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Common, Universality, Communism. Conversation Between Balibar and Negri

Common, Universality, Communism. Conversation Between Balibar and Negri

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Published by: Mario Espinoza Pino on Apr 22, 2012
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This article was downloaded by: [University of Massachusetts, Amherst]On: 22 January 2012, At: 12:09Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK
Rethinking Marxism
Publication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrmx20
On the Common, Universality,and Communism: A Conversationbetween Étienne Balibar andAntonio Negri
Anna Curcio & Ceren ÖzselçukAvailable online: 25 Aug 2010
To cite this article:
Anna Curcio & Ceren Özselçuk (2010): On the Common, Universality,and Communism: A Conversation between Étienne Balibar and Antonio Negri, RethinkingMarxism, 22:3, 312-328
To link to this article:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08935696.2010.490356
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use:http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expresslyforbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make anyrepresentation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up todate. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should beindependently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liablefor any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damageswhatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connectionwith or arising out of the use of this material.
 
On the Common, Universality, andCommunism: A Conversation betweenE´tienne Balibar and Antonio Negri
Introduction by Anna Curcio and Ceren O¨zselc¸uk
In this conversation E ´tienne Balibar and Toni Negri address the question of how tounderstand and practice communism in our conjuncture
 *
/
specifically, in the contextof our contemporary global economic crisis. While taking this question as their entry  point, they articulate a series of important philosophical and political convergencesand divergences between their frameworks. These points of productive intersectionsand tensions open to a plurality of readings of Marx and Marxism. At the same time,the conversation maps a terrain that includes the question of social ontology and itsrelation to the political and the ethical; the conceptual status of labor an production and the place of anthropological differences within Marxism; and the politics of equaliberty and its relation to the common and its new institutions.
Key Words:
Communism, the Common, Equaliberty, Economic Crisis, Readings ofMarx
IntroductionbyAnna Curcio and Ceren O¨zselc¸uk
When we contemplated this event, our desire was to facilitate a conversationbetween two vibrant strains of work within the Marxian tradition. In naming thesestrains
Autonomist Marxism
and
Althusserian Marxism
, our intention was not to treatthem as mutually exclusive or unified schools of thought. Similarly, we do not wish toposition Toni Negri and E´tienne Balibar as representative, respectively, of each ofthese extremely internally varied traditions. Balibar once said, ‘I am not arepresentative of the ‘Althusserian School’
 *
/
for the simple reason that that schoolnever existed as such’’: that is, as a ‘‘unified doctrine.’’ We share his insight andrecognize the internal diversity as well as the cross-disseminations in the develop-ment of each of these movements. For us, what make these traditions meaningfultoday are the problematics and ideas that they helped to raise as well as theunrealized possibilities of these problematics and ideas, which are materialized and
ISSN 0893-5696 print/1475-8059 online/10/030312-17
2010 Association for Economic and Social AnalysisDOI: 10.1080/08935696.2010.490356RETHINKING MARXISM VOLUME 22 NUMBER 3 (JULY 2010)
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   M  a  s  s  a  c   h  u  s  e   t   t  s ,   A  m   h  e  r  s   t   ]  a   t   1   2  :   0   9   2   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   2
 
multiplied as they are continuously put in relation to their own internal tensions aswell as the ever changing present.
Communism
is the specific idea around which we want to structure thisconversation. Scholars drawing from Autonomist and Althusserian traditions havefor long complicated totalizing considerations on commune-ism and opened the wayto nonessentialist reflections on community that do not demand allegiance to acommon being or a historical necessity or both. Moreover, their reappraisal ofcommunism has so far taken a detour through a shared set of proper names: Marx’scritique of political economy, Spinoza’s ontology, and a critique of Hegelianhistoricism. Nevertheless, there are certain productive divergences in the mannerin which these traditions imagine commune-ism that are worth exploring. Ourintention is to explore both the shared ground and the productive divergences.In Toni Negri’s recent writings with Michael Hardt (Hardt and Negri 2001, 2005,2009), communism is thought from an ontology of the
common
. The common is boththe presupposition and the product of social cooperation. It is a potential ofexpanding social cooperation which attends the paradigmatic transformationof productive forces toward immaterial production and the prominence of newforms of labor in contemporary capitalism such as affective labor, creative labor, andthe increasingly socialized production of knowledge and communication moregenerally. The common refers to a form of socialization that breaks down the formerdivisions between work and life, between production and reproduction, and betweenmaterial and immaterial.In E´tienne Balibar’s and some post-Althusserians’ recent writings, communismand related concepts of social emancipation are thought in relation to aparadoxical idea of
universality,
one that is simultaneously
impossible
to realizeand yet
necessary 
for politics. Against the false universalisms of communitarianismand commodity fetishism, this paradoxical universal both presumes and politicizesthe internal limits of any formation. Balibar’s name for this ‘ideal universalis
equaliberty 
(
e´galiberte´
). By stating that equality and liberty are inseparable, theprinciple of equaliberty questions the limit of any discourse and extends theemancipatory potential of rights beyond their current exercise (see Balibar 1994,2002).We want to explore the theoretical and political implications of these twoapproaches for how we understand and practice communism in our conjuncture
 *
/
more specifically, in the context of the current global economic crisis. Thereare two aspects of this crisis that we find particularly interesting for discussion. First,the current crisis renders visible the extent to which the financial processes havecolonized the social body. Second, as the Empire begins to formulate a response tothis crisis, the shape it takes borrows heavily from Keynesian demand management,invokes the New Deal as a point of reference, and yearns for a green (post)Fordism.The two questions we formulate below, and with which we want to initiate theconversation between Toni Negri and E´tienne Balibar, take these two aspects of thecrisis as their points of entry.
COMMONS AND COMMUNES 313
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t  y  o   f   M  a  s  s  a  c   h  u  s  e   t   t  s ,   A  m   h  e  r  s   t   ]  a   t   1   2  :   0   9   2   2   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   1   2

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