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Critical Theory in Critical TimesTransforming the Global Political and Economic Order$
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Penelope Deutscher and Cristina Lafont

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780231181518

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231181518.001.0001

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Neoliberalism and the Economization of Rights

Neoliberalism and the Economization of Rights

Chapter:
(p.91) 5 Neoliberalism and the Economization of Rights
Source:
Critical Theory in Critical Times
Author(s):

Wendy Brown

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231181518.003.0005

Together, the Marxist and Foucauldian perspectives capture dimensions of law’s role in de-regulating and empowering capital, and defanging or dismantling labor, consumer, welfare and other popular solidarities. Marx reminds us that, even in the heyday of Keynesianism, law never radically challenges or undermines capital—even as it may demand concessions from it—and Foucault reminds us that neoliberalism is not an extension of capitalism, or only a reprogramming of liberalism, but a fundamental remaking of both through law. Both of these perspectives are necessary for understanding neoliberalism today, but neither is sufficient. While they capture the way in which law serves as an instrument in the neoliberal transformation of society, they miss the way in which law itself is transformed by the neoliberal project. In this chapter, Brown seeks to make up this deficit by offering an account of the neoliberalization of legal reasoning, which she illustrates with an analysis of the US Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Her aim is to show how, through a specific economization of the terms of the political in legal reasoning, liberal democratic constitutional law may contribute to the de-democratization of liberal democracies as well as more radical democratic imaginaries.

Keywords:   Neoliberalism, neoliberal reason, law, economization, governing rationality, Citizens United

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