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Praxis Filosófica Journal

New series, No. 39, July-dicembre, 2014

The logic of social and governmentality in Foucault: An instrumental for political analysis.

David Enrique Valencia mesa



David Enrique Valencia Mesa (UdeA)

In the courses given by Foucault in the College de France since 1978, he proposed an analysis of governmentality which, although it was not completely absent in previous works, it did seem unseen due to protagonist disciplinary analysis. Such analysis of governmentality consists of showing how strategies and rationalities of the government are built from the management and modulation of processes innate to governed individuals and groups. It is not then about understanding the power as an external force against individuals by reprehending and eliminating them; it is about understanding it as a strategy promoting natural processes so that subjects built up their identity.

Michel Foucault, Governmentality, population, genealogy of power

Received: 02-05-14

Approved: 18-06-14

1. From Consensus to war and from war to freedom: the strategic layout of a work in transformation

In research presented at the College de France from 1978, and that would be known as the beginning of his interest in the forms of government of liberalism, Michel Foucault turned his conceptual apparatus to account for a form of power that although it was not absent from his earlier analysis, it looked somewhat overshadowed by the prominence of the so called "repressive hypothesis". It is about the emergence of an "art of governance" or "governmentality" which promotes areas of freedom, to "allow some spontaneous regulation that will make social order to self-generate" (Foucault, M., 1991, p 166). In any case there would not need to be seen, as it has become common, a break between disciplinary studies based on the repressive hypothesis and the description of an art of government starting from freedom, it is rather a response to new concerns and an effort to extend the field of study to make new political issues and ways of exercising power, visible.

In the course called Defender la sociedad (Foucault, 2008) the fundamental point of reference had been the review of the legal-political discourse and the consequent understanding of power as a homogeneous substance that is owned by some and is applied to others, and which operates according to both foundational and operational criteria of consensus and legitimacy. It was from his reading of Nietzsche and Marx that Foucault sought to oppose a historical-political discourse to the understanding of power as a homogeneous substance, proper of the legal-philosophical discourse.

By extending the nietzcshean metaphor of knowledge to the social field, he opposed to the philosophical and legal visions of consensus, the scheme of the battle, from which power is conceived as a set of opposing forces seeking their consolidation as the undisputed center domain of the social field. Behind "proper" consensus results as the law and the State, or the self-agreed subjectivity forms such as gender and identity, you could find war and domination as incessant reason.

With Marx, Foucault was able to discover the disciplinary effects of the allegedly consensual politics, showing the dependency between enlighten rationality and institutions of confinement. Discipline occupied the methodological space as a criterion for the intelligibility of power, thus displacing the great accounts about the agreed State configuration. From the Marxist theory, which conceived history beginning from the display of class contradictions, Foucault took the account that allowed him to understand the result of different forms of production. Political phenomena ceased to be understood as the result of a fundamental agreement or a final point in the development full of sense of history, to be studied as a result of the strategies of domination of the disciplinary society.

Thus, the conception based on the central role of law and legitimacy through consensus, Foucault opposed the modality of power based on war and the fight - "repressive hypothesis" -. Under the crystallization of the law was still possible to hear, so it was just muffled the din of battle. Against the macro perspective of the State, Foucault developed a microphysics of power: "in short, his aim was to "decapitate the king" in political analysis displacing the law and legitimacy, the will and consensus, from the focus of study" (Lemke, T., 2006, p. 7). But as some of his leading critics warned, responding to the strategy of domination with the strategy of war he reproduced the model he was facing: "by rejecting the juridical model and adopting his opposite, Foucault reversed it. Instead of beheading the king, he put upside down the criticized conception replacing the law and the contract by war and conquest "(Lemke, T., 2006, p. 7).

It was from the study of the subject and the forms of subjectivity that Foucault emphasized his questioning of repression and war as paradigms for the analysis of social relations. His study of Greek and Roman ethics as exercises of subjectivity production at both individual and collective level, allowed him to realize that his analytical of power, which emphasized the "repressive hypothesis" was not able to account for power relations that were neither legal nor disciplinary. In the first Volume of his History of Sexuality, Foucault announced plans to make a clean sweep and free himself from certain representation of power as a repressive mechanism, in which the power "acts by saying the rule" (Foucault, M., 1981, p. 102), and in which "the pure form of power would be in the role of the legislator" (Foucault, M., 1981, p. 102).

