Clark Nguyen 11/16/10 Pol Sci 4275 Reaction Paper #3

Hayek and Wacquant illustrate the dangers and injustices of government intervention into the realm of social, political and economic affairs. However, while Hayek defends the principles of the market as the natural imperative individuals must voluntarily be allowed to choose rather than being compelled to by destructive state planning, Wacquant reveals how such neoliberal policies, having been constructed by the political state, enable state coercion (or social forces) through the institutions of law enforcement and the penal system, criminalizing poverty by cutting social welfare programs or by allowing these supports to complement the criminal justice apparatus. Wacquant therefore emphasizes how political movements, the working class and their ability to collectively organize are being suppressed in addition to the disorders produced by mass unemployment, the imposition of precarious wage work and the shrinking of social protection (Wacquant, p.204) brought on by neoliberalism and treated by the penal state. Rights for Hayek lie with the individual, not in any collective group or any appeal to social action which would be irresponsible and abusive if practiced, whereas Wacquant defends the rights of social and economic welfare the state has an obligation to provide to its most vulnerable citizens without criminalizing them simultaneously. Hayek subscribes to the traditional liberal notion of negative and positive liberty, ruling that a free space for individual conduct, self-sacrifice and responsibility, not to a superior, but to one s conscience (Hayek, p.212) that is not ordained by the state is necessary for a society respect[ful] of the individual qua man instead of merely as the member of an organized group (Hayek, p.214). To outline this line of thought he examines how belief in the impersonal forces of the market (Hayek, p.204)

would be more beneficial than the alternative, which would be submission to an equally uncontrollable and therefore arbitrary power of other men (Hayek, p.205). Since the market is incomprehensive to a mere individual and operates through an intricate web of individual efforts (Hayek, Ibid.) that is naturally self-regulated people must accept it as the only course of development that will preserve individual freedom and not lead onto the path of totalitarianism (Hayek, p.205); this coercion will occur if they attempted to control the forces of society (Hayek, ibid.). Nature must be allowed to reign in order for society to raise its quality of life and militate against prolonged stationariness of its economic conditions (Hayek, p.210), preserving a free democratic state. To exercise human agency and use social action to change the natural workings of the market would also be irresponsible (Hayek, p.210) because it would privilege certain groups, inhibit economic growth, create artificial inflation, interfere with individual liberty and extinguish the moral purpose of individual choice. The goal of full employment, for example, through monetary measures, would be certain to lower the productivity of labor and thereby constantly increases the proportion (Hayek, p.208) of artificially employed workers at living wages, where inflation would reduce real wages and incur other economic problems. On the question of choice, for Hayek any social movement depends on individuals to derive what moral standards it possesses (Hayek, p.213) and by trampling on liberal rights the arena where individual decision-making can be exercised consensually and give significance to moral values is diminished. Only through personal choice, not through the periodical election of representatives nor a system in which the state will set everything right (Hayek, p.213) can responsibility be given any meaning, as well as providing full force to moral obligation and duty to bear personal consequences of that obligation. Trade unionism, the reduction of inequality through state policies and collective organization of laborers would impede the individual decision to determine his or her own values by substituting the demand for obedience and the compulsion of the individual to do what is collectively decided to be good (Hayek, p.213). To introduce collectivism, such as when rights

are thrown away for the protected standards of this or that group [and] injustices inflicted on individuals by government action in the interest of a group (Hayek, p. 214) would be to sacrifice these

moral values of the Anglo-American liberal tradition for the totalitarian excesses of German-born socialism, where individuality would be bent towards a singular social ideal. Neoliberalism, the ideology that stipulates that the invisible hand of the casualised labor market (Wacquant, p.401) should guide economic organization, is also accompanied by the disciplinary forces of the state such as the criminal justice and penal system according to Wacquant. The lassiez-faire role the state should play to not interfere but rather to encourage private sector growth has manifested itself into government regulation of the disorders generated by the diffusion of social insecurity (Wacquant, p.402) with the powers of coercive surveillance, imprisonment, and law enforcement to control the poor dispossessed by neoliberal policies. Wacquant divides state influence into the socioeconomic programs designed as protection against poverty and inequality and these hard forces of law-and-order; he also sees a divide where the US has criminalized poverty through carceralisation (Wacquant , p.406) and eliminated social welfare supports, but Europe including France has instead increasingly accentuated both the social regulation and the penal regulation of social insecurity (Wacquant, p.407). With policies such as the broken windows doctrine of law enforcement migrating from the US to England, France, etc. following the ideological doctrines of the impersonal forces of the market (Hayek, p.204) the social dislocations of mass unemployment, the imposition of precarious wage work and the shrinking of social protection (Wacquant, p.404) are perpetuated and countered respectively with the invisible hand of the market and the iron fist of the state (Wacquant, ibid.). What were considered social and economic problems are recontextualized into physical and criminal exigencies as the state, having been minimized in lieu with free-market principles, celebrates individual responsibility and which [then] withdraws into its kingly functions of law and order (Wacquant, p.405).

This shift in political economy from Keynesian solidarity to a Darwinian state (Wacquant, p.405) is not in accordance with the economic laws of nature but are conscious policy changes by political leaders (Wacquant, p. 410). The employment of insecurity (Wacquant, p.405) serves to disempower the working class who resist the proliferation of low-wage service jobs, pacifies disruptive elements of those subaltern groups and strengthens the limited legitimacy the state now has. Political struggle, while possible with organization of the outcasts and refuse of the new labor market (Wacquant, p.409) and grassroots activism, is now suppressed but should be revived with academic collaboration, along with strategic reorientation of discourses of insecurity and judicial practices, to posit a claim towards a social state (Wacquant, p.410) which addresses social and economic rights for those marginalized by neoliberal processes. Responsibility to address deepening social inequalities (Wacquant, p.410) can be contested, where the penalization of poverty can be fought against with social, health or educational alternatives (Wacquant, p.410) the state is obligated to provide for marginalized populations. Hayek posits that as a natural force the economic logic of the market structures individual liberty and determines the proper limits of human agency as moral choice; responsibility for oneself in a neutral space for personal conduct, as a voluntary subject, is in submission to the impersonal laws of the economy that work without collective intervention, which ignores moral decisions and tramples individualism. Wacquant exposes the fallacy of this line of naturalizing thought, where coercive effects stimulated by this liberalization of the labor market and privatization of the economy correspond with the penalization of poverty and the subjugated who experience deprivation by neoliberal policies. The market is socially constructed to manage and discipline lower classes with social regulation and the law-and-order wings of the state, whereas responsibility for social welfare lies within the conception of sovereign power. The governmentality , or social forces, of criminalization and incarceration should

be fought against as a political artifice of the hegemonic state apparatus, as not inevitable (Wacquant, p.409).

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful