Constituent Powers Of Futurities. Some Ghostly Remarks on Negri’s Concept of Democracy

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Constituent Powers of Futurities

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Some Ghostly Remarks on Negri’s Concept of Democracy

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Thought ……… itself    ….. …. …… Spinozism   ……….. follower          …… essential

must ………   ….. at         …………………. ;        ……………  … of             commencement

begin ..   …… … the             …      …….. to      …     ….    .. Spinoza   ..            …. in

by ..          …. standpoint    .       ..     .. be       …………..      .. is      …………      . all

placing ………… of     .     ……   ……….. a      ….        ……….. the   ………  … Philosophy,

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wrote Hegel, in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy, affirming the “productive force of the Spinozian substance as the absolute foundation of Modern philosophy.” However, insofar as Spinoza never yielded to, in Negri’s words, the “sordid game of mediation,”[1] Hegel scorns Spinoza’s thought as “acosmical.” Now, Hegel inaugurates contemporary thought to think that

[t]he negation of a philosophy of commencement as a philosophy of mediation, in its diverse variants of either dialectical philosophy or philosophy of crisis. [A]rticulation is given priority over the totality, as a foundation of the totality; spontaneity is unthinkable. In Spinoza, there is no commencement, that is, there is no residue of the mythic thought that constitutes every philosophy that seeks a cosmology. But neither is there any sign of mediation. Spinoza’s is a philosophy of pure affirmation that reproduces itself with increasing intensity at always more substantial levels of being.[2]

This dense paragraph reveals decisive moments for our concerns here; mediation, articulation, totality, foundation, spontaneity, commencement, pure affirmation—and a being whose levels always get more substantial, and such that it reproduces itself with an always increasing intensity.

In Negri’s interpretation, there is no commencement and no mediation in Spinoza, and so, Hegel’s association making negation of commencement synonymous with an affirmation of mediation misses Spinoza’s revolution. Negri’s clarification of the thought of commencement as containing mythical remains in search of a cosmology will therefore destruct the fantastic—bourgeois—cosmology inhabiting Hegel’s thought. The Spinozian substance is not produced; it has not and will never be commenced from somewhere, sometime: in Spinoza’s Ethics he presents the substance as something cannot be produced, that it is of its essence to exist. Being is a totality that is there, without any abstract, transcendentalist mediation or subsumption. Being is in itself, in its own immediacy, causa sui, a tension, a tension between its totality and its different and differing modalities—this difference being defined as within this being’s univocality—“because between totality and modality there is no mediation, there is only tension.”[3]

In Cogitata, Spinoza defines being such: being is that which is clearly and distinctly conceived as being, necessary or possible. At the same time, he presents a negative definition too:

[R]eal being is distinguished from unreal being, fiction, illusion, the being of reason. Now, under this second large category of unreal being are grouped all the forms of thought in which we consider, explain, imagine, and memorize. The apprehension of the true being must be radically distinct from all that which does not lead toward the apprehension of being in its immediacy.

In this way, the savage Spinoza demolishes those two great veins of epistemological thought represented by Plato and Aristotle, which both produces names under the title of the universal. The nominalistic drive in Spinoza will only accept names as useful if understood as common names—and later on this nominalism will so to speak constitute a mode of being itself, constructive, real, flat, immediate being, constitute ontology as method, as what we must call ‘a purely affirmative and constitutive power.’ There is in Spinoza a force to move

[t]oward a completely immanent theory of surfaces, flattening the entire cognitive universe onto a solid and constitutive horizon. The theory of depth is deepened at the same moment that, paradoxically, it is inverted in the theory of extension and developed on a flat and constructive terrain. Immanence is radicalized to the point of being presented as the negation of the three real categories, of the three ontological articulations of “equivocality, eminence, and analogy”.[4]

Before mediation as articulation there is being in a totality of fullness and immediacy; the only mediation is the internal tension in being, an immanent “war machine” between totality and modality.

Therefore, even the conceptions of possibility—and virtuality[5]—is negated too; every analogical conception of being is negated, as analogical being makes the fundamental transcendental a possibility. The, let us say, “univocalicity” of being

[c]annot be translated into analogical being on the terrain of knowledge; but, still on the terrain of knowledge, neither is it possible to be univocal. In other words, the real analysis shows us a univocally determined being, which is tenable as such only on the ontological terrain and, therefore, in its adhesion to its totality. On the terrain of knowledge it is presented as equivocal being: It allows no possibility of homology.[6]

Articulation as mediation, we write; articulation as unreal commencement, a fiction, giving the impression that being, too, is of commencement, and that being is not univocal or allowing homology, but that it is equivocal. Further, equivocality allows for hierarchization, mediated by Power, or what Negri calls ‘potestas.’ The two terrains of ontology and epistemology are traditionally articulated as of equivocality and analogy; now, with Spinoza, we are enabled to recognize such an articulation as producing bourgeois ideology. One is perhaps justified in describing this ideology as about translation, or rather the need for translation because of the mediational character of being; there are better and worse translations, and command will enter to settle the order and criteria of translations according to hierarchicalized axiology. The Spinozian revolution consists, among other things, of recognizing the immediate tenability of the ontological terrain. “Being speaks,” writes Negri, there is no need of unveiling, this aesthetic element “which Adorno emphasizes as a fundamental characteristic of bourgeois philosophy in its origins. […] the aesthetic operates within the origins of bourgeois thought in its realized form, as a logical entity to unveil, as a reality to discover.”[7] “[T]he objective nexus of truth is freed from every perceptive premise and is subordinated only to the project of constitution: We are faced with the absolute radicalism of objective being. […] The understanding, here, does not know an internal logic that could lead it to the heights of being; the highest level of being is (for the first time) the being that is present, immediate being. Later on, we will be able to appreciate the great importance of this inversion of pantheism, from a philosophy of depths to a philosophy of surfaces. For now, it is enough to recognize that it represents one of the paths by which the absolute radicalism of objective being is developed.”[8]

Now, the conflict, or the tension, between these two so called ‘terrains’ of ontology and epistemology is, according to Negri and Negri’s Spinozas, resolved only on the terrain of practice, the terrain of praxiology, of power, that presumed kind of power that Negri calls ‘potentia.’ Nevertheless, even how savage Spinoza is, we recognize certain classical, archetypal, philosophemes. The immediate, the given, the full, presence, transparency, totality, self-sufficiency, reality, and so forth—“[b]ut neither is there any sign of mediation.” What sign? Could there be a sign of non-mediation? Or a non-sign of non-mediation? There are, of course, a lot of signs in Spinoza’s writings, and they mediate very much, conditioning, or mediating, a variety of interpretations. It is a strange practical geometry involved here, involving Spinoza’s hand, and his pen, e.g. Let us en passant note that the conception of the real as elaborated by Negri in a certain sense confirms to what Badiou have described as the very emblem of twentieth-century thought, namely la passion du reel, the passion and the quest for the Real, the perhaps two most prominent protagonists of this passion of which are Bataille and Lacan. Instead of the nineteenth-century utopian scientific visions for the future, in the twentieth century we see the want to deliver the Thing Itself, the thing without mediation, mask, translation, displacements, distortions, play, articulation, etc. Perhaps this is the revolutionary Spinoza too, that he anticipated this twentieth-century quest for the immediate, transparent, and full real? And perhaps this Badiouean perspective opens a richer understanding of Negri’s conceptions of “disutopia,” “democracy,” and “constituent power”? Of course, as I would never recommend a return in general, here I am not in the least advocating a return to what is believed to be the nineteenth-century scientific culture, as described by Badiou. But I do think that the quest for the present real and the real present has marked twentieth-century aspirations, besides of the fact that what Derrida has called ‘logocentrism’—the exclusive insistence on ousia, parousia, logos, etc.—always marked philosophical culture and thought. Perhaps if we were able to think the iterative prefix ‘re-’ in ‘return,’ we would advocate a return of future and futurity; iteration is always already welcoming future modalities. This is perfectly possible—and necessary. End of bracket.

“Being speaks,” writes Negri, and so philosophy is able to explain; where being is silent, philosophy is, and where being speaks, philosophy speaks—writes Negri.[9] What does this mean? “[R]eaching truth and constituting an adequate idea, means making being speak. Isolating truth is a function of being saying itself.”[10]

It has always seemed paradoxical to me that philosophical historiography has oriented its alternatives toward the past: […] Who knows why this procedure is considered scientific? Who could know? To me this seems exactly the opposite of a scientific discourse, because it is a study in cultural genealogies, not a material genealogy of conditions and functions of thought: It is not a discovery of future, as science always is. Neither is the liberation of a cumbersome past worth anything if it is not carried through to the benefit of the present and to the production of the future. […] Bringing Spinoza before us, I, one poor scholar among many, will interrogate a true master with a method of reading the past that allows me to grasp the elements that today coalesce in a definition of a phenomenology of revolutionary praxis constitutive of the future.[11]

In his “Preface,” Negri writes that Matheron is among those who have been able to make a felicitous redefinition of Spinoza, when democracy is understood as a material essence, the imagination of the masses that sweeps away any “dialectical imbroglio.” From Matheron’s point of view Spinoza anticipates the future; “he is therefore a contemporary philosopher, because his philosophy is a philosophy of our future.”[12] Negri backs up by communicating where his own main motivation for rereading Spinoza springs from, namely what “is usually called “the definition of a new rationality”,” summed up in a constitutive ontology “founded on the spontaneity of needs and organized by the collective imagination.” This is a sheaf which contains three important straws: 1) Spinoza “founds Modern materialism in its highest form,” […] “within an immanent and given philosophy of being and an atheism defined as the negation of every presupposed ordering of either the constitution of being or human behaviour.” 2) He “founds a nonmystified form of democracy,” and “therefore as a critique of every juridical mystification.” And 3) he shows that “the history of metaphysics comprehends radical alternatives,” that “there exists an “other” history of metaphysics, the blessed history against the damned,” the one that is “the positive form of negative thought (of thought that traverses metaphysics to negate it and opens toward the positivity of being.” “Constitutive thought possesses the radical character of negation but transforms it and puts it to use by grounding it in real being. […] It is the radical expression of a historic transgression of every ordering that is not freely constituted by the masses; it is the proposition of a horizon of freedom that is definable only as a history of liberation.”[13] I will only quote for now. Before analyzing, speculating, and interpreting, I would like to summon some other moments in Negri’s writings. Let it anyway be said that Negri is himself aware of the temporal limitations of Spinoza, what he names “a purely spatial (or Galilean-physical) conception of the world.”[14] The question is whether Negri manages to let Spinoza and Negri break through the spatial obstructions, and integrate a dynamical temporal ontology and politics with the spatialistic motifs of Spinozian thought: multitude, substance, immediacy, actuality, democracy, constituent power.

Spinoza’s Ethics is not a philosophy of beginning, but a philosophy of ‘principio,’ where Negri insists on ‘principio’ as ‘principle’ and not as ‘beginning’ proper. “Therefore, in principle, in the beginning, there is the totality, there is the infinite. But this is not a beginning in the proper sense, it is only a starting point. In fact, the first eight propositions of the first book of the Ethics simply reveal the totality of the substance, and this is not a foundational principle, a foundational beginning, but the scheme of the ontological system in its circular complexity.”[15] This spatial hegemony must be clarified with regard to the further Ethics, the further of Spinoza’s writings, and to Negri’s writings.

In Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State[16] Antonio Negri claims that modern political history articulates a process of increasing conceptual and practical identification of democracy and what he calls ‘constituent power,’ but such that the very possibilities of constituted power within democracy, one the one hand, always make a freezed gesture out of the always antagonistic and differentiating constituent power, assimilating the constitutive to constituted, and, on the other hand—and precisely for this reason, to wit, the belittling marginalization of constituent power—, makes constituent power more and more what comes to signify a true democracy, the missing democracy, its always displaced promise.

The two terms ‘constitutive’ and ‘constituent,’ albeit first articulated as such early in the 90’s, in Insurgencies, was prepared for already in the early 80’s, in  his The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, where the driving conceptual work focuses the ways the antagonistic terms ‘potentia’ and ‘potestas’ figures in the work of Spinoza. We may further say that potentia/constituent and potestas/constituted—or alternatively, power, consisting of immanent, heterogeneous, pluralizing, and let’s say “ir-archical” forces, and Power, the great homogeneity and homogenization of state or centralized and hierarchized power—constitutes a gravitational force upon political theory in general, involving all discourses in political theorizing, constituting a kind of gigantomachian sphere. This sphere is easily discernible in Negri’s own work. Negri’s Marx Beyond Marx: Lessons on The Grundrisse,[17] too, gathered from a series of lectures in the late 70’s, is clearly inscribed in this “poteosphere.” Actually, as early as 1963 Potere Operaio appeared—‘potere’ equivalent to potentia. By 1973, Negri had not only participated in establishing the movement Autonomia, but also articulated his basic concepts, and, precisely, the significant tension in his work. The three works mentioned all participate in, or situates itself in, this tension, that is, in what I, in want of a better term, have called the poteosphere in political philosophy.