Instead, the author of Poitiers would come to tell us, that behind "the simple and endlessly reproduced gears of law, prohibition and censorship" (Foucault, M., 1981, p. 102), the effectiveness of the productive mechanisms of power, would have to be discovered. At the same time that it deepens the productive nature of power, Foucault's work is much more effective to discover strategies of power where previously there had only been absence of domination. The political practices that Foucault begins to be interested in are those that produce modes of existence through which individuals and groups are subjectivised, "acquire a concrete experience of the world" (Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 13), not because they are imposed from violence or repression, but because the subjects take charge of their own constraints; from the display of their own freedom and authenticity, they become the principle of their own subjection. What is becoming of interest to Foucault is that power is obeyed in the same extent that it creates its own truth conditions (or better, that its truth conditions are its own conditions of obedience) without the need to impose itself by force or ideology.

Although in his earlier works, Foucault warns the constitutive role of discipline – so that the asylum is only applied to the crazy ones, or imprisonment to the criminals as long as they previously cut them off from the space-temporary plane with disciplinary practices -, the truth is that this is a positivity pretty framed on censorship and prohibition. Conversely, if the power is not just the law that says no, then the microphysics of disciplinary power as these mechanisms disposed of negativity "does not explain how multiple and scattered power relations assume certain "coherent" or "unified" form and neither how these translate into more global strategies "(Lemke, T., 2006, p. 8) alien to the historical-political model of war and domination. If something Foucault warns from the abandonment of the repressive hypothesis is the need to account for the "freedom" and "authenticity", the acceptance and approval as constituting forms of power relations.

The repressive hypothesis, or "Nietzsche hypothesis", is then complemented with the study of governance practices or ways of governmentality. Within the governance practices there is not a heterocompositive model that describes a line of continuity from the legislative power until the obedient subject. Governance practices are a coextensive field to their application object, in which the elements that create a social field generate themselves when so doing. The government as a technology of power provides a significant scope regarding the warlike model, as it does not seek "simply to determine the behavior of others, but direct it effectively, since it presupposes the capacity for action (freedom) of those who must be governed (...) ". (O Malley, P., 2006, p. 36). It is then these power relations, in which there is always room for the exercise of the freedom of the subject, to what Foucault called governance practices (O Malley, P., 2006, p. 36).

At this point the strategic approach of the work of Foucault has to be understood. For him it is not to promote a macro-comprehensive view of the social problems in the way of the great political theories, neither to propose an immune explanation to temporary space specificities that can explain both the macro and the micro as well, the existence of the State and the constitution of subjects. It is to challenge established understandings showing how they themselves are part of a network of power relations.

To show that power was not the kind of merchandise that was given and exchanged depending on the model of consensus and legitimacy, Foucault brought out the warrior entity, always in act that characterized the power. But the moment in which he found himself trapped in a relationship of power and domination re-inscribed permanently into the fabric of the social (which took him to a certain fatalism from which he sought to break free) he described power as a field reality composed of rules of pure immanence (Foucault, M., 2006). According to Castro-Gómez, from this time, the purpose of Foucault was to show "the self-regulation of individuals", that is, the way it was achieved that they matched "their own desires, hopes and lifestyles with government objectives previously established"(Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 23) Power does not seek to make others behave in a certain way through an exercise of violence and exclusion, "but to make that behavior - all behavior- be seen by the governed themselves as good, decent, honorable, and above all, as their own, coming from their freedom" (Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 13). This time, the vision that understood the subject locked in a relationship of permanent force, opposed a free subject, and for that same reason trapped in the space opened by their own desire for obedience.

The strategic entity of Foucault’s work that makes it a work in transformation, challenging stabilized understandings, also involves important political consequences. Social practices and subjects involved in them are permanently created, but not as a result of violence at the very heart of politics, but as the mobile form, coextensive with the proper use of freedom. The social field would not be - at least it would not be just that - a strategy ready for domination by the king, the State, the parent, the social worker, or the doctor, but a form of self-management that requires freedom to present the subject as a result of their own action.

The truth is that the concept of governance can be seen as a key notion in Foucault's analytics of power, offering a perspective that simultaneously exceeds the form of consensus and legitimacy, and the way of violence and repression. The analytical of the government questions the way the field of possible actions of the subjects is structured and molded. This strong emphasis on the processes of subjectivation, outside the legal and philosophical-historical-political schemes, does not imply abandonment of the issues of power, but its reformulation and correction.

