A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary by Paolo Virno


By Paolo Virno

Globalization is forcing us to reconsider a number of the different types -- reminiscent of "the people" -- that typically were linked to the now eroding country. Italian political philosopher Paolo Virno argues that the class of "multitude," elaborated through Spinoza and for the main half left fallow because the 17th century, is a much better instrument to research modern matters than the Hobbesian notion of "people," favorite through classical political philosophy. Hobbes, who detested the inspiration of multitude, outlined it as shunning political solidarity, resisting authority, and not stepping into lasting agreements. "When they insurgent opposed to the state," Hobbes wrote, "the voters are the multitude opposed to the people." however the multitude isn't only a detrimental suggestion, it's a wealthy idea that permits us to research anew plural studies and kinds of nonrepresentative democracy. Drawing from philosophy of language, political economics, and ethics, Virno indicates that being overseas, "not-feeling-at-home-anywhere," is a situation that forces the multitude to position its belief within the mind. In end, Virno means that the metamorphosis of the social platforms within the West over the last 20 years is resulting in a paradoxical "Communism of the Capital."

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Additional resources for A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life (Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents)

Example text

The public and shared character of the "life of the mind" is colored with ambivalence: it is also, in and of itself, the host to negative possibilities, to formidable figures. The public intellect is the unifying base from which there can spring forth either forms of ghastly protection or forms of protection capable of achieving a real sense of comfort (according to the degree in which, as we have said, they safeguard us from the former forms of protection). The public intellect which the multitude draws upon is the point of departure for opposing developments.

A publicness without a public sphere: here is the negative side — the evil, if you wish — of the experience of the multitude. Freud in the essay "The Uncanny" (Freud, Collected Papers) shows how the extrinsic power of thought can take on anguishing features. He says that people who are ill, for whom thoughts have an exterior, practical and immediately operative power, fear becoming conditioned and overwhelmed by others. It is the same situation, moreover, which is brought about in a spiritualist seance in which the participants are bound together in a fused relationship which seems to nullify every trace of individual identity.

It is obvious that these two characteristics are inter-related: virtuosos need the presence of an audience precisely because they are not producing an end product, an object which will circulate through the world once the activity has ceased. Lacking a specific extrinsic product, the virtuoso has to rely on witnesses. The category of virtuosity is discussed in the Nicomachean Ethics; it appears here and there in modern political thought, even in the twentieth century; it even holds a small place in Marx's criticism of political economics.

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