哈维所强调的斯宾诺莎思想中的一个关键概念就是奇异性。但我们要指明的是，奇异性的思想并不限于斯宾诺莎，在欧洲哲学史上可以追溯至邓斯•司各脱，当代很多哲学家都非常重视这个概念，如福柯、德勒兹、巴丢和阿甘本，虽然每个人会赋予其稍有不同的内涵。哈维提到了奇异性的数学内涵，这与巴丢的思想路径有些接近，但与我们的观念有着重要差别。在我们看来，奇异性一方面与个体相对立，另一方面与同一性（identity）形式相对立，并且我们主要关注其与杂多性关系的三个方面：独一性从外部来说指向他者的杂多性；独一性就内部来说是分化的或多元的；独一性在历史中构成了杂多性，也就是说独一性是一个生成的过程（见《大同世界》，pp. 338-39）。在斯宾诺莎，以及更为普遍的在启蒙思想的重要流派那里，将人类视为奇异性意味着让其脱离所有的形而上学支撑，如灵魂，并根据欲望和理性的逻辑，将其视为由历史所定义的杂多性，并且由激情和语言的运动所构成。马克思主义的历史唯物主义传统也有着类似的观念：由宗教或先验理论所规定的个体是对主体性生产的神秘化。正如麦克弗森（C. B. Macpherson）（加拿大左翼政治哲学家，译按）所证明的，这种作为基础的个体观念在资本主义意识形态中，充当占有行为和财产的基础以及市场意识形态的核心。因此，但个体概念的批判并非意味着要提出大众的概念，这个概念意味着同质性的阶级身份。而奇异性的概念则将革命主体的构成问题视为一个事件，这种主体的的特征是异质性的杂多性。在我们看来，完全有必要提出奇异性的概念，同时还有杂多性的观念，即便这意味着我们要面对斯宾诺莎和其他哲学家，因为这个概念对我们处理某些分析性和实践性的政治问题非常关键。
Response: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Marxists are renowned for reserving their severest criticism for other Marxists, often proving their points by twisting their opponents’ arguments or triumphantly pulling out as trump cards technical terms that those uninitiated in the arcana of Marxology find baffling. We are therefore all the more grateful to David Harvey, a fellow Marxist, for his attentive reading of, and praise for, our new book, Commonwealth. He makes clear that there are several areas of agreement between our perspectives, the most important of which is the emerging centrality of the theme of the common and the corresponding critique of property, which indeed constitute one pillar of our argument. Harvey also recognizes, rightly, that many aspects of our book are consistent with vital work he has done – on Utopian thought, the increasingly immaterial nature of capitalist production, and the politics of the metropolis, for example. And in some areas in which, as a geographer, he has great expertise, such as the importance of place and questions of spatial differences across the globe, he points in directions our argument could be extended. These are indeed themes we will pursue in the future.
Harvey also highlights a number of intellectual and political differences between his project and ours, and it is worth taking the time to clarify how we view these differences and their political consequences. The first of these involves the relation of class to other lines of political struggle. After commenting favorably on our discussion of identity politics in relation to revolutionary thought and practice, in which we analyze how the struggles of various identity formations (including class) have in the past and can in the future take revolutionary forms, Harvey pulls back to reassert the primacy of class, explaining that, in agreement with Slavoj ¿izek, he maintains that “there is something far more foundational about class than there is about all the other forms of identity in relation to the perpetuation of capitalism.” This means, following Zizek, that, whereas class politics can be revolutionary, race, gender, and other identity struggles cannot be. One central difference here between our view and those of Harvey and Zizek is that we do not consider capital to be the exclusive axis of domination, and, hence, overthrowing capitalist rule is not, in our view, the only mode of revolutionary activity. We seek throughout our book, in fact, to articulate the variety of axes of modern domination, of which capital is an important but not exclusive part. It seems to us a crucial shift in emphasis, then, when commenting on our discussion of the multiple forms of revolutionary struggle, that Harvey restricts the framework to their effect on “the perpetuation of capitalism.” In an earlier part of the book, for example, we explore the forms of coloniality and racism that constitute modernity and continue in various modalities throughout the world today. How can we understand the radi- cally and innovation of the Haitian Revolution, for example, or of the contemporary indigenous political movements in the Andes, solely in relation to their effect on the perpetuation of capitalism? Capitalist domination certainly plays a role in creating and maintaining these hierarchies but by no means accounts for them adequately on its own, and thus the strategies of altermodernity that we explore are not defined exclusively by their challenges to capitalist rule. The point is not to choose among these axes of domination or even to rank them in order of importance but rather to analyze how capital functions together with coloniality, racism, gender hierarchy, and other mechanisms of domination. Although these undoubtedly intersect in significant and complex ways, there is a relative autonomy to the different axes of domination and exploitation. This recognition points us toward the long history of revolutionary thought and practice in feminism and black radicalism, as well as in other race- and identity-based movements (from which the dominant stream of Marxism has a lot to learn).
