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Educational Philosophy and Theory

Incorporating ACCESS

ISSN: 0013-1857 (Print) 1469-5812 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rept20

Affective capitalism, higher education and the

constitution of the social body Althusser, Deleuze,
and Negri on Spinoza and Marxism

Michael A. Peters

To cite this article: Michael A. Peters (2018): Affective capitalism, higher education and the
constitution of the social body Althusser, Deleuze, and Negri on Spinoza and Marxism, Educational
Philosophy and Theory, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2018.1439720

To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2018.1439720

Published online: 14 Mar 2018.

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Educational Philosophy and Theory, 2018


Affective capitalism, higher education and the constitution of

the social body Althusser, Deleuze, and Negri on Spinoza and
By affect I understand affections of the body by which the body’s power of acting is increased or diminished, aided
or restrained, and at the same time, the ideas of these affections.

–Spinoza, Benedict de. A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, Trans. by Edwin M. Curley. Princeton and
Chichester: Princeton University Press, 1994, p. 154.

In a little book published nearly 20 years ago, Postsructuralism, Neoliberalism and Marxism: Between Theory
and Politics (Peters, 2001) I made a simple argument, summarised in the Preface as: ‘poststructuralism
is neither a form of anti-Marxism nor antithetical to Marxism’. I sought to demonstrate this observation
through a series of critical engagements with the work of Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault and Jean-Francois
Lyotard, maintaining: ‘They have either been Marxist or still christen themselves as Marxist and invent
new ways of reading and writing Marx’ (p. vii). I saw this discussion as important to initiate because
of a looming crisis in educational theory that, on the basis of the lack of interpenetration of national
philosophical traditions, threatened to turn the modernity/postmodernity debate into a sterile affair.
The stand-off in the 1980s between German Critical Theory and French Poststructuralism (framed up in
charicatures) dominated discussion well out of proportion to its theoretical significance. In one sense
it was about polemics, initiated by Habermas, on the basis of Hegelian Marxism, against French post-
structuralists whom he likened to the ‘Young Conservatists’ of the Weimar Republic (Habermas, 1981).
This was an exordinary claim by Habermas that he later retracted as his attitude softened to Foucault
and Derrida (Peters, 1994). Habermas grew up in post-war Germany in the shadow of the Nuremberg
trials and came to requestion Heidegger Nazi afilliation in 1953. On Heidegger‘s silence, Habermas
systematically moved away from Heidegger’s influence and outside the German tradition to critically
refashion the liberal democratic traditon. It is perhaps ironic that the long French engagement with and
exordinary impact of Heidegger‘s philosophy had inspired generations of existentialists, phenomenol-
ogists and poststructuralists. The latter were especially influenced by Heideggers’ reading of Nietzsche
and the attempt to recast truth as a phenomenological search based on experience rather than as a
matter of deduction based on a priori concepts. There is no underestimating the Heideggerian effects
on Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Irigaray and many others. Most famously, in Germany Hebert Marcuse
(1964) who studied with Heidegger at Freiburg University from 1928 to 1932, pursued the prospects of
Heideggerian Marxism up until the rediscovery of The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts in 1932.1
I began my book with a chapter that discussed ‘Poststructural Marxisms’, starting with a couple of
orienting quotations from Heidegger in which he is entirely complimentary of Marx: one where he
comments that the reversal of metaphysics accomplished by Marx completes the inner possibilities
of philosophy, and the other where he suggests that the Marxist view of history is superior to all other
accounts.2 I was trying to show that the notion of Marxism that inhabited most critical work in edu-
cation and the social sciences was often simple-minded and sometimes an unreflective fiction; and,
that after structuralism, ‘after Althusser’, reading Marx had become a favourite critical activity that had
released Marx from the confines of Hegel’s metaphysics and his Christian eschatology. At that point,

