Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Problematizing Liberal Cosmopolitanisms: Foucault and Neoliberal Cosmopolitan Governmentality

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Problematizing Liberal Cosmopolitanisms: Foucault and Neoliberal Cosmopolitan Governmentality

Article excerpt

François Quesnay was the leading figure of the Physiocrats, generally considered to be the first school of economic thinking. The name "Physiocrat" derives from the Greek words physis, meaning "nature," and kràtos, meaning "power." The Physiocrats believed that an economy's power derived from its agricultural sector. They wanted the government of Louis XV, who ruled France from 1715 to 1774, to deregulate and reduce taxes on French agriculture so that poor France could emulate wealthier Britain, which had a relatively laissez-faire policy. Indeed, it was Quesnay who coined the term "laissez-fàire, laissez-passer."

The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

1. Problematizing Liberal Cosmopolitanisms

The Syrian crisis that dominated international politics in 2012 indicates that the legacy of a Cold War standoff between the US and its Western allies on the one hand and Russia and China on the other in the Security Council. This standoff has prevented any cosmopolitan agreement on how to halt the wholesale slaughter by al-Assad's regime of its own population, including women and children, of some reported 20,000 death toll (until early August 2012). Russia, China and Iran have remained steadfast in their opposition to UN sanctions or indeed any kind of intervention. Russia has supplied arms to the Syrian government and stands to lose a profitable arms contract and one of its few strategic bases in the region if it concedes to US-led "human- itarian" demands. China, intent on preserving its ties with Russia, has refrained from giving its consent to international intervention. Iran for its part has been vocal in support of the Syrian government and reported given it financial support to help withstand Western sanctions. Meanwhile Middle East critics of the US accuse it of wanting to create a new Greater Middle East controlled by the U.S. and Israel in order to control energy resources during the 21st century, where gas will play the most important role and Syria occupies the strategic path to reach the Mediterranean ports through gas pipelines from Iran, Iraq and Qatar.1

In this terrible wholesale slaughter that represents perhaps the most important crisis of the string of events called the "Arab Spring" any attempted cosmopolitanism has been encumbered by past histories and alliances where the moral, the legal and the economic are all part of the same complex reality. In the Western media the heroic moral leadership by the US has provided the dominant form of cosmopolitanism whereas sanctions and striking a legal agreement over the administration of sanctions by the Security Council has provided a means for this moral (and so far failing) cosmopolitanism. Yet underlying both positions, it could be argued is an economic cosmopolitanism driven by competing strategic interests and long-term economic and military benefits. One might even impute a neoliberal cosmopolitan ideology as the kind of doctrinal justification for intervention: "free trade" especially in oil and gas but also "free movement" and protection of international law of the sea to enable such trade. While I in no way side with neoliberal ideology or better, neoliberality govenmentality, exercised in the international domain I do not doubt that its believers, supporters and ideologists fervently believe in its underlying economic and political principles and the way in which they contribute to a post-Bretton Woods world order settlement.2

Peter Gowan (2001) articulates clearly the concept of "neoliberal cosmopolitanism" indicating the way in which it functions in the discourse of globalization and grows out of a liberal internationalism. He begins his article "Neoliberal Cosmopolitanism" with the following paragraph:

Over the past decade a strong ideological current has gained prominence in the Anglo-American world, running parallel to the discourse of globalization and rhetorically complementing it. …

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