The analytical of the government remains interested in the link between the subject and the forms of political domination and economic exploitation, only that now it is not confined to considering what is done from the outside in, but what comes from the inside out. Power is not only the irradiated substance from State institutions to the rest of society, but also that which finds in the social body its own operation standard.

2. Governmentality or sel-production of social phenomena

Before propositions of a theory of power with pretensions to universality, Foucault’s approaches assume an analytic strategy defined by the historical setting in which the author is found. The analytical of forms of government, proposing a categorical system dependent on the proper dynamics of social forces is included in this strategic body of philosophical discourse.

The analysis of governmentality or the art of governance, rather than being a political theory with its own category system, in the Weberian way of general types, abstract and ideal, it is an approach to organizational forms of social practices and the respective rationalities that animate it. In the words of Castro-Gómez:

"The political rationalities conceptualize and justify objectives, produce and promote means for attaining them, position political actions in their respective institutional fields, design limits for governance practices and define subject positions for government interventions" (Castro-Gómez, 2010 p. 31)

It is a deductive exercise which extractsits most basic elements from constituted realities rebuilt their implicit meanings and tracks the process of their formation, analyzes their stated aims and their subsequent adaptation to unforeseen demands or strategic calculations. The government analysis does not extract the general principle implicit in these established facts, or recover the lost meaning after the accidents of matter, nor gives precedence to the will over the representation or substance over form. The analytical of the forms of government does not constitute general formulas, adaptable with just a little spirit of qualification to any segment of reality; by contrast, within the identity of the discourses and practices it is possible to find distinguishable notes that ascend or descend according to a not pre-established harmony.

This does not show some defect of thoughtlessness or some postmodern coquetry, but a methodological aspiration directed to trace the discourses and practices, to find them where they just are being created, where they initiate a social journey that will take multiple aspects. Clearly, as the same Foucault warned that such an analysis provided no exemption from the history of ideas or of science:

(...) it is rather a study that strives to re-find that from which knowledge and theories, were made possible; according to which space of order has knowledge been constituted; on the merits of what historical a priori and which element of positivity ideas have appeared, become science, reflected upon the experiences in philosophies, rationalities be formed to be canceled and may soon vanish. (Foucault, M., 2002, p. 7).

This description, which Foucault developed to account for the archaeological analysis of science and knowledge, can usefully be collected to describe the governmental policy analysis, because in either level, as the author says:

(...) it will not be about knowledge described in its progress towards an objectivity in which ultimately our current science may be recognized; what will be brought to light is the epistemological field, the episteme in which knowledge, taken out of any logic that concerns their rational value or their objective forms, wreck their positivity and so manifest a story that is not the one of its growing perfection, but of its conditions of possibilities. (Foucault, M., 2002, p. 7).

In the space of knowledge, or in governance practices, what should appear are the settings that have led to various forms of empirical knowledge and political action.

The political project implicit within the analysis of the forms of governance is in continuity with the epistemological strategy that identifies Foucault’s work, since it seeks to destabilize and question the present revealing their contingent training, their lack of necessity. In the analytic of governmentality the emphasis is on what appears to be necessary, but to be understood as the result of meeting of materials, ideas, practices, and other items available at any given time, and according to the specific responses that are required by the challenges of the government.

As his most recent critics have warned, the development of the analytics of governmentality implied a progressive political approach of Foucault to that Marx of social relations of production. For Etienne Balibar the approach to history as pure materiality was one of the main points of agreement between Marx and Foucault, a project that was achieved in the former by analyzing the social relations of production as producers of value and surplus value, and the latter, by analyzing social relations of power as producing forms of subjectivity (Balibar, E., 1999). The second coincidence, although of methodological type, has profound political consequences, whether they will be discussing the economy or the power. Even though the social organization of production acted as the transverse axis that organized other cultural, social and political systems, methodologically Marx's approach to the relations of production allowed warn the autonomy of social non-economic areas, the games of reciprocal influence operating in society, and the relaxation of the one-way courses rigidly explaining social systems. The anti-economist methodology of that Marx of the first Volume of the Capital will be an irreplaceable referent for the approach that Foucault does to the dynamics of power relations. In the words of Lemke:

(...) the transformation of the relations of the economy and politics as a result of objective economic laws is not investigated, but rather it is faced as a transformation of the social relations of power. Foucault shows that the art of governance is not limited to the field of politics as something independent from the economy; on the contrary, the constitution of a space demarcated conceptually and practically governed by autonomous laws and subject to a rationality of its own, it is an element of economic governance. In short, instead of examining the power of the economy, the analytics of governmentality has again as its axis the economy of power (Lemke, 2006, p. 11).

