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The Autonomy of the Political

The Autonomy of the Political

THE AUTONOMY OF THE POLITICAL: CONCEPT, THEORY, FORM

This booklet brings together four topical essays on the subject of autonomy and the concept of the political in twentieth century political philosophy presented at a conference at the former Jan van Eyck Academie in 2011.

The booklet makes for a very good introduction to a specialised debate with essays by Sara Farris, Dario Gentili, Elettra Stimilli, and Tracy B. Strong. It is presented with a general conceptual introduction by the editors Nathaniel Boyd and Michele Filipinni, and followed by a visual exploration of the concept by Luisa Lorenza Corna who is also responsible for the design of the booklet.

The essays cover a broad range of subjects, from the Italian workerist tradition (with a particular emphasis on Mario Tronti) to Agamben, the Schmitt/Kojève debate, to a philosophical interrogation of the autonomy of the political more generally.

Anyone with a keen interest in this subject will find the booklet a valuable edition, a source of varied thoughts and reflections on the autonomy of the political and its tradition, as well as a critical engagement with its figures and ideas.

You can purchase it on Amazon by the following the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Autonomy-Political-Concept-Theory/dp/9072076672/refsr_1_4?ieUTF8&qid%2057324083&sr8-4

 

First published at: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/the-autonomy-of-the-political-concept-theory-form

 

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Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLjxeHvvhJQ (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales); and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo (new remix, and new video, 2012)  

 

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

 

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Work

WORKERS, DESPITE THEMSELVES

Call for Oapers for an ephemera issue on: ‘Workers, Despite Themselves’
Issue Editors: Stevphen Shukaitis and Abe Walker

Deadline for submissions: November 30th, 2012.

Workers’ inquiry is an approach to and practice of knowledge production that seeks to understand the changing composition of labor and its potential for revolutionary social transformation. It is the practice of turning the tools of the social sciences into weapons of class struggle. Workers’ inquiry seeks to map the continuing imposition of the class relation, not as a disinterested investigation, but rather to deepen and intensify social and political antagonisms.

The autonomist political theorist Mario Tronti argues that weapons for working class revolt have always been taken from the bosses’ arsenal (1966: 18). But, has not it often been suggested, to use feminist writer Audre Lorde’s phrasing (1984), that it is not possible to take apart the master’s house with the master’s tools? While not forgetting Lorde’s question, it is clear that Tronti said this with good reason, for he was writing from a context where this is precisely what was taking place. Italian autonomous politics greatly benefited from borrowing from sociology and industrial relations – and by using these tools proceeded to build massive cycles of struggle transforming the grounds of politics (Wright, 2003; Berardi, 2009).

Of these adaptations the most important for autonomist politics and class composition analysis is workers’ inquiry. Workers’ inquiry developed in a context marked by rapid industrialization, mass migration, and the use industrial sociology to discipline the working class. Workers’ inquiry was formulated within autonomist movements as a sort of parallel sociology, one based on a radical re-reading of Marx (and Weber) against the politics of the communist party and the unions (Farris, 2011). While the practitioners of workers’ inquiry were often professionally-trained academics – especially sociologists – its proponents argued their research differs in important ways from ‘engaged’ social science, and all varieties of industrial sociology, even if it there are similarities. If bourgeois sociology sought to smooth over conflicts, and ‘critical’ sociology to expose these same conflicts, workers’ inquiry takes the contradictions of the labor process as a starting point and seeks to draw out these antagonisms into the formation of new radical subjectivities.

This is not to say that workers’ inquiry is an unproblematic endeavor. We remain skeptical that the weapons of managerial control can be cleanly re-appropriated without reproducing the very social world they were designed to take apart. For as Steve Wright argues, “the uncritical use of such tools has frequently produced a register of subjective perceptions which do no more than mirror the surface of capitalist social relations” (2003: 24). As the legacy of analytical Marxism reveals, imitation is never far removed from flattery, and at its worst moments, workers’ inquiry risks becoming its object of critique. To be fair there are disagreements among the proponents of workers’ inquiry over the limitations of drawing from the social sciences. But to continue the metaphor, like any potentially dangerous ‘weapon’, sociological techniques must be carefully examined, and when necessary, disabled.

