On the notion of the political in postmarxist theory.

Seminars

14.06.2013
Aesthetic existence and the ontologisation of poverty
Whatever life

20.04.2013
The practise of doing nothing 

Unemployed positivity

04.11.2012
Miguel Abensour as reader of Spinoza
Spinoza, Marx, Moses Hess

05.10.2012
Agamben and Nancy as readers of Spinoza
Leaving Immanence?

06.06.2012
Feminist readings of Spinoza
Becoming woman?

03.05.2012
Deleuze on Spinoza's theory of affects 

From the ontological to the affective

04.04.2012
Spinoza with Deleuze
The underground current of the philosophy of immanence

07.03.2012
Macherey's Spinoza
Ontology of multiplicity or materialist dialectic?

08.02.2012
Althusser's concept of immanent causality 
- Seminar
Marx with Spinoza

08.12.2011
Exhausting politics 

Being out of class (Deleuze)

01.11.2011
What is an inoperativity that consists in contemplating one's own potentiality to act?
The messianic class

29.06.2011
Sharing the inappropriable
The retreating class

26.05.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class II

07.04.2011
The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class

03.03.2011
Disrupting the logic of division
The supplementary class

04.02.2011
The antinomies of proletarian politics
The paradoxical class

02.12.2010
Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe on political difference
Retreating the political

08.11.2010
Lars T. Lih as Reader of Lenin
What Is to be Done? and Bolshevism

03.10.2010
The concept of capitalism in "Anti-Oedipus"
Capitalism deterritorialized

30.06.2010
Deleuze, Guattari, Lacan
An impossible encounter I

28.05.2010
An impossible encounter: Deleuze, Guattari and Lacan
Preparatory Meeting

27.05.2010
Micropolitics in "A thousand plateaus"
Molecular Politics I

07.04.2010
On affectivity and potentiality
Spinoza with Deleuze

04.03.2010
Nietzsche with Deleuze
The negative in the positive

04.02.2010
The notion of becoming in Deleuze and Guattari
Becoming

04.11.2009
On Esposito's concept of bio/politics
Biopotentiality

08.10.2009
Reading Althusser

07.10.2009
Rancière's farewell to Althusserian Marxism
La leçon d'Althusser

06.10.2009
Debating Althusser's philosophy of the encounter
What is aleatory materialism?

03.09.2009
Negri on materialism
Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo

02.09.2009
Tronti and Cacciari's concept of the political
The autonomy of the political

17.06.2009
"From Capital-Labor to Capital-Life" by M. Lazzarato
Invention

20.05.2009
Reading Simondon
Individuation

09.04.2009
Nancy on the singularity of death
Excess

11.03.2009
Agamben and Deleuze on pure immanence
Immanence

11.03.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory meeting

11.03.2009
Workshop: becoming-major, becoming-minor
Preparatory meeting

07.02.2009
Foucault with Deleuze
The force of the outside II

06.02.2009
Superimposing diagrams: discipline and governmentality
The force of the outside

06.02.2009
Encountering Althusser
Preparatory Meeting

05.12.2008
Reading Jacques Rancière's "Dis-agreement"
Marx's Metapolitics

04.11.2008
Reading Balibar's "The Vacillation of Ideology in Marxism"
The non-totalizable complexity of the historical process

05.10.2008
Reading Jacques Derrida's "Specters of Marx"
Deconstructing Value Theory

11.09.2008
Reading Moishe Postone's "Time, Labor and Social Domination"
Value and Capitalist Capacities

01.07.2008
Debating "The mirror of production" by Jean Baudrillard
Marx with Bataille

06.06.2008
The coming communities of commons

05.06.2008
Feminist comments on the relation between politics and labor
The arcane of reproduction

09.05.2008
Rancière on the inactuality of communism and the intelligence of the unqualified

07.05.2008
Virno on Marx's "Fragments on machines"
Notes on the general intellect

04.04.2008
Virno on the concept of bio-politics in Postoperaism
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy? II

03.04.2008
Jason Read on abstract and living labor
What is living and what is dead in Marx's philosophy?

07.03.2008
Reading Negri's "Twenty Theses on Marx"
The autonomy of living labor

08.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker II

07.02.2008
Class composition in Italian autonomist Marxism
The emergence of the socialised worker

07.12.2007
On Badiou's concept of truth procedure
Assigning a measure to the excessive power of the state

09.11.2007
Reading Jacques Ranciere's "Ten theses on politics"
The supplementary part that disconnects the people from itself

04.10.2007
Deleuze and Guattari on the concept of minoritarian struggle
Micropolitics

07.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class II

06.09.2007
On class composition and radical negativity
Domestic work and class struggle within the class

02.07.2007
From class to minority
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism III

01.07.2007
On the concept of the concrete universal
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism II

30.06.2007
On Marx and Foucault
The relationship of Marxism and Post-Structuralism

30.05.2007
Dictatorship of the proletariat and council movement
The Soviet experience II

29.05.2007
Rosa Luxemburg on the Russian Revolution
The Soviet experience

06.04.2007
Negri on Lenin
Democracy beyond law II

05.04.2007
Lenin's concept of the dictatorship of protetariat
Democracy beyond law

09.03.2007
Benjamin's concept of mysthic and divine violence
To bring about the real state of exception II

08.03.2007
Agamben's reading of Benjamin
To bring about the real state of exception

09.02.2007
Agamben's sovereign theoretical turn in thinking potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality II

08.02.2007
Agamben's theory of autonomous potentiality
Potentiality of impotentiality

Reading Balibar's "The Vacillation of Ideology in Marxism"
The non-totalizable complexity of the historical process

I will briefly present some theses why Balibar's considerations about the paradoxical displacements, the eclipse and the reemergence of the concept of ideology in Marx's and Engels's texts can be useful for our debate of the post-workerist concept of living labor and its ontology of creation.