© 2018 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia


I had become interested in structuralist readings of Marx (as did everyone) and the way a new gener-
ation of mostly French thinkers had read Marx through Nietzsche, Heidegger or Spinoza. They were
non-Hegelian, non-dialectical thinkers and their work provide alternative frameworks and schemas to
read Marx anew and adapt Marxism to a changing political economy.
Indirectly, I was merely foreshadowing one chapter in the history and fortunes of Western Marxism more
broadly and the distinctive theoretical tradition associated with European formalism and structural linguis-
tics that had formed in Russia and Geneva, and dominated anthropology and the social sciences in the post-
war era. This actually included not just critical theory in its second and third generations, but also the whole
complex strain that began with phenomenological, existentialist and humanist Marxism in Western Europe
that championed The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. In particular, I was interested in the various
iterations of structuralist and poststructuralist philosophy. Specifically, I examined Deleuze and Guattari’s
‘libidinal materialism’ (they had remained Marxist after 1968, as they tell us), Derrida’s (1994) Spectres of Marx,
Foucault’s radical political economy (an element that continues to attract me), Lyotard’s ‘post-Marxism’,
perfomativity and the ‘problem of capitalism’, and the early Braudrillard’s (1972) For a Critique of the the
Political Economy of the Sign. Deleuze was working on The Grandeur of Marx when he died.3 I had wanted
to reflect on three prominent forms of non-Hegelian Marxism—Nietzschean, Heideggerian and Spinozan
Marxism—as those forms most promising for radical political economy in the twenty-first century. While I
mentioned and partially explored the first two forms, I had not taken the opportunity to work on Spinoza.
If I had decided to widen the discussion I might have chosen to investigate Jameson’s (1991) highly
influential Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala’s
(2011) Hermeneutic Communism, or the history of forms of existential and phemenological Marxism such as
that which characterised Sartre’s (1976, orig. 1960) late turn to Marxism in The Critique of Dialectical Reason
and Lefebvre’s (1991) The Production of Space. Antonio Gramsci’s (1971) Prison Notebooks and his theory of
cultural hegemony that had a profound effect in education through British cultural studies. Antonio Negri
(e.g. 1991) and his collaborations with Michael Hardt (e.g. 2004), and the Italian autonomist tradition, more
generally, has recently exerted strong influence. I may have mentioned British Marxism and especially
New Left Review under the editorship of Perry Anderson. The tradition of Western Marxism, that distin-
guishes itself from both Classical and Marxism-Leninism, begins with György Lukács’ (1923/1967) History
and Class Consciousness that emphasises Hegel’s impact on Marx, and Karl Korsch (1923/1970) Marxism
and Philosophy, along with the varied first generation of mostly Hegelian oriented Marxists, including Ernst
Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Lucien Goldmann, Galvano Della Volpe, Henri Lefebvre and many others.4 The
term ‘Western Marxism’ was coined by Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1972) in 1953, as he says in the opening
lines of an article of the same title: ‘At the turn of the century, Marxists found themselves facing a problem
concealed from Marx by the remnants of Hegelian dogmatism. How can relativism be overcome?’5

Spinozan Marxism
Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) born in Amsterdam in 1632, the son of Portuguese Jewish immigrants, was
a moral anti-realist who endorsed a form of ethical egoism—he held there is no good or bad independ-
ent of human beliefs and desires. His Ethics, published after his death, in 1677, inspired by Descartes,
was written in the form of a geometrical treatise with definitions, axioms, and propositions.6 Spinoza
embraced a species of metaphysical monism, arguing God and Nature constituted one substance. He
was a man of ‘science’ rather than a philosopher in the current sense. Spinoza’s ethical egoism holds
that reason demands that everyone seek his own advantage. Some moderns, like Leo Strauss (1997),
suggested that Spinoza was an Epicurean materialist.
The revival of Spinoza scholarship began in the late 1960s with Martial Gueroult’s (1968–1974) mas-
sive commentary, Alexandre Matheron’s (1969) Marxist reception Individu et communauté chez Spinoza
that strongly influenced Althusser (1970, 1997) and his students, and Gilles Deleuze’s (1969) Spinoza et
le problème de l’expression. As van Bunge, Krop, Steenbakkers, and van de Ven (2014, p. 367) note ‘The
collective appeal of their work unleased a renaissance of scholarship, which has continued to this day
and turned Paris into the “unofficial” capital of Spinoza scholarship’.7 Negri’s (1991) The Savage Anomaly:

The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, that saw non-dialectical mode of thought and practice,
did not appear until much later.
In Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750 Jonathan Israel (2001)
proposed an influential account of the pivotal role of Spinoza in the revolutionary shift in the European
history of ideas that ‘effectively overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical
power, as well as man’s dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery, sub-
stituting the modern principles of equality, democracy, and universality’. According to this interpretation,
Spinoza institutes an atheistic movement of radical materialism that dissolves God and nature into one,
to make way for the first truly democratic vision with deep non-metaphysical modern commitments
to reason, equality and democracy.
Some critics suggest that Althusser used Spinoza to question the historical teleology of idealism,
to provide the basis of the true materialism of Marx and to rescue Marx from an eschatological vision
(Campbell, 2014). Florence Hulak (2007, p. 483) asks:
Why does the idea of a ‘spinozist’ Marx seem so obvious nowadays, while there is no agreement at all about the
features of this ‘spinozism’, and although Marx was not much interested in the philosophy of Spinoza?
It is well known that the young Marx at 22 read Spinoza and made substantial transcriptions during
the period 1841–1842 before embarking on ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’. Marx rejected
the political dimension of Spinoza in favour of Hegel as providing the most fully developed account
of liberalism.8
Paul Abhijeet (2015) in reviewing Lordon’s (2014) Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire,
remarks ‘Ever since Louis Althusser argued in the mid-1960s that he and his cowriters of Reading Capital
were Spinozists and not structuralists, there has been an increased inquiry into the points of connection
between Marx and Spinoza’. He mentions Althusser and the members of his circle, including Étienne
Balibar and Pierre Macherey, to Antonio Negri, Warren Montag and Hasana Sharp. He argues:
This shift in names also entails a fundamental change of problems. The relationship of Hegel to Marx was always
one of the anxiety of influence: trying to contend with both the massive influence that Hegel had on Marx as
well as Marx’s attempt to critically distance himself from Hegel in order to separate the rational kernel from the
mystical shell. The Spinoza/Hegel relation, however, is less direct: less a matter of the influence of the latter on the
former than of their point of contact around connected problems. These problems aren’t so much the problems
that defined the Spinoza Marx knew (the debates on pantheism, Hegel’s attempt to shift the absolute from sub-
stance to subject) than they are the debates framed by Marxist theory’s attempt to keep up with the changes of
capitalism. To place it in classical Marxist terms, Spinoza’s thought has provided the tools for developing a critique
of the superstructure—in other words, of ideology—and the transformations of belief and desire that constitute
subjectivity. Spinoza is a response to a question Marx poses, but does not answer.
In ‘Reimaging the Subject: Althusser and Spinoza’, Caroline Williams (2016) reflects on the inadequacy
of the concept of structure and the antinomy between it and the concept of subject, for Althusser who
understands history in non-teleological terms (history without a subject):
Prior to the publication of Reading Capital in 1965 .... it became apparent that the concept of structure, or ‘structured
totality,’ adopted by Althusser, threatened to contain and totalize the otherwise open, dynamic, and overdetermined
understanding of the persistence of the capitalist mode of production.
She goes on to argue:
there is evidence throughout his corpus pointing to the necessity of his engagement with Spinoza as a means of
formulating his position in relation to Marx. Spinoza’s transformed status from marginalized, repressed figure in the
history of philosophy to one whose political prescience is felt strongly today is due partly to the way his philosophy
was adopted by Althusser and those associated with him.
Susan Ruddick (2010) suggests that each age produces its interpretation of Spinoza and mentions the
centrality of his work to Matheron (1969), Macherey (1990), Negri (2000, 1981/2003, 2004), and Deleuze
(1968/1990, 1981/1988, 1993/1997) on the affect, and the ‘rereading of his works in relation to questions
of a politics of ontology by Montag (2005), Gatens and Lloyd (1999), Duffy (2006) and Williams (2007),
among others’. This is an extensive list that spans the last 50 years, focusing on the affect and the con-
stitution of the new social political body in Deleuze and Negri. As Ruddick (2010) puts it:

The former emphasises the joy of communism, the latter the destabilising moment of the encounter. Both raise
questions as to the ways Spinoza might enable us to excavate the discursive regimes that operate in and through
subjects: the ‘fascisms in our heads’ so famously invoked by Foucault (2000).
Joy and the ‘valorisation of the sad passions’ as Deleuze calls them goes right to the heart of the
encounter of solidarity to determine our alliances, how we form the social body and the struggle against
oppression. Ruddick (2010, p. 30) expresses the significance of affect and becoming political:
becoming active is: a state of becoming, not being; a social act, a co-production; ethical rather than moral. Our
knowledge is of the wave and ourselves producing a ‘common notion’ and a new social body from this interaction,
which in itself contributes to active joy.
And as she comments, in relation to Negri (and Hardt), it ought not to be surprising that Negri and
Hardt focus on the role of affective labour in contemporary capitalism and its centrality to processes
of economic postmodernisation.
Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘desiring-production’ is a reading of Spinoza that focuses on desire rather
than joy. Ruddick (2010) again provides the link:
The project, for Deleuze and Guattari, is to historicize desire and locate it in a social field, as desiring-production,
which situates Spinoza’s combinatorial processes ‘the social nature of becoming active’ in relation to a kind of
infinite expression of man’s co-production with ‘the profound life of all forms or all types of beings’. (Deleuze &
Guattari, 2000, pp. 4, 35)
It is these two readings and their intersecting threads that have initiated a Left dialogue on immaterial
labour and its role in economic postmodernisation to help explain how value is produced from affective
and cognitive activities—an explanation that I find very powerful in analysing the knowledge economy
and the so-called ‘cognitive economy’ based on conceptions of expressive and creative labour rather
than the notion of human capital (Peters & Bulut, 2011). The debate spills into human-machine assem-
blances, augmented intelligence and deep learning. It calls for a discussion of the different visions of the
social body especially in relation to learning communities, the constitution of knowledge cultures, the
logic of peer production and the possibilities for new collective subjects through the ethic of sharing
and collaboration in an era of openness.
Maurizio Lazzarato (1997) was the first to name the concept of ‘immaterial labour’ based on the
notion of the ‘general intellect’ taken from Marx’s (1857/1858) ‘Fragment on Machines’ Section III in the
Grundrisse, as part of the attempt to realise the value produced from affective and cognitive activities.9
It grows out of the Italian Autonomist tradition and alternatively named in accounts of affective and
cognitive capitalism, seen as forms of post-fordism, pursued by post-Marxist scholars including Negri,
Beradi and Virno. Lazzarato writes:
The concept of immaterial labor refers to two different aspects of labor. On the one hand, as regards the ‘informational
content’ of the commodity, it refers directly to the changes taking place in workers’ labor processes in big compa-
nies in the industrial and tertiary sectors, where the skills involved in direct labor are increasingly skills involving
cybernetics and computer control (and horizontal and vertical communication). On the other hand, as regards the
activity that produces the ‘cultural content’ of the commodity, immaterial labor involves a series of activities that are
not normally recognized as ‘work’—in other words, the kinds of activities involved in defining and fixing cultural
and artistic standards, fashions, tastes, consumer norms, and, more strategically, public opinion.

Immaterial labour, Hardt and Negri explain, is ‘that which creates immaterial products, such as knowl-
edge, information, communication, a relationship or an emotional response’ (2004, p. 108). They talk
of two kinds of immaterial labour: analytical labour of the kind involved in problem solving and exem-
plified in linguistic or intellectual activity that typically involves in the production of images, ideas,
symbols, codes and texts, and; affective labour of the associated with the service sector, where affect
plays a central role in the job itself such as in the hospitality industry. One of the central features of
immaterial labour is the inherently co-operative, communicative and collaborative manner in which
it is performed (Hardt & Negri, 2004, p. 147). Affective labour is work that both produces and changes
the emotions and is particularly important in feminist accounts of ‘invisible labour’ in domestic, care
and service sectors (e.g. Oksala, 2016).