It could easily be demonstrated that already Marx Beyond Marx had its operative driving forces in the criteriology of potentia and potestas, only here these terms were not articulated as such, but rather luring inside of Negri’s fierce critique of orthodox Marxism’s persistent neglect of there being two forces, two subjects, and not only one. This Marxism saw only capitalist class as a historical subject, and so deprived worker class of its real forces, strengths, its potentia for, using one of Negri’s own key concepts, actions of “self-valorization,” and therefore its potentia for effective influence on the chains of events of history. It made working class a derivation, a passive and secondary reality, an inert mass blindly reflecting the logic of the extraction of so-called surplus value. Therefore, it affirmed, in practice, perhaps against its intentions, reactionary thought and action.

Negri re-inscribes antagonism and politics—politics is now everywhere and always—into economics, that economics that functioned as an exclusive and holy ontology, or shouldn’t we say A Holy Family?, for Marxism. The dialectics between the two classes is made up entirely by capital and its developmental logic, and it consists of the one class ensuring its own survival by a totalizing and generalizing usurping of the other class. It enforces a certain dialectics, this other class actually being anti-dialectical to its bone, fighting to destroy capitalist class and take hold of no class, stepping beyond every notion of class, “exploding all binary formulae,” as Negri says. Therefore, exploding dialectics, certainly in its Hegelian articulations, but perhaps even in its Marxian articulations, perhaps even in certain Marx’es, though Negri takes great care, in Marx Beyond Marx, to demonstrate that Grundrisse’s Marx surely is explosive in this respect. But not only Grundrisse, since in The German Ideology he writes something that perhaps has not been read well enough by those holy families, something that concerns what Negri calls the proletariat’s ‘radical temporality’:

In all revolutions up till now the mode of activity always remained unscathed and it was only a question of a different distribution of this activity, a new distribution of labour to other persons, whilst the communist revolution is directed against the preceding mode of activity, does away with labour, and abolishes the rule of all classes with the classes themselves, because it is carried through by the class which no longer counts as a class in society, is not recognized as class, and is in itself the expression of the dissolution of all classes, nationalities, etc. within present society.[18]

Revolution is necessary, not only because the overthrowing of the ruling class cannot be done otherwise, but also because, as Marx here continues, “[i]t can only in revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found a society anew.” Concerning the new start, one may read Marx’ “In the Name of the Revolution”:

Men make their own history but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. […] And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to heir service and borrow from them names, battle-cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language.[19]

Derrida:

The conjuration is anxiety from the moment it calls upon death to invent the quick and to enliven the new, to summon the presence of what is not yet there. This anxiety in the face of the ghost is properly revolutionary. If death weighs on the living brain of the living, and still more on the brains of revolutionaries, it must then have some spectral density. To weigh is also to charge, tax, impose, indebt, accuse, assign, enjoin. And the more life there is, the graver the spectre of the other becomes, the heavier its imposition. And the more the living has to answer for it. To answer for the dead, to respond to the death. […] The spectre weighs, it thinks, it intensifies and condenses itself within the very inside of life, within the most living life, the most singular (or, if one prefers, individual) life. The latter therefore no longer has and must no longer have, insofar as it is living, a pure identity to itself or any assured inside: this is what all philosophies of life, or even philosophies of the living and real individual, would have to weigh carefully. The paradox must be sharpened: the more the new erupts in the revolutionary crisis, the more the period is in crisis, the more it is “out of joint,” then the more one has to convoke the old, “borrow” from it.[20]

We shall come back to the radical temporality of the proletariat, the other subject, conjuring spirits, and the revolution—and this very persistent founding gesture still inhabiting, haunting, even Marx, the different Marx’es, and a great variety of Marxisms alike; for not only on the right political axis there is an importunate radicalism. Further, of course the founding gesture—this common ground communing left, centre, and right, making of them a true demos—, this radicalist desire, is pandemic not only to politics, but also to philosophy, religion, art, technology, and science. Radicalism’s founding gesture is a brusque refusal and relocation of futurity, only relating to what is to come by way of calculable anticipation and expectation, only relating to future through the ichnographical pillars of its radicalist and monarchic architectures. Any radicalism is structurally enforced to be a compulsive repetition of the denial of what is to come, of future, and the very futurity. It relates never to the dangerous perhaps of Nietzsche, but only to the banal ontology of the ‘to be or not to be’ of the maybe, what is possible, what may or may not come into being, both axes under the sway of the calculus machine. It refuses the event and futurity, and the virtual. The rear and its shitting shall rule. Radicalism sees history as something lost, as nostalgia and sentimentality, as something that has to be found founded anew in a re-foundation, as something that has to be re-established, with all means; it has no effective concept of historicity. In radicalism, history is what reducibly relates to the unfolding of the root, what a root lets bloom, a paradoxical epokhē of the root, where phenomenality in general is exclusively ascribed to what is inside, immanent and “spontaneously” given to, the root, a dangerous and heroic Odyssey in search of the one right root and setting this root right, deafening the rowers, binding the captain, only keeping the steady course. Where are Marx, Spinoza, and Negri on this “conradix”? Is not the paragraph quoted from Marx above the radicalist gesture itself? No less than that of traditionalists, or of those that otherwise, perhaps somewhat more complex and refined, claim to have, already, found the truth? In Marx, as in many others, there is this figure of something that is living beneath somewhere, that is about to burst onto visible living, had it not been for those others that destroy, suppress, or obstruct the root.

The root, then, the “terradical.” The conjuring or exorcising of the “ir-root” respects the old scheme of epekeina tes ousias, what is beyond the phenomenon, the being. The meaning of ‘radical temporality’ is perhaps the root, radicalism, is perhaps to seek the root and live in it, to remain in the root, in the soil, right beneath the ground. The conspicuous and excessive figure of ‘territory’ in Negri’s The Savage Anomaly testifies to a certain preference: that of the soil, what is on the ground, in the ground, preferably beneath. The radicalist always thinks himself to have his feet steadily planted on that ground; he is in contact with reality, has a sense of reality, what non-radicalists does not have. The root is real because it is inside reality, and is what properly, from its own given, inner program, pro-duces. Only what is de-duced from a root is real and true. And so there is this perpetuum mobilic endless war over the who, the where, and the when of the one true root. What is weed and what is advantageous?, that is the question. And what is—and this is even worse—extra-radical? What future is there, what is future, for radicalists—whether they are politically leftist, centrist, or rightist, whether they are philosophical, scientific, or religious radicalists? One hopes rather for a seismic abyss in all the territorial conceptions. Because radicalism is not only what justifies endless slaughters among us, but also something that inflicts irreversible damages on nature. Radicalism is generalizing its destructions, overflowing concrete space and concrete time, and so marking, already, those spaces and times that not are real, not real yet, but that will, or will not, come.

By way of parenthesis: the occupation here with etymologies and semantics could seem to contradict the very notion of a post-temporal politics. I would like, therefore, to confess that this occupation is here so as to bring to attention the tremendous occupation that “pastism” still executes. Only a quick glance at certain decisive linguistic, or rather what we by now, by Derrida, should be able to call ‘grammatological,’ operators reveals this hold, this bias and inclination: the threads of the fabric of the pastisms are truly hegemonic, as the decisive grammatologemes still are what in-clines, what ‘leans on’. What leads, what is the political lead, is what leans on. Moreover, how could it be otherwise as grammatological matters are still considered fringes? When you are in the ‘ference’ —and we know all its modulations: reference, inference, afference, preference, deference, interference, difference, conference, etc.—, that is to say, when you are on that ferrer, that ferry, carrying you over the sea, still in water or in air, you only see fringes of land in the distance: viewed as only an eventual diffraction that otherwise, by reference to the ference’s own eternal and natural force, would never cause your optics to be “prismed.” And so it is that we must acknowledge that fringes of land, or grammatological structures, will always be able to prism your optics however secure your ferry is. And not only “able,” meaning the possibility of the escape, the void, the purity. No one has as yet travelled over the sea without at some point being diffracted by fringes of land. This tells us rather more about certain radicalist experiences of the possibility of transference from soil and root to sea, the tremendously different politics this signified to the human—but also about how the radix and the radicalist through the ferry over the sea only got more fixed and cultivated.

Even a quick survey of our lexica tells us that axiomatic in general remains remarkably affixed to radicalist modulations and inflections: in spatial as well as temporal categories, the prototypes being what is ‘beneath’—hypo, infra, supra, etc.—and what is ‘before’—archē, ante, pre, pro, etc.. It is rather easy to demonstrate that a variant of radicalist vocabulary is haunting, among very many others, inclusive of me, of course, Negri’s writings—and Spinoza’s writings. A sign is not innocent, neither secondary nor irrelevant. A sign and its system—in its syn and dia of topoi and chronoi, even transgressing the “ference” of the syn and dia, articulating therefore the movement toward the irradical allos[21]—steers thought.  And sometimes one can decipher a will to articulate something that its own tools of articulation do not allow. As is the case, I think, with Negri—and Spinoza—and Marx—and many others. One would be tempted to say that a vast revolution is under its way, in language, of language, by language, but even this would be to reinstate architectonics anew, on a new ground, with a new grounding—or foundation, in Negri’s and Spinoza’s wordings—, with new principles, a new start. The conception of ‘revolution’ itself need revision, stressing the iterative force and meaning of the prefix ‘re-.’ ‘Insurgency’ is, to be sure, a far better term. But it is by far sure that Negri’s Insurgencies accomplish a stirring up and a farewell, or an adieu, to the syntax, grammatics, and lexica of revolution and other such “signs.” Nevertheless, I do have the opinion that Spinoza as Negri is moving toward the folding, the in-convolution, the stirring and the “ir-ing” of the re-volt, precisely involving ontology of futurity. An ontology that “is” politics, but politics beyond the synchrony of the polis and the democracy, an ontology that would open a “political” constitution of what I will propose to name ‘allocracy.’ But I cannot pursue this further right here.

In the Manifesto as well as in the Eighteenth Brumaire Marx elaborates as perhaps no one before him the themes of spectrality,[22] albeit somewhat aporetically. Spectrality—the spectre of Hamlet and the spectre of communism (the return of the spectre, the “re-spect”[23])—appears here as both real injunction, something to respect and answer, something one will not allow to be conjured, exorcised—in the 1948 Manifesto, “All the powers of old Europe have joined into a holy hunt against this spectre”[24]and as illusion, a nothing, something dead that after its presencing shall whither away and remain dead, or, in Marx’ Gospel wordings in Eighteenth Brumaire, “the dead buried by their dead.” Every instantiation of phantomality had to be killed, through analysis, and so not only that of fetishism or ideology. Marx insists, in the expectation of an argumentum ad oculos: “[T]he ultimate foundation remains living experience, living production, which must efface every trace of spectrality. [T]his seems to me to constitute an essential limitation of his work, its rootedness in a metaphysics of the effectivity of the living present,” if speaking with Derrida.[25] In Specters of Marx, Derrida writes: “What for the moment figures only as a spectre in the ideological representation of old Europe must become, in the future, a present reality, that is, a living reality.”[26] And—and forgive me my extensive, dry quotation:

In a word, the whole history of European politics at least, and at least since Marx, would be that of a ruthless war between solidary camps that are equally terrorized by the ghost, the ghost of the other, and its own ghost as the ghost of the other. The Holy Alliance is terrorized by the ghost of communism and undertakes a war against it that is still going on, but it is a war against a camp that is itself organized by the terror of the ghost, the one in front of it and the one it carries within itself. There is nothing “revisionist” about interpreting the genesis of totalitarianisms as reciprocal reactions to the fear of ghost that communism inspired beginning in the last century, to the terror that it inspired in its adversaries but that it turned inside out and felt sufficiently within itself to precipitate the monstrous realization, the magical effectuation, the animist incorporation of an emancipatory eschatology which ought to have respected the promise, the being-promise of a promise—and which could not have been a simple ideological phantasm since the critique of the ideology itself was inspired by nothing else.[27]

