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SPT 2021 – Technological imaginaries : https://lillethics.com/spt-2021/

“The Society for Philosophy and Technology Conference – June 28-30” : événement en ligne.

Is Government as a Platform a Neo-liberal concept ?

Keywords : Political Philosophy, Technology, Utopia


For many critical thinkers, “government as a platform” seems to be the epitome of a “neoliberal” concept – concepts like  “surveillance state” or “surveillance capitalism” are often referred as such. However, a series of various phenomena suggest that there is more to the platform state than a digital mimicry of the modern state. Facebook’s “libra” project, France’s “Health Data Hub”, Nevada’s recent decision to transfer sovereign prerogatives to private digital companies, suggest a paradigm shift which neoliberal thinkers are unable to fully encapsulate. Extensive academic literature has defined neoliberalism as a school of thought atempting to reconcile free market economics with a state which would impulse concurrential dynamics and competitive behaviours. The new political economy we are currently facing seems to rearticulate the public and private sphere polarity in unprecedented ways. A new political ontology, a new conception of the nature and structure of social identities and institutions has thus emerged that calls for a critical interpretation of the full range of  current conceptual mutations that are at stake. For instance, the modern qualification of political subjects (subjects of law, citizens…) has undertaken a radical reformulation in the form of the emerging “user-citizen” (Alauzen, Jaeger), implying the idea of a State reduced in its essence to a mere “counter” were private entities come to reclaim data related to public services (healthcare for instance), administrative services and informations. The entire structure of the modern rule of law seems to dissolve and pave the way for a new normative architecture characterized by the privatisation of regulations (algorithmic targeting, “nudging”, “compliance”, corporate social responsability…). This paper aims to sketch the more salient aspects of this emerging economical rationality. Following the ideological and technological genesis of this paradigm, we will meet both the neo-liberal and cybernetic discourses, and we will attempt to discuss its concrete implications on the institutional and anthropological level.