Today we find ourselves at a moment when co-research, participatory action research, and other heterodox methods have been adopted by the academic mainstream, while managerial styles like TQM carry a faint echo of workers’ inquiry. In the contemporary firm workers are already engaged in self-monitoring, peer interviews, and the creation of quasi-autonomous ‘research’ units, all sanctioned by management (Boltankski and Chiapello, 2005). Workers’ inquiry is now part of the accepted social science repertoire: its techniques no longer seem dangerous, but familiar, at least at the methodological level. The bosses’ arsenal now includes weapons mimicking the style, if not the substance, of workers’ inquiry. And as George Steinmetz (2005) has suggested, while blatantly positivistic research styles have fallen out of favor, this obscures the ‘positivist unconscious’ that continues to interpellate even apparently anti-positivist methodologies.

The pioneers of workers’ inquiry argued researchers must work through/against the ambivalent relations of (social) science; now, there may be no other option. Wherever there are movements organizing and addressing the horrors of capitalist exploitation and oppression, the specter of recuperation is never far behind. The point is not to deny these risks, but to the degree such dynamics confront all social movements achieving any measure of success. It is by working against and through them that recomposing radical politics becomes possible (Shukaitis, 2009). Today workers’ inquiry remains, as Raniero Panzieri claimed (2006 [1959]), a permanent reference point for autonomist politics, one that informs continuing inquiries into class composition. With this issue we seek to rethink workers’ inquiry as a practice and perspective, and through that to understand and catalyze emergent moments of political composition.

Contributors
We invite papers that update the practices of workers’ inquiry for the present moment of class de-/recomposition. Can we develop, taking up Matteo Pasquinelli’s suggestion (2008: 138), a form of workers’ inquiry applied to cognitive and biopolitical production? The very possibility of a *workers* inquiry begs reconsideration when official unemployment figures drift toward 50% among sectors of the industrial working class.

This issue picks up themes that developed in previous issues of ephemera inquiring into affective and immaterial labor (2007), digital labor (2010), militant research (2005), and the politics of the multitude (2004). We encourage submissions that draw upon this previous work, particularly on the politics of social reproduction.

Recently, workers’ inquiry has proven its versatility through new applications and reconfigurations. Groups like Colectivo Situaciones (2011) and have used the practice of workers’ inquiry to analyze popular uprisings. Scholars have drawn from class composition analysis to explore areas such as cognitive labor (Brophy, 2011; Peters & Bulut, 2011), citizenship and migration (Papadopoulos et al, 2008; Barchiesi, 2011), and finance (Marazzi, 2008; Mezzadra and Fumagalli, 2010). Militant research collectives such as Kolinko (2002), Team Colors (2010), and the Precarious Workers Brigade (2011) have employed workers’ inquiry to intervene composition of social movements and labor politics.

We are particularly interested in research that expands and/or deconstructs the project of workers’ inquiry, or that transposes workers’ inquiry onto unconventional terrain such as archival research and cultural studies. Additionally, we encourage contributors to include a substantial reflection on method, possibly addressing some of the tensions outlined above and engaging with recent debates about method and measure.

Deadline for submissions: November 30th, 2012.

Please send your submissions to the editors. All contributions should follow ephemera guidelines – see http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/submit.htm. In addition to full papers, we also invite notes, reviews, and other kinds and media forms of contributions – please get in touch to discuss how you would like to contribute. We highly encourage authors to send us abstracts (of 500 words) outlining their plans. The ephemera conference in May 2013 will focus on a related theme, with contributors for this issue invited to present their work.

Contacts:
Stevphen Shukaitis: stevphen@autonomedia.org
Abe Walker: awalker@qc.cuny.edu
http://www.ephemeraweb.org/

We’re also interested in putting together a panel on this theme for the Historical Materialism conference in London in November (information here: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/conferences/annual9/call-for-papers), particularly with people who plan to submit a piece for this issue. If you are interested in this please contact Stevphen by April 20th.