When Marx positively conjures, convokes, the spirit of the revolution to fight its ghost, always from past, from neglecting the inheritance of a real and really and living appropriating revolution, then, he strikes a “striking difference,” that between Geist and Gespenst, a difference that nevertheless will always spread reciprocal contamination effects, no matter how much Marx thinks himself able to control its rhetorical difficulties, where the “semantics of Gespenst themselves haunt the semantics of Geist.”[28] In Marx’s own view, the spectre is, in Derrida’s view, “vital to the historical unfolding of the spirit,” but so to “den Geist der revolution wiederzufinden, nicht ihr Gespenst wieder umgehen machen.” Spinoza, too, as we know, was concerned with making intellect and being speak with one voice; it is because Being speaks, that philosophy speaks. The historical task that befalls Spinoza, then, is setting the intellect right, as the two was somewhat out of joint. They must not be out of joint. Hook that philosophical speaking back on the onto-voice. Negri speaks of Spinoza’s ‘anti-finalism.’ “The apologia of command and order,” it is said, and it is said that Spinoza’s metaphysics “is, in effect, the clear and explicit declaration of the irreducibility of the development of productive forces to any ordering.” And mediation is only the telling of a ghost story. Life is a surface, there are really no mirrors of nature, it is without mediation, and ghosts are what a certain class puts up, fetishizing the screen, luring the constitutive forces into a labyrinth out of which there is only one way: negating mediation. Lefebvre attributes to Spinoza the origin of space as excess, superfluity, transgression, a tradition that precisely goes via Schiller, Goethe, Marx, to culmination in Nietzsche.[29] But why does one need to be antagonistic to mediation to constitute oneself as revolutionary? Even how much Negri exorcises away the image of totalitarian effects from Spinoza, in the name of the auto-effecting multitudo, even how anti-hierarchic and flat Spinoza’s speaking is declared to be, one does not miss recognizing the potential for totalitarianism in the very gesture of this negating of mediation. The political project of autonomia is surely what will force itself forth, and it is good having this politics and this insurgency supported by Spinozian onto-politology, but the absolutist denial of mediation is not right. There is always mediation, and there will always be, and there always was. Not because of reactionary passions, but because nothing is immediate. The immediatist ontology of Spinoza and Negri is surely preferable to various Platonist ontologies, degrading being, defining being as degraded and secondary, in tendency false. But even “materialism” is idealist; it is mirroring itself in the negation of idealism. What would materialism be without its hated—and secretly beloved—sibling? Could it, its essence, be, exist, at all? As soon as there is contexts, and contexts irreducibly, and contexts everywhere and always, there is mediation. A philosophy of life cannot do without mediation. Why should one speak at all if Being speaks by itself? But there are different manners of mediation, some of which are bad and some of which are good. Mediation is in itself neither bad nor good. What matters is how we organize by mediation, what we are able to recognize of mediation and how it works. The rather plain fact that one does not necessarily need the bourgeoisie or capitalist class, that those things is not the one redeemer that humanity meet with a couple of centuries ago, ending the bad history, finalizing the meaning of humanity, ending history, and so forth, does not necessitate an immediatist ontology-and-politology. It is as if one did not believe sufficiently enough on the making history of capitalism; that only life itself supported its politics, making adversaries not only hostile to that political project but, so to speak, to the very being itself. But how much power does one not, then, ascribe to that adversary—how powerful must these people not be, that counters being. Why should it, how could it, win out over an enemy that has been witnessed, as a matter of pure fact, to defy being? The capitalist as the Emperor of the realms of the living and the non-living, the capitalist as the panspecter untouched by common, natural rules and laws. There is something mysterious about this. I let Derrida write the period of this too long paragraph:

[T]he radical possibility of spectrality should be sought in the direction that Husserl identifies, in such a surprising but forceful way, as an intentional but non-real component of the phenomenological lived experienced, namely the noeme. Unlike the three other terms of the two correlations (noese-noeme, morphē-hulē), this non-reality, this intentional but non-real inclusion of the noematic correlate is neither “in” the world nor “in” the consciousness. But it is precisely the condition of any experience, any objectivity, any phenomenality, namely, of any noetico-noematic correlation, whether originary or modified. It is no longer regional. Without the non-real inclusion of this intentional component (therefore inclusive and non-inclusive inclusion: the noeme is included without being a part), one could not speak of any manifestation, of any phenomenality in general (that being-for-consciousness, that appearing appearance which is neither consciousness nor the being that it appears to it). Is not such an “irreality”, its independence both in relation to the world and in relation to the real stuff of egological subjectivity, the very place of apparition, the essential, general, non-regional possibility of the spectre? Is it not also what inscribes the possibility of the other and of mourning right onto the phenomenality of the phenomenon?[30]

I would like to say that not only is there a rootedness in this or that metaphysics, but that rootedness as such constitutes the most powerful metaphysical scheme in history, and that this is inscribed, to some extent, in Negri’s work too.[31] Negri operates often with a radicalist language when articulating decisive moments and transitions; his linguistic modulations and inflections, and his rhetorical routes, obey radicalist ontology, whether in spatial or temporal categories. A politics and a philosophy of future must take great care to denounce such obsession having become common sense use of language. Not to forget Spinoza’s wordings on the thematic of ghosts, in letter 52 to Boxel in 1674—on the question of natural animism, where Spinoza’s “polemics is very strong, and the correspondence comes to a bitter close[32]: we can actually do away with, decide over, “ghosts or spirits,” those visible invisible things, living dead things, that we commonly recognize as revealing or unveiling other things; the reason that we can decide on this is that we can simply “apply the name of ghost to things that we do not know.”[33] Negri continues:

[A]s soon as reason enter the scene, any conception of the world that is less than necessary and rigorous in constitutively adequating reason and being appears to us as an object of superstition and ignorance. Being is transparent because knowledge is adequate. There is no mediation between the finite and the infinite, there is no free will that mediates necessity and fortune, there is no screen between truth and existence. Here, then, being is transparent in its determination, in that it is always determined and in that it excludes every mediation that would produce the determination.[34]

I think it appropriate to deconstruct such a thinking of the figure of the ‘determinate.’ One could start asking that if knowledge is transparent, is this because the sign is adequate? And, how could one ever exclude mediation as producer of determination? Wave one’s arms? Perhaps “things are what they are,” simply, immediately, but only if thinking in terms of an inexplicable and mystical, yes, transcendent, Das Ding an Sich. But how does one tell about this—without “mediation”? Perhaps mediation is irreducible and irreducibly, if I may, ‘ir-archical,’ and further writing with Derrida, what opens the very condition of possibility—and impossibility—of every determination, determination as what is left when we acknowledge that a strict decision is neither actual nor possible? Perhaps mediation, and screen—the “paper” (machine), a Mallarmean “ghost white as a still unwritten page”—, “is” “life,” “dynamics,” “the” “very” “given”? Quotational excess, yes, perhaps. But there is always, and always already, quotation, citation, iteration, even “in” being too—perhaps. Mediation in general is the condition of possibility and impossibility of determination, period. There is no determination without mediation. And mediation is what makes desirable determination. And there are ghosts in every determination—because there are contexts, always only contexts, to situate this or that determination. The ghostly is what speaks truth.

Yes, we will have to come back to this theme. But for now, let the following be said: accompanying Marx, Negri is surely stressing the value of presence, presencing and the present—of the actual and unconstrained production of a living, that is to say, a way too concrete synchronic, multitude—, especially so, emphatically, in The Savage Anomaly, through reference to Spinoza, but also, though more carefully, in Insurgencies. Still, there is a critical opening: in The Savage Anomaly, there is a certain determinate bending towards the temporal modus of future, futurity. Nevertheless, it remains for us to determine how to interpret this bending toward, or opening, of future. Does it mean that we are approaching a kind of thought that has a future, that it powers are such that eventually it will win out over other ways of thought, or does it signify a philosophy and a politics that is inscribed in an ontology of futurity? Let us look at some paragraphs. Take these ones, when he writes, in the chapter “The Savage Anomaly,” that a certain “other” stream of thought in philosophy, namely from Machiavelli to Spinoza to Marx,

[s]hould be kept in mind as the essential backdrop of every philosophy of the future—this “negative thought” that iconoclastically traverses the centuries of the triumph of the bourgeois metaphysics of mediation. […] It is as if seventeenth-century philosophy had a dark border, maintained to hide its original sin: the recognition of appropriation as a betrayed foundation of Modern philosophy—revealed by a continual lapsus. Spinoza is the clear and luminous side of Modern philosophy. He is the negation of bourgeois mediation and of all the logical, metaphysical, and juridical fictions that organize its expansion. In Spinoza there is the sense of a great anticipation of the future centuries; there is the intuition of such a radical truth of future philosophy that it not only keeps him from being flattened onto seventeenth-century thought but also, it often seems, denies any confrontation, any comparison. Really, none of his contemporaries understands him or refutes him. […] While all the thought of a century has yielded to defeat, to the point of identifying itself with the great metaphysical games of Cartesianism and the bright opportunism of the “libertinage,” while mechanistic thought applies itself to the reconstruction of the image of Power (potestas), to the construction of its specialized techniques of domination, and, with this, dedicates itself to the work of the annihilation of revolutionary experiences, and while philosophy is intent on giving existence over to the mediative essence of bourgeois civilization, in this situation Spinozian thought is “negative thought,” inasmuch as it criticizes and destroys the equilibrium of the hegemonic culture—a culture of defeat and mediation.[1]

Let us await other paragraphs to interpret Negri’s use of the term ‘future.’ To me it seems that we are her not dealing with a futuristic ontology—an ontology substituting future for ontology’s age-old obsessions with various forms of what we may call ‘radicalist presence’—but rather with something that due to its constitution and its cause is bound to come forth. It will constitute not a philosophy of future but future philosophy, philosophy in the near future, simply something that will win out over previous philosophies due to its supremacy.

Now, to come back to Negri’s work, the real and historically effective class difference, articulated and insisted upon in the early 70’s, for instance instantiated by Marx Beyond Marx, is later on further developed, taking into consideration other concepts and vocabularies of power, from that of Spinoza to those of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault. Whereas Marx Beyond Marx was articulated out of Negri’s concrete political involvements and actions, exalting the antagonism between the two classes and the coming victory of worker class over capitalist class, The Savage Anomaly’s theoretical recollection of Spinoza seeks to make ontology political, and politics ontology. It experiments with and affirms the Spinozian themes of the ontology of the monadic (or the anti-dualistic), the immanent and the multitude, and the concrete living, the singular productions. These are themes whose further enrichment in Insurgencies will insist on the constituent power as the truly active and operative historical agent.  Constituent power is the meaning and force of any revolution, the power that from now on is inseparable from democracy, and a democracy that articulates itself as “a love for time,” as he says closing Insurgencies. In Insurgencies we see 30 years of work articulate itself, or perhaps “ab-solute” (in a verbalized mode) itself, in a concept of democracy. If, here, democracy is inseparable from the concept and practice of constituent power, it is in the form of end and means: the growing of constituent power, the convincing of the worker class of its real potentia, its revolutionary ontologico-political role on the historical scene, is the means that in the future will make a radical democracy come. Whereas in Insurgencies the concept of democracy is fundamental, in Marx Beyond Marx it surfaces only as a scorned object, and in The Savage Anomaly it comes up, in a few pages, via quotations of Spinoza.

This displacement from communism to democracy is perhaps not very significant, if only we recognize that both are compatible with Spinoza’s insistence on the concrete living production of the multitude. What, then, perhaps is more significant is that we need, today, to go beyond any “concretism.” I think that today it is easily demonstrated that production motivated by concretely synchronic interests and needs, “communistic” or “democratic,” no matter how true its communistic or democratic reality, have become a fatal anachronism. Its “living and actual” negation today, surely rests on a certain technoscientific naivety, a certain blindness to the various tragic double binds that will always already inform technoscience and a fortiori produce destructions in nature. One need to stress futurity more than Negri does, and in the sense of an affirmative ontology. Negri’s Spinozian equation of politics and ontology is perhaps better off when the temporal articulations of this new ontology are determinately futurist. Yes, let us agree upon an acute need for a philosophy of future, but then we need to alter many things, among them our concepts and schemes. In this sense, we could ask about the very concept of politics. Is it not, in its rootedness in Antiquity, still too concrete? In terms of production, there will eventually come a time where one needs to see that a polis is an all too restricted frame. What guarantees are there for this or that polis not exploding its productions into future, destroying this or that future polis’ own rights to production? There are so many questions here, most of which is impossible to deal with here. My main point is anyway that there seems to be a certain unqualified naivety involved in the thought of Negri. There is a strange congruence between leftist and rightist thought in this respect. I hope that I in the following will be able to articulate some of my reticence with Negri’s thought however supportive I am with his inspirations and aspirations. We need a new concept of the ‘respirations,’ stressing its prefix as an iterative structure, and a fortiori its future temporality.   

