With the end of the 18th century, the era of modern police draws to a close; or, rather, we see the end of a long-drawn-out historical phase over the course of which the concept of police-encapsulating the whole complex of activities the state was taking over as its scope of intervention in socioeconomic life-became the object of a growing body of practical experiences and theoretical reflections out of which the founding principles of modern governmental rationality emerged. The thick core of police générale and Wohlfahrtspolizei (social welfare police) was breaking up into a constellation of disciplines. In fact, the very meaning of police was already beginning to narrow down, to the point where even on the Continent the concept came to be widely understood in its stricter sense of police as a security apparatus, the sense that we have seen taking hold early on in English-speaking political thought. This process leading to the breakup of modern police essentially gave rise to a

general “dispersion of police powers” (Chapman 1971, 34), ultimately effecting a deep transformation of the police apparatus. The police of the ancien régime was left with the single function of governing social dangerousness, meaning the increasing social risks incident to life in cities grappling with the incipient process of demographic growth and industrialization. Having shed the function of directing economic life, the police entered the 19th century as a fundamental tool with which to set and enforce social policy and govern the popular classes that were pouring into the industrial cities, where it was assumed that even the inviolable civil liberties might have been sacrificed to security, if it came to that. The process that splintered the modern police apparatus unfolded along two

parallel tracks. One was driven by the contraposition between legal and political discourse, but at the same time the police apparatus continued to taper under the weight of another force-namely, the discourse of modern economic reason. The latter-in alliance with the discourse of modern legal reason-wound up radically changing the nature of police (Foucault 2004, 266ff; 2008, 11-16, 27-26). Indeed, for one thing, in the ongoing dialectic we have looked at, which set legal

reason against modern governmental reason, the former element, legal reason, became an essential tool in the hands of liberal political philosophy in its persistent effort to limit and circumscribe the sphere of politics. Liberalism framed the

ancient question of iurisdictio in modern terms by seizing on the idea of man’s natural and inviolable rights, and in so doing it managed to put up an important barrier against the expansion of police power. We saw this with the English case and the emergence of the rule of law, and we will see the same thing happening with the liberal tradition that emerged out of the clash between the different compartments of the state in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Indeed, the battle fought over the criteria on which basis to draw the line between justice and administration-a battle which originated out of the dialectic between iurisdictio and politia and which then intensified in the 19th century over the question of justice in administration-formed the background against which the modern science of public law came into being, but, even more importantly, it was this development that brought to maturity the juridification of political power that, as discussed, formed the basis of the liberal conception of the state.1 For another thing, in this process through which legal reason gained the upper

hand over political reason-or through which an administrative discipline was transformed into a legal one: police science into the science of public lawliberalism was able to offer an internal criticism of political reason by working within the selfsame discourse on the governmental arts so as to lay the foundations of modern economic discourse. Indeed, it would be inaccurate to depict the liberal economic doctrine as a crudely anarchic criticism of political reason: It was, rather, an attempt to constrain that reason by a principle of self-limitation. In short, it was not the justice of political interventions in socioeconomic life that the liberal economic doctrine called into question but rather the utility of such interventions (see Foucault 2008, 22-26; see also Gordon 1991, 16; Dean 1999, 115; and Zanini 2006, 130). What in particular acted most forcefully in revolutionizing the sphere of police

from within was the concept of civil society that modern economic reason conjured into existence by transforming a strictly politico-legal concept into an economic one placed at the centre of a new governmental technology. Next to the agent qua legal subject who had been the focus of political and legal theory came the agent qua pursuer of interests who populates the sphere of civil society. It was once again in England, in the second half of the 17th century, that the first steps were taken toward this theoretical revolution, which later developed an epistemology on which basis it would extend its influence across the entire landscape of European social and economic thought. But it was in changing the governmental arts that this revolution was particularly disruptive. Indeed, authority turned away from the ambitious objective of providing for the welfare of the population and focused instead on guaranteeing security and regulating the autonomous dynamic of interests by which civil society operates. The homo eoconomicus of the new

governmental reason is not only a subject of inalienable rights but also a pursuer of specific interests, and it becomes the aim of authority to act not against such individuals but through them (Foucault 2008, 272ff.; see also Dean 1999, 98-99). In essence, by wading into the debate then underway on the question of the

dynamics between iurisdictio and politia, political economy managed over time to remove the subject of economic relations from the scope of the police disciplines into which mercantilism and cameralism had boxed it-and thus was laid the theoretical ground for the autonomy of economic discourse according to the process described by Karl Polanyi ([1944] 2001). Cameralism was thus made to follow a path that reduced it to a science of finances, but even more importantly, liberal economic thought overturned the whole premise of mercantilist economic police-predicated on the idea that the dynamics of socioeconomic processes could be controlled by issuing political directives-thus giving birth to modern political economy, which by contrast came to an awareness that those spontaneous dynamics are driven by their own logic and can at best be managed, not controlled. The advent of modern economic reason was thus brought about by working from within the ancient discourse of the public economy embraced by mercantilism. This was achieved by progressively expunging governmental reason from the discipline out of which it originated and fashioning the economy itself into a powerful principle pointing to the inherent limitation of politics. The two principles limiting the police apparatus thus proceeded from two sets

of opposite theoretical and epistemological foundations. One was the deductive logic of modern rationalism and of liberal legal science; the other was the inductive empiricism that gave birth to political economy and modern social science. Both foundations, however, would act in alliance in shaping a principle for the limitation of the political sphere. This they did by posing the question of the limits to be placed on power and the limited scope of power itself, a question they posed simultaneously through a mutual feedback between the discourse on natural rights and that of society as a natural or spontaneous order. So even though these two traditions proceeded from opposite theoretical and epistemological premises, they acted in concert, in close contact, so much so that they would often crop up as dual themes in the work of authors trained as both jurists and economists. Indeed, as Michel Foucault (2008, 38) has observed: “You could not think of political economy, that is to say, the freedom of the market, without at the same time addressing the problem of public law, namely that of limiting the power of public authorities.” Here, too, even though the process leading to the dispersion of police powers

got underway at about the same time across all the territorial areas we have considered, it did not unfold everywhere in the same way or at the same pace. Indeed, whereas in England the police sciences never developed their politicoadministrative knowledge to theoretical and epistemological maturity, even slowing down to a state of near atrophy in the late 18th century, on the Continent this knowledge flourished, so much so that, as we have seen, it led to the establishment of academic disciplines proper. In the second half of the 18th century, the

liberal philosophy of politics and society and the new model of governmental arts it ushered in began to increasingly exert influence even on the Continent: It was now grafting itself onto original intellectual movements, like the one propounded by the French physiocrats, now merging in peculiar ways with the ancient police sciences, as in the German area, but always advancing the process that reformed political and social structures by introducing the deep changes widely thought to have marked the end of the ancien régime. Even the police apparatus would come out of the liberal revolution in an entirely different shape, ultimately settling on the paradigm of the security police that grew to full theoretical and institutional maturity in England in the early 19th century.