Foucault's "German moment": Genealogy of a Disjuncture

Matthew G. Hannah

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8 Citations (SciVal)


Foucault’s lectures from early 1979 on the German Ordo-liberalen are typically taken to comprise his most comprehensive account of why Germany is important for understanding neo-liberal governmentality more broadly. This paper argues, to the contrary, that the 1979 lectures actually obscure a potentially more complete account of German, neo-liberal governmentality Foucault had begun to sketch in 1977. To support this reading and to offer an explanation of why Foucault would have decided to alter his presentation of West German neo-liberalism, the paper undertakes a genealogy of Foucault’s involvement with West German political issues in 1977 and 1978. The core claims that structure the argument are as follows: (1) Key aspects of the “security state” that Foucault began to work out in 1977, must have been at least partly modeled on West German “militant” or “battle-ready” democracy; (2) Yet, in his 1979 lectures, there is no longer any trace of these repressive, extralegal dimensions; (3) This shift was motivated to a significant extent by his 1977 disagreement with Deleuze, Guattari, and others over whether the West German state of the late 1970s could be considered “fascist.” This concern to contest the accusation of fascism is carried forward in his 1979 lectures in a critique of “state phobia.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-137
Number of pages22
JournalFoucault Studies
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


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