Deleuzian politics? A survey and some suggestions

Autumn 2009

This article surveys and evaluates the broad field of Deleuzian political theory with particular reference to its novel implications for anglophone cultural theory. It opens by discussing Mengue’s and Hallward’s recent critical studies of Deleuze and the wider problem of evaluating the normative and descriptive function of key Deleuzian concepts. It goes on to consider the specificity of Deleuzian approaches to the key notion of ‘essentialism’ with reference to a comparison between the ideas of Manuel Delanda and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, before moving into a consideration of recent appropriations of Deleuzian philosophy for the theorisation of gender and race. From there it goes on to consider various Marxist and post-Marxist uses of Deleuzian thought for the theorisation of capital, labour and the state in the work of writers such as Thoburn, Read and Lazaratto, following this with a consideration of recent debates over the status of democracy in Deleuze’s political thought, arguing against any liberal interpretations thereof that would minimise the anti-individualism of this ideas or collapse its advocacy of ‘rhizomatic’ relations into an argument for the universal desirability of market logics. It moves on from here to argue for the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari’s thought to green politics, and to the importance of understanding ‘affect’ as an irreducibly social, multi-directional and polyvalent phenomenon in recent cultural theory.

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NF 68 Deluzian Politics?