This article examines Michel Foucault’s critical investigation of neoliberalism in the course published as Naissance de la biopolitique: Cours au Collège de France, 1978-1979. Foucault’s lectures are interrogated along two axes. First, examining the way in which neoliberalism can be viewed as a particular production of subjectivity, as a way in which individuals are constituted as subjects of “human capital.” Secondly, Foucault’s analyses is augmented and critically examined in light of other critical work on neoliberalism by Wendy Brown, David Harvey, (...) Christian Laval, Maurizo Lazzarato, and Antonio Negri. Of these various debates and discussions, the paper argues that the discussion of real subsumption in Marx and Negri is most important for understanding the specific politics of neoliberalism. Finally, the paper argues that neoliberalism entails a fundamental reexamination of the tools of critical thought, an examination of how freedom can constitute a form of subjection. (shrink)
"The Politics of Transindividuality" proposes a new understanding of not just the relation of the individual to the collective, but of politics and economics, one that can not only keep pace with existing transformations of capital but ultimately contest them.
Ever since the publication of Read’s The Politics of Transindividuality (2015), the academic interest in transindividuality has steadily mounted. In this conversation, Bram Wiggers and Jason Read discuss the current state of affairs around the concept of transindividuality. The conversation begins with a definition of transindividuality and discusses what sets the term apart from other philosophies of social individuation. Having defined the concept of transindividuality, the conversation then engages with the question of how transindividuality can be adopted as a means (...) of social-political critique. First, Bram and Jason discuss how transindividuality is evoked but not explicitly mentioned in the social-political critiques of Spinoza and Marx. Secondly, the conversation takes up the social-political critiques of Paolo Virno and Bernard Stiegler who make explicit use of transindividuality. Central to the later parts of the conversation is the complicated interrelation between the political and economic domains of individuation, as well as the tendency of collective modes of representation to be effaced and obscured by (neoliberal) individualism and the post-Fordist conditions of labor. Overall, the conversation highlights the relevance of transindividuality for social-political philosophical critique. (shrink)
By most accounts Deleuze's engagement with Marx begins with the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia he co-authored with Félix Guattari. However, Deleuze's Difference and Repetition alludes to a connection between Deleuze's critique of common sense and Marx's theory of fetishism, suggesting a connection between the critique of the image of thought and the critique of capital. By tracing this connection from its emergence in the early texts on noology, or the image of thought, to the development in the critique (...) of state thought in A Thousand Plateaus, it can be argued that what initially appears as an entirely infra-philosophical problem, concerned with the presuppositions of philosophy, is not only a political problem as well, but ultimately bears on the very nature of the conjunction between thought and politics, making possible a re-examination of what is meant by revolutionary thought. It is a transition from noology to noopolitics. In the end it can be argued that revolutionary thought is no longer an eschatology, attempting to discern the signs of the future revolution in the present, but a thought oriented towards everything that exceeds the fetish of society, towards the virtual relations and micropolitical transformations that constitute society but exceed its representation. (shrink)
Jason Read takes up the relation between the individual and collectivity in Althusser’s work. Read focuses on Althusser’s interest in the “ideological dimension of the individual,” primarily by tracing his interest in the law and in particular the moral supplement to the law within its historical dimensions.
In Volume Three of Capital in a striking but somewhat uncharacteristic formula, Marx argues that the labor relation is the “hidden basis” of the entire social edifice including the state and politics. As an attempt to clarify and develop this insight I examine the dual nature of labor as abstract and concrete labor, arguing that the two sides of labor correspond not just to two sides of the commodity, but to different ethics and alienations of labor, and ultimately to different (...) philosophical anthropologies. (shrink)
I follow Etienne Balibar in understanding Freud as not only an important thinker of transindividuality alongside Spinoza and Marx, but also the one that pushes an ontology of relations to its full development. In response to Balibar I critically examine Freud, who, outside of Group Psychology and the Analysis of Ego, often referred individual and collective development to the family as the primal scene. I also explore how it would be possible to conceive of a concept of social relations that (...) recognizes the social and transindividual basis of subjectivity. Ultimately, it is not a matter of deciding whether Freud is a transindividual thinker, but of understanding that an ontology of relations can privilege no particular scene or social institution, such as family or the, economy. (shrink)
Simondon’s concept of the transindividual has become a central point of reference for contemporary critical philosophy and social philosophy. Despite its importance in the work of such writers as Étienne Balibar, Gilles Deleuze, Bernard Stiegler and Paolo Virno, Simondon’s works have not been translated into English, and thus no comprehensive study has appeared so far. Muriel Combes’s book presents not only a study of Simondon’s thought, but an examination of what it makes possible in terms of rethinking social relations.
