Softening Up the State
What advice might Machiavelli offer critics of the contemporary market nation-state? In this striking reconstruction, lessons on corruption, inequality, immigration, mobilization—from Rome and Sparta, Florence and the Venetian Republic—yield proposals for open borders and universal basic income.
The Decline of Decadence
From Nietzsche to Lukács, decadence was a matter of cultural disintegration and social atomization under pressure of capitalist modernity, but such talk has dwindled. Malcolm Bull asks whether the private languages of conceptual art are decadent or undecadent. And is the market a substitute communicator of shared values?
Beyond existing arguments about equality, might the praxes of permanent and passive revolution offer a way to conceptualize a more expansionary levelling? Drawing on motifs from Nietzsche, Babeuf, Marx and Gramsci, Malcolm Bull traces the contours and consequences of extra-egalitarianism.
Vectors of the Biopolitical
Taking coordinates from Aristotle, Malcolm Bull finds in Agamben’s biopolitics and Nussbaum’s capabilities approach the disconnected fragments of a lost vision of society, adumbrated by Marx, glimpsed and rejected by Arendt. Strange meetings as the trajectories of the disenfranchised and the empowered, human and non-human, converge.
Introduction to Special Issue on Globalization and Biopolitics
“A selection of the most pressing political questions of the moment might include the following: should women wear headscarves? May we buy and sell our bodily organs? How can we control the weather? The questions sound almost frivolous, and they are certainly not matters on which the canonical . . .” read more
States of Failure
The question of agency remains the central lacuna in the construction of systemic alternatives. Building on ‘The Limits of Multitude’ in NLR 35, Malcolm Bull proposes a reconceptualization of the relation between collective will and invisible hand. Can bearings drawn from Hegel, Gramsci, Sartre indicate the route to a new global order through dissolution of the Western imperial state?
The Limits of Multitude
What, if any, agencies of political change exist today—and how should they be conceived? Tracing the long tradition of contrasts between a ‘people’ and a ‘multitude’, Malcolm Bull argues that the differing resolutions of them by Hobbes and Spinoza have descended to the twenty-first century, issuing into a contemporary stand-off between market globalization and populist reactions to it.
Between the Cultures of Capital
T. J. Clark’s landmark study, Farewell to an Idea, takes the art of modernism to be a convulsive attempt to imagine modernity in forms other than the triumph of capitalism. Malcolm Bull suggests it might be better conceived as a fold in the overlap between two contrasting cultures of capitalism, classical and commodity, of which only one is left today.
Where is the Anti-Nietzsche?
If uncritically lyrical receptions of Nietzsche are receding, who has truly resisted his ultimate seduction—‘reading for victory’? Mere rejection of Nietzsche’s ideals does not escape his lure, Malcolm Bull argues. Only the standpoint of the subhuman is proof against his ecology of value.
Slavery and the Multiple Self
“The concept of the self currently plays a significant role within moral philosophy and intellectual history. That this is so is due in some measure to the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor. Both philosophers treat questions about the morality of actions or agents as secondary to . . .” read more
The Ecstasy of Philistinism
“Believing that philistinism was not mere vulgarity but ‘the antithesis par excellence of aesthetic behaviour’, Adorno expressed interest in studying the phenomenon as a via negativa to the aesthetic. But the project remained unrealized, and although he frequently made dismissive or insulting remarks about philistines, Adorno never bothered . . .” read more
Vision and Totality
“In the epilogue to Marxism and Totality, Martin Jay remarked that ‘if one had to find a common denominator among the major figures normally included in the post-structuralist category—Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, Philippe Sollers and their comrades avant . . .” read more