MacKenzie, I. and Porter, R. (2019). Totalizing institutions, critique and resistance. Contemporary Political Theory [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-019-00336-w.
Drawing on Deleuze’s ‘Postscript on Control Societies’, our initial focus in this article will be on the role of institutions within societies of control, an analysis which brings Deleuze into the orbit of Ervin Goffman’s famous ethnographic work on total institutions. This cross-comparative analysis of Deleuze and Goffman (also montaged with Foucault’s important work on disciplinary institutions) will allow us to show how institutions of control function by sequencing dividuals across institutional domains in a continual process of totalization. Inspired by James Williams’s recent work on the ‘process philosophy of signs’, we then argue that a critique of totalizing institutions can be positively articulated as a process oriented challenge to algorithmic technologies and as a counter-sequencing of institutional control. We conclude with some reflections upon the emergent modes of resistance that challenge both institutional and technological control and we will proffer criteria for assessing such practices in relation to the two-sided nature of critique they enact, both processual and counter-sequential.
After Possession (2019). Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy [Online] XXVII:81-99. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5195/jffp.2019.849.
Tristan Garcia’s Form and Object has been framed primarily as a contribution to object oriented metaphysics. In this article, I shall explicate and defend four claims that bring it closer to the modern critical tradition: 1) that Garcia’s Form and Object can be read, profitably, within the tradition of reflection upon the nature of possessions, self-possession and possessiveness; 2) that to read the book in this way is to see Garcia as the French heir to C. B. McPherson although it will be argued that what this amounts to is that while McPherson was the anti-Locke, so to speak, Garcia is the anti-Rousseau; 3) that this framing has significant consequences for our reception of Form and Object in that it can be understood as a book that not only marks a moment in debates surrounding speculative realism and object oriented ontology but that it also, and primarily, marks an important moment in debates about the encroachment of things and the culture of possession that, in part, defines modernity; 4) that there is a novel ontological position within Form and Object, one that is neither relational nor individualist, that presents a challenging account of ‘the chance and the price’ of living after possession and how to overcome the deleterious effects of contemporary consumer societies.
MacKenzie, I. and Porter, R. (2017). Drama Out of a Crisis? Poststructuralism and the Politics of Everyday Life. Political Studies Review [Online] 15:528-538. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1478929917712935.
Time and again we have been told that poststructuralism is in crisis. Poststructuralism, we hear, is ontologically exhausted, epistemologically and normatively confused, and politically irrelevant to the contemporary economic and institutional conditions that have already domesticated, assimilated and recuperated it. While there is clearly merit and provocation in such critiques, for us, they underestimate the extent to which poststructuralist concepts can be transformed and made relevant to concerns we may have in our current political conjuncture. In order to counter those who would simply dismiss and depoliticise poststructuralist thought as crisis-ridden or politically outmoded, we will suggest that poststructuralism is a drama that we can productively participate in, here and now. Furthermore, we think this poststructuralist drama should be played out in the rough and tumble of everyday political life. There is what we will call a ‘politics of everyday life’ to be found in the poststructuralist archive, and the poststructuralist archive can be recast, revitalised and even transformed when placed into the light and life of the everyday.
Hussein, N. and MacKenzie, I. (2017). Creative Practices/Resistant Acts. Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest [Online] 5:1-13. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3167/cont.2017.050102.
In the opening of this special issue, we invite readers to consider, through the articles presented, how various modes of artistic expression and creative acts of resistance can lead to a better understanding of the nature and implications of political and social revolt, and how a focus on creative practices can be part of the wider debate in a time of uncertainty and unrest. The issue examines the important intersection between creative practices and acts of resistance from an interdisciplinary perspective with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Mediterranean regions. The introduction aims to frame the problems presented by the sphere of creative practices of resistance and clarify what is at stake with a view to providing impetus for further research into this critical aspect of contentious politics. It concludes by tracing how the general framing of the problems operates within and through the different articles.
