Spinoza's Anti-Modernity by Negri

By Negri

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The value of conceptualizing the social realm in terms of fluctuating social bonds and dissociating significations may dwindle unless we also articulate the means for finding and differentiating forms of mediation with varying degrees of staying power (such as relatively perduring insti­ tutions) and multiple modalities of relationality (such as instantiations of power relations). Talking about social change requires a conception of the social that either explains phenomena in terms of underlying causes or establishes why it is impossible to do so.

Yet if subjects are so pro­ duced by interpellation, nonetheless the theory seems to promise some tool for intervention: by analyzing the modes of ideological operation, it ought to be possible to locate the place from which new subjects, free in some measure from ideological determination, might arise and begin the work of liberation. The Problem with Interpellation Activist social theory encounters a problem here, however. Despite appearances, the theory of ideological interpellation cannot deliver on its promise to orient social change.

Of course, it was Marx who most forcefully articulated this double demand. However, classical Marxist theory in the US depended on a relatively simple understanding of economic determinism and its allied models of superstructural reflection. Insofar as Marxism proposes that the economic laws of history necessarily and autonomously transform productive forces, it seems to offer no way for individuals or groups to take up the challenge of social change. Change in this model occurs in impersonal if knowable ways.

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