This project is an attempt to frame and develop the questions: What is the relation between the economy, what Marx called the mode of production, and transformations of subjectivity and social relations? How is it possible to think these relations without reducing one to the other, or effacing one for the sake of the other? In short, how can we think the materiality of subjectivity? Several different discourses and lines of research provoke these questions. First, recent and not so recent (...) work within continental philosophy in relation to the "critique of the subject," argues for an investigation of the practices of knowledge, power, and desire productive of historically determinate forms of subjectivity. The second line of research includes a history of heterogeneous Marxist thinkers all of whom attempt to locate in Marx's texts a series of questions, largely unresolved, regarding the relations between production and power, politics and the economy, culture and materiality. To identify these two discourses as provocations, however, is not to suggest that what is at stake in this project is the simple adjudication, or settling of accounts, between Marxism and post-structuralism---a question which would only be of interest to a handful of academics. Rather the investigation into these two lines of research has as its framework a larger and somewhat inchoate series of questions regarding the contemporary socio-historical condition. These questions all begin from the intuition that contemporary society, what is called "post-industrial," "postmodern," or "information society," entails a fundamental transformation of the relations, or an accelerated breakdown of the divisions, between the spheres of the economy, culture, politics, and subjectivity. I argue that these questions, and the current juncture which they attempt to grasp, can be clarified through an articulation of the complex relation between the mode of production and the production of subjectivity; such an articulation takes the form of a genealogy of various critical junctures in the writing of Marx, the debates within western Marxism and critical theory, and contemporary continental philosophy. (shrink)
Louis Althusser argued that Marx initiated a transformation of philosophy, a new way of doing philosophy. This book follows that provocation to examine the way in which central Marxist concepts and problems from primitive accumulation to real abstraction animate and inform philosophers from Theodor Adorno to Paolo Virno. While also examining the way in which reading Marx casts new light on such philosophers as Spinoza. At the centre of this transformation is the production of subjectivity, the manner in which relations (...) of production produces ways of thinking and living. (shrink)
Commonwealthis the third book co-authored by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. As with the previous two books,EmpireandMultitude, the task of this book is to both critique the present order and provide the concepts for a radical transformation of that order. This review examines how this third, and final book in the series, changes the argument of the other two, specifically examining the rôle that the concept of the common plays in restructuring the idea of critique, politics, and political economy.
The turn to Spinoza by many Marxists combines the classic problem of Marxism, that of base and superstructure, economy and ideology, with Spinoza’s challenging assertion of the identity of order of connection of ideas and things. This paper looks at two contemporary neo-Spinozists, Frédéric Lordon and Yves Citton, examining the ways in which their works intertwine economy and ideology, desire and imagination. The point, however, is not to just read Marx with Spinoza, but to use both together to make sense (...) of the imaginary and affective dimension of changes within the economy. (shrink)
Yves Citton’sRenverser l’insoutenableis both a thorough critique of the current conjuncture and an attempt to construct a politics to reverse it. With respect to the former, Citton outlines the various ways in which the present should be considered unsustainable, ecologically, economically, politically, psychically, and through its various technological mediations. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Citton proposes a politics that can overcome the untenable conditions of the present. Politics takes two figures here, a politics of pressures, of the loves (...) and hates that drive and determine individual and collective life, and a politics of gestures, of habits and comportments that are both immediate and disseminated through various media. Citton’s political proposals suggest a new political approach, one that focuses on the transindividual, on the affects, imaginations and ideas that form the basis for collective and individual existence. It is on this basis that its merits and limitations should be measured. (shrink)
The Political Treatise is relatively overlooked in Spinoza's corpus. This is especially true in Anglo-American contexts, where scholarship has been slow to engage with Spinoza's political philosophy, at the expense of a correct understanding of his metaphysics. The reasons for the lack of interest in the Political Treatise are numerous. The immediate and most often cited reason is its incompleteness. Not only does it break off unfinished, but it does so at precisely the point that is essential to its argument; (...) the discussion of democracy. That Spinoza refers to democracy as the "completely absolute state" while leaving the chapter on democracy incomplete would seem to doom Spinoza's... (shrink)