‘Fast Capitalism’ and higher education

Since the Second World War, theorists from different perspectives and disciplines—sociology, econom-
ics, education, communication and media studies—have analysed and described certain deep-seated
and structurally transformative tendencies in Western capitalism and society, signalling a fundamental
shift from the industrial to a postindustrial economy that focuses on the production and consumption
of knowledge, and symbolic goods as a higher order economic activity. While scholars differ on its
societal effects and impacts most theorists agree on the epochal nature of this deep economic trans-
formation and the way in which it represents an on-going automation of labour and technologisation
of processes of scientific communication, including the access, distribution and dissemination lying at
the heart of knowledge creation and transfer.
In particular, higher education and research have been become major arms of knowledge econo-
mies. The knowledge, learning and creative economies manifest the changing significance of intellec-
tual capital and the thickening connections between economic growth and knowledge. In particular,
creativity, new knowledge discovery and its communication, as well as the formation and ubiquity
of Internet-based processes in higher education, have been emphasised by government policy and
university leaders, as each university vies for the best international ranking. National higher education
systems now encourage institutional mergers and funding patterns to create at least one mega-insti-
tution of world class. In this environment, economic and social activity is comprised of the ‘symbolic’ or
‘weightless’ economy with its iconic, immaterial and digital goods. The ‘immaterial economy’ includes
new international labour markets that demand both analytic and affective skills, global competencies
and an understanding of markets in tradeable knowledges.
Developments in information and communication technologies not only define the globalisation
of scientific knowledge, they are changing the format, density and nature of the exchange and flows
of knowledge, research and scholarship, leading to new forms of peer production and citizen science.
Some scholars argue that becoming digital beings permanently changes our subjectivities and the
nature of our institutions (Peters & Jandrić, 2018). Rapidly increasing world interconnectivity creates
new global knowledge cultures based on collaboration and the ethic of sharing. Delivery modes in
education are being reshaped. Global cultures are spreading in the form of knowledge, research and
publication networks. Openness and networking, cross-border movement of students and academics,
flows of capital, portal cities and littoral zones and new and audacious systems with worldwide reach;
all are changing the conditions of imagining, producing and the sharing of research in different spheres.
The economic aspect of digital creativity strongly imbued with the affect refers to the production of
new ideas, aesthetic forms, scholarship, original works of art and cultural products, as well as scientific
inventions and technological innovations.
These developments embrace open source communication, the analytics of big data, deep learn-
ing, and artificial and collective intelligences, as well as setting up tensions with commercialisation
strategies and intellectual property. The knowledge economy undermines the three pillars of the eco-
nomic exchange—excludability, rivalry and transparency—and the concept of scarcity giving way to
an economy of abundance, demonstrating that knowledge, unlike other commodities, is not deplete
but rather grows through application and sharing. The concept of ‘knowledge cultures’ is a concept
that avoids the deep theoretical division between ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘knowledge society’, to
recognise that the value, validity and significance of knowledge is fundamentally social but upon an
evolving community of inquiry (Peters & Besley, 2006).
Rapidly evolving phases of ‘cybernetic capitalism’ have the proven capacity to curtail and co-opt the
new social and collective intelligences, and the construction of associated political subjects, especially in
the new knowledge corporations and information multinationals by created open networked commu-
nities within the firm and by buying off creative instincts. Within universities managerialism and princi-
ples of new public choice turn colleagues into line managers who lead double lives: theoretically they
espouse the critique of neoliberalism but in practice side with the administration and love the power
of hierarchy temporarily grants them. Neoliberal managerialism individualises knowledge workers and

