Negri’s visit to London since

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Atmosphere bizzarely subdued.Friday, 25th June 2004, 1-6pm, room 405, Birkbeck University,
London. Organized by Centre for the Study of Invention and Social
Process, Goldsmiths University. Around 60 people present.Real submsumption means that there is no mode of production possible
out of capitalism. Any form of life, language, and thus any form of
resistance becomes impossible in postmodernity – which is the role of
postmodernity. The paradox is that marxist subsumption was completed
while at the same time, face with real subsumption, thought became
weak, light. In the face of this biopower, no form of indigenous
resistance was possible. Agamben thought of resistance as of something
only possible as external. Other positions too traversed this too,
like those of Deleuze and Guattari, Foucault. Often, first production
of Foucault was interpreted as realization of this biopower. In both
instances of Foucault and Guattari all references to real productivity
of life were removed, drained. So that constitutive references had
been removed. This is materialism versus idealism in philosophy. On
one hand, constructive Machiavelli, Spinoza, Marx, on the other hand,
destructive line of Rousseau, Hobbes, Descartes, Hegel. Presupposition
of “constitution of time” is: if capital dominates society, that
doesn’t mean that very form of antagonism is removed – it continues
within subsumption. Constitution of real submsuption is that entirety
of society is traversed by antagonism. The first book was concerned
with trajecting the forms of real subsumption and affected
organization of work, conciousness, and this is where the question of
time became central. What became clear is that law of value entered
the crisis, time as measurement of value – precisely because of
impossibility of measuring. It is passage of time as zero point of
control, to the point of expansion to entire fabric of life. Second
book, Kairos, was concerned with ways of alternative modes to those of
real sumbsumption. The investigation is concerned with questions of
singularity, the common and multiplicity. The philosophical, ethical
question is how does one creates another word. Specifically, what is
the relationship between real sumsumption and our desire. This the way
in which communism can be reborn. Though marxism becomes our central
point of thought, communism becomes before and after it.


response by Judith Revel

Key problem one finds in Foucault’s and Negri’s work is how does one
finds modes of resistance which are not at the same time confirmation
of the power it resists. Reference which often found (in negri’s work,
i guess) is that modernity is instrument of power. Karios is concerned
with ontology of Empire. What is ontology of space without limits,
that has no outside any more. large banner, “welcome to the
counter-empire”, she spotted recently, she said to people that there is
no such thing, they changed it to “welcome to the empire”. Distinction
between biopower and biopolitics is … (missing bit). How does one
exists power that so directly affects life. What one does other than
what’s obvious, to whitdraw life, which is in a sense response by
suicide killers. Interstin thing about distinction biower/life, which
Foucault develops, is that biopower is concerned with investment in
life, and what is produced this way is:

– first, to de-singularise subject, to render them into labour power
– secondly, to make them into powerless cycle of production
(production is reproduction here)

This is an argument put forward in Karios, that the main mode, theme,
of production last two centuries is reproduction. Mistificatory power
of biopower is to make one think that reproduction is production. The
answer is to face it with production. There is certain opacity in
Negri’s work between labour and production creation. Living labour
means only and purely the power to create being, while there’s only
void – what negri repeats. Multitude is not a class concept in this
sense. Toni would like to be hobby philosopher, she would like to be
hobby creator.


response by Julian …


Negri, to Judith: his own political positions starts with refusal of
work, which was a fundamental form under which movements in 60-70’s in
which he participated operated. It was against Fordism and it was
revolutionary because it showed unsuistanbility of Fordist
model. Refusal of work was also construction of self which was free
from political and economical contradictions that judith mentioned
earlier. Emancipation from work and liberation of work was
important. He refuses to get rid of the concept of labour, because
only concept of labour has the capacity of grasping the construction
of life, community and political engangememnt. To refuse is to follow
two lines of thought: one that work can be reduced to activity – work
is expressive capacity, but that is insufficient since it disconnects
labour from concept of poverty. Second line, that he also refuses to
follow, which also lives in marxism since 30’s, one of Benjamin, which
shows work as creation. Living labour creates being on the edge of
void. New theoretical determinations of notion of class are not
avoidable. And there are more profound reasons, since investigating
immaterial labour gives new insight in creation. Today, labour is
imidiately cooperative, while cooperation in the past came after
individual work.

negri, to julian: we can not escape dialectics on war, although we
would all want to. It’s a concrete problem, political one.

Question on void. negri replies that Spinoza’s universe is one of
expansion, of love, of community.

Dialectics of the work has completely broken down. Ontology is
constructed by material work. There’s nothing eternal in it, it’s
simply what we find ourselves in it.

Multitude is in three ways:

– sociologically, reality of social labour, against the class
– proposal of communism, against the people
– notion of democracy which is totally alien to democracy we know

Comment by peter osbourne: communism is already ontologically present
in capitalism. Today we are closer to communism than we were at the
beginning of capitalism.

negri: Individualism is illusionary. Fascist concept of real
subsumtion, and a Stalinist one, is … (lost it here)

peter: we than only need to produce the act, not the new social being,
since we have one.

negri: there’s something of it in my work. it links with the problem
of war. Bush as a war, his construction of reality, is a formidable
closure, and the war becomes zero point. Which is the condition of
multitude. I’ve never seen such happy marches. ……… Concept of
multitude is there to pose the problem of communism on that level.

greg: you spoke of commonality earlier. as you are aware of,
capitalism started with closure of commons, which at that time was
land. today, culture and science are being closed of through copyright
and patents. how do you see this?

negri: there’s a problem in reapropration of this by the multitude. the
RE-APPROPRIATE THOSE COMMONS? By this we have to enter law on new
level. The problem for todays jurors is how to find new forms for this
reapropriation of common. Which comes back to the definition of
multitude. So that definition of multitude given here is one of
excess. It’s no longer matter of property, but of non programmable
excess of production. We move form critique of labour time and its
non-mesauranbility to the point beyond measure.


eric: Why love, not desire?

negri: because desire comes before militancy, militancy comes with love.