The angle of the economy of power emphasizes an epistemological and methodological background that translates into the use of conceptual tools ready to account for the "game of actions over actions" in which the government of individuals and groups, consist. The analysis of the economy of power required to have some notions that allow approaching power relations as "differential relations between forces" (Lazarrato, M., 2006, p. 60), rather than as the legitimate exercise or not of a unit force that is exercised or suffered.

If economic analysis of power does not operate primarily as a properly called economic theory, nor does it pose a political theory, but rather it maps out a way – an arte – of governance which assumes freedom and self-regulation of social processes "as a test, as an instrument of intelligibility, as truth and a measure of society "(Lazarrato, M., 2006, p. 64), is then understood that the conceptual arsenal used in traditional political analysis cannot account for the dynamics of the political object. The economy of power builds its concepts and analytical tools outside the subjectivist and humanist tradition that characterizes modern thought, it is subtracted to the identification of a subject of knowledge and an external world that functions as a correlate of that subject; ultimately it refuses to pass the criterion of subjectivity as an index of cognition. The subject, in this anti-humanist methodology is offset by a myriad of practices and discourses that overflow, so it is not only to find it already constituted at the end of the process.

Concepts like device, practices, techniques and strategies converge in order to show how subjects are constituted within various political rationalities. By political rationalities it should not be understood the attribute knowledge of a subject or a political subject, instead the way in which certain historical practices work. Political rationalities are articulated grammar that allows the most diverse elements, from the whole social fabric, not just the top of it. The political rationality is report paths that are embodied in discourses and practices, but in turn depend on the particular manner in which the latter operates. The specificity of this technique rationality against the rationality of science or philosophy, will be its political dynamism. The practices and discourses may be coordinated at a given time to work immediately as other objectives and within other governance estrategies, changingpoliticalrationalitiesfromwhichtheyinitially depended upon.

3. Pastoral power, reason of State and liberalism

In the course named Security, territory and population, Foucault used the notion of governmentality to address the political rationalities of four differen thistorical domains: pastoral power profiling forearly Christianity and opposed to "government of a city," theorized in Greco-Roman antiquity (Foucault, M., 1998B); government programs forged between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries (reason of State, State police, mercantilism, and came realism); governmental rationality of classical liberalism from Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment to Malthus and Ferguson, and neoliberal governmentality articulated in the second half of the twentieth century mainly in Germany and the United States.

From the synthetic definition of governance as the "right disposition of things that you need to take care to lead them to the right order" (Foucault, 2006, p. 121), Foucault begins to develop elements of a new political technique related to the management of men (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 130). This political technique is no longer lead to the individual as a subject of law according to legal sovereignty, or as normalized individual according to disciplinary sovereignty. Conversely, if there is something new in the art of governing men in the history of political practices, it will be the fact that the ultimate goal will be on a collective subject. A new political subjectivity will make its appearance within the techniques of governance of men, constituting a "field of new realities" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 101). In the same course Foucault will claim that the techniques of governance were in response to one of the fundamental problems of Western modernity: the accumulation of individuals. Next we will outline some family history that will shape the art of governing populations.

3.1 The pastoral power

One of the first arts of governance that sought the foundations of existence in the immanent rules to the object of governance was the pastoral power. As a way to take men both in their individual and collective aspect, Christianity resulted in a "dense, complicated, and tight institutional network" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 192), through which produced a whole art of leading, directing, channeling, guiding, taking by the hand, manipulating men; an art of following them step by step consisting of governing men from their own truth. The development of a particular variety of power referred to salvation, truth and the law allowed an "individualization by subjection" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 219), consisting of the "production of an inner truth, secret and hidden"(Foucault, M., 2006, p. 192).