We have to recognize that so far in modern political history, from Machiavelli on, the misery of capitalist dialectics—this thing which is strangely elaborated and affirmed by its supposedly antagonists—consists of a certain back lashed, recoiled dialectics where constituent power always ends up as its other, what it truly is not. Not to mention the sad hypostatizing of the extreme formalism, or, if you will, statism—‘statism’ because constituted power is first of all the power of the state and the nation-state—of constituted power. The statism, the stasis, the static solution, of constituted power will always mark constituent powers as the revolting and aberrant enemies of democracy. However, for the same reason, the enemy of constituted power is the hidden truth of democracy, that democracy which never yields to any statism, or any state logic. Two determinately contrary ways of interpreting this reality, then—as Negri reminds us Spinoza wrote, “non opposita sed diversa”—, reproducing and transferring the real antagonism to conceptual and hermeneutical matters.

However, the dialectics of the antagonistic forces of constituent versus constituted powers have not only meant displacing the promise of the constituent power, however, put off to other times and spaces. It have also produced an ever more acute antagonism, and an ever more acute and antagonistic “constituenticity”—if I be allowed to let this term refer to conditions of constituent powers—differentiated and differentiating in itself, pluralizing, “living.” When Negri says that the process started by constituent power will never stop, we will therefore note that not only is there a process that never stops and that always gets displaced; we will see that what informs this modern political history is a certain “hauntology”: this classical thematic, from Marx on—or shouldn’t we just say from Shakespeare on? whom Marx so often quoted—of the ghost revenging the abjured promise, haunting what was done to and in time, with time, making time a chronic anachronic, “out of joint.” However, there is more. Not only is there something coming back, time and again, a ghost and a haunting. The producing—which is never simply a ‘pro,’ a thing there, before your eyes, an ‘il y a,’ but always in the between, as it were, between what is said to be of the “living” and the “dead”—always gets stronger and angrier, as in a beholder of increasing pressure. It is as if the more we abandon the ghost’s putting time right, hinging its door, the more mass, velocity and pressure—power. The power of potentia, we must presume. It is as if, due to structural reasons, the spectre and the event of haunting are accomplices of the exploited proletariat, the constituent power, or potentia, which time and again is enforced to become constituted Power, potestas. Nevertheless, according to the logic involved here this ghost accomplice will be, must be, buried when communism comes presencing, actualizing, itself. Because in reality it never exists, never existed, will never come to exist—it is a mysterious doubling of time and actuality—, and is always en route towards reified fetishism.

We need to be wary of such a logic where the refused and repressed promises from the past blooms more the harsher the refusal and repression. It is as if the truth is in the past, in our “roots,” as if we are doomed to be punished if not respecting such a responsibility of the past. This logic is articulated in Negri’s works, certainly more in Marx Beyond Marx than in The Savage Anomaly or Insurgencies. Especially in The Savage Anomaly we do see a stress on the future modality of temporality, where Negri discovers the real Spinoza, not the ideology’s version, not the various Spinozisms, but the Spinoza that overcomes Hobbes’ thought and that sees the opening of a “constitutive rhythm toward a philosophy of future.”[2] Negri informs us, through reference to M. Rubel and A. Matheron that Marx, too, was searching for “the foundation of a radical alternative in Spinoza, beyond the tradition of Spinozism.”[3] Even there, however, this future always drowns in present needs and interests still radicalistically moulded.

My thesis is that in Negri’s work, we see an untenable conception of time coming back, repeatedly. There can be no doubt that this will influence his political conceptuality traversing his vocabulary, be it the earlier one of communism or the later one of democracy. Now, coupled with his ontology of time, is his suspicion toward any form of mediation, as we alluded to in the paragraph concerning technology. Negri sees in bourgeoisie thought an eternal recurrence of the mediation of the singular into the universal, from Kant, through Hegel, on; mediation is as bourgeoisie as anything can be. However, we have to take cognizance of the fact that any technology, be it writing or speech or photography or whatever of nowadays teletechnologies, consists, irreducibly so, of mediation—or what Derrida also calls iterability. There is no way to transgress mediation, because tekhnē integrates even with the purest imaginable phenomenology. Therefore, I think it will be wise to not associate mediation solely with a certain social class. We have to deal with mediation in new ways. Mediation, further, never acquiesces to the scheme of the singular and the universal. Perhaps we rather have to recognize that the singular and the universal is something that defines radicalism? Perhaps Negri, against his intention, acquiesces to this scheme.

We must keep in mind that in Negri’s reading of Spinoza there is this insistent destruction of the bourgeoisie relation between totality and the singular. Already in his introduction of the term Negri identifies constituent power with revolution, to be understood as “the human capacity to construct history, as a fundamental act of innovation, and therefore as absolute procedure.” By ‘absolute procedure’ he means a process which is ab-solute(d), beyond a homogenizable solution, or, in his words: “The process started by constituent power never stops,” breaking every homogenization, taking leave of any homohegemony—to use Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler’s Echographies of Television,[4] using it because the machine too often has been, through history, and even still is, interpreted as a totalizing and sifting structure: the evergreens of form and content, the framing fabric and the framed occurrence, the specter and its aspects, the transcendental and the sensual, the capitalist class and the working class, the radix and the leaves, to mention just a few obsessions, yes, perhaps we are to include the one of the radical and the reactionary? In this frame, there is framing, and there is what possibly may happen within framing. Any dialectics forced to this interpretation of the machine, of technology, will make the dia traverse nothing but the figure of the “ference”—reference, deference, inference, conference, difference, interference, etc.—, the ferry following defined routes, confining any dialectis to the frames of the ferry. But perhaps technology is something other and more than simply homogenization? Perhaps even binary teletechnology in its latest determinations—that is to say the computer, digital networks, and internet—participate in exploding the vast hold of those binary formulae. In addition, perhaps in machines there resides spectrality, spectral effects—irreducibly so? Perhaps we would be justified to say that the making of time, presence, life, living, actuality, production, immanence, “constituenticity,” that is to say, any “vitalism,” is irreducibly haunted by an irreducible hauntology? Ontology “is” hauntology, as ‘is’ “itself” is visited by a specter that has its visor open, what Derrida in Specters of Marx called the “visor effect”:

In inheritance , there is always this experience which I dubbed, in the book on Marx, the “visor effect”: the specter is not simply we see coming back, it is someone by whom we feel ourselves watched, observed, surveyed, as if by the law: we are “before the law,” without any possible symmetry, without reciprocity, insofar as the other is watching only us, concerns only us, we who are observing it (in the same way that one observes and respects the law) without even being able to meet its gaze. Hence the dissymmetry and, consequently, the heteronomic figure of the law. The wholly other—and the dead person is the wholly other—watches me, concerns me, and concerns or watches me while addressing to me, without however answering me, a prayer or an injunction, an infinite demand, which become the law for me […] [T]he fact that there is a visor symbolizes the situation in which I can’t see who is looking at me, I can’t meet the gaze of the other, whereas I am in his sight. […] The specter enjoys the right of absolute inspection. He is the right of the inspection itself. And this is why I am an inheritor: the other comes before me, I who am before him, I who am because of him, owing him obedience, incapable of exchanging with him (not even a glance). […] The predecessor has come before me. […] this is the law of the genealogy of the law, the irreducible difference of generation. […] This is why I am in heteronomy. This does not mean that I am not free; on the contrary, it is a condition of freedom, so to speak: my freedom springs from the condition of this responsibility which is born of heteronomy in the eyes of the other, in the other’s sight. This gaze is spectrality itself.[5]

The stress that Negri puts on the temporality of the actual, the presence and the hic et nunc—with reference that what is as easily legible in Marx Beyond Marx, as it is in its extreme thematization and insistence in The Savage Anomaly, as it is in its rhetorical underline in Insurgencies as the democratic living god—, this Spinozist inspired “parousiaian” ontology is obviously an enemy of the possible and even the virtual. The political parousia of Negri takes on different figures in his different works: first as the proletariat’s strategic and autonomous production, then as ontology as spontaneous and actual production, lastly as democracy of the constituent multitude. One basic assumption underlying this affirmation of constituent power as actual, autonomous and limitless production is, of course, that goods are not really limited, and that it is only this ideology of a limited nature that gives meaning and force to capitalism, meaning a system that needs to impose criteria of—or “exchange values” on—distribution of goods in a limited world. When this capitalist ideology is destroyed we may let the constituent powers be formed and reformed according to the sponte sua of the versatility of the needs of the multitude. Perhaps we in Spinoza may see elaborated the Marxist theme of the basic contradiction in capitalism, between market and value, between relations of force and productive force. This may be as correct as it may, as may these types of contradictions; what is neglected is that perhaps even more acute contradiction between, on the one hand, relations of force and productive force, and on the other hand, and productive nature. In a certain sense, we have not freed ourselves from our Greek lexicon. We will have to read closer those openings towards futurity in The Savage Anomaly. There can be no doubt that Negri’s thought is complex and nuanced, and one surely needs to be careful, however one’s reticence is justifiable.

If bending to the pandemic desire that wants the political to be a dead thing to be gathered around, one would have no reason to criticize Negri’s politico-revolutionary aspirations. This dead thing, however, has never been as palpable as today; it is recognizable in what may be called ‘radicalism,’ only this term has to be understood beyond its colloquial senses. Radicalism, then, this all too historically effective concept of the root: the profound, the ground, the (founding) foundation, what is found, what comes before, what precedes, etc.—in spatial terms: e.g. what is beneath and ground, but also those of supra, infra, archē, and hypo; in temporal terms: e.g. what is before, antecedent and past.

The political hypothesis “is” the political antecedent, what in time comes before vital decisions and deductions; the political antecedent “is” the political hypothesis, what in space lies beneath, founds, supports and subsists, any consequent. This produces strangely inversing relations between political space, let us simply call it geopolitics, and political time, let us call it chronopolitics: to use Derrida’s wording we may talk of a spacing of chronopolitics, and a temporization of geopolitics, as if substituting, or supplementing, completing, the others lacks of force, filling out with space what time lacks in and for itself, and filling in with time what space lacks in and of itself. In radicalism we see a certain double presumptuousness, to be hided and buried, and inversed: the secretly parochial recognition of both geo- and chronopolitics is that of self-insufficiency. Radicalism is the archetypal nonpareil, namely the non-such, what is to searched and found—almost—, always beneath what is and always before what goes, but always to be trusted as to what to be modeled, replicated, cloned. Whence radicalism’s spatial metaphors strengthening those of temporality, and vice versa: the root is always the principal truth since it is always what comes first and always what lies deepest, and what comes first is necessarily what lies the deepest, and what lies the deepest is necessarily what comes first. Life, political life too, then, moves upwards and onwards, from the root’s primary spatiality and temporality. And here, precisely here, lies all the little and big devils, making for instance democracy an antiquated concept.

Today, however, I think we see reasons and circumstances whose injunctions suggest that democracy itself, in its de jure as well as in its de facto, need be criticized, and overcome, and communism too, however free one imagines it practices its constituent powers. A proposition: no rehabilitation of the concept of democracy or communism is able to cope with time today; both these concepts, no matter how preferable to today’s victorious turbo-globe-capitalism, are left to historiography, to anachronist museums. This is so, I think, because democracy and constituent power alike obeys a certain temporal modality, one that will continually constitute uncircumventable reverberations of a certain hauntology—and a certain ontology. That Negri is able to recognize the continually and growing repressions of constituent powers is perhaps not due to a quasi-ontologized political antagonism. Or, if we even agree on this, perhaps we would be able to better recognize its momentums and efficiencies if analyzed for its temporal conditions?

I here first have to articulate what constitutes the criteria for the proposed critical remarks on Negri’s concept of democracy. A critique of Negri’s analyses would try to differentiate a politology of time, that is to say, a philosophy of politics that recognize decisive differences in the possibilities of democracy relating to various temporal axiomatic. The impossible juxtapositioning of democracy to ‘ante-temporal axiomatic; it is recognized that democracy left past traditions. Or, at least such that in the degree there are still functioning past traditions they are widely considered as anachronisms, funny, ridiculous, vice, or whatever.

What reigns, now, is what, in want of a better term, could be called a ‘juxta-temporal axiomatic; democracy is the celebrator of the near and the now! It is the systematization of a spontaneous politics of the ontological enigma of pro-duction. It allows, encourages, and sanctions the very bringing forth itself. And we all shall stand around and heroically celebrate being as such interpreted. Nevertheless, is this not still irreducibly related to past, only that the ante-temporal here has been crystallized? The worshipping of a dead past is with this second political temporality only brought closer, essentially veiling the generalized condition of myopia involved. The past is distilled, brought closer, constantly revolving around our eyes, our eyes revolving around it, even celebrated as real emancipation from past superstitions and so as being that time and space where the human finally came to its own.