MacKenzie, I. and MacKenzie, H. (2014). A labial art-politics. Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest [Online] 2:69-78. Available at: http://contentionjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/MacKenzieMacKenzieDec2014.pdf.
In this article we focus on the potential for an alignment of certain feminist artistic practices and
poststructuralist conceptions of critique that may enable ways of theorising practices of resistance
and engender ways of practicing resistance in theory, without the lurch back into masculinist
forms of dogmatism. It will be claimed that an ontological conception of art, considered as that
which makes a difference in the world, can not only challenge the primacy of the dogmatic and
masculine ‘subject who judges’, but also instil ways of thinking about, and ways of enacting,
feminist artistic encounters with the capacity to resist dogmatism. The theoretical stakes of this
claim are elaborated through complimentary readings of Deleuze and Guattari’s constructivist
account of philosophy and Irigaray’s feminist explorations of what it means to think from within
the 'labial', rather than from the position of the dominant phallic symbolic order. We argue that
this creative conjunction between Irigaray, Deleuze and Guattari provides the resources for a
conceptualisation of both feminist artistic practice and the critical practice of poststructuralist
philosophy as forms of resistance to the dominant patriarchal order, in ways that can avoid the
collapse back into masculinist forms of dogmatism. Revel’s discussion of the role of constituent
rather than constituted forms of resistance is employed to draw out the implications of this
position for contentious politics. It is concluded that constituent practices of resistance can
be understood as a challenge to the phallogocentric symbolic order to the extent that they are
practices of a labial art-politics
MacKenzie, I. (2012). Events and the Critique of Ideology. Etudes Ricoeuriennes/Ricoeur Studies 3:102-113.
Cutler, A. and MacKenzie, I. (2011). Critique as a Practice of Learning. Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy 22:88-109.
MacKenzie, I. and Porter, R. (2011). Dramatization as Method in Political Theory. Contemporary Political Theory 10:482-501.
MacKenzie, I. (2008). What is a Political Event?. Theory and Event [Online] 11:1-28. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/tae.0.0020.
MacKenzie, I. (2001). Unravelling the Knots: Poststructuralism and Other “Post-isms. Journal of Political Ideologies [Online] 6:331-345. Available at: http://www.journalsonline.tandf.co.uk/(42s3f255dnav00jjvtoneb55)/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,5,5;journal,15,20;linkingpublicationresults,1:104492,1.
Beginning with the assumption that there is confusion over what is meant by post-structuralism, and that this confusion is fostered by critics and supporters alike, I argue for an exclusive but not deadening definition of this apparently nebulous term. Using as my benchmark the minimum definition that post-structuralism is an attempt to go beyond the limitations of structuralism without regress to humanism I aim to specify this further by investigating competing accounts of three terms key to the literature surrounding 'post-isms': structure, difference, and criticism. Three conceptions of structure (linguistic, discursive, virtual), four conceptions of difference (dialectical, anti-dialectical, aporetical and empiricist), and three approaches to criticism (normative reconstruction and deconstruction, and ontological construction) are delineated with a view to producing a grid of analysis that will generate the exclusive definition required. It is argued that if post-structuralism is to escape structuralism without regress to humanism then it must deploy a virtual conception of structure, an empirical conception of difference and a constructivist approach to criticism. It is not the purpose of this paper to define the other possible points on the grid.
MacKenzie, I. (2000). Beyond the Communicative Turn in Political Philosophy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 3:1-24.
I take it that (1) the central problem of political philosophy is how to deploy philosophy in the criticism and direction of practice. This paper maps out the basic terrain of the relationship between (A) neo-Kantian Critical Theory (for example, Jurgen Habermas), (B) hermeneutics (for example, Charles Taylor) and (C) constructivism (for example, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari). It contends that this central problem (1) is not met by the arguments of (A) and (B) - these representing what I call 'the communicative turn in political philosophy'. They assume 'democratic dialogue' is its own justification and that from it spring both truth and right. The key objection is that the communication of opinions is not the same as the demonstration of their validity. I argue that (C) may help to take us beyond the failures of (A) and (B).
