Vital Strategies: Maurizio Lazzarato and the Metaphysics of Contemporary Capitalism

Toscano, Alberto. 2007. Vital Strategies: Maurizio Lazzarato and the Metaphysics of Contemporary Capitalism. Theory, Culture and Society, 24(6), pp. 71-91. ISSN 02632764 [Article]

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In the heat of the revolutionary councils movement of Turin in 1921, this was one of the epithets hurled at the likes of Antonio Gramsci for his supposed spontaneism, so at odds with the gradualism and evolutionism that had characterized much of the Second International’s use of Marx’s Capital (Gramsci, 1921). Such a perceived conjunction of radical politics and Bergsonism – a philosophy which, to all intents and purposes, presents itself as anything but militant – might strike today’s reader as exceedingly peculiar. All the more so if we consider that the Bergson renaissance we have been privy to over the last decade or so has been driven by concerns which are not primarily political, or even sociological, in character.

An initial survey of this return to Bergson would suggest that it may be regarded as a theoretical option taken by thinkers working either within the Deleuzean or the phenomenological camp, broadly construed. Here Bergsonism operates in a twofold manner. Defensively, it is a brake on the thoroughgoing, quasi-mechanicist materialism that characterizes a certain Spinozist tendency present in Deleuze (and Guattari), as well as a step back from the single-minded concern with the analysis of late capitalism evinced by those who place their work in the wake of the Capitalism and Schizophrenia project. Prospectively, it advocates a reinvigoration of philosophy which, in the aftermath of postmodernism’s patent exhaustion, seeks to circumvent discourses of derealization by postulating a method of intuition that would be capable of tracking and diagramming a virtual real, and thus ‘keep up’ with social and scientific mutations that are supposedly taking us beyond the confines of a ‘reductive’ materialism.1

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1 November 2007Published

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12 Mar 2009 15:42

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07 Jul 2017 12:50

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