Maurizio Lazzarato is best known for having coined the term ‘immaterial labour’ as a way of describing the many forms of work in the contemporary economy that do not produce physical outputs, but are concerned with the production of knowledges, information-flows, moods, and experiences. But his work extends way beyond this analysis, drawing on the tradition of ‘autonomist’ Marxism and the ideas of thinkers such as Foucault and Guattari to offer one of the most powerful and engaged analyses of neoliberal culture, contemporary capitalism, and the organisation forms that resistance to it requires. This year sees the publication of the English translation of one of his most important works, Experimental Politics. This book provides an account of a key episode in recent French political history – the highly innovative struggle to defend the rights of precarious creative workers that emerged in the summer of 2003 – and uses it to offer one of the most profound analyses to date of the nature of advanced neoliberalism and its complex relationship to creative practice of all kinds. The book was translated by a team of Arianna Bove, Jeremy Gilbert, Andrew Goffey, Mark Hayward and Jason Read, with Jeremy providing a long critical introduction to the book and Lazzarato’s ideas. In this seminar Maurizio himself explores how those ideas have developed and why they are so relevant for contemporary radical politics.
May 1968 saw an escalation of protests and political actions by students and workers in France, leading a situation of near-revolution that lasted for several weeks and re-set the terms of political debate for a generation.
Although ‘the events of May’ are remembered as the most obvious and symbolic expression of the revolutionary spirit in that moment, ‘May 1968’ was only one episode in an international series of events and struggles against the bureaucratic cultures of post-war welfare capitalism and the Stalinist ‘socialism’ of the Soviet bloc, from the early 60s to the mid- 80s. This was the moment when the counterculture, student radicalism, Black Power and a new wave or working class militancy coincided with a wave of global anti-imperial struggle and the birth of the women’s movement, the green movement and Gay Liberation.
The consequence of these struggles, their partial defeats and limited victories have been colossal: arguably the adoption of neoliberal policies by governing elites across the globe was motivated as much as anything by the need to contain their demands for radical democracy and collective freedom. On the other hand, sceptics have argued that the counterculture and the New Left undermined working class solidarity, ultimately paving the way for a postmodern culture of narcissism, hedonism and futile identity politics.
The implications of these movements and the debates that they provoked were decisive and long-lasting for the development of radical philosophy, political theory and cultural studies . What is the significance of this history for contemporary radicalism? And would it be accurate to say that ‘1968’ didn’t happen in Britain until 1982?…
What does Harvey Weinstein’s exposure and fall tell us about our moment? How are gendered relations changing and what is the condition of feminism in the 21st century? What are the most useful ways of conceptualising gendered power today – is it sexism, misogyny, patriarchy or male privilege that feminism is fighting, or are they all the same thing? What has been at stake in the politicisation now, and for the historical women’s movement, of issues like sexual harassment alongside more ‘basic’ economic issues such as equal pay and access to childcare? And what are we to make of the growing tendency of centrist neoliberal politicians like Hilary Clinton appealing to liberal feminism as their main source of legitimacy?
This is the recording of the Feb 23rd 2016 lecture / discussion ‘We Are All Migrants’, given by Jeremy Gilbert, covering issues around the legacies of colonialism and imperialism. This lecture is part of a series ‘Introduction to Cultural Studies: Culture, Technology, Power’ hosted at Open School East, which has merged with the ‘Culture, Power, Politics’ series for the time being.
For more details see https://culturepowerpolitics.org/introduction-to-cultural-studies-culture-technology-power/.
The session starts a little slow because Jeremy had a heavy cold, but the discussion is very wide-ranging.