Monday, May 22, 2006


An interesting post from Steve Shaviro over at The Pinocchio Theory, on "Pluralism and Antagonism". The nub of his argument is that a Deleuzian anti-dialecticism might re-invigorate Marxist categories.
In this situation, contradiction and negativity have become rather sterile resources for change, I think. Deleuze’s notion of the virtual allows for a wider range of resources. Instead of a dialectic, Deleuze (and Guattari) propose a vision of how capitalism simultaneously unleashes and regulates fluxes of energy and matter, of desires and subjects and objects.
But my question concerns the opening phrase, "in this situation." Shaviro refers to the post-1960s stagnation of the Left and radical theory itself. This is the period that I'd describe in terms of posthegemony.

My question is whether we should assume that the dialectic ever functioned as it claimed to do. For Deleuze, surely not.

Or to put it another way. At Brock, Negri repeatedly insisted that the dialectic of labour and capital was at an end. But a more thorough-going Deleuzianism would insist that there never was such a dialectic.

We have moved, in other words, from a period in which the concept of the dialectic was at best well-rooted only in appearances (and so thoroughly ideological), to a period in which its prior bankruptcy is clearer now than ever.

I'm interested in thinking through the nature of that transition, which is not (cannot be) as far as I can see an transition in the functioning of politics and economics themselves. Rather, what has changed is only a certain regime of visibility or of epistemology. Which is not to say that an epistomological change has no effects. But collapsing one transition into the other too quickly is rather problematic.

Meanwhile, I know I've featured this image before, but even so...

Girl Refuting Hegel's Dialectic Model of History
"Girl Refuting Hegel's Dialectic Model of History," by Michael Laster

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