Meeting room 229, Psychologicum (Siltavuorenpenger 1 A, 00170 Helsinki)
Tuukka Brunila: (University of Helsinki): De-politicization through economization; Carl Schmitt and the limits of political power
Political theory, in its discussion of neoliberalism, emphasises how neoliberalism de-politicizes political power. This is for example Wendy Brown’s idea that neoliberalism is “undoing the demos.” Others, such as Chantal Mouffe, underline how neoliberal practices establish the rule of the market over democratic politics. This then limits political interventions into the economy.
In this paper, I will complement this narrative of neoliberalism by looking at Carl Schmitt’s analysis of de-politicization. My argument is that his analysis provides one of the most interesting interpretation on the epistemological or ontological foundations of political power. In my paper, I argue that Schmitt’s emphasis on sovereign power enables for a clearer vision of this transformation that concerns the limits of the political, namely, de-politicization. It concerns what I call “economization” of political power, which enables political power to reflect on the appropriateness of its interventions in a way that is different to sovereign power.
My argument is divided into two. First, I elaborate how limits to the political come about. If political power in fact enjoys primacy to the social, as Schmitt thinks of sovereign power, then limits to this power have to be self-limitations. This means, that the limits to the political are internal, not external (such as ethical or rational limits). Second, I will argue that economization of political power is about limiting politics by transforming what political power is. My paper then shows that this establishment of limits to the political is part of a much larger narrative than what the discussion neoliberalism suggests. I propose that Schmitt’s discussion of economization directs us to a larger historical struggle within the concept of political power.