The critique of Negri’s political writings will relate to his conceptualization of democracy, its articulation being what here called a juxta-temporal politics, its collision being what would become of democracy if inscribed in another politico-temporality, what I here propose to call a politics of a ‘post-temporality.’ Negri’s normative immediacy and his critique of mediation must be critiqued, not because his intentions are suspect—from my perspective quite the contrary—but, in the form of certain hypertheses, because they will not suffice and because they are actually still informed by that classic metaphysics of antecendentism, or what also could be called ‘radicalism,’ if we allow this term to signify more than a certain political side, “the left”—so that one is able to grasp that what de facto and de jure is conceived as sides, opposites, and antagonisms, better can be recognized as sharing common ground, so that even how much one recognizes harried differences in politics, there is still a commonality, one from which they basically pursue the same politics.

What would be the possibility of politics of a democracy of a post-temporality—if we only could be allowed to violently subtract those strong connotations in the prefix (the term ‘prefix’ itself rather significant) that time and again preserves the descendance of the figure of the following? Such a politics is critically connected to a certain language politics, a language politics that we have yet to see be granted—if only, again, we subtract the connotation of ‘allot,’ the linguistico-political operation by which the granting, the credere, the belief, is again appropriated by determinate portions or extents of space and time.

Now, leaving this ‘putting in beside’ aside we could say that Negri actually takes leave of the ference and its perhaps paradoxically strengthened radicalism, in his politically convoluted readings of Machiavelli, Marx and Spinoza. We need now to go more specifically into Negri’s works. We will focus his concept of constituent power on his concept of democracy. The recurrent term ‘future’ will have to be interpreted as to what it means. Paraphrasing Levinas’ “A past that never had been present,” and Derrida’s “An absence that have never been presence,” we have to articulate future as what never will become present. And we will have to see if not constituent power is in need of reconstruction, as democracy is, and whether not inscribing futurity into constituent power may bring us further. Because constituent power is surely something we need, still, to retain. And surely Negri touches this in the sub-paragraph “Productive Force: A Historical Antithesis,” where he focus the category of interest to that of the passion, constituting the modal point in Modernity, where we pass: “[f]rom truth in itself to constitutive truth, from the adequation of the intellect and things to the adequate function of the material constitution.”[6] Before, in the subchapter “Appropriation and Constitution” he speaks of a “diachronic-ethical constitution” as against every finalism and every transcendental synthesis; “the constitutive human power is set free on an open horizon. The world is what no longer exists. It is the future. It is this projection.”[7] Spinoza kills the ghost of Descartes, and his prime figure of divine royalty and transcendentality, especially that Cartesian transcendental mediation that is instituted “[i]n order to mark the impossibility of an ontological mediation of unity and multiplicity.”[8] A constitutive, diachronic-ethical methodology projected onto future, making truth the “adequate function of material constitution” is surely something that we want. But what is an “open horizon”? Can a horizon ever be open, and can the open ever be a horizon? Why this qualification that seems to make room for, still, a pro-jected future in the form of a pro-gram—but there is nothing before—pro—the gramma, before writing, decision, markings, incisions.

It is perhaps necessary to underline the fact that neither Machiavelli, nor Spinoza, nor Marx had the necessary and sufficient perceptions and knowledge and experiences to ever to be able to account for our times and what needs be done, and there is perhaps this case that this even applies for Negri too. And as I see it, this is surely so. There is no single paragraph in these works by Negri that touch upon the real meaning and force of today’s constituencity, appropriation, production, etc. Therefore, even if one agrees with the beautiful dreams in these works, and fights along against bourgeoisie thought, one need today a critical reworking of those acute categories. It seems as if the spatial conceptuality of Negri is more viable than his temporal conceptuality, however much he express a love for time. A love for time can only live on if ontology is exempted for a metaphysics of presence, and through a re-course through futurity, effectively installs politics—if we still want to keep this term—into its “core.” This new temporal ontology “re-“forms spatiality, as spatial ontology re-forms temporality, stressing here, again, the iterative in the ‘re-.’

The radicalist lingua, flourishing everywhere, on all continents, in all regions, in all fields of knowledge and practice, no less in east or north than in west and south, is surely a salient thing. Always the founding gesture, a gesture that by way of its spatial and temporal radicalism is thought to constitute powers and Powers alike, and so making their foundations stream and spread through time and space, through past and presence into future, through a centre to the different spheres of the globe. It is not sure that Negri’s potentia or multitude is better off in this respect; perhaps we may see in quite clear fashion how it affirms this age-old scheme? I need now to go further into Negri’s texts now, to see if my suspicions can justifiably become critical remarks. My thought involves seeing that the spatiality of the multitude and the constituent powers transforms our anachronistic temporal ontology and politics. It is a matter, then, of thinking these promising categories into temporality, substituting Negri’s own temporal categories for such that answers his spatial categories—Negri beyond Negri.

Negri’s love for time-as-politics need be criticized when affixed to worn out vocabularies, such as democracy and communism. They are more advanced than any capitalist ideology and practice; however, they are still in that dead dialectics, only affirming each other, those supposedly and at face value fierce opposites. All are affixed to thinking and acting past. And so they are only strengthening each other, and not destroying or weakening each other, making each other more complex and elaborate and subtle, attuned to this or that past, past never being able to furnish a model, the notion of the model itself being suspect. For what is the applicability of past to present and future? What has made us think of and believe in such applicability? What makes us believe that past things are ever able to teach us something, even the vital and critical? Is not this in itself one of those old metaphysical prejudices to be punctuated? Isn’t potestas, potentia, conditioned by past through present until future?

One may say that teletechnologies accrue past, that past and reality, reality always being in a now, a present now, are superimposed upon each other. Perhaps we could even say that these technologies, more than earlier re-presentational technologies, remembering that even writing and even speech is a teletechnology, obstructs the present, the now, reality? It takes the place of reality; it is always this structure of something transferred from a past to a present, and so to an in creasing degree. Nevertheless, it is also in its intentional structure that they will carry the present forth, witnessed clearly in what we call “the news,” the latest ones, the direct transmission of actualities, on the “direct line,” transmitted directly to you in your own home, the “breaking news,” “live,” and “real-time.” Still nevertheless, we may say that all this also contributes to the coming of future. This is so because any trace lives by, or feeds on, future, or expressed more strongly, futurity. The condition of there remaining a future, or future in the plural sense, futures, is that there are traces that are still always transmissible. And there would never be a past without such transmissibility of futurity; past is not the irreplaceable basis for present, for truth, for strength, for axiology, for functioning, even for memory, as memory lives in traces that all always have to be embraced by futurity to live on. Life is not something coming from the root up and the past forwards, but comes to us from the future: this we must learn to think. And so any form of democracy is destined to wither away, and so in more than one sense. An allocracy would allow this structure of life and time and space to come through to the humanity.

All this talk of unity or not, the univocality of being that will ensure that theology is subsumed under ontology and ontology under the phenomenology of human constitutive praxis.[9] Negri says, for instance: “Spinoza’s parallelism is, at this point, the elimination of every conception of being that is not absolutely univocal and progressive,” or, “The substantial element is the unity of the constitutive project, of power.”[10] Why are we amused and thrilled, so motivated, by this proposed truth of the unity—or that proposed truth of the disunity? Both are conceptions of little reality. Difference is never pure, as the same never is, is never pure, never the same. The pure reality that Spinoza succumbs to, however savage he was in other respects, the “purism,” is not only something that marked his own times but ours as well. Spinoza was in this relative “same-ness” and “difference-ness” with his own spaces and times, as we all are; certainly there are no pure univocality, and certainly no pure progress. This is so not because such things are “relative” to the viewer, or something like that. We are not talking of external contexts. We are dealing with internal contexts that are irreducible, which, moreover, will always produce fuzzy things. No phenomenology—no faith in the phainestai—can light away the dark, absence, death, trace, non-knowledge, the irreal, the virtual, etc.—without, that is, becoming overpopulated by phantasms and the phantoms and “phantasts.” A radical phenomenology of living territories—what Negri also names Spinoza’s “political physics”—is not less idealistic than the idealism it tries to escape. Negri writes: “[L]imits are juridical limits only inasmuch as they are physical limits; they are formal determinations only inasmuch they are materially inscribed in the constitution and in its unfolding.”[11] How is one supposed to distinguish, within the Spinozian phenomenology, such limits, the physico-juridical limits that are real, material, full, and living from those juridical limits that define a phantasm? And what sense can be given to formality if reduced to material inscriptions, already there. How could one envisage revolutionary projects without any formal, “non-existent,” element? Should it rise from its own inside, from within, sponte sua, from being, the being of light and the light of being? Let us read further:

The constitutive process is a process of filling the fullness, of constructing a full and gradual development of being—not emanationistic but singular in its very emergence. The horizon of the totality is fullness. A horizon that is also a limit. Not because the horizon is a border beyond which the abyss mystically opens, but because the horizon is a full limit on which cupiditas (as a human synthesis of the physical conatus and the potentia of the mind) attempts its transgression of the existent. […] There is no alternative between fullness and emptiness, just as there is no alternative in Spinoza between being and nonbeing. Also (finally, and this is definitive), there is no simple conception of the possible, as a mediation between the positive and the negative. There is only the constructive fullness of being in opposition to the metaphysical and ethical inconceivability of emptiness, nonbeing, and possibility. In Spinoza the anxiety and philosophical astonishment that human thought endures on the limit of being are destroyed and integrated in constructive being, in its infinite power: They have no need to be stimulated by ignorance, they live instead by knowledge and by the constructive force of the human essence.

Of course, when enabled to exorcise away non-knowledge, nonbeing, mediation, and possibility by filling in—in the phenomenologically constructive praxis of filling the full—the term ‘ghostly’ where there is a fake nothing or a fake possibility, so as to dismiss a false skin, that never were real anyway, then there is not much more to say. Then it seems like what seems to be a pure phenomenology affirmative of pure life and pure actuality, in reality is more determined by ghosts and the ghostly than what first seemed at sur-face value.

But let us rather return to the figure of the growing. There is the problem of the difference between the full fullness of and in being and the fact that the revolution is still slumbering. Now, liberation is equivalent, or “interchangeable,” as Negri writes, with “perfection,” and by ‘perfection’ “we understand a liberation of essence,” and the tension in being shall “spread from essence to existence.”[12] Spinoza defines the contingent and the possible such: “I call singular things contingent insofar as we find nothing, while we attend only to their essence, which necessarily posits their existence or which necessarily excludes it.” And: “I call the same singular things possible, insofar as, while we attend to the causes from which they must be produced, we do not know whether those causes are determined to produce them.”[13] Negri continues:

Spinoza’s revolutionary conception of being succeeds in comprehending the negativity that constitutes contingency and possibility: It comprehends the negativity as an element of the expansive being, and therefore as a space vacated by positivity, as something to construct in order to integrate the infinite. Contingency is the future, it is the indefinite that human praxis, as potentia, integrates into the positive infinity.[14]

Negativity is what is to be filled, filed, into positivity. The future is this expansion of being, through human praxiology, translating what comes of negativity, that is to say, contingency and possibility, into the language of being—“Being speaks.” Negri continues: “The indefinite is subsumed in the positive power of infinity.” Spinoza wrote: “There is no singular thing in nature than which there is not another more powerful and stronger. Whatever one is given, there is another more powerful by which the first can be destroyed.” Negri interprets this as saying: “It is the proposal of a permanent reopening of being.”[15] The imagination has its vital role here, as it extends the tension from essence to existence “on a terrain that is as vast as can be and decisively corporeal—it is material, possible. The nothingness that (presently) constitutes the nexus between essence and existence becomes fluid, phantasmagoric. This is the real urgency of the inexistent, posed as an expansive scheme of ethicalness.”[16] So perhaps there is some sense in saying that the meaning and force of this “poteology” is to exorcise? Death has great power—at least here. Knowledge is to accumulate, as an adequate act of being, concrete constitutions. This, as Negri wrote, “Asceticism” of Spinoza is an “indefatigable march toward the concrete and an attempt to grasp it, to embrace it, to identify with it more and more closely. The mind is totally instrumental in its orientation toward this “finality”.”[17] This is all fine, but there are serious problems here concerning the way in which this is to be done and understood. How is one to understand a “permanent reopening of being” here? It seems like it is not being that reopens here, but rather nonbeing, the indefinite, the negative—and was not the whole point now to fill the fullness of being? To constitute an ethics that fills in the gaps produced by nothingness? And when, negating dialectics, “[i]t implies negativity only in the sense that negativity is understood as the enemy, as an object to destroy, as a space to occupy, not as the motor of the process. Instead, the motor of the process is the continuous pressure of being toward liberation.”[18] “It is a liberation involved in the structure of existence, in the alternation of body and mind, presence and eternity.”[19] Negativity can not, must not, be constitutive, that is the ethics here. It is the enemy, a space to occupy. What “is” there to occupy, “there”? Liberation is here what kills every “phantasmagory; that is the whole life nerve of this phenomenological ethics or the constitution of the real, projecting present, or presence, onto eternity.” There are surely not only linguistic problems here.