We had hoped that the importance and specificity of each of these arenas of struggle would be by now an accepted basis for political discussion. What is to be gained by insisting that class has priority with respect to other identity domains and, moreover, that other forms of struggle, such as those based on gender, race, and sexuality, cannot be revolutionary? In reaction to similar claims by Marxists in the 1970s, often coupled with the notion that gender hierarchies would be addressed once the class revolution completed its work, some radical feminists insisted that patriarchy came before capital historically and is thus prior politically, making class struggle secondary to feminist struggle. Perhaps Harvey insists on the priority of class as a similar kind of compensatory move, feeling that class is neglected today with respect to other identity domains. We certainly agree that more attention to class is necessary, but insisting on its priority is not an adequate solution. It is necessary instead to understand that each of these axes of domination has its own specificity, as do the struggles that challenge them, and that there are nonetheless numerous possible points of intersection and communication.
We intend the concept of multitude as a means of approaching such problems in terms both of an analysis of the structures of power, and of the practical organization of political activity. Multitude in this sense is a mechanism or a dispositif for the organization of singularities that does not pose any one of them as central or exclusive. Specifically, in the section of Commonwealth on revolutionary thought and practice to which Harvey is responding, the challenge is to organize the intersections and encounters among class, race, gender, sexuality, and other struggles in a project of liberation.
A second difference between Harvey’s perspective and ours would seem to center on the figure of Baruch Spinoza. We are flattered that he attributes to us a renaissance in Spinoza studies, but we cannot really take credit. The current widespread interest in Spinoza can be traced back to the 1960s – specifically, to the work of Louis Althusser, who illuminated the connection between Spinoza and Marx; and that of Gilles Deleuze, who posed Spinoza, along with Nietzsche, as a key figure in an alternative line of European philosophy. Harvey points out, quite rightly, that there is no reason to assume that Spinoza has all the answers – but neither is there any reason to assume that Marx or anyone else has them, either. Harvey adds that if our argument relies on a deep knowledge of Spinoza, we will inevitably be understood only by a small readership, despite the boom in Spinoza study groups. (Harvey’s response, in fact, made us curious enough to check the index of our book, where we found that the entry for Spinoza is indeed substantial, about as large as that for Michel Foucault, but not as large as that for Marx.) We recognize, in any case, that some readers will be irritated by references to thinkers they do not know well, while others will be inspired to learn more. The real point, though, which Harvey’s comments help us focus on, is the clarity and utility of Spinoza’s arguments.
One crucial aspect of Spinoza’s thought that Harvey emphasizes is the concept of singularity. The idea of singularity, though, we should point out, is not limited to Spinoza but stretches back in the history of European philosophy at least to Duns Scotus, and it has been central to the thinking of many major contemporary philosophical figures, including Foucault, Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Giorgio Agamben, each of whom gives it a somewhat different definition. Harvey assumes a mathematical notion of singularity, roughly in line with Badiou’s thought, which differs significantly from ours. We instead define the concept of singularity, contrasting it to the figure of the individual on the one hand and forms of identity on the other, by focusing on three aspects of its relationship to multiplicity: Singularity refers externally to a multiplicity of others; is internally divided or multiple; and constitutes a multiplicity over time – that is, a process of becoming. (See, e.g., Commonwealth, pages 338-39.) In Spinoza, and more generally in an important stream of Enlightenment thought, conceiving of the human as a singularity serves to remove it from any metaphysical support, such as the soul, and to cast it instead as a historically defined multiplicity, constructed by the movements of passions and languages, according to logics of both desire and rationality. The Marxist tradition of historical materialism similarly maintains that the substantial individual defined by either religious or transcendental theories is a mystification of the production of subjectivity. Such notions of the individual as foundation serve in capitalist ideology as the basis for possession and property, as the political theorist C. B. Macpherson has demonstrated, and as the heart of market ideology. Critique of the individual, however, does not imply a mass, homogeneous notion of class identity. The concept of singularity, instead, poses the constitution of the revolutionary subject as an event characterized by heterogeneous multiplicities. It seems to us well worth the effort, then, to struggle with the concept of singularity, along with the allied notion of multiplicity, even if that means engaging with Spinoza and other philosophers, because it provides a key to addressing some of our central analytic and practical political questions.