References
Barchiesi, F. (2011) Precarious liberation: workers, the state, and contested social citizenship in postapartheid South Africa. Albany: SUNY Press.
Berardi, F. (2009) Precarious rhapsody: semiocapitalism and the pathologies of the post-alpha generation. London: Minor Compositions.
Boltanski, L. and E. Chiapello (2005) The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso.
Brophy, E. (2011) “Language put to work: cognitive capitalism, call center labor, and workers inquiry,” Journal of Communication Inquiry. Volume 35 Number 4: 410-416.
Colectivo Situaciones (2011) 19&20: notes on a new social protagonism. Brooklyn / Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions.
Farris, S. (2011) “Workerism’s inimical incursions: on Mario Tronti’s Weberianism,” Historical Materialism Volume 19 Number 3: 29-62.
Kolinko (2002) Hotlines. Berlin: Kolinko. Available at http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/kolinko/lebuk/e_lebuk.htm
Lorde, A. (1984) “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” Sister outsider: essays and speeches. Berkeley: The Crossing Press: 110-114.
Marazzi, C. (2008) Capital & language: from new economy to war economy. New York: Semiotexte.
Mezzadra, S. and A. Fumagalli (Eds.) (2010) Crisis in the global economy: financial markets, social struggles, and new political scenarios. Los Angeles: Semiotexte.
Panzieri, R. (2006 [1959]) “Socialist uses of workers’ inquiry.” Available at http://www.generation-online.org/t/tpanzieri.htm.
Papadopoulos, D., N. Stephenson, and V. Tsianos (2008) Escape routes: control and subversion in the 21st century. London: Pluto Press.
Pasquinelli, M. (2008) Animal spirits: a bestiary of the commons. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.
Peters, M. & E. Bulut, Eds. (2011) Cognitive capitalism, education and digital labor. New York: Peter Lang.
Precarious Workers Brigade (2011) Surviving internships: a counter guide to free labor in the arts. London: Hato Press.
Shukaitis, S. (2009) Imaginal machines: autonomy & self-organization in the revolutions of everyday life. Brooklyn: Autonomedia.
Steinmetz, G. (2005) “The genealogy of a positivist haunting: comparing pre-war and post-war U.S. sociology” boundary 2 Volume 32 Number 2: 109-135
Team Colors (Eds.) (2010) Uses of a whirlwind: movement, movements, and contemporary radical currents in the United States. Oakland: AK Press.
Tronti, M. (1966) Operai e capitale. Torino: Einaud.
Wright, S. (2003) Storming heaven: class composition and struggle in Italian autonomist marxism.London: Pluto Press.

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‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

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Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

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Karl Marx

KARL MARX’S ‘GRUNDRISSE’ 150 YEARS LATER – OUT IN PAPERBACK

Karl Marx’s Grundrisse
Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy 150 Years Later

Edited by Marcello Musto

Hardback 2008. Price: € 82.00, £70.00, $ 130.00, CAD$ 135.00

Paperback 2010. Price: € 27.00, £ 22.50, $ 32.95, CAD$ 35.00

Written between1857 and 1858, the Grundrisse is the first draft of Marx’s critique of political economy and, thus, also the initial preparatory work on Capital. Despite its editorial vicissitudes and late publication, Grundrisse contains numerous reflections on matters that Marx did not develop elsewhere in his oeuvre and is therefore extremely important for an overall interpretation of his thought.

In this collection, various international experts in the field, analysing the Grundrisse on the 150th anniversary of its composition, present a Marx in many ways radically different from the one who figures in the dominant currents of twentieth-century Marxism. The book demonstrates the relevance of theGrundrisse to an understanding of Capital and of Marx’s theoretical project as a whole, which, as is well known, remained uncompleted. It also highlights the continuing explanatory power of Marxian categories for contemporary society and its present contradictions.

With contributions from such scholars as Eric Hobsbawm, Moishe Postone, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Terrell Carver, John Bellamy Foster, Enrique Dussel and Iring Fetscher, and covering subject areas such as political economy, philosophy and Marxism, this book is likely to become required reading for serious scholars of Marx across the world.