Balibar is convinced that the unresolved difficulties Marx faced while constructing the concept of ideology are symptomatic for the problematic of how to think politics. He is convinced that what is missing in Marx, especially the idea of an ideology of the dominated, is an operative symptom that can make us consider a materialism of politics instead of one of practice – by turning Marx's theses back on themselves.

Then, practise is not thought as immediate excess over the situation – as a sort of ontological privilege of the class – but as a process starting from social contradictions in their actual configurations. In this process, the proletariat will be a bearer of ideology itself. Ideology will be no longer understood as the dominant ideas of the ruling class as Marx did so, especially in "The German Ideology", but as an universalisation of the imaginary relationship the dominated have to the social antagonisms they live in. Balibar refers here to Althusser's notion of ideology which he commented in detail in his text "The Non-Contemporaneity of Althusser", published in "The Althusserian Legacy", edited by E. Ann Kaplan and Michael Sprinker (Verso 1993). Subsequently, the political, as Balibar has argued in another text, becomes a "class struggle within the class", or as he says in this text, a thinking of the revolution within the class struggle which, then, would be conceived as a conflictual composition of forces that is open to a quarrel about the political program and the decisions, it calls for.

Balibar develops his argument by detecting the displacements and shortcomings of Marx critique of ideology. He starts by stating that Marx's materialism emerged as a critique of German Idealism, that is to say, that it speaks through the language of another discourse, criticizing how religious and philosophical idealisations mask the determining reality of social production. Then, Balibar shows, how this critique was trapped in a simple duality of real and imaginary, and how, correspondingly, politics was conceptualized in an unpolitical way – the proletariat as a revolutionary mass that transcends the bourgeois society by virtue of its radical individualisation through dispossession, by virtue of its being stripped of all properties and specific capacities, men without qualities, whose being causes the dissolution of society as it is.

Paradoxically, at the same time, Balibar insists, Marx has come up with a strong antithetical theoretical invention that lies in the idea that the real is not a being, but a structural relation of practices that are not directly recognizable. Furthermore, Marx would have overdetermined the question of the necessity of idealities by questioning their mode of action and their subjugating effects.

When Marx could not integrate the critique of political economy in its Ricardian version in the theoretical space that he has defined so far, he turned to a thinking of the real in the imaginary. The real in the imaginary is at stake in Marx's analysis of the fetishiszing effect of the value-form. Balibar reminds us that until the mid 1850s Marx determined his theoretical space by both a critique of ideological abstractions (the life which the worker has bestowed on the object confronts him as hostile and alien) and a critique of bourgeois representations that declare their particular interest as expression of the human nature in general. In the 1850s Marx starts to separate the contradictory elements in the economic concepts and confronts them not with the revolutionary practice of the proletariat, but with the practice of capital as self-processing contradiction.

My thesis for our discussion is the following, the postworkerist ontology of creation returns to the Marxian idea of a pure proletarian act (that Marx developed from the "Holy Family" to the "Communist Manifesto") and combines this humanist and transhistorical figure with a historical specific genealogy of different modes of capitalist regulation in which strategies of exploitation, domination and resistance are constantly displaced and renewed as a consequence of their own effects. With this conflictual reading of Marx, the trans-historical theses of the young Marx on the creative vitality of labour are combined with the historical works of the late Marx on the socialisation of production and projected into each other. This leads to a high tension in the post-workerist discourse, in which, on the one hand, the human mode of cooperative being-active, and on the other hand, historical transformations of the conditions of production and reproduction of the social are investigated. This tension is solved by the teleological thesis that in Post-fordism an ontological determination that remained latent until now enters the stage of history. That is to say, Post-workerism overwrites the heritage of a historically specific analysis of class composition and of society as complex set of practices by the concept of a post-fordist naked life, that historically for the first time has been freed from capitalist command and has interiorised the production means in its body and brain.

We have discussed how Marx in the "Grundrisse" has conceptualized this figure of the radical poverty of the worker as mere labour power that owns nothing but its potential to work. Marx stresses that the absolute poverty of this worker is at the same time source of all value. This figure of the radically poor potentiality of the naked worker is a central point of reference for Negri and Virno who claim that in the postfordist regulation the valorisation process has been extended to the potential character of human activity, their relational and communicative capacities, their capacity for cooperation, initiative, improvisation. Virno calls this types of work "virtuoso work". Here cooperation is not a process produced and commanded by capital but a precondition of social production that is based on the mass intellectuality of the multitude of producers. With reference to the Aristotelian distinction of practice and production, Virno states that labor has subsumed and interiorized practice. Political practice and production are set in one. That was the very point Tronti rejected in the 1960. Therefore, the place of ideology remains empty in the theoretical space of post-workerism. Its materialism is one of practice in which material being and the political are analogized. One of the negative effects of this analogy lies in a foreclosure of disagreement and organisation in politics.

Etienne Balibar: Vacillation of Ideology in Marxism I. In Masses, Classes, Ideas, London and New York: Routledge, 1993, pp. 87-102