Can the critique of capitalism be antihumanist?

This essay argues that to understand Foucault's attraction to neoliberalism, we must understand the elective theoretical affinities that he perceived between this current in economic thought and one of the central elements of his own philosophical project: the critique of humanism or “anthropologism” (that is, the tendency in modern thought to sift all knowledge through human knowledge). Specifically, the essay examines moments in Foucault's 1978 and 1979 lectures when Foucault clearly refers to the arguments of his earlier work, The Order of Things, the locus classicus of his philosophical antihumanism. In particular, Foucault claimed that economists of the Chicago School developed a theory of labor that escaped the limitations of the “anthropological” theory of labor associated with Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx. He also interpreted the notion of homo oeconomicus and Smith's idea of the market's “invisible hand” as critiques of the characteristically modern attempt to make transcendental claims on the basis of human nature. The essay concludes by asking if Foucault's philosophical antihumanism provides an adequate vantage point from which to critique contemporary capitalism.