Mackenzie, I. (1999). Capitalism, justice and the law. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities [Online] 4:73-80. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09697259908572016.
MacKenzie, I. (1999). Berlin’s Defence of Value-Pluralism: Clarifications and Criticisms. Contemporary Politics 5:325-337.
MacKenzie, I. (1997). Creativity as Criticism: The Philosophical Constructivism of Deleuze and Guattari. Radical Philosophy:7-18.
Heaney, C. (2019). Rhythmic Ecology: Mindscaping the Rhythms of Everyday Life.
In The Three Ecologies, Félix Guattari argues for the importance of, and himself begins to offer, a philosophy and politics that responds to the imbricated entanglements between mental, social, and environmental ecologies (our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the non-human respectively). Guattari offers us problems which we are yet either to think or creatively confront. This thesis is primarily an affirmative response to this work, and is a centralisation in particular of the problematic he raises of our contemporary mental environment (and how it may be transformed). This response is conducted as an experiment in rhythm analysis, and argues that:
I. Contemporary capitalistic milieus are destructive forces in our mental ecology.
II. Our rhythms of everyday life are increasingly imbricated in supporting the ontological security of capitalistic milieus (I take the examples of our contemporary distraction, depression, and debt ecologies).
III. Our rhythms of everyday life (the quotidian interplay of time, desire, and habit) and the mental environment which we co-occupy are sites of revolutionary struggle.
IV. As sites of struggle, we can participate in the invention of new milieus at the level of everyday life (I offer the examples of new networks, forms of care, and modes of exchange.
V. Such participatory invention we can call revolutionary, with this latter term defined in the sense of a constitutively open process.
As such, this thesis concludes that a rhythm analysis of the mental environment offers (I) an immanent ontological account of the production of subjectivity within contemporary capitalism; and (II) a critically-oriented and technically-engaged conceptualisation for the transformation of our mental environment.
Assembling Critique (2018).
In order to avoid the exhaustion of critique, this project aims to assemble a positive, creative and immanent conception of critique that connects to the world in order to transform it, through an examination of the work of Deleuze and Guattari. The journey into critique begins with the Kantian project of immanent critique as a call to establish the limits of reason. However, according to Deleuze, Kant's reliance on the transcendental subject meant that Kant was both unable to account for the constitution of real experience and to take immanence to the limit. The next step of the expedition is Nietzsche, as the philosopher who, according to Deleuze, was able to complete the project of an immanent critique with the will to power as a principle of internal genesis of the real, as opposed to the Kantian external conditioning. Additionally, Nietzsche provides a positive and creative conception of critique that moves beyond reaction, into the affirmation of an active mode of existence. Moving on to an examination of Deleuze's own excursion through the history of philosophy, in order to further develop his conception of immanence, through the positioning of the univocity of Being. The next stop is Deleuze and Guattari's development of an immanent account of philosophy and thought, where they forge a connection between thought and a given territory. Finalizing the journey by examining Kafka's literary machine as the most positive and powerful expression of a critique that aims to create movement and multiply its connections with the world.
Hoppen, F. (2017). Putting Politics in Its Place: Philosophies and Practices of Presence in the Works of Gustav Landauer, Eric Voegelin, Simone Weil and Václav Havel.
This thesis presents an alternative perspective to the "discourse of crisis" that currently pervades political debate. "Post-truth politics", "post-politics" and "anti-politics" - these are only a few of the new concepts that have recently emerged to describe what is perceived as a deviation from politics proper. At the core of this crisis appears to be the phenomenon of externalisation, where self-realisation is outsourced to external markers of identification, such as race or nation. Traditional political concepts no longer seem sufficient to grasp such externalisation - hence the discourse calls for new, original ways of thinking and doing politics.
