Deleuze, Marx, and Politics

By Nicholas Thoburn | Go to book overview

4

The social factory

Machines, work, control

Capitalism is a system of relationships, which go from inside to out, from outside to in, from above to below, and from below to above. Everything is relative, everything is in chains. Capitalism is a condition both of the world and of the soul.

(Kafka, in Janouch 1971:151-2)

If in its beginning the factory came out of the social body and tended to separate itself from it in order to elaborate its own rules of operation, it must now reincorporate this social body in order more than ever to dominate it.

(de Gaudemar 1985:285)

The injunction of Marx’s proletarian unnamable is an ever renewed engagement with the social plane of capitalized life - a plane that is at once manifold and mutating, cramped and constraining. In Chapter 3 this plane of capital was presented in general terms. This chapter now turns to consider the specificity of the contemporary capitalist socius. It does this not through a general mapping of Deleuze’s and Marx’s position, but, following the methodological logic of the minor and the proletarian unnamable, by exploring one manifestation of a political critique of capital. It follows a thread through a particular current in Italian Marxist research and politics - a current known in the 1960s as operaismo (‘workerism’) 1 and in the ’70s as autonomia (‘autonomy’). This current can be seen as performing Kafka’s ‘double flux’ (K: 41) inasmuch as it analysed capital as an open system which configures around lines of flight, and sought to take these lines elsewhere, whilst - as I explore in Chapter 5 - situating this politics in a cramped space without a delineated people. A central figure in the development of this current is Antonio Negri, and this chapter considers his work in some detail.

Negri’s recent Empire, co-written with Michael Hardt, has been the subject of much intellectual and political interest, being described by Frederic Jameson as ‘The first great new theoretical synthesis of the new millennium’, and by Zizek as ‘ring[ing] the death-bell not only for the complacent liberal advocates of the “end of history”, but also for pseudo-radical Cultural Studies which avoid the full confrontation with today’s capitalism’ (Hardt and Negri

-69-

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Deleuze, Marx, and Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Minor Politics 15
  • 3 - The Lumpenproletariat and the Proletarian Unnamable 47
  • 4 - The Social Factory 69
  • 5 - The Refusal of Work 103
  • 6 - Conclusion 139
  • Notes 149
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 199
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