Posts Tagged ‘labor


Virno’s A Grammar of the Multitude

Paolo Virno
A Grammar of the Multitude
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From the text

7: “Virno’s essay examines the increased mobility and versatility of the new labor force whose work-time now virtually extends to their entire life.”
7: “Operaismo (workerism) has a paradoxical relation to traditional Marxism and to the official labor movement because it refuses to consider work as the defining factor of human life.  Marxist analysis assumes that what makes work alienating is capitalist exploitation, but oepraists realized that it is rather the reduction of life to work.  Paradoxically, ‘workerists’ are against work, against the socialist ethics that used to exalt its dignity.  They don’t want to re-appropriate work, but reduce it.”
8: knowledge→machines=dead labor
11: Workers are a class for themselves before being a class against capital.  Actually, it is always capital that ‘seeks to use the worker’s antagonistic will-to-struggle as a motor for its own development.’  Empire develops the same argument: capitalism can only be reactive since the proletariat that ‘actually invents the social and productive forms that capital will be forced to adopt in the future.’”
12: The multitude is a force defined less by what it actually produces than by its virtuality, its potential to produce and produce itself.
16: “Empire involves an original kind of class struggle: a struggle looking for a class.  For Virno it would be just the reverse: a class looking for a struggle.”
23: “The multitude, according to Hobbes, shuns political unity, resists authority, does not enter into lasting agreements, never attains the status of juridical person because it never transfers its own natural rights to the sovereign. […]  If there are people, there is no multitude; if there is a multitude, there are no people.”
24: “private signifies, above all, deprived of: deprived of a voice, deprived of a public presence.”
32: Two forms of dread: fear and anguish: “fear situates itself inside the community, inside its forms of life and communication.  Anguish, on tehother hand, makes its appearance when it distances itself from the community to which it belongs, from its shared habits, from its well-known ‘linguistic games,’ and then penetrates into the vast world.”
37: “The life of the mind’ is the One which lies beneath the mode of being of the multitude.”
40: Public sphere/general intellect