Christian pastoral will involve the development of procedures for individualization by means of which the pastor will take care of each and every member of his flock. From an economy of salvation, consisting of a constant exercise in self-evaluation, and the implementation of an inner truth to be permanently affected by the institutional network in which the individual as part of the Christian flock is enrolled, the exercise of pastoral power involves "the entire history of human individualization procedures in the West. Le tus say also that it is the history of the subject "(Foucault, 2006, p. 219). The techniques of Christian pastoral involved the extraction of a truth that was the "deepest in the heart of men" (Foucault, 2006, p. 219), truth which would be really the rule of his government.

But besides proposing the first political technique concerned about the existence of a collective subject, the pastorate will be a "prelude to the government of men" also in another sense. This is the mutation of the concept of economy which will pass from the dimension of particular family management, within the meaning of the Greek notion oikos, to the dimension of, "if not of all humanity, at least of all Christendom" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 222). With the change in dimension will also change the reality that will be subject to intervention. If previously we could not properly speak of a political model of economic governance, while it was reduced to the administration of the persons and property of the family, with the Christian pastorate the economic governance will assume their proper political sense. From that point, the government of men will appear in its specificity against political power, opposing the rules of immanence of a governing power from the extraction of the truth of the subject from "the depths of their souls" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 259), the rules of trascendence of the legal sovereignty. Government of men and legal sovereignty, as two competing models - though in certain circumstances they support each in the other – will appear for the first time in the political history of the West, with their own modes of operation and political purposes.

3.2 Reason of State

A further extension of the field realities for government intervention will occur in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, when occurred a break from the political theology continuum of the Middle Ages "that goes from God to the parents passing by nature and the pastors" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 273), and a new order of interventions made ??by the reality of the State, is established. The discourses of reason of State and the State police make their appearance at this time and pursue the order understood as obtaining the balance of all the internal elements of the newly formed national territories, will inform the development of the State not as an institution but as a new area of ??intervention, a new political logic, a new form of governance that would displace the government of the medieval order.

But the emergence of the reality of the State will not indicate the disappearance of pastoral power, but its expansion. The individualization technique for extraction of the truth itself, will now not be the scope of the Christian community, but the scope of State residents. Just as the pastor must know in detail each of the sheep of his flock, the State shall develop a comprehensive knowledge, a politics of truth that will result in what at the same time will be called statistic:

"Statistics is the knowledge of the State, the knowledge of the forces and resources that at any given time characterize a State (...) Not any longer, therefore, corpus of laws or ability to apply them when necessary, but the body of technical knowledge that characterize the reality of the very State "(Foucault, M., 2006, p. 320).

From the economy of salvation to statistics there will be a whole field of interventions by the governance of men which will run parallel to the legal domain of the sovereign State.

A novelty that will be involved in the art of governance according to the principle of reason of State, will be the understanding of the State as a practice (Foucault, M., 2006, 329), or rather, as "a multiplicity of practices featuring particular rationalities"(Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 45). The State will not be an institution or unit, it will be a field of intervention for different power strategies. Foucault's concern when studying the State is not to answer the questions of who is the legitimate sovereign; to what extend does his authority reach and where the insurmountable legal subject space begins; what are the conditions to get his domain legitimately, and why it becomes a usurper; to what extend do the prerogatives of sovereign reach and when the resistance rights of the subjects are activated. These questions, proper of political philosophy, will interest Foucault but themselves as components of a strategy of power, in whose response is at stake a whole political model that can give rise to both extensive rationality of governance, as the proper rationalities of the reason of State or state police, or a limited rationality as that of liberalism, which will make the promotion of freedom as the main strategy for the governance of men.

3.3 The Freedom Technique

With liberalism a reflected model of governance starts consistent in driving the behavior of those governed on the model of political economy. The liberal government is a "government of economic, biological and cultural processes", which ignores the attempt to state-regulate and in each detail the actions and events that take place within a territory (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 325), allowing, from its inner legality, the social processes taking place in a particular environment. In this sense liberalism differed from previous forms of governance deployed under the reason of State or the State police, which stipulated as sovereign prerogative the proper disposition of each of the elements of the kingdom.