Table of Contents

1. Prologue

2. Foreword, Eric Hobsbawn

Part I. Grundrisse: Critical Interpretations

3. History, Production and Method in the 1857 ‘Introduction’ to the Grundrisse, Marcello Musto

4. The Concept of Value in Modern Economy. On the Relationship between Money and Capital in ‘Grundrisse’, Joachim Bischoff and Christoph Lieber

5. Marx Conception of Alienation in ‘Grundrisse’, Terrell Carver

6. The Discovery of the Category of Surplus value, Enrique Dussel

7. Historical Materialism in ‘Forms which precede Capitalist Production’, Ellen Meiksins Wood

8. Marx’s ‘Grundrisse’ and the Ecological Contradictions of Capitalism, John Bellamy Foster

9. Emancipated Individuals in an Emancipated Society. Marx’s Sketch of Post-Capitalist Society in the ‘Grundrisse’, Iring Fetscher

10. Rethinking ‘Capital’ in Light of the ‘Grundrisse’, Moishe Postone 

Part II. Marx at the time of Grundrisse

11. Marx’s life at the time of the ‘Grundrisse’. Biographical notes on 1857-8, Marcello Musto

12. The First World Economic Crisis: Marx as an Economic Journalist, Michael R. Kratke

13. Marx’s ‘Books of Crisis’ of 1857-8, Michael R. Kratke

Part III. Dissemination and reception of Grundrisse in the world 

14. Dissemination and Reception of the ‘Grundrisse’ in the world. Introduction, Marcello Musto

15. Germany and Austria and Switzerland, Ernst Theodor Mohl

16. Russia and Soviet Union, Lyudmila L. Vasina

17. Japan, Hiroshi Uchida

18. China, Zhongpu Zhang

19. France, Andre Tosel

20. Italy, Mario Tronti

21. Cuba and Argentina and Spain and Mexico, Pedro Ribas and Rafael Pla

22. Czechoslovakia, Stanislav Hubik

23. Hungary, Ferenc L. Lendvai

24. Romania, Gheorghe Stoica

25. USA and Britain and Australia and Canada, Christopher J. Arthur

26. Denmark, Birger Linde

27. Yugoslavia, Lino Veljak

28. Iran, Kamran Nayeri

29. Poland, Holger Politt

30. Finland, Vesa Oittinen

31. Greece, John Milios

32. Turkey, E. Ahmet Tonak

33. South Korea, Hogyun Kim

34. Brazil and Portugal, Jose Paulo Netto

Author Biography

Marcello Musto teaches at the Department of Political Science at York University, Toronto – Canada.

Reviews:

“Nothing Marx wrote has better illustrated the complexity of his thought and the enormous array of the world’s appreciation of it than the Grundrisse. This collection of essays gives one an indispensable entry into understanding better what Marx has to offer the world today and the social bases of the multiple Marxisms” — Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University

“In this edited collection of essays by international scholars, Marcello Musto has helped to chart the recognition and influence of one of Marx’s most important, methodologically rich – and most neglected – texts: the Grundrisse. The volume is the fruit of many years of sustained and devoted scholarship, his chapter on the ‘1857 Introduction’ is one of the finest in the collection” — Stuart Hall, Open University

“Karl Marx’s Grundrisse is a magnificent volume, which also serves as a global map of world Marxist theory” — Fredric Jameson, Duke University

“Over the last two decades, Marx’s Grundrisse has increasingly been seen as the key text to the understanding his work. An up-to-date discussion of the Grundrisse is therefore much to be welcomed. And when it is of the consistently high quality that Marcello Musto has here put together, scholars of Marx can only rejoice” — David McLellan, Goldsmiths College, University of London

“Karl Marx’s Grundrisse represents a major resource for studies on Marx. It is a key text for understanding his critique of political economy; but also – and no less importantly – it makes visible the questions that Marx did not develop later in Capital, such as capitalism as a global system, ecology, and the contours of a post-capitalistic society. This volume is required reading for all serious students of Marx” — Samir Amin, Third World Forum

“At a time when Marx’s writings are once again attracting ever-wider circles of readers seeking to understand yet another global capitalist crisis, Marcello Musto has produced an edited volume devoted to Marx’s Grundrisse. The essays of interpretation as well as the studies of both the production of this great work and its reception across many different societies and social contexts make this book an especially timely and valuable contribution to Marx’s current ascendancy” — Richard D. Wolff, New School University, New York

