Saturday, November 24, 2012

Towards a Spinozist Critique of Political Economy

The encounter between Marx and Spinoza that ran through late twentieth century Marxist thought was primarily organized around three axes. The first, or at least most well known, is Althusser's use of Spinoza's critique of teleology, anthropomorphism, and anthropocentricism to develop the matrix of every possible theory of ideology, effectively shifting ideology from a critique of this or that content of thought to its fundamental orientation, The second, at least in terms of notoriety, is Negri's expansion of living labor into constitutive power through Spinoza's concept of the conatus. Spinoza makes it possible to see the productive labor underlying every institution and imaginary representation, becoming adequate to the age of real subsumption. A third direction could be represented by Alexandre Matheron who develops both a Spinozist account of social relations, a transindividuality avant la lettre, and an expanded definition of alienation. This set of labels is admittedly reductive, but it has the sole merit of underscoring the fact that much of the Marxist engagement with Spinoza has been on the terrain of politics or ideology rather than economy.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Negative Prefiguration: Flexibility, Capitalism, Imagination

During my last few years of High School I worked at coffee shop, part time during the school year and full time during the summers. This job continued through the first few summers of college. My shifts were eight hours, from either six in the morning or three in the afternoon, with two fifteen minute breaks, and a half-hour lunch break. These shifts had the usual peaks and lulls that defined the food industry, mornings would begin with a rush of office workers ordering coffee and bran muffins and evenings would begin with people ordering coffee and desert before dissipating into a crowd of those too young to frequent bars as well as the late night writers, scribblers, and mumblers.