Studies undertaken by Foucault on the occasion of his courses at the College de France, can be understood as a historical-political reconstruction of liberalism. Under this perspective, liberalism appears as a rationality of governance that aims at the production and management of freedom, which is the proper subject of liberal governance. But this is not about freedom as an ideology, that is, like one of those preformed realities to be protected from abuse of sovereign power, but as the result itself of the art of liberal governance, "whose function is to produce, insufflate, increase freedoms, introduce a plus of freedom by a plus of control and intervention "(Foucault, M., 2008B, p. 89). Because of the importance acquired by freedom as governance technology it is worth quoting at length below:

I use the term liberal primarily because this governmental practice that begins to settle does not conform to respect this or that freedom, ensure this or that freedom. More deeply, it is consumer of freedom. And it is to the extent that it can only work if there is indeed a set of freedoms: free market, freedom of the seller and the buyer, free exercise of the right to property, freedom of discussion, eventually freedom of expression, etc. Therefore, the new governmental reason needs of freedom, the new governmental art consumes freedom. It consumes freedom: that is, it is required to produce it. The new governmental art will then be presented as administrator of freedom, not in the sense of the imperative "be free" (...) Liberalism simply states the following: I will produce for you what is required for you to be free. I will try so that you have the freedom to be free (Foucault, M., 2008B, 84).

In the political debate the freedom conceptual approaches are determined by the convergence of modern philosophical discourse and the illustrated legal discourse. While in the former freedom is the defining note of modern anthropology, in the latter is actually a pre-political relations that dominated can oppose to arbitrary governments. On the contrary, from Foucault’s perspective to reach freedom first we must walk the path of power relations, and find within freedom a scenario in which multiple government strategies are played. The difference would be that in the first perspective, liberalism operates as a normative discourse that prescribes the conditions of legitimate political existence. Liberalism and political appear well spaced, as two opposing and irreconcilable dimensions that intersect only to reproach their mutual excesses. By contrast, liberalism understood as an art of governance supposed to approach it from the effects it promotes as a technology of governance on economic and moral conduct of men.

For liberalism freedom is a political artifact (Lazarrato, M., 2006), a technical product emerged in a rationality of government that does not involve social processes (Foucault, M., 2006), but acts by enhancing self-regulation thereof. Liberalism makes freedom an ally of power (Foucault, M., 2006), and knows that to do so should make that the rules that govern the behavior of individuals and groups be immanent to the same social processes in which they are involved.

From the study of the liberal governance, Foucault introduces some changes to his concept of disciplinary normalization, especially developed in his book Discipline and Punish. Liberalism leads to a special form of normalization, which does not involve the imposition of an external model that must be tailored to individuals, and from which normal and pathological is evaluated:

(...) Now, on the contrary, there will be a signaling of the normal and the abnormal, a signaling of the different curves of abnormality, and the normalizing operation will be to make interact these different powers of normalcy and ensure that the most unfavorable assimilate into the more favorable. We then have something that starts from normal and uses certain considered distributions to say the least, as more normal or, at any rate more favorable than others. And those distributions will be regarded as rules. Typically, the first is the normal and the rule follows from it, or it is fixed and meets its operational role starting from the study of normalities. Therefore, I would say that it is no longer a normation but rather, or strictly a normalization (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 86).

For liberalism as a technique of governance social phenomena have their own legality, which then, but only then, may be proposed as a rule or standard of conduct.

But before becoming a technique of governance that allows to drive the subjects from their own legality, liberalism should promote some devices that allow the creation of collective subject over which it is applied. The techniques and strategies of governance must first establish a space to intervene in its object-subject, but not directly intervening in its naturalness, but mediately, managing their own naturalness from the involvement of an artificial means, fundamental space where the natural and the artificial, external and internal, individual and collective, self and other, the ordinary and the strange, are woven and unwoven to give place to the human species, the political subject. In an epigrammatic way Foucault expresses this when he says that in this artificial means "the artifice acts as a nature with respect to a population that, woven of social and political relations, it also works both as a species" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 46). The means will be the surface of grip itself of the power techniques, bio-political place in which the governance will show its new look, since it is not exercised directly on the body and soul as in the legal and disciplinary sovereignty, but operates as an "action at a distance" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 41).

In this artificial means managed by devices of economic character, the population will appear as a political subject of the art of liberal governance, consisting of natural processes dependent on a series of variables such as climate, physical environment, trading activity, people customs and the circulation of wealth (Foucault, 2005).

