The Economy and the Foundation of the Modern Body Politic: Malthus and Keynes as Political Philosophers
My dissertation explores the making of the modern division between the political and the economic realm. To modern political reason, the economy appears like a self-standing reality, internally related in terms of functions and understood to follow regulating laws of its own. The dissertation counters this account of the relation between the economic and the political realm. It analyzes the epistemological claims to objectivity, on which this division rests and shows how the allegedly neutral depictions of economic necessity remain inextricably linked to political imaginations of order. The main thesis of the work posits that the modern rendering of economic reality in terms of a self-contained and functional realm stems from the desire to establish secure foundations for a viable body politic. The works of Malthus and Keynes are the exemplary cases for this study of the intimate relations between political reason and accounts of economic objectivity. The writings of Malthus crystallize in important respects the emergence of the specific modern objectivity at the beginning of the nineteenth century. With him, the notion of scarcity gained its important role for defining economy. It is shown that the definition of economy in terms of scarcity is tied to Malthus? attempts to envision a regulatory epistemology for the social body, which ensures a silent and visceral order against the uncertainties of the political world. The economic realm is thus conceived as the foundation of the body politic. The writings of Keynes witness the crisis of this economic foundation at the beginning of the twentieth century. The dissertation explicates Keynes? critique of the epistemology of scarcity, which underwrites modern accounts of economy. He opens a perspective on economy in terms of temporality, conventions and power, which traverses the closed boundaries of the economy. But this different view on economy is overlaid by Keynes? political desires to procure new foundations for the body politic: the envisioning of a national economy under the guidance of the economic expert, for which Keynesian economics is known, fulfills this desire. The thinking of economy is thus shown to be inextricably tied to the question of the political.
Philosophy of Economy; Governmentality; Political Theory; Biopolitics