Sandra Laugier & Albert Ogien | Disobedience and Democracy

Interview with Sandra Laugier and Albert Ogien

© materiali foucaultiani

mf : Mrs. Laugier, Mr. Ogien, we decided to request this interview regarding your book Pourquoi désobéir en démocratie ? (Éditions La Découverte, Paris 2010) because we find something remarkable, also from a Foucaldian point of view, in your attempt to give serious consideration to the current proliferation of calls to civil disobedience, by drawing a close connection between it and a new modality of the governing of citizens in advanced democracies – what you call “government by results” or “logic of performance”. Could you explain, in the first place, what you understand by the expression “government by results”? And could you elucidate the connection you see between this new governmental practice and what you call the “experience of dispossession,” particularly in the fields of profession, language and voice?

S. Laugier, A. Ogien : “Governing by results” designates a new way of conducting public matters that has been imposed in welfare democracies for the past forty years. It is known, after Max Weber, that the exercise of political power is always accompanied by a discourse of legitimation. In different periods this discourse is stated within different registers: it is possible to govern by tradition, equality, justice, size, sovereignty, segregation, religion, war, nation, economic growth, etc. Today there is government by results, which is to say that modern rulers submit political decisions to quantified data and frame public action within procedures designed to evaluate the performance of each policy with the help of parameters that measure the attainment of quantified objectives to be attained by those who are responsible for these policies and on the basis of which these persons are evaluated and rewarded. Government by results is, in a way, the accomplishment of an old dream: to withdraw the political from the empire of passion, of vote catching, of the arbitrary and the irrational, and to subject it to the empire of reason, grounded on arithmetic objectivity.

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