The liberal governance must allow the circulation of flows of people, goods, diseases, discourses, desires, interests, individual benefits and collective, for which it will create an environment "that allows the activity and mobility of subjects but within certain natural limits" (Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 77), that is, with the only limit of their naturalness. That naturalness will be both biologically and emotionally. Beside the economic variables that affect the proper biological insertion of the population in an artificial environment, will be the governance of desire, the recognition that "there is no liberalism without governance of desire, that is, without the existence of a sphere of action where individuals can act out and pursue their own interests "(Castro-Gómez, S., 2010, p. 83). In Security, Territory and Population, Foucault claim that desire is the pursuit of interest to the individual, and that "if is left to act, provided that it is left to act, within certain limits and under a series of relationships and connections, it will result in short, in the general interest of the population" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 97).

This is one of the most interesting approaches in the development of the analytic of governmentality, at which the author addresses one of the aspects most neglected by the traditional political thought. For Foucault, around the mid-eighteenth century will emerge the advertising as a political technique that manages men from the point of view of their views and interests. Techniques of governance policies of populations will have a proper emotional register, the one on which emerges another of the capital eighteenth century notions: the public. In order to get to the existence of this political subject Foucault described education campaigns - "in which governing is to make believe" - by which it was possible "to intervene on the consciousness of people, not just to impose a set of true beliefs (...) to change their opinion and how they do it, how they act, their behavior as political subjects". As noted, this is again the management of a collective subject: the public is a collection of individuals considered from an emotional aspect, and the governance as a political technique shows again a preference for the social cluster.

In that field of realities managed by the liberal governance, ranging from the biological to the emotional, the population will be presented in its "fundamental biological integration" (Foucault, M., 2006, p. 101), allowing the emergence of a political subject from which the effects of governance will cover the whole field of the life of people.

The governance of populations is an event that is only possible in the eighteenth century, at the crossroads of a number of scientific discourses such as biology, grammar, and political economy, political practices aimed at the management of biological and emotional naturalness of the human species. In this field of governance interventions which appeared in the eighteenth century, life begins to be relevant to politics.


It has been shown how the idea of ??governance of men in the work of Foucault arises, exposing the appearance of the constituent elements not in an evolutionary but in a strategically way. Foucault's work is not about an elusive progressively universal truth that must function as a criterion for regulation of thought, but it is done deeply political by thinking the challenges of present that constitutes us as subjects. And it is precisely in the problematization of the subject tha is a constant concern of the thought of the French philosopher. To say that the subject is created by different governance strategies it is to say that it lacks a timeless essence and that has an unstable form that is permanently printed according to the rationalities of governance in which develops its existence, rationalities in which he can actively participate.

This lack of substance is given by the fact that the subject matches the environment in which it is created, a new environment consisting of biological, cultural and emotional notes, combined by different governance strategies for performing multiple political objectives.

From the perspective of the governance of the populations, concepts such as civil society or subject of law do not appear as the exclusive place of legitimacy or limits to power, but as the place of production of goods, desires, individual and collective identities; so that traditional figures of the Western political thought such as the ego, the legal subject, the civil society will not be understood as quasi-natural pre-political subjects, but as a diversity of areas for action and intervention, a series of artificial environments generated from a set of heterogeneous practices, so that its history will necessarily be a history of practices and not (only) a history of his whole philosophical correlates.

The analytical of governance will wonder how the environment in which the subjects are created and the field of their possible actions, are structured and molded. This strong emphasis on the processes of subjectivation, outside the legal and philosophical-historical-political schemes, implies, as it has been seen, reformulation and correction of power issues. Foucault, helped us understand that power is not only that substance radiated from state institutions to the rest of the society, but also that which in the social body finds the functioning standard.

From the synthetic definition of governance as the proper arrangement of things of which it is necessary to take care to lead them to the right end, Foucault begins to elaborate the elements of a new political technique related with the management of men. This political technique is no longer direct towards the individual as a subject of law according to legal sovereignty, or as a normalized individual according to disciplinary sovereignty. Conversely, if the art of governance of men in the history of political practices represents some novelty, it will be the fact that the ultimate goal will be on a collective subject. A new political subjectivity will make its appearance within the techniques of governance of men, constituting a field of new realities. From there Foucault will claim that the techniques of governance arose in response to one of the fundamental problems of Western modernity: the accumulation of individuals.


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