Other helpful summaries


Class notes on Virno, H&N/Hardt lecture

Class Notes on Virno/Hardt/Negri and from Hardt lecture
Class notes

•    Multitude—known specifically through Hardt and Negri
•    People: Modes
•    New lexicon needs to be created
•    Refashioning of the individual
•    Return to Spinoza
•    Philosophical recap of people in Hobbes
o    Establishment of state and people
•    Less authoritarian—relation => Rousseau’s General Will
o    Formation of nation state in Renaissance
•    State is the absolute state (whole group of people is French)
•    Notions of people associated with formation
•    Philosophy with Hobbes, Political with unifications = People
o    Idea of people
•    Continuation of power of people
•    Transmutations—certain notion of people
o    Language, class solidarity
•    Line-up with respective nationalisms
•    Multitude doesn’t have rich history as People
•    Unity is not the same as unity of people
•    Deleuze and Guttari: ATP—packs, swarms, multiplicities
•    Some type of connection—not the same when entered into
•    Satre, Fourrier: some of the only 2 to “think” of groups
o    Bigger than the individual, smaller than the society
•    D & G: Multiplicities—doesn’t become closed off
o    No absolute fusion
•    Informational capital
o    Network, informational, Post-Fordism
•    Notion of multiplicity especially apt—what’s the basis of this?
•    Industrial capitalism—shift in terminology to describe new working class
•    Movement from workshops→large factories
•    Less and less access to totality
•    Assembly line:
o    Standardization: one size fits all
o    Taylor: Motion studies, film of workers, increase productivity, simplify movement, most work for time, empirical studies, dehumanized
•    Ford paid workers more so that they could buy the cars they made
o    Develop large consumer base
•    Ford to Ruether: “Use machines instead—no coffee breaks! No strikes!”
•    Ruether to Ford: “Machines will never buy cars!”
•    Kanesianism: shift away from classical economics
•    Inflation not seeing unemployment
•    Fordism becomes abandoned
•    3rd Industrial Revolution: computing technologies
•    Scale of production—dispersion
o    H & N: against concentration
•    Industry has become more informatized
•    Just-in-time production
o    Produce faster—easier to produce only on demand
•    Less absolute specialization, now more teams doing larger tasks
•    Branding and selling the idea
•    Old: Reliability New: Affective relation
•    Toyota-ism/Walmart-ism
o    Poverty would be worse
•    Control, surveillance management
o    Hyperstandardization
o    David Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity
o    Fordist→Post-Fordist
•    Flexible accumulation
o    Closet to real time
o    Employees be more flexible
•    Lifetime employment—never guaranteed again
o    Greater precariousness
o    Paid less, fired more easily
o    Precarity is general situation
•    University hiring: flexible accumulation
•    Virno: cynicism
•    Changes of labor world wide—proletariat replaced with notion of multitude
•    New international economy
•    Shumpeter—Austrian, early 20th century, glorification of the entrepreneur, creative destruction, building, everything to ground—start again more lateral, non hierarchical, get rid of middle management, individual responsibility
•    How this relates to the multitude
o    General intellect—how does this institute change?
•    Cosmopolitanism
•    Responding to dispersal
•    Realist or nationalist
•    What’s the notion of general intellect
o    Generally knowable
•    Idle talk
•    Form rather than fact
•    New political worker arrangement—language
•    Post-Fordist production—ability to network
•    Social capital
•    Intellectual v. manual labor
•    Thinkers v. strangers
•    Exile is everyone’s situation: a common experience, connected through seclusion
•    Responsibility—personal invite
o    New sense of what is common
•    Virtuoso: Performance v. product—labor not separate
•    The whole process is sold
•    82: Virtuoso, language, “humanness,” bio-politics has been translated to capitalistic gain
•    Foucault argues against systems of power
o    Subordinated to systems of power
•    Logic of capital—management of labor power
•    81: Understanding bio-politics
•    Constant variable capital
•    Potentiality rather than fixed quantity
o    Pays in terms of actuality
•    Nor just buying force, but instead personalities
•    Experiencing persona ‘good’
•    Less and less possible to talk about quantity as Marx suggested
•    Grundrisse: “Fragment on Machines”
o    Once mechanization reaches certain place, worker will be adjunct of machine—transition to communism can become easier
•    Capitalists own wealth of all society
o    I.e. science/technology become owned
•    General intellect has some relation to ‘intellectual property’
•    Primitive accumulation—can’t have capital unless great accumulation→into capital
•    Peasants→free, no longer live of soil
•    Accumulation of capital before capitalism based on other forms of accumulation
o    Pre-industrial
o    Marx hints
o    Structural process
•    Primitive: genome, medicine (primitive, herbal)
•    Increasing privitization of what used to be public
•    H & N: central to production process
o    More and more common
•    What potentially common becomes greater
o    Increases possibility of labor
o    Limits of time