This thesis discusses the limits of the discourse of crisis and introduces the philosophy of presence, traditionally excluded from the canon of modern political thought. It is concerned with the question of politics only as a derivative. Unlike contemporary mainstream and critical political thought, this philosophy argues that externalisation is not a deviation from politics, but its very essence. Its core argument is that another order, prior to and beyond the political, is already present in the world and can be experienced by human faculties, so that, instead of ordering the world politically, the task is to "become present" to the world spiritually. Hence, the philosophy of presence puts politics in its place - secondary to experience. I present this philosophy by exploring four thinkers in depth and by focusing on what I refer to as "practices of presence": means by which presence can be cultivated and made habitual. Thereby, I seek to show that the philosophy of presence does not promote withdrawal but may lead to another type of community and sociality - one that is not political. The thinkers discussed will be Gustav Landauer and his practice of Absonderung, Eric Voegelin and his practice of Anamnesis, Simone Weil and her practice of Malheur and Václav Havel and his practice of Neklid.
Turner, B. (2017). The Pharmacology of the Political: On the Relationship Between Politics and Anthropology in the Work of Bernard Stiegler.
A single question orients the argument that guides this thesis: what ramifications does the pluralisation of human nature have for our understanding of the political? This will be explored through two lines of argument. The first is established through an investigation of the rejection of a singular human nature found in Bernard Stiegler's philosophy of technics, which will argue that the political must be considered as plural as a result of his work. By claiming that the human is only ever constituted within a relationship with technical objects, Stiegler makes it possible to conceive of the political as a response to the problems unique to the way in which technics structures human life across varying contexts. This is consolidated by his understanding of technical objects as 'pharmaka', both poisonous and curative for political and social life. The political will be conceptualised as a response to these pharmacological tendencies, and thus differentiated across various anthropological contexts. The first three chapters will reconstruct how Stiegler's readings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Leroi-Gourhan, Jacques Derrida, Plato, and Gilbert Simondon contribute to the concepts that form his philosophical anthropology. These concepts are, namely, the default of origin, the pharmakon, and organology. Uniting the terms introduced across these three chapters will be the development of an understanding of the political based in Stiegler's concept of the a-transcendental. As a-transcendental, the concepts that direct the political are subject to transformation and change along with empirical technical systems, and are responses to particular a-transcendental horizons framed by pharmacological problems.
The second line of argument will be that this a-transcendental conception of the political has ramifications for political theory more generally. It will be argued that Stiegler's philosophy of technics creates a tension between anthropological plurality and political judgement. Political theory makes decisions or judgements on the limits of politics, whereas anthropology represents the potential for these judgements to be suspended. Stiegler reveals this constitutive tension between political theory and anthropology insofar as his philosophy of technics puts this anthropological plurality at the heart of the political. After establishing this tension, an internal critique of Stiegler's arguments will show that he both furthers the possibility of understanding the political in the plural through his use of the concept of impossibility, but closes this space through his use of entropy and negentropy, and in his limiting of the political to a Western history following its emergence in the Ancient Greek polis.
Despite his work both making the plurality of the political possible and negating it - by making political judgements that close off anthropological plurality - Stiegler's work is not unsuccessful in providing material for this pluralisation of the political. Instead, it will be claimed that his writing itself demonstrates this tension between political judgement and anthropological plurality. It will be concluded that Stiegler's work must be treated pharmacologically insofar as it makes anthropological plurality possible while also closing this space through his own particular political judgements. Stiegler's example will be seen to have broader ramifications for political theory, in that he demonstrates the demand for political theorists to pay critical vigilance to the way in which anthropological presuppositions form boundaries to the political, and that the possibility for the suspension of these limits must be incorporated into the work of political theory.
Henry, C. (2016). Contra-Axiomatics: A Non-Dogmatic And Non-Idealist Practice Of Resistance.
