idea of a self-adjusting economy. • The action of the State was necessary to employ economic policies in order to help mitigate economic and social problems.
  9. 9. Hypothesis • This promoted a redesign of biopolitics which started first in the golden age of capitalism and it has been in a recovery process since the 2008 financial crisis, when Keynesianism re-arose. If Keynes, unlike liberalism and neoliberalism, defended State intervention in strategic areas, how can we rethink the concept of biopolitics in terms of its rationalization and practice?
  10. 10. • This study demands a critical reading about: (i) Foucault’s notion of biopolitics and his contemporary scholars; (ii) Keynes’s main writings concerning economic and social interventions, as well as his intellectual basis and world view.
  11. 11. Foucault and biopolitics • Modern subjects are a product of knowledge, power relations and truth systems. • Economics (as a discourse and practice) was always in a central role within Foucauldian analyses of power. • Foucault developed a genealogy of 18th century classical liberalism and 20th century neoliberalism in order to understand how economic discourses and practices led to new power relations and how they influenced the conduct of subjects.
  12. 12. Foucault and biopolitics • Biopolitics “starting from the 18th century [has rationalized] the problems posed to governmental practice by phenomena characteristic of a set of living beings forming a population: health, hygiene, birthrate, life expectancy, race.”
  13. 13. Foucault and biopolitics • Classical liberalism and neoliberalism were responsible for creating biopolitical practices insofar as a liberal art of government became consolidated. • These practices were consolidated by State and non-state institutions such as economic, educational, medical, urban, etc. • For Foucault, they created several apparatuses to disseminate power relations.
  14. 14. Keynes’s Genealogy • Keynes’s view about how should State manage the population and civil society is crucial to understand the appearance of new power relations. • Insofar as Keynes did not write a formal theory of State, his thought about State action was pragmatic. • Foucault’s genealogical method can shed some light on how Keynes’s theoretical considerations about the State emerged and developed.
  15. 15. Keynes’s Genealogy • Which exterior, discontinuous and specific conditions were relevant? Keynes’s ethical and ontological view; Intellectual context (Bloomsbury group, Cambridge Circus); Classical influences (Malthus, Marshall);
  16. 16. A Keynesian art of government • How did Keynesian economic thought and policies inspire new forms of power relations? • A “Keynesian art of government” would involve ethics, pragmatism and confidence. • For Keynes, the State should play a leading role in increasing agents’ confidence and reducing uncertainty through economic planning and public investments.
  17. 17. Were Keynesian economics capable of changing biopolitics? • The action of the State caused an increase on public investments on life, such as:  Level of employment; Size of population; Welfare and quality of life; Financial control and economic stabilization.
  18. 18. Final Remarks • The critics of Keynesian economics to liberal pillars created a different art of government. • This differs from liberal and neoliberal forms of government, which had the rejection of the State and its reallocation to population control as its main goal. • Therefore, “Keynesian biopolitics” emerged as a security pact between the State and the population insofar as it became responsible for many important aspects of life: health, education, productivity, labor, culture, etc.
  19. 19. References Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An Introduction. (R. Hurley, Trans.). New York: Pantheon Books. Holt, R.P.F.; Pressman, S. (2001). A New Guide to Post Keynesian Economics. London: Routledge. Keynes, J.M. (2012a). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes: Volume XXVII: Activities 1940-1946: Shaping the Post War World: Employment and Commodities. New York: Cambridge University Press. Keynes, J.M. (2012b). The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes: Volume XIX: Activities 1922-1929: The Return to Gold and Industrial Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  20. 20. Thank you! Any questions or comments: guizzo@ufpr.br

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