•    Capital reaches limits but that limit becomes internalized and expands more aspects of human life to become commodified
•    Regan, Thatcher: Everything privatized, not individuality
•    Pollution credits
•    How have things that are common becoming privatized?
•    Debord and Adorno:
o    All forms of discourse and communication becoming spectacle—separated from the spectator
•    Leisure time and work time all subjected to commodification
o    Music, for Adorno, is all commodified
•    Spread of general intellect becoming important
•    Absolute capital domination (leisure time)
•    Labor as to be more in common
o    Live in a more common world
•    Performance: poesis and intellect
o    Increased exploitation, but commonness
•    Possibility of having same things in common
•    Forces of production
•    Civil disobedience
•    Autonomous in 70s: at least in Italy
o    Worker heroes?
o    Drop out of factories
o    Became zero worker
o    Against deadening effect of Fordism
•    New forms of protest movements
o    Genoa, 9-11, trade union strikes
•    Coalitions from different arenas
•    Immigrant rights
•    Aggregation of different groups and points of view
•    Decentered
•    Pragmatic correlative of multitude
•    Reactive—what’s the effectivity
•    Operating with different language
Hardt Lecture (on reading from Multitude)
•    Transformation of labor
•    One has to verify that people are capable of democracy
o    Cooperative self-rule
•    Habits of training
•    DuBois: black reconstruction
o    Think about population
o    Ignorance and poverty
•    Spinoza: superstition and ignorance
o    “Spontaneously” create democracy
•    How can we verify that people are capable of democracy?
•    Labor
•    Work is one place where people learn collective self-rule
o    Place of greatest un-freedom
•    Changing nature of work—shift in paradigm
•    Immaterial production
•    One shift exerts qualities over the others
•    Qualities enforced over others
o    Temporalities
o    Regimentation has influenced social life as a whole
•    Factories have influenced social lives
•    Ambitious/prudent
•    No longer progressively industrialized
o    E.P. Thompson
•    Work time/non-work time
•    Division of day into three parts
o    Fordist temporality
•    What succeeds the dominance
•    Qualities of factories no longer being imposed in social life
•    “Immaterial” production
o    Images, affects, ideas, code
•    Immaterial component is increasingly important
•    “Affective” labor
o    Healthcare, flight attendants
•    Create a sense of well-being
•    Feminization of labor
o    More women entering wage labor force
o    “Women’s work” becoming more prominent in economy as a whole
•    Non-contract work, no distinction between work time/non-work time
•    Re-gendered re-inscription of gendered roles
•    **Central to production of capital
•    Destruction of workday
o    Always potentially at work
•    Biopolitical production
o    New exploitations
•    Alienation—more sense in affective labor
•    New capacities for self-organization, ability to produce social relations
•    The democratic capacities
o    Realizing possibilities
•    Create society and social relation
•    Where does imposition come from?
o    Multiple rather than dualistic
•    Duratoin
•    Synchronization—not only in factory but at the home
•    Foucault and Deleuze
o    Shift from disciplinary society to control society
•    Foucault: disciplinary society as archipelago
o    Jumping from one to another
o    When outside one, then outside discipline of it
•    But…never really outside discipline
•    Repetition: Adorno and culture industry
o    Entertainment is regimented, too
•    Hegelian alienation bleeding of lived experience (?)
•    Foucault: power is only exercised over willing subjects
•    Resistance is prior to power
o    It’s ontological: Deleuze
o    Struggle for pre-existing power
•    Marx: capitalist brings cooperation
o    Brings and forces cooperation
o    Increases productivity => essential
•    Capital is no longer furnisher of relations
o    Cooperation is established in these relations themselves
•    Creativity on the clock?
o    Polychronism
•    High-context/low-context
o    Not time, but speed now
•    Migrant and survival techniques
•    Potential to be realized
•    Pride: predominant product is changing
•    Production of capital is a production of social relation
•    Production of automobile is the midpoint
•    What’s ultimately produced is relations
o    Only a means towards capital
•    Zizek: Hardt and Negri reproduce Marx’s error
•    Capital: for difference; Now: against difference
•    Has to constantly engage and decrease it
•    Nancy: being with
•    Return to Deleuze and ontological/resistance (sovereignty)
•    Ontological priority over power
o    Creativity happens in moments of resistance
•    Co-optation
o     Materialist teleology => dialectical
•    Determined by struggles
•    No end, no telos
•    Third form? Power → resistance
•    Anti-Oedipus: All reality is productive
o    Power is falling back on production
•    3rd Term: becoming
•    No center to power: Foucault
•    Possibility of social becoming
•    Kim Crenshaw—intersectionality
•    Political organization is required
o    Hegemonic instance must be imposed for that articulation
•    Role of the intellectual: what are people doing and go from there

August 2018
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