Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2015

Center/Program

Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought

Center/Program

Legal Theory Workshop

Abstract

In this essay, I explore the place of a genealogy of morals within the context of a history of political economy. More specifically, I investigate the types of moralization — of criminals and delinquents, of the disorderly, but also of political economic systems, of workers and managers, of rules and rule-breaking — that are necessary and integral to making a population accept new styles of political and economic governance, especially the punitive institutions that accompany modern political economies in the contemporary period. The marriage of political economy and a genealogy of morals: this essay explores how the moralization of certain groups of people has been necessary to render tolerable the great American paradox of laissez-faire and mass incarceration. How, in effect, practices of moralization are necessary to make tolerable the intolerable.

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