Harvey is, understandably, much more comfortable when our arguments stay close to Marx’s, but he is nonetheless perplexed when we seem, in his view, not to have read Marx well enough or, really, when we diverge from the standard interpretations of the Marxist tradition. One example is our failure to deploy Marx’s notion of fictitious capital as an explanation for the centrality of finance in the contemporary economy. Finance capital can be considered fictitious, in our view, only within the bounds of market relations and, in particular, in the competition among capitalists. From this standpoint, many conclude that the current crisis is due in large part to the separation between finance and real economic production, a view often accompanied by socialist rhetoric against the plutocracy and the parasitic agents of finance. When we focus not on individual capitalists but on collective capital, though, we see a different picture: Financialization is not an unproductive and/or parasitic deviation of growing rates of surplus value and collective savings but rather the central form of the accumulation of capital. Furthermore, whereas in the industrial framework the relationship between economic production and finance might have appeared as reality versus fiction, the economic forms emerging as central today cast this relationship in a new light. In fact, increasingly today the form of finance is symmetrical to the new processes of social and biopolitical production of value. The production of common goods we focus on in our book, such as the production of knowledge, codes, languages, images, services, affects, and social relations, has significant immaterial components but neither these immaterial goods nor finance are for that reason fictional. This analysis leads us to a different political position with regard to finance, both with respect to the current crisis and, more generally, in view of transforming the economy: Rather than castigate or dismiss finance as fictional, we aim to transform the property rights of common goods by reappropriating socially what finance now possesses.
In terms of political organization, too, Harvey at times considers us to be veering away from Marxist tradition, but at these moments we see ourselves, on the contrary, as very close to Marx’s thought. Harvey, for instance, finds our analyses of jacqueries and various other forms of revolt problematic because, he maintains, citing the recent rightwing interruptions of health-care debates, there is nothing necessarily progressive about such explosions of political passion and indignation. We certainly agree that there are no guarantees that revolts will be politically progressive. Our method, though, rather than projecting what people should do and what they should want, is to start where people revolt, to start from people’s political passions, and, from there, develop political projects. Marx’s famous 1843 letter to Arnold Ruge comes to mind, in which he maintains that we must make actually existing struggles the starting point for our criticism, but this is a principle of political realism that he shares not only with Spinoza but also with Machiavelli. The first rule of political thought is that we must begin not from a version of people as we think they ought to be but from people as they are.
This stance of political realism is aimed at banishing all notions of vanguard politics or “ideologies of truth,” an effort with which we imagine Harvey would agree. We are convinced that revolutionary action is only ever made from below and that its strength or weakness depends on the constituent power it expresses. Constituent power here refers to the internal dynamics of the struggles, their specific modes of organization, and the forms of program and leadership that they express. Here again the concept of multitude – or really a process of making the multitude, through which constituent power is expressed – becomes central for us.
Harvey finds agreement with us that the old political polemics between reform and revolution – such as those referring back to Eduard Bernstein and the early-twentieth-century politics of the Second International – no longer hold. We do not conceive the relationship exactly as Harvey does when he explains that reform is the prelude to revolution, but rather we tend to note how often the division between them breaks down. There is no single straight course to changing the world, but many circuitous paths through brambles, along which we must constantly try to find our way. We have nothing against taking state power, for example, as Harvey seems to suggest early in his essay. What matters is what happens next. That is why in this book and elsewhere we have followed with such intense interest the recent experiences of Left governments in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, and other countries in Latin America.
We are also convinced, however, that winning power and managing it in a nation-state, in a solitary way, is today impossible. Moreover, the crisis of the nation-state and national sovereignty corresponds to a crisis of the modern theories of government. This situation is illustrated by the now-obvious failures of US attempts at unilateralism (proving the impossibility of unilateral dictation by any single nation-state) as a means of managing the global system and also, more generally, by the decline of all the “monarchical” techniques of rule, which in the past dominated foreign and domestic politics even in socalled democratic states. This passage is sometimes characterized as a shift from government to governance, to indicate, in part, the plural and often decentralized nature of the emerging forms of rule. We dedicate substantial discussion in the last part of our book to such forms of global governance, analyzing the new and at times severer and more violent forms of hierarchy and control it deploys. But we also maintain that the concepts and structures of this emerging governance provide the means for destabilizing and overthrowing those same global power structures and, in some respects, suggest the terms for future revolutionary organization.
In the final paragraphs of his essay, Harvey expresses frustration that our book does not arrive at “concrete proposals.” Perhaps we have a different view as to what a book like ours should do. It is not, of course, the case that we have no interest in “actual political organization” and “real actions”; on the contrary, our own political histories are full of such engagements. Instead, we think a book like ours should strive to understand the present but also challenge and inspire its readers to invent the future. That is where we will gauge its success or failure.
Published in Artforum 48: 3 (Nov 2009): 210-221.
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