What and how should individuals resist in political situations? While this question, or versions of it, recurs regularly within Western political philosophy, answers to it have often relied on dyads founded upon dogmatically held ideals. In particular, there is a strain of idealist political philosophy, inaugurated by Plato and finding contemporary expression in the work of Alain Badiou, that employs dyads (such as the distinction between truth and doxa or the privilege of thought over sense) that tend to reduce the complexities of practices of resistance to concepts of commitment. Although these dyads have been challenged by, amongst others, poststructuralist theorists, this has often been at the cost of losing their structuralist heritage. This thesis develops an ontology proper to structuralism that engenders non-idealist and non-dogmatic, yet ethical, practices of resistance against commitment orientated accounts of resistance and the return of classical ontological dyads.
The thesis begins with an examination of the extent to which a dogmatic use of idealism grounds the work of a prominent contemporary theorist, Alain Badiou. In developing his neo-Maoist metapolitics, Badiou follows both Platonic ontology and the Marxist tradition of dialectics by claiming that political practice can only be carried out in truth by paying fidelity to an event that ruptures the presented order of things. Chapter one opens with an exploration of Badiou's mathematic meta-ontology to draw out its three foundational dyads (truth/doxa; sense/intelligibility; is/is not). It is argued that although Badiou makes important criticisms of the preponderant trends of political philosophy, he is unable to support his own account of politics due to his dogmatic reliance on idealist principles. Chapter two begins by developing two accounts: first, of the relations between Badiou's work and that of his former teacher Louis Althusser and, secondly, the relations between Althusser's thought and that of Gilles Deleuze, in particular his reading of David Hume. Discussion centres around the importance of the role that time plays within the works of all three authors, particularly in regard to the idea of the void. The chapter concludes with the argument that Hume's temporal idea of human nature is the key to a symptomatic reading of Althusser that accounts for the persistence of ideas in the latter's social theory. In chapter three, Deleuze's reading of Hume's idea of relations is developed to take into account Bergson's theory of time. Read in contrast to Quentin Meillassoux's speculative realism, the chapter argues that Deleuze's account of temporal relations informs Althusser's social theory to create the ontological grounds for non-dogmatic and non-idealist practices of resistance.
These practices are developed in chapter four with an unlikely turn to John Stuart Mill's idea of genius, the metaphysical property of the individual that signifies the discovery of new truth. The chapter begins with an argument that there is an under-developed account of ethics in Deleuze's work. Distinguishing the idea of genius from both Mill's moral philosophy, as well as from utilitarian thought more generally, the idea of genius is sutured onto Deleuze's ontological account of individuation. Read alongside Althusser's social theory, which accounts for the non-idealist conceptualisation of situations, this suture creates an ethically oriented structuralist ontology. The thesis concludes with the argument that the idea of genius is the ethical imperative that motivates practices of resistance. When individuals are understood as embodied within situations, practices of resistance are conceptualised not against other components of a situation, but contra them, taking them into account in order to amplify, multiply and transform the individual's potential within a situation.
Glynou Lefaki, E. (2016). Remembering in Times of Crisis: Resisting the Politics of Forgetting in Contemporary Greece.
Having as a starting point the recent financial crisis in Greece, the thesis explores the question of what it means to remember. Employing from the arts the method of collage, the question on memory is examined in six chapters, each one trying to answer this question from a different perspective. Similarly to a collage where contrasting objects co-exist, the thesis consists of six chapters 'pasted' together in an attempt to draw a picture of remembering in times of crisis.
Kotouza, D. (2015). Surplus Citizens: Struggles in the Greek Crisis, 2010-2014.
This thesis analyses the social struggles that occurred between 2010 and 2014 during the crisis in Greece: labour struggles, the movement of the squares, demonstrations and riots, neighbourhood assemblies, solidarity projects and economies, local environmental struggles, and anti-fascist and migrants' struggles. It discusses their internal and external limits in the historical specificity of the contemporary crisis and class relation.