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Lenin

HISTORICAL MATERIALISM VOLUME 18 NUMBER 3 (2010)

Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory
Volume 18 Issue 3, 2010

http://www.brill.nl./hima

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/hm

CONTENTS

Article
Gene Ray
Dialectical Realism and Radical Commitments: Brecht and Adorno on 
Representing Capitalism

Symposium on Lars Lih’s ‘Lenin Rediscovered’
Paul Blackledge
Editorial Introduction

Ronald Grigor Suny
Reconsidering Lenin: What Can Be Said about ‘What Is to Be Done?’

Robert Mayer
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: On Lars Lih’s Lenin

Chris Harman
Lenin Rediscovered?

Alan Shandro
Text and Context in the Argument of Lenin’s ‘What Is to Be Done?’

Paul Le Blanc
Rediscovering Lenin

Lars T. Lih
Lenin Disputed

Interventions
Matteo Mandarini
Critical Thoughts on the Politics of Immanence

Mario Tronti
Workerism and Politics

Review Articles
Paul Flenley
On Oktyabr’skaya Revolyutsiya i Fabzavkomy [The October Revolution and Factory-Committees] edited by Steve A. Smith, and Oktyabr’skaya  Revolyutsia i Fabzavkomy, Volume 3, Second Edition and Oktyabr’skaya  Revolyutsiya i Fabzavkomy: Materialy po istorii fabrichno-zavodskikh komitetov, Volume 4, edited by  Yoshimasa Tsuji

Jeffery R. Webber
on Fernando Ignacio Leiva’s Latin American Neostructuralism: The  Contradictions of Post-Neoliberal Development

David Parker
on Heide Gerstenberger’s Impersonal Power. History and Theory of the  Bourgeois State

Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism
Dick Boer
The Imaginary

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Nihilism

Nihilism

THE ITALIAN DIFFERENCE: BETWEEN NIHILISM AND BIOPOLITICS

 

The Italian Difference: Between Nihilism and Biopolitics

Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano (eds.)

Price: $35.00 AUD; $25.00 USD; £16.00 GBP

ISBN-13: 978-0-9805440-7-7

ISBN-ebook: 978-0-9806665-4-0

Publication date: July 2009

Pages: 180

Format: 216×140 mm (5.5×8.5 in) Paperback

Series: ‘Transmission’

Download book as PDF (Open Access): http://www.re-press.org/content/view/66/38/

Description

This volume brings together essays by different generations of Italian thinkers which address, whether in affirmative, problematizing or genealogical registers, the entanglement of philosophical speculation and political proposition within recent Italian thought. Nihilism and biopolitics, two concepts that have played a very prominent role in theoretical discussions in Italy, serve as the thematic foci around which the collection orbits, as it seeks to define the historical and geographical particularity of these notions as well their continuing impact on an international debate. The volume also covers the debate around ‘weak thought’ (pensiero debole), the feminist thinking of sexual difference, the re-emergence of political anthropology and the question of communism. The contributors provide contrasting narratives of the development of post-war Italian thought and trace paths out of the theoretical and political impasses of the present—against what Negri, in the text from which the volume takes its name, calls ‘the Italian desert’.

Contents

Antonio Negri, ‘The Italian Difference’

Pier Aldo Rovatti, ‘Foucault Docet’

Gianni Vattimo, ‘Nihilism as Emancipation’

Roberto Esposito, ‘Community and Nihilism’

Matteo Mandarini, ‘Beyond Nihilism: Notes towards a Critique of Left-Heideggerianism in Italian Philosophy of the 1970s’

Luisa Muraro, ‘The Symbolic Independence from Power’

Mario Tronti, ‘Towards a Critique of Political Democracy’

Alberto Toscano, ‘Chronicles of Insurrection: Tronti, Negri and the Subject of Antagonism’

Paolo Virno, ‘Natural-Historical Diagrams: The ‘New Global’ Movement and the Biological Invariant’

Lorenzo Chiesa, ‘Giorgio Agamben’s Franciscan Ontology’

Authors, editors and contributors: Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano

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