Monday, April 18, 2016

A Structuralism of Feeling? Alberto Toscano on Frédéric Lordon

"In recognizing, with Spinoza, the irreducible role of the passions in human affairs, Lordon hopes to bid farewell to the allegedly utopian tendencies in Marx, insisting instead on the, at best, regulative character of communism. Lordon’s wager is that Spinoza’s theory of the passions can both elucidate our psychic investments in the capital-relation and delineate some parameters for the struggle against domination; yet the upshot is little more than schematic recipes for converting sad into joyful passions. Like many of his contemporaries, Lordon tends to over-estimate the psychic power of neoliberalism while under-estimating the force of misery evident in austerity; the relation of Marxian ‘need’ to Spinozian ‘passion’ remains untheorized. In contemporary conditions, Spinozist visions of radical democratic progress, understood as the ‘enrichment of life by joyous affects’, appear as considerably more utopian than the imaginary of transition in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, for example."

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