Drawing critically on Théorie Communiste's periodising schema, these struggles are framed, first, through a shift in the dynamic of the class relation effected by the crisis and the restructuring, which is a continuation of the first phase of 'neoliberal' restructuring in the 1990s. This shift intensified a central capitalist contradiction: while the capital relation imposes most violently the absolute dependence of subsistence on the wage, the wage relation fails to guarantee subsistence and integrates proletarians as surplus to capitalist reproduction. Second, the struggles are framed through the deep political crisis of state sovereignty and the relation between state and civil society, caused by the relentless imposition of the restructuring in conjunction with supranational institutions. These historical transformations are traced through the mutual constitution of international tendencies and the development of class struggle in Greece, against theories of dependency and underdevelopment. Ideological responses to the financial crisis and the logic of the restructuring are interrogated by employing theories of value, fetishism, and the state influenced by the German 'value-form' debate. Foucault-influenced conceptions of governmentality and sovereignty are also deployed to examine the restructuring's forms of imposition and the biopolitical crisis-management strategies of the state, which reinforced the racialised and gendered constitution of civil society.
The thesis argues that these two elements, the changing dynamic of the class relation and the crisis of the state and civil society, defined the struggles of this period, in which two core characteristics can be identified. First, labour struggles confronted the dilemma between the necessity and inadequacy of the wage through an ambivalence between their attachment to work and their estrangement from it. This ambivalence did not question the terms of the dilemma posed, which were only questioned fleetingly in riots that interrupted the normality of commodity exchange. Second, the deep political crisis provoked struggles defending democracy, with the disempowered 'Greek citizen' as their central subject, which constitutively excluded migrants. The splitting of these struggles between leftwing anti-imperialist and rightwing anti-immigration nationalism, and into a struggle between fascism and anti-fascism, were not able to challenge this constitutive exclusion, which was only questioned by migrants' own struggles. Nationalism and the drive to reinforce unsettled social hierarchies played into the governmental effort to contain the political crisis, through the state's biopolitical management of the migrant and marginal, racialised and gendered surplus populations produced in the crisis.
Rahmani, B. (2015). Foucault’s Concepts of Critique.
What is the relation between Foucault's work and critique? Foucault made his debt to the critical tradition clear on different occasions, either by attempting to define critique in the light of his archaeo-genealogical studies (1990: 154-155) or through explicit statements like "we are all Neo-Kantians" (2001: 546). Thus, it is not surprising that a considerable number of books and articles have been dedicated to the study of the relation between Foucault's oeuvre and the notion of critique. These studies, although varying in their scope and emphases, tend to adopt two major interpretative strategies. The first attempts to give a coherent reading of Foucault's work by making it a project that was organized around the central theme of the critique from the beginning. Beatrice Han's Foucault's Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical (2002) is one of the best examples of such an attempt. The second strategy, instead of doing a chronological study of the development of the notion of critique in Foucault's oeuvre, takes its starting point to be one of his, more often than not, later notions in order to present a 'Foucauldian critique', in the light of which the rest of his work needs to be re-interpreted. Colin Koopman, for example, in Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity (2013), argues that Foucault's approach to critique consists in "the historical problematization of the present", on the basis of which it is possible to distinguish between "critical methods" (e.g., genealogy and archaeology) and "critical concepts" (e.g., discipline and Biopower) in his oeuvre. This thesis presents a chronological study of Foucault's oeuvre in order to reveal the existence of the multiplicity of concepts of critique, in which the relation between its variables is shifting perpetually. These variables, taking inspiration from Deleuze (1991; 2006), are: Articulation, Visibility and Subject. However, instead of identifying each of them with a specific phase of Foucault's 'critical project', I will argue that all of them have always been present but the relation between them goes through significant changes and thus gives rise to those phases. This thesis is a detailed analysis of the schemata of Foucauldian critique in order to demonstrate that instead of a singular notion, his oeuvre provides us with a plural concept of critique.