Now let us jump forward to the last chapter, “Difference and the Future,” before we see if there can be something in Negri’s Insurgencies that may be different. I say that Marx Beyond Marx is not different from The Savage Anomaly in what concerns us here, only at face values. What matters is that where the former is explicit political, the latter is backing up the former through recourse to Spinoza, making this politics necessary by ontology. We know how much power the adversaries are given, granted en masse, carte blanche, through this kind of ontological support, supporting a certain politics that is still, incredibly, even how affiliate with being, the underdog. That this support, this sub-stantializing, this sub-sistence, this supplement, this sub-stance actually, yes, actually belittles Negri’s own political aspirations, makes them really and actually subterranean, an almost dead, rotting root. How is he anyway able to account for, in this strategic context of situating his politics in Spinoza’s metaphysics, what he calls the “essential antagonism”? “[T]he constitutive process dislocates being onto always higher levels of perfection only through antagonism. [T]he limitlessness of Power are then filtered through the essential antagonism of the constitutive process, of power.”[20] Now to “Difference and the Future,” then.

The first thing that Negri states is that Spinoza’s thought is irreducible to Modern rationalism and empiricism, “philosophies that are always dualistic and irresolute, versed in transcendence as the exclusive territory of the ideal replication and the practical domination of the world.”[21] What is “irresolutable” here is the fact that a thought does not need to be dualistic even if, in the more technical sense, stated irresolute, or in the more colloquial sense, indecisive, and vice versa. And it is not given that a resolution, in this or that connotation, is incompatible with duality. That a thought, dualistic or not, whatever this should mean, should be indecisive or something that resists resolution is never an argument against neither dualism nor anything else—since indecision, or undecidability, marks any thought, marks thought in general. This undecidability is the very reason, one of the very causes, that there is thought at all, that it is desirable, wantable, irresistible—and this is so due to no philosophy of lack or loss or whatever in that direction. Had being been simply the thing, ousia in presence and presencing, parousia—had Being spoke by itself, in itself, of itself, had it been a thing that simply speaks—then why should one be anxious of exorcising all those phenomena that are judged non-phenomena and non-reality, that are judged ghosts to be haunted down? Now, the thought of Spinoza is perhaps more intricate than the formula ‘ousia in parousia,’ or ‘thing present,’ but there is still thing and presence that dominates. And there can now be no doubt that if not ousia is simply parousia, in a flat universe, it is the case that there is no being unless its things are present and presencing, upon a flat surface, a given and always actuality. We can perhaps give meaning to what Negri earlier on called “a philosophy of pure affirmation that reproduces itself with increasing intensity at always more substantial levels of being.”

Then comes the reconstruction of the movement of Spinoza’s thought; in modern terms, there are two phases, from negative to constructive thought. First there is destruction of the homology of the absolute, demonstrating insoluble antinomies, insoluble inasmuch as their organizational conditions are never resolved, never revolutionized. This is the negative. And negative thought concludes by cynically adopting a “pure, projective pragmatism that is indifferent to every ontological element.”[22] The formal hypostatizing of the logical order of the system under critique follows. Spinoza, in contrast,

[i]s the refoundation of the conditions of our abilities to think the world. Not a philosophy of beginning, and not even a new beginning. Here to begin again is not to select, discriminate, and fix new points of support but to assume the entire dimension of being as the horizon of construction, of the rationally directed possibility of liberation. The space of the crisis is the ontological condition of a project of transformation; the limit inheres in the infinite as a condition of liberation.[23]

A univocal conception of being is set against every spatial homology, thus favouring plural versality, and also set against every temporal finalization. The world is set as “a singular, flat, and superficial emergence of being. God is the thing. God is multiplicity. The one and the multiple are equivalent and indistinguishable forces. This is constructive thought. Here is continual physical composition and recomposition of things. This is being adrift, as when Negri wrote that being is in a constant revolution of reopening. But there is no dialectics in this, as Spinoza knows of no negativity and emptiness if not in the form of paradox—“[t]he world is a paradox of alternation and coincidence: Substance and mode crash against each other and shatter.”[24] The attributes are absorbed on a horizontal field of surfaces, and are no longer agents of organization but are subordinated “(and very nearly eliminated) in a linear horizon, in a space where only singularities emerge. And these singularities are not mediated by anything; rather, they simply pose themselves in immediate relationship of the production of substance. Potentia against potestas. […] The mode, therefore, is the world; the efficient cause, in its expression, demands no mediation.”[25] Spinoza proposes here that the order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. Negri then goes on to say that such an idea does not deal with parallelism but that it deals with the tension of the mode “toward a unified and singular construction of itself.” Against the filtering of potentia potestas is, finally, to disappear. But the antagonism remains the heart of potentia such that recomposition in general is the basic figure of ontology as politics and politics as ontology. Besides, from Derrida on thought has widened itself to include the universal structure according to which singularity is conditioned by iterability, that is to say that for singularity to appear it involves iteration in general, that is to say that singularity is something that always will be situated in new, uncontrollable contexts, resulting in singularity being “a priori” split, not in two, but in the mode of the undeterminable plural. There is necessarily no unification, or univocality for that matter, in this. If one still wants to keep those figures of the one, it also necessary to acknowledge the a priori splitting and differentiating of iterability.[26]

“Spinozian logic does not know the hypothesis, it knows only the trace, the symptom,” writes Negri. The trace is dependent on future to live as trace, and live further as trace. It goes without saying that trace functions as hypothesis, too, but this so only in the service, sometimes blind, sometimes not, of hyperthesis, or of a ‘what-is-to-come,’ that may or may not come, and this so beyond any programmable effect, or any calculus machine. In such a system there is difficult to give meaning to the concept of symptom, as it involves a clear cut code of deciphering, presumably able to deduce from the apparent or parasitic real all the way to the really real. It is anyway hard to understand—sure one needs to stand under, see things from under or beneath, to “understand”—what place the symptom can have in the surface philosophy of Spinoza, if not for the conceptual fact that each and every surface is something that has something under it. To be a surface, that is. Still, the symptom is necessarily what is on the surface. The symptom, in this kind of constellation, can only signify the coming return of the repressed. As I alluded to above, in Marx, and Negri, and Spinoza too perhaps, there is this sense of the specter of the cramped real that will burst out in more violence the more it gets delayed, deferred, postponed. And, as goes with the same logic, as the return of the repressed comes into life proper, the symptom, or the ghost, will disappear.

What fits the above paragraph if not the doctrine about the relationship between tendency and limit, the universal being of this relationship, that it inscribes any ontology into itself? Now this relationship was part of the Spinozian revolution. It took advantage of the capitalist crisis and its various apologetic superstructures, be it politically, philosophically, or theologically, and stated that the crisis is precisely were to let constituent powers flourish, build, and rebuild. Today thought understands the terrible drive involved in this structure, and that it is surely something to mark ontology and politics with—precisely so as to affirm politics as the highest motif and efficiency of ontology—, but it must be qualified, subject to what Derrida calls ‘perfectability,’ perhaps. In Negri’s explication there is a drive towards making the tension involved in tendency-limit escape the in-tentione, the permanent living in tension—to speak with the ghosts of Husserl-as-Derrida, undecidability as the im-possible—to make the tendency stronger and bigger as the limit gets weaker and smaller—a kind of teleology is involved here, a linear “progressionism.” And there is this tendency to make the limit fit what, since Bataille—himself, too, a “Realaholic” actually—has been called the Hegelian ‘restricted economy,’ namely to not let nothing escape, to profit from every move and every loss, avoid the play and the excess and what is beyond the calculus of the closure of value. Nonetheless, Negri underlines abundance and excess—but only in a certain manner, that resembles an affirmation of Hegelian thought:

[T]he abundance and the terrific productivity of being are presupposed by the emancipatory process. […] Being is mature enough for freedom. Freedom and happiness, therefore, are constructed as manifestations of being. […] Emancipation is […] the weaving together of plural, ethically motivated human activity with the power of being presented in its givenness and determination. Emancipation is therefore the organization of the infinite, the declaration of human power as a determinate expression of the indefinite. The disutopia is the specific form of the organization of the infinite.[27]

Here we see the strange complex of, on the one hand, the open and affirmative production, joyous in endless abundance, innermost striving to free constituent power, to make it absolute, but on the other hand, there is this inexplicable urge for “weaving together,” manifesting the “collective subject,”— “The collective subject can only be appreciated as a physics of collective behaviours”[28]—etc. Where does the need for this unification come from? What, however, is beautiful in this passage, is the possibility of recognizing an open ontology constituted by awareness of the “nothingness”—in want of a better term that avoids a nothing that still relates, negatively, to things present, things absent, and “some”-thing that never will be of the either—that produces the effects of imagination and thought, that makes imagination and thought come forth, that effectively constitutes the infinity of our lives, and our infinity of ways of constitutive praxis. As there is nothing to hold on to, as there is no object of truth proper, as there is nothing beneath, under or before, to locate or “discover,” even “invent,” nothing lost to be found—be it in the sense of the Kantian synthetic a priori, the Husserlian material a priori, or otherwise—there will truly be endless suggestions, positions, “perspectives,” thoughts, and “ideas.” This, if something, is the meaning and force of emancipation being the “[o]rganization of being, the declaration of human power as a determinate expression of the indefinite.” And not some political metaphysics of diaphanous aggregates, not some “unlimited affability of the infinite,”[29] expelling the dark to its outside, thereby constituting its very motivation and possibility. In relation to the thought of the seventeenth century, Negri proposes that “the savagery of being,” invented by the savagery of Spinoza—the “benedictus maledictus”—, then, is the “inexhaustible multiplicity of being,” its unheard of “blossomings,” without measure to the standard of that time’s thought, “the opening of being, from its depths”; the tension between tendency and limit, this is the savage anomaly—this tension is “a fundamental moment and real mode of the expression of being.”[30] Then Negri articulates this strange comparison that nonetheless will prove rather edifying:

As do all the products of high technology, his thought contains the complexity of its apparatus within the power of productive force and, moreover, shows this complexity as an irreducible singularity. The disutopia is both a critique of what exists, of the components, and a positive, singular construction of the present. […] [I]n Spinoza productive force is subjected to nothing but itself, and, in particular, domination is taken away from the relations of production: Instead, productive force seeks to dominate the relations of production from its own point of view, through its own power.[31]

First: there is no singularity without iteration. This is what makes up the ontological condition of possibility of the very further forthcomings—phenomenalizations without phantoms (those other annoying, visible things)—of “present” “singularities.” Second: there is no such thing as a “nothing but itself.” When one is saying “nothing but itself” one is, of course, already recognizing what one “symptomatically” negates, destroys. The same goes for “ones own point of view.” The same and itself is always already other; the force of movement, change, luck, opening is a certain outside—as testified by the foundational relationship between what is called tendency and limit. Of course, this does not imply me as a proponent of capitalism. Third: why should not the violence of potestas, so readily acknowledged in the political, social, economical, etc.—in one word, in quasi-immediate human terms—not also be efficient and operative in nature? As if being only awaited political violence to be done away with, effectively chasing and exorcising every ghost, so only the ontologically minimal violence is left, tending against its eternal limit, in such a way that nature, in the human and historical form of a “second nature,” of itself would ensure, through its eternally primordial wealth, the endless recompositions of matter through present needs. He writes further:

Productive force and relations of production: The production is not metaphysical but material, determinate. Spinoza’s thought, in its universal meaning, can be reduced to this simple affirmation. Productive force from the infinity of being, and its unique organization is given in the movement of the infinite. Every subordination and ordering of productive force that is not the autonomous movement of its own constitutive force is negativity, antagonism, emptiness. The expression of productive force is given materially, always balanced on the margin of being, where the constitution finds the support to project outward, like a power of the future. The expression of productive force is given cumulatively on the physical plane and collectively on the ethical plane, always as a result of the theoretical and practical process that, like the expression of productive force itself, is the very self-formation of the being that exists. Productive force is, therefore, immediately constitution, and constitution is the form in which productive force reveals being.[32]

Immediately he goes on to say that the relationship between production and constitution, although cognizable from various points of view, “remains, in its essence, unitary.” Of course, the unicist thought—the obsessive, and therefore interesting, pleonasm of “thought”—requires exorcism of everything that threatens it: “Every subordination and ordering of productive force that is not the autonomous movement of its own constitutive force is negativity, antagonism, emptiness.” And above, to reiterate the thing, the quote—or the ghost: “There is no alternative between fullness and emptiness, just as there is no alternative in Spinoza between being and nonbeing. Also (finally, and this is definitive), there is no simple conception of the possible, as a mediation between the positive and the negative. There is only the constructive fullness of being in opposition to the metaphysical and ethical inconceivability of emptiness, nonbeing, and possibility. In Spinoza the anxiety and philosophical astonishment that human thought endures on the limit of being are destroyed and integrated in constructive being, in its infinite power.” Unity is always, for God’s sake, not two, but always more or/and less than two. And these damn things will never let there be one—or two, which is one two times, et cetera. What haunts unity more than anything is precisely what reiterates itself, almost mysteriously, in these texts: negativity, emptiness, nonbeing, possibility, et cetera. There have been so many constative and performative and whatever acts solemnly denouncing this or that ghost, that now, finally, the one and the root and the true is located there and there, so and so. At last! That heroic mission.