measures individual performance. While the recuperative power of cybernetic capitalism withers true
collectivity it does not foreclose on prospects for openness, collaboration and social media innovation.
In a festschrift for the late critical sociologist Ben Agger who coined the term ‘fast capitalism’, I had
the opportunity to reflect on my own attempts at theorising the emerging political knowledge of
knowledge I called ‘Algorithmic Capitalism in the Epoch of Digital Reason’:
Over the past few years, driven by Agger’s examples, I have tried to give different conceptualizations an airing. They
have taken the form of a variety of epithets alongside ‘fast’ that attempt to flesh out the original notion adding
features of: (i) the application to ‘fast knowledge’ in the universities and the rise of big data and bibliometrics on ‘per-
formativity’ (Peters & Besley, 2006); (ii) the cybersystem such as the algorithm, network, and mathematical modeling
that accompanies high frequency trading (‘algorithmic capitalism,’ financialisation and finance capitalism) (Peters,
2013; Peters, Paraskeva, & Besley, 2015); (iii) ‘cognitive capitalism’ as it is part of a wider conception of cybernetic
capitalism based on conceptualizations of digital labor (Peters & Bulut, 20; (iv) cloud capitalism arising from cloud
computing that emphasises ‘the systematised virtualisation of data storage and access, the coalescence of power
into an instantly available utility, ready for any eventuality’ (Coley & Lockwood, 2012); and, finally, the shift from
a notion of biopolitics to what I call ‘bioinformational capitalism’ as the leading edge of informatics and biology
(Peters, 2012) that can be viewed within what I call the ‘epoch of digital reason’. (Peters, 2015, 2017)
Each of these characterisations are an attempt to capture an aspect of cybernetic capitalism in terms of
‘fast knowledge’, speed and performativity; ‘algorithmic capitalism’ as it developed in finance capitalism;
‘cognitive capitalism’ in relation to digital (and ‘immaterial labour’); ‘cloud capitalism’; and ‘bioinforma-
tionalism’. To this melange, we can add ‘deep learning’ as the final stage of automation (Peters, 2017).
They are all aspects of the ‘epoch of digital reason’ and tend to have significant and diverse impact on
the knowledge-based economy, on universities as knowledge institutions and on academic as knowl-
edge workers. This analysis mainly focuses on the technological workings of capital and capitalism,
rather than the spaces and opportunities for political action or the fostering of conditions for collective
subjectivity. It is conceived as an effort in the spirit of radical political economy. In work on cognitive
capitalism and digital labour, I was concerned to outline the effects of a ‘third capitalism’ given its focus
on socio-economic caused by Internet and Web 2.0 technologies that have transformed the mode of
production and the nature of labour, especially academic labour.
To this mix, the addition of Spinoza (in the Ethics, Part III) and the fulcrum concept of affect without
doubt is a necessary and fascinating aspect of the way joy or pleasure (Laetitia), desire (Cupiditas) and
the sad passions, sorrow or pain (Tristitia) (what are more conventionally called the emotions) turn our
attention to the conditions of collective subjectivity. Affect theory since 2000, as Gregg and Seigworth
(2010) explain in a blurb to their collection, has come to explore that those visceral forces beneath,
alongside, or generally other than conscious knowing that can serve to drive us toward movement,
thought, and ever-changing forms of relation … [to] illuminate the intertwined realms of the aesthetic,
the ethical, and the political as they play out across bodies (human and non-human). Seigworth & Gregg
(2010, pp. 6, 7) identify multiple approaches in affect theory encompassing notions of embodiment
as they surface in human/nonhuman nature, human/machine assemblages (cybernetics and neuro-
sciences), process philosophy in relation incorporeality (flows and forces), psychoanalytic biologism,
new materialism, and in attempts to move beyond the linguistic turn. Given this description it is easy
to see why ‘affect theory’ focuses on larger assemblages that link the social constitution of bodies, and
also how it might apply to help us understand subterranean forces that accompany and drive the body
politic under changed conditions of capitalism. Just how social media, cultural industries and digital
technologies move (affect) us to create value and how affect enters into bodies and into the labour of
thought production in commons-based production is critical for understanding cognitive capitalism
and the potential of socialised open spaces of the commons.
While I have investigated the concept of openness and pursued its possibilities both as public knowl-
edge cultures in conceptions of open science, open education and citizen science, I have become more
sanguine than other commentators about the commons or the socialisation of capitalism in the third
phase. I do not wish to diminish its significance or the way in which local projects with few resources
can utilise networks and social technologies to achieve ‘assemblies’ as Hardt and Negri (2017) call
them—non-hierarchical often commons-based, social movements that depend on digital assemblages
and the social production of the commons:

Today production is increasingly social in a double sense: on one hand, people produce ever more socially, in
networks of cooperation and interaction; and, on the other, the result of production is not just commodities but
social relations and ultimately society itself. (p. xv)
For Hardt and Negri, the commons—both the natural and the social commons (p. 166)—consist
in: (i) the earth and its ecosystems; (ii) the ‘immaterial’ common of ideas, codes, images and cultural
products; (iii) ‘material’ goods produced by co-operative work; (iv) metropolitan and rural spaces that
are realms of communication, cultural interaction and co-operation; and (v) social institutions and ser-
vices that organise housing, welfare, health, and education (p. 166). It’s a broad and all-encompassing
overlapping set of ecologies that ultimately will bring the social and natural into greater alignment as
bio-digital co-evolution takes place.
Even so the return of ‘strongman politics’ in the US based on forms of authoritarian populism that
repudiate aspects of liberal internationalism seem to involve the closing down of public spaces, together
with the exploitation of a heightened sense of affect, working on the Far-right mentalities of many
Trump supporters. Trump admires other ‘strongmen’ like Putin, Erdoğan, Xi Jinping, Duterte, Orban,
and even India’s Modi, and Japan’s Abe, and using social media like Twitter and ‘fake news’ as broadcast
media, contradicts himself and lies with an easy convenience as a daily political strategy disregarding
democratic norms. Strongman politics is on the rise globally, in African, Middle East and Asia but also
the West, utilising the affective forces of nationalism and xenophobia envisages trade, immigration,
economic and foreign policy as ‘war’. A wave of democratic regression threatens to turn the tide of the
spread of global democratic values and to compromise the openness both economically and politically
that until now has graced the opening decades of the twenty-first century.

The project of Heideggerian Marxism has been recently explored by Feenberg (2005) and Abromeit and Wolin
See Laurence Paul Hemming’s (2013) Heidegger and Marx: A Productive Dialogue over the Language of Humanism.
See also Gerry Stadl’s (1975) Marx and Heidegger, based on his doctoral dissertation at Northwestern University,
‘Marxian Hermeneutics and Heideggerian Social Theory: Interpreting and Transforming Our World.’
The history of Western Marxism might be usefully tracked in relation to the reception of Hegel. Slavoj Žižek’s (2014)
recent attempt to refashion the foundations of dialectical materialism represents a new round of interpretation
that seeks to raise ‘absolute recoil’ to the status of an ontological principle of dialectical materialism, against both
Althusser and Deleuze, as ‘the only true philosophical inheritor of what Hegel designates as the speculative attitude
of the thought towards objectivity’ (p. 4). http://www.english.ufl.edu/mrg/readings/Zizek,%20Absolute%20
Doug Kellner (2005) writes: ‘The term “Western Marxism” was first used by Soviet Communists to disparage the
turn to more Hegelian and critical forms of Marxism in Western Europe, but it was soon adopted by thinkers like
Lukacs and Korsch to describe a more independent and critical Marxism from the party and “scientific” Marxism
of the Second and Third Internationals.’
Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order is comprised of five parts: Part I: Concerning God; Part II: On the Nature and
Origin of the Mind; Part III: On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions; Part IV: Of Human Bondage, or the Strength
of the Emotions; Part V: Of the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom, at https://en.wikisource.org/
See Thomas Cook’s (n.d.).
Marx’s Notebooks were published by Dietz Verlag in the GDR in 1976 in two volumes: ‘Volume 1 contains Marx’
transcriptions in Latin and German; Volume II contains translations from Latin into German, and notes, the “Apparat,”’
Bowring, 2012).
See the excellent account by Christian Fuchs (2016).

Abhijeet, P. (2015). Review of Willing slaves of capital: Spinoza and Marx on desire. Critical Inquiry, 41(4), 903–904. Retrieved
from https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/labor-human-bondage-spinoza-marx-willing-slaves-capitalism/#
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Michael A. Peters
University of Waikato