Date

5-4-2020

Description

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission was hailed by some as a victory for free speech and economic freedom, but others decried the outcome as a prioritization of corporate interests over the individual. What both groups failed to notice was that a shift had occurred in law itself: the content was no longer legal or political. Using the work of Wendy Brown and David Harvey, I will track the cause and implications of this shift. Brown describes the process of marketization, in which the content of the political is hollowed out and replaced with the economic, turning every interaction into a transaction. Following Brown's critique, I will show that while Foucault argued in his Birth of Biopolitics that law acts a multiplier of state power, it in fact acts as a multiplier of market power. The process of the marketization of the legal is clearly illustrated by the outcome of Citizens United, in which the right of free speech, typically reserved for individuals, was afforded to corporations. According to Brown's analysis, the process by which the political, and thus the legal, is undermined by the economic is caused by what she calls Neoliberal Rationality, which is reinforced by the judicial as a multiplier of economic power.

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May 4th, 12:00 AM

Undoing the Leges: Marketization and Citizens United

The Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission was hailed by some as a victory for free speech and economic freedom, but others decried the outcome as a prioritization of corporate interests over the individual. What both groups failed to notice was that a shift had occurred in law itself: the content was no longer legal or political. Using the work of Wendy Brown and David Harvey, I will track the cause and implications of this shift. Brown describes the process of marketization, in which the content of the political is hollowed out and replaced with the economic, turning every interaction into a transaction. Following Brown's critique, I will show that while Foucault argued in his Birth of Biopolitics that law acts a multiplier of state power, it in fact acts as a multiplier of market power. The process of the marketization of the legal is clearly illustrated by the outcome of Citizens United, in which the right of free speech, typically reserved for individuals, was afforded to corporations. According to Brown's analysis, the process by which the political, and thus the legal, is undermined by the economic is caused by what she calls Neoliberal Rationality, which is reinforced by the judicial as a multiplier of economic power.