The Common as Body Without Organs

Deleuze Studies 4 (supplement):46-63 (2010)
Abstract
The paper explores the relation of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's work to that of Deleuze and Guattari. The main focus is on Hardt and Negri's concept of ‘the common’ as developed in their most recent book Commonwealth. It is argued that the common can complement what Nicholas Thoburn terms the ‘minor’ characteristics of Deleuze's political thinking while also surpassing certain limitations posed by Hardt and Negri's own previous emphasis on ‘autonomy-in-production’. With reference to Marx's notion of real subsumption and early workerism's social-factory thesis, the discussion circles around showing how a distinction between capital and the common can provide a basis for what Alberto Toscano calls ‘antagonistic separation’ from capital in a more effective way than can the classical capital–labour distinction. To this end, it is demonstrated how the common might benefit from being understood in light of Deleuze and Guattari's conceptual apparatus, with reference primarily to the ‘body without organs’ of Anti-Oedipus. It is argued that the common as body without organs, now understood as constituting its own ‘social production’ separate from the BwO of capital, can provide a new basis for antagonistic separation from capital. Of fundamental importance is how the common potentially invents a novel regime of qualitative valorisation, distinct from capital's limitation to quantity and scarcity.
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