Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
Legal Theory Workshop
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.
Bernard E. Harcourt,
The ’73 Graft: Punishment, Political Economy, and the Genealogy of Morals,
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-485
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/1934