Capitalism: Return of the Subjectivity Snatcher

invasion of body snatchers 2

In order to prevent the potential autonomy of labor, Paolo Virno asserts that capital employs precisely “that which is common, that is, the intellect and language” (68). Suely Rolnik colorfully states that capital has become creativity’s pimp (“The Geopolitics of Pimping”). By moving away from the Fordist assembly line to a networked organization, capital provides what Brian Holmes terms the “flexible personality” of social laborers the creative space for self-valorization (“The Flexible Personality”). In a network where social laborers are given the freedom to manage their own projects, Holmes argues, “individuals aspire to mix their labor with their leisure” (“The Flexible Personality”). Sylvère Lotringer notes that the surplus value extracted by the network stems from “the idle time of the mind that keeps enriching, unacknowledged, the fruits of immaterial labor” (Forward). The industrial factory has been replaced by Mario Tronti’s “social factory” (“Social Capital”) and Antonio Negri’s “factory without walls” (The Politics of Subversion 204) creating the current situation in which “the temporal measure of exploitation has become not the working day but the life-span” (Dyer-Witheford).

Yikes! It seems our subjectivity, as Félix Guattari would say, has been snatched by capitalism!

Works cited

Dyer-Witheford, Nick. “Autonomist Marxism and the Information Society.” Multitudes 3 June 2004. Web.

Holmes, Brian. “The Flexible Personality: For a New Cultural Critique.” European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies Jan 2002. Web.

Lotringer, Sylvère. “We, the Multitude.” Forward. A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life. By Paolo Virno. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext, 2004. 7-19. Print.

Negri, Antonio. The Politics of Subversion: A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2005. Print.

Rolnik, Suely. “The Geopolitics of Pimping.” European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies Oct 2006. Web.

Tronti, Mario. “Social Capital.” Telos 17 (1973): 98-121. Print.

Virno, Paolo. A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext, 2004. Print.

Photo from


3 thoughts on “Capitalism: Return of the Subjectivity Snatcher

  1. I read Deleuze’s essay “Three Group-related problems” yesterday and have had Guattari on the mind ever since. Deleuze opens with “A militant political activist and a psychoanalyst just so happen to meet in the same person, and instead of each minding his own business, they ceaselessly communicate, interfere with one another, and get mixed up — each mistaking himself for the other…Pierre-Felix Guattari does not let the unity of the Self preoccupy him” (Desert Islands, 193) Then, as I was walking to campus this morning, I found myself trying to think about this essay while constantly being assaulted with the tune to the Nickelodeon children’s show “The Backyardigans” that my son had lodged in my head with his humming at the bus stop. At first I was I frustrated but then I realized that this is exactly the sort of thing Guattari is always talking about!

    • A great text in which Guattari talks about “the polyphonic character of subjectivity” and “the stratifications of self” is “Space and Corporeity” in Semiotext(e) Architecture, (1992), Translated from French by Hraztan and Heghnar Zeitlian, New York: Semiotext(e), (160pp.), ISBN 9780936756844, Paperback, $59.11.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.