Let us now turn to Negri’s conception of complexity, since it is postulated that being, if let be potentia, if let to itself and without false mediations and mediators, will grow more and more complex—let us not say ‘differentiate’ since this term is effectively absent in Negri—, and once more to the relation between productive force and relations of force, since the latter is seen as mediation par excellence, something that actually will hamper the tendency toward deepened complexity in the ongoing constitution of being:

Production is always more efficient as constitution is more complex. […] Political constitution is always set in motion by the resistance to Power. It is a physics of resistance. […] Power (potestas) is contingency. […] Power (potestas) is superstition, the organization of fear, nonbeing.[33]

Negri will support the Spinozian thesis according to which subjectivity is the very power of being, a power that grows more and more complex, resulting in an evermore efficient production—remember that being is production. Subjectivity is set against theology, Power, etc., because theological dualism is nothing but a line of the legitimation of command, contributing to the production of a separation between productive force and relations of production. God, King, Nation, Capital. These are the mediators that decimate being, and decimate our inborn capacities to and desires for producing this being at ever more intensity, ever more complex—like a blossoming flower. What I cannot consent to here is that Negri seems to say that only potestas is contingent, and that potentia is not. And that there is superstition only on the side of the potestas, and only on the side of the contingency. Is not this too simple? Even if one granted necessity to potentia, there would be too rough a claim to say that potentia is excluded from contingency. I would rather say that it is the universal contingency, in the heart of being, that furnishes the powers of, besides of imagination, emancipation. Because there are contingent proportions of goods, there will be a superior force on behalf of the exploited ones. It is this “given” contingency that constitutes the very project of constituent powers. Wherefrom should it otherwise come from? From whence? It is this mystic, unfathomable element in Negri’s Spinoza, and Spinoza “himself,” that makes them not so Modern anyway. It is as if being itself produced the evils—the Great Evil Mediators—to be combated later. Why, why later, when, where? What to call this if not dualism?

We must ask, always, whether politics—if there ever were such a thing and if it still is such a thing and if it still is desirable at all—is compatible with a self-ensured access to the winning forces of being, the strongest force of being. As soon as Negri aligns his political project in Marx Beyond Marx, for its part justifiable and so forth, with a Spinozian winner card, does he not betray not only the particular political stance of his, but also the political in general? What would we call a politics that were sure of having the last word, sure of being, ultimately, the triumphant, sure of winning the great finale of political being? A conception that is nonetheless rather awkward as he thereby implies ontological history as so far negated—very effectively—by forces opposite to being. What kind of history would this make? Would we ever be able to call it history, in the sense incorporating historicity? He fights to convince us that Spinozian metaphysics is indifferent to any conception of finality, but as he makes use of Spinoza I can not see how he can avoid this certain finalism we just mentioned. This is certainly the case in The Savage Anomaly. And I do think it no less tangible in Insurgencies, however insurgent his vocabulary—so to speak. And with finalism there is no politics—if there ever were. To be political one has not to know who will win out. This is crucial. This is why Negri’s project implodes when it inscribes that certain Spinoza in itself. Good intention, perhaps, but fatal to politics. This implies, too, an effective recognition of the possibility of being thrown in the garbage can we call ‘history,’ however just and acute one deemed its cause. The “pure” political project of Marx Beyond Marx stoops with the advent of The Savage Anomaly. Perhaps Negri envisioned The Savage Anomaly to be the ontological grounding of that project, beyond which there would be no return—and Insurgencies to be the signal to be revealed at the precise moment, the right now, the right presence: revolt, now, this is the time! Such as this: “Have we perhaps come to the border of a new episode of constituent innovation today? To the possibility of a new prosthesis of the world? An absolute democracy?”[34] At the end of The Savage Anomaly he writes:

There are no discontinuities in Spinoza but an infinite number of catastrophes, which reformulate the continuity of being along the line of the imagination, of a depth of productive attribution that, like the water in the earth and in bodies, circulates everywhere. Omnipotent. Like a motor that, in an orderly way, drives transmission belts in every direction and governs the perfections of other motors.[35]

Concerning the continuation of this stance of Negri, now in his Insurgencies, I will give a few examples for this my “hypo”thesis. And they will all be picked from the seventh and last chapter, “The Constitution of Strength.” Negri invokes the image of God: “The Process [of constituent power] is always recomposed and always broken down further by a cupiditas that becomes the passion of society and sovereignty—and that then becomes redundant, as love that constitutes in the multiplicity the image itself of the living god. The democratic living god. [T]his is the divinity of the world.”[36] He writes about a “new book of Genesis,” that makes a shift from the “sphere of possibility to that of the concretization of the will”—but this is nothing new: the will is the peak of man, it seems, so far. From Aristotle to Marx and Nietzsche, to Negri. The parousia of the will, then. There are numerous other places where he calls upon the force of the godean: democracy is living is god—or the other ways around. When Negri talks of the never ending theological abstractions of capitalist economy, this is a remainder that theological abstractions are concrete in political theory too. He insists that notwithstanding Machiavelli’s and Spinoza’s and Marx’ atheism there is always the “Judeo-Christian tradition in which all experience is brought back to unity.”[37] I suppose this is to mean that he does not bring things back to unity. He continues:

This is not the teaching that the historical practice of constituent power has transmitted to us. On the contrary, in the contradiction that pits constituent power against constituted power, the former has not only the quality of creativity but also that of omniversality. If it were not so, we could not understand why each of its results must be destroyed at the very moment when it is achieved—and the multitude, its unceasing expression of vitality, would be reduced to a unitary ghost of strength, whereas strength is really traced on the versality of the multitude.[38]

He writes about a historical practice transmitted, but immediately he falls back into transcendental arguments. It is a question of understanding, and so, for Negri, there is only this thing that he battles—conditions of possibility that always will remain “outside” “present” and “vital” “being”— against, that saves him. Here things get inverted, strangely. Because now we read that if this is not so, if there are no such conditions—conditions which seem to escape the categories of the immanent and the actual and the present and the flat—then the multitude would become a ghost, a unitary one. And further, perhaps it is “really” the case that only ghostly matters can pro-duce what he calls versality, if not omni-versality? And how could omni-versality— “[n]ot only a thousand plateaus, but a thousand directions, networks, variables”[39]

— not be unitary, and a totality? And how would we ever be able to—and what and where is the criterion?—write about the omni? Versality and omni will, if put together, only constitute another totalitarian category of versality; omni punctuates versality, the stern undecidability of versality. The all is the total. The all is a closed system, and however versatile being and life were presumed or posed to be, we are not that far from Hegel or Kant, two figures that Negri accuses of, respectively, idealistic and formal transcendentalism. Not far, because the collectivity and multitude will constitute another subjectivity.

Being shows itself, first of all, as the fabric of the production of existence. This constitutive process is the same as that of life. Just as in physics it is a process that leads a multitude of atoms into configuring individuals, so too in social, ethical, and political life the multitude of individuals reinterprets the striving of strength to exist toward more and more communitarian configurations of life. The mechanisms of production of nature construct individuals; the natural individuals set in motion the processes of the construction of the social.[40]

There are numerous instances in his texts were this “collective subject” is expressed. This omni of Negri is, of course, relatable to his politics being on the ultimately winning side, on the side simply of being. And the winning ontology will of course try to kill everything that still is and remains ungraspable—properly outside of being, epekeina tes ousia, as some would have it—to kill all ghosts. These are problems in Negri’s project that needs to be taken into serious consideration. There is no all, except as a formal hypothesis, and not all ghosts can be killed, except as a ghostly phantasmagoria, and the subject will never wholly constitute collectivity as collectivity never will wholly constitute subjectivity. No matter how versatile, the versatility of the omniversatile being will surely constitute continuous insurgencies on the part of multitude and sovereignty, but, still, with Negri it is as if this is the very collective subject—it is still a subject, conscious of its self as what it is and is not. That the multitude “presents itself as the paradigm of a temporal dimension open onto the future,”[41] needs to be understood in this context of the omni and the real and the collective subject. What temporality of future is here proposed? First, one needs to stress the “actual reabsorbing of the concept of space into that of constituent time. […] This absorption does not deny the specificity of spatial determinations but sets them in a close relation with the totality of movement.”[42] Further:

It is [the] incommensurability [of the expression of the strength of the multitude] that destroys in a definite manner the modern concept of linear and progressive rationality. Yet, and this is the essential point, at the same time it indicates the crisis as activity. The crisis is a limit but it is also, and more important, an obstacle. The limit is posed against a will of strength of the multitude that is impossible to limit, and thus it becomes an obstacle. And it is by becoming deeper on this terrain of the negative that the clash and the contradictions become active: the limit does not close but liberates praxis.[43]

The constitutive praxis is then immediately defined as, not the effectiveness of succeeding, “but by the effectiveness of always trying a new way of succeeding.” Inside—properly inside, because the all necessarily has all inside—of the omniversality of ontology this “always new try” will easily be reduced to idealistic or formal transcendentalism.

What does not succeed is the affirmation of a will that emerges on those points of resistance that are reproduced in the points of failure. It is the revelation of an “outside” that has become an “inside” and the folding in of historical development on this omnipotence that is never actualized but always reproposed. And since this strength is the strength of the multitude, here the multitude reveals itself as subject.[44]

Why does Negri put those terms, ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, in quotation marks? It is the real beast incorporating whatever is. The limit constitutes its eternal machine, is what it feeds on. This is perhaps all well, but today—in the context of the planetary technoscientific destructions some of which and an increasing part of which are irreversible—there is no longer reason to embrace such an ontology, as it is increasingly revealed as a fatal naivety. The properly constitutive multitude would give no warrant whatsoever of not reproducing this technoscientific catastrophe. Immediate, proper, real, and actual needs—given that there ever were and are such things—are not enough. In this respect Negri’s shift from spatial geometry to temporal physics is important. But still there are no mention whatsoever as to our technoscientifically created milieus. This is the classical heritage of Marxism, too, viz. the blind belief in the ecological innocence of the productive forces. It focus political and economical oppression, violence exerted on people through this or that structuring of the productive forces, but forgets about the violence exerted on the extra-human nature. This is a huge problem for the “left,” no less than it is to the “right.” Another quote:

What does not succeed is the affirmation of a will that emerges on those points of resistance that are reproduced in the points of failure. It is the revelation of an “outside” that has become an “inside” and the folding in of historical development on this omnipotence that is never actualized but always reproposed. And since this strength is the strength of the multitude, here the multitude reveals itself as subject.[44]

Nothingness, then. It is born out of nothingness. But this nothingness is at the same time what this articulation of constituent power negates, does not believe in. Ex nihilo, but so in eccentric ways. There is, in history, numerous attempts—perhaps history so far is this—to raise this or that screen, be it in religious, philosophical, political, scientific terms. Against the acknowledgement that there is nothing out there—‘nothing’ as in without logocentric ‘no’ and ‘thing’—, there is in existence nothing for us to get a real, lasting hold on, to help us direct our lives. The nothingness of modernistic conceptions is perhaps something that need be overcome, but I would not rely too much upon the determinations of the multitude either, expressing the immediate needs of the multitude. Against this universal and total absence of clues, history has produced screen after screen, the one nicer than the other, perhaps, but always with an effort to veil existence, to wrap it in some nice story. The category of ‘nothing’ reveals a strategic phase of thought. It is supposed to be “nothing,” the very empty, and perhaps more empty than what is empty because this would keep trace of at least the possibility of there having been something there, or coming into being there; at the same time, this category that is of no worth assumes such absolutely vital functions that it is hard not to discover something else in this quasi-concept than what is, time and again, reaffirmed as simply and properly nothing, nothing to bother about! Right there, in the very clash with the presumed nothing we find resources of motivation that by far transgresses those of this or that religious, philosophical, political or scientific project. By far. Let us continue the journey. “Subjectivity is a prosthesis of movement and its infinite determinations, and it arrives as an absolute event.”[46] What constitutes the event is, partly, iterability in general, meaning the irradical absence of any determinant, intention, addressee, etc. And meaning that an event may always not arrive, meaning that there is always in the structure of arrival the destinerrance, the fact that if it arrives at all it may always arrive wrongly, or against ones wishes or needs or whatever. The same goes for singularity, a category that Negri stresses numerous times as that of the multitude and potentia and cupiditas—the thing that modernity nullifies, that it controls through dialectic. When he writes that “[t]he meaning of history is something like the photonegative of its normal lack of meaning,” he approaches what I here reproaches Negri for. It will depend how one interprets this proposition. But it could be a very effective proposition. From the nothing we project its “photonegative” so as to shelter us from this certain uncanny recognition. But I am not sure whether this is what Negri means by the proposition. Let us go further. Concerning the conception of democracy, Negri specifies:

[D]emocracy means the omnilateral expression of the multitude, the radical immanence of strength, and the exclusion of any sign of external definition, either transcendent or transcendental or in any case external to this radical, absolute terrain of immanence.[47]

Still there is spatial dominance. Confining the multitude to given space, however it be represented as made by the multitude. Still immanence is confined to the value of present. Still there is exclusion of externality—perhaps exactly the operation that will produce those unwanted externalities. Another issue is whether externality is necessarily evil to an emancipatory politics. Still another thing is whether externality lets itself destroy, be consumed en total by the blue flames of immanent needs. In the last subchapter, “Beyond Modernity,” he immediately states that all the threads of his research lead to one conclusion: “constituent power is a subject.” The subject is not progressive; rather it is the “continual antithesis of any constitutional progression.” Constituent power is what resists every statism, every formal determination. But so it is also dependent on what it resists; it cannot be without what it negates. Then one imagines whether the two opposites are not forming a fit functional system together, and so that the more one refines constituent power, the more refined and happy constitutionalism will be. No matter what the intentions would be, we would have to recognize that constituent power thus contributes in a truly significant manner to what it on the surface claims to be fighting. The real effect is namely thus. I think the dependency relation is really distinct, making constituent power always what comes as reaction, and not what sets the stakes for itself, irrespective, beyond any pragmatic calculation and program, of this or that constitutional “fact.” Or is there something else to it? Is Negri able to break this chain, in these last pages of Insurgencies? Modernity—as, e.g., in the figures of Descartes, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel—is defined as what suppresses the multitudo, as what continually is set against it, politically and socially. “The strength of the multitude has to become more and more the object of anguished interrogations and inflexible decisions of repression, that is, expropriation.”[48] The isolation of the social is the aim, so as to transcendentalize the political—a task that defines liberalists as well as anarchists. Constituent power is beyond modernity’s rationality, but this does not mean that it negates abstractions, as does irrationalism and vitalism. Abstraction is necessary. “Abstraction must be reaffirmed from the below, from the base of the process of production where its constitutive processes are analyzed inside the ontological relation.” This radicalism is what inspires Negri’s constituent power. To “ab stract” you need to do it from below, from the base. Why is this so? Why are the processes of production defined as below, as base, etc? I think we need to posit production in terms of future, of what comes, what is not yet, perhaps what never will be. And so the immediate needs need be qualified by future needs, all of which must formally be determined by us, here and now. This would perhaps be another constitutionalism but it is naïve maintain—today—that the immediate needs of the multitude is, by itself, in its spontaneity, in its spontaneous and free re-organizations of living labour, in accordance with those currents from futurity. Real spontaneity and real freedom consists precisely of doing things such that whatever we do it would be substitutable for whatever future community. Substitution means here doings that will in no way hamper the doings of whatever future constituent power. Constituent power has a measure, and this measure is what is expressed, negatively, in contemporaneous technoscience. The negation of this very fact is something that constitutes our contemporary transcendentalism, our contemporary remains of religious faith, and our statism. This negation is something that I still find in Negri’s writings. Negri writes that limit and measure is against constituent rationality. He talks about its limitlessness, the limit being only an obstacle to be overcome and incorporated, the food that nurtures Negri’s ontological machinery and belt assemblages. The limit is the condition of its being.[49] “There is no longer measure; there exist measures that we construct at the moment itself when we produce the reality to be measured. The “Thermidore” is measure—constituent power is beyond measure or, rather, progressive measure, the reflection of the common on itself. Measure is the validity of the proceeding of constituent power in the moment when it makes validity itself unlimited.”[50] Measure is now the “soft” element “that organizes its internal determinations and its software.” Besides this, constituent power consists of process and procedure as against deductive mechanisms. And as always there is a “construction from below,” and that even “traverses the singular emergences by coordinating their action.” The third moment is equality as against privilege. “It is clear how this can be logically founded,” Negri immediately adds.[51] A logical foundation for equality is what Negri proposes for equality. How is this so? It is to be deduced from the fact that constituent power, in Negri’s words, “takes root” and “constructs itself as a genealogy” in the movement of creativity against limit and measure, and continual procedure against institutional stasis; privilege would be contradictory with the constitutive movement of living labour. Equality is posed as the condition of constitutive power, an “ontological assumption.” “It is a material condition—not an abstract and hypocritical declaration of a formal right, but a concrete situation.” And this is so “without any block of the process.”[52] This process without blocking is also that of cooperation, and this is where “abstract rationality is completely inverted into the rationality of the concrete.” He insists that cooperation is of the concrete and the living—the present, the present needs, “the living and productive pulsating of the multitude,” reorganized toward an ever tighter but ever singularized ontology. Then he goes on to define the possibility of politics exclusively in terms of his articulations of the constitutive rationality: “it is a totalizing matrix of the political.” I am able to agree that constituent power is vital to any politics worthy of the name. But as Negri defines it, it is difficult not to say that such politics, coupled with certain blind spots in the thought of Negri, is directly fatal, and so not only to the political, but possibly even to the material conditions of politics in general. Of course, the one main condition upon which he can build his thought is precisely to neglect the destructive side of modern technoscience. In that regard it is nothing less than phantastic that this otherwise so acute and observant thinker is blocking out everything that would qualify his political metaphysics. Machiavelli may have things, still, to be listened to; Spinoza too; Marx too; Negri too—no doubt. But it is fairly obvious that political and metaphysical thought needs to go some steps further. It does not suffice to say that “[c]onstituent power is the paradigm of the political because its process is metaphysically defined by necessity,” and that the only way of violating it is “nontruth,” namely the “opaque screen that superimposes itself onto the permanence of the real political, that is, of constituent power in action.” It seems to me that some aspects of Negri’s thought, too, functions like an opaque screen, working as nontruth. Constituent power is what accelerated time, says Negri, and must be understood as “love of time—of time, its singular emergencies, and the apparition of the event.” Here the ghost returns. The event of the apparition is never too far away from Negri. The love for time is the love for reconstituting life, for the time to reconstitute. But this is surely not without limits. And those limits does not reduce to “being for death,” as Negri writes. Anyway, death is integral to life in a very irreducible way, and it would be wise to incorporate death—and the as of yet not living—in the political aspirations.

This, then, is my first word.


[1] Insurgencies, pp. 141-3.

[2] Insurgencies, p. 70.

[3] Ibid., p. 249, note 12.

[4] Opus cit., pp. 41-55.

[5] Op. Cit., pp. 120-2. Now, I am somewhat reticent of some of Derrida’s temporal notions; I think it somewhat odd that he does not stress futurity. Many of his forcefully motifs would do better when inscribed more in a certain future temporality than in past temporality. The figure of the ‘before’ as used by Derrida here plays on both ‘avant’ and ‘devant,’ the first often connoting before in time, the other before in space. In Jacques Derrida and Elisabeth Roudinesco’s For what Tomorrow…, translated by Jeff Fort, Stanford University Press 2004, Derrida stresses that he has come to differentiate between, on the one hand, the phantom and the ghost, and on the other hand, the revenant. The first two, like phantasm, carries an etymological reference to visibility, to appearing in the light, something which the figure of the revenant does not. The first ones therefore destroy, on the basis of seeing in light, the unforeseeability of the event. “The revenant,” however, comes and comes back (since singularity as such implies repetition) like the “who” or “what” of an event without horizon. Like death itself. Thinking the event and haunting together would thus be thinking the revenant rather than the specter or the phantom.” Note 34, pp. 230-1.

[6] The Savage Anomaly, p. 136.

[7] Ibid., p. 134.

[8] Ibid., p. 135.

[9] Ibid., p. 179.

[10] Ibid., p. 131.

[11] Ibid., p. 206.

[12] Ibid., pp. 156-7.

[13] Ibid., p. 157.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., p.159.

[16] Ibid., p. 160.

[17] Ibid., p. 162.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid., p. 178.

[20] Ibid., p. 198.

[21] Ibid., p. 211.

[22] Ibid., p. 212.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., p. 62.

[25] Ibid., p.63.

[26] See Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community, transl. Michael Hardt, University of Minnesota Press 1998, “Principium indivuationis.”

[27] Op.cit., p. 222.

[28] Ibid., p. 226.

[29] Ibid., p. 220.

[30] Ibid., p. 223.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid., p. 224, m.e.

[33] Ibid., p. 226.

[34] Insurgencies, p. 323.

[35] The Savage Anomaly, p. 225.  (There is no longer need of italizing words here.)

[36] Insurgencies, p. 304.

[37] Ibid., p. 307.

[38] Ibid., pp. 307-8.

[39] Ibid., p. 319.

[40] Ibid., p. 320-1.

[41] Ibid., p. 311.

[42] Ibid., p. 316.

[43] Ibid., p. 317.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid., p. 318.

[46] Ibid., p. 319.

[47] Ibid., p. 321.

[48] Ibid. p. 324.

[49] Ibid., p. 328.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid., p. 329.

[52] Ibid., p. 330.


[1] Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, translated by Michael Hardt, University of Minnesota Press 2003, p. 140-1 (my emphasis (m.e.)).

[2] Ibid., p. 47.

[3] Ibid., p. 43.

[4] Ibid., p. 26. Negri quotes Deleuze’s Spinoza et le problème de l’expression, p. 40.

[5] Ibid., p. xiv, in “Translator’s Foreword,” and note 3 on p. 233.

[6] Ibid., p. 43, m.e.

[7] Ibid., note 7, p. 241.

[8] Ibid., pp. 33-4, m.e.

[9] Ibid., p 46.

[10] Ibid., p. 34, m.e.

[11] Ibid., “Preface,” p. xxi, m.e.

[12] Ibid, p. xx, m.e.

[13] Ibid, pp. xvii-xix.

[14] Ibid., p. xviii.

[15] Ibid., p. 48, m.e.

[16] Antonio Negri, Insurgencies, translated by Maurizia Boscagli, University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

[17] Antonio Negri, Marx Beyond Marx, translated by Harry Cleaver, Michael Ryan and Muarizio Viano, edited by Jim Fleming, Autonomedia, 1991.

[18] Insurgencies, p. 223.

[19] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, in Collected Works, vol. 11, New York: International Publishers, 1979, pp. 103-4.

[20] Specters of Marx, p. 109.

[21] ‘Allos’ from Greek syntax, with connotative meanings like ‘other,’ ‘stranger,’ ‘foreign.’ The allos is what opens the ference, or the “ferry,” to recognize alternative itineraries, some of which necessarily is experienced as, precisely, allergenic. The mutineer is structural to this. The possible and necessary allergenic structure of the allos accounts for processes of what Derrida has called ‘auto-immunization,’ especially so when thought is rooted in radicalist axiology.

[22] “Marx lived more than others, we are going to make this clear, in the frequentation of specters.” See Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, translated by Peggy Kamuf, Routledge 1994, p. 101, and the chapter “In the Name of Revolution.”

[23] Pardon my irresponsible revolting of our lexica. Anyway, I do not think it entirely arbitrary that our lexica so easily yield to such revolt. However, this is not only a question of the connections and inflections in this or that lexicon; it is the “life” of every language and so an irreducible structure.

[24] Op.cit., p. 101.

[25] Jacques Derrida & Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television, translated by Jennifer Bajorek, Polity Press 2002, p. 126-7. See “Spectrographies”, pp. 113-134.

[27] Op.cit., p. 105.

[28] Ibid., p. 107.

[29] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Blackwell 1988, p. 177.

[30] Specters of Marx, note 6, p. 189.

[31] Some other time and some other place I would like to try to thematize this radicalist metaphysics in Derrida’s works too, for example with a view to his interpretation of the themes of ‘trace,’ ‘inheritance,’ ‘specter,’ as well as his interpretation of what he calls ‘teletechnologies.’ We need to deconstruct Derrida’s works of their own rootedness in radicalist motifs. For instance, the life of the trace is not past but future.

[32] The Savage Anomaly, note 14, p. 258.

[33] Ibid., p. 128. In nature there is only light, lumen naturale. Still, with Spinoza we see that there is something that only appears, looks like given and immediate being in its proper light and transparency.

[34] Ibid., p. 128, m.e.

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