On the notion of the political in postmarxist theory.


Aesthetic existence and the ontologisation of poverty
Whatever life

The practise of doing nothing 

Unemployed positivity

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

Agamben and Nancy as readers of Spinoza
Leaving Immanence?

Feminist readings of Spinoza
Becoming woman?

Deleuze on Spinoza's theory of affects 

From the ontological to the affective

Spinoza with Deleuze
The underground current of the philosophy of immanence

Macherey's Spinoza
Ontology of multiplicity or materialist dialectic?

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

Exhausting politics 

Being out of class (Deleuze)

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

Sharing the inappropriable
The retreating class

The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class II

The political capacity of the proletariat
The subtractive class

Disrupting the logic of division
The supplementary class

The antinomies of proletarian politics
The paradoxical class

Nancy and Lacoue-Labarthe on political difference
Retreating the political

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

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

Deleuze, Guattari, Lacan
An impossible encounter I

An impossible encounter: Deleuze, Guattari and Lacan
Preparatory Meeting

Micropolitics in "A thousand plateaus"
Molecular Politics I

On affectivity and potentiality
Spinoza with Deleuze

Nietzsche with Deleuze
The negative in the positive

The notion of becoming in Deleuze and Guattari

On Esposito's concept of bio/politics

Reading Althusser

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

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

Negri on materialism
Kairos, Alma Venus, Multitudo

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

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

Reading Simondon

Nancy on the singularity of death

Agamben and Deleuze on pure immanence

Encountering Althusser
Preparatory meeting

Workshop: becoming-major, becoming-minor
Preparatory meeting

Foucault with Deleuze
The force of the outside II

Superimposing diagrams: discipline and governmentality
The force of the outside

Encountering Althusser
Preparatory Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

The coming communities of commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deleuze and Guattari on the concept of minoritarian struggle

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

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

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

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

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

Dictatorship of the proletariat and council movement
The Soviet experience II

Rosa Luxemburg on the Russian Revolution
The Soviet experience

Negri on Lenin
Democracy beyond law II

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

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

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

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

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