History, Subjectivity

Volume 23, No. 2 Spring 2008

Editors' Note


Antonio Negri: The Labor of the Multitude and the Fabric of Biopolitics

What did Foucault mean by biopolitics? It is both a set of techniques for disciplining populations and a site for producing new subjectivities, a potential counterpower. In an historical moment characterized by the real subsumption of labor under capital (in other words, the penetration by capital of every zone of human life), thinking this latter aspect of biopolitics becomes vital: as capitalist relations colonize formerly private zones of experience, those zones no longer constitute an outside to capitalism, but rather must be thought of both as immanent to it and as representing an immanent disruptive potential.

Mathias Nilges: The Anti-Anti-Oedipus: Representing Post-Fordist Subjectivity

What if postmodernism and postmodernity are temporally disjunctive terms? What if, in other words, postmodernism — a cultural revolution within theory — in fact clears the way for a decentered, deregulated world that is none other than our own postmodern society? In this case, postmodernism as a liberatory project exhausts itself the moment postmodernity comes into being. But then what happens to cultural resistance in postmodernity?

Peter Hitchcock: The Failed State and the State of Failure

What does Marx have to say about the “failed state”? Less than one might think. Peter Hitchcock seizes on the problem of the organic composition of capital to bring theories of state sovereignty and its dissolution into chiastic relation with Marxist political economy. This flexibly-bound double of Marxism and failed-state theory then offers a new perspective on our current moment and its possible futures.

Laura Hudson: The Political Animal: Species-Being and Bare Life

Marxism has been justifiably skeptical of animal rights. Indeed, deep ecology and animal-rights discourse are, in their native habitats, deeply problematic and self-contradictory. But recent theories of “bare life,” when brought into dialogue with Marx’s concept of species-being, offer a perspective from which animal rights discourse and Marxism share a common political horizon.

Brian Thill: Black Power and the New Left: The Dialectics of Liberation, 1967

One might be surprised to find out that Stokely Carmichael and Herbert Marcuse spoke at the same conference in 1967. One might be more surprised to learn that both of their talks revolved around the animation of Frederick Douglass’s act of revolt as a figural point on which their disparate political projects hinged. A potential path not taken in forging an alliance between 60s Black radicalism and the Western Marxism of its time? Perhaps. But perhaps also a shared philosophical mistake.

Pablo Castagno: From Provinces to National Television: Celebrity Culture and Collective Recognition in the New Spain

Pablo Castagno analyzes recent Spanish television in the light of the profound social and economic changes that characterize the transition to the “New Spain” of the 1990s. A confluence of factors, including a rapid social realignment and the privatization of the television industry, conspire to produce an ideal laboratory for exploring the ideological workings of reality television.

Joel Woller: "Only in Exceptional Cases": The Steel Workers Organizing Committee Remembers the Homestead Strike

The representation of Homestead Lockout and Strike of 1892 is powerfully mobilized by later generations of labor activists. But why choose to memorialize, over any of the very real accomplishments of the labor movement, this moment of abject defeat? Rather than endorsing the celebratory discourse of mainstream progressive historiography, Joel Woller turns instead for an answer to Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History.”

Book Reviews

Nicholas Brown: Marxism and Disability

Nicholas Brown reviews Ato Quayson’s Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. Quayson’s most recent book is both brilliant in its literary analyses and ethically acute in its discussion of disability. But how do these two moments, the textual and the ethical, relate to each other?