Lazzarato and the micro-politics of invention

James Muldoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing from the writings of Deleuze and Foucault, various forms of political vitalism have emerged as one of the most dominant approaches to radical politics today. However, there has been considerable disagreement over the terms on which a debate over vitalism s perceived utility should be carried out. This has allowed for a great confusion over what is at stake in the vitalist controversy. This article argues that an analysis of the most recent works of Maurizio Lazzarato, one of the most prominent contemporary political vitalists, assists in clarifying the terms of the debate and provides a rebuttal of several of the most common criticisms of political vitalist thought. Through his engagement with the work of French sociologist Gabriel Tarde, Lazzarato has developed a distinct variety of neo-monadology that analyses the world in terms of micro-psychic forces. On the basis of this ontology, Lazzarato constructs a politics of multiplicity consisting of open strategies of experimentation and creation, which he argues offers the best form of resistance to neo-liberal capitalism. It is argued that Lazzarato is able to provide an answer to the three common charges that vitalism is a mysticism, suffers from a lack of normative foundations, and has an incoherent political programme. The article concludes with a reflection on the extent to which political vitalism is still haunted by a failure to give an account of and come to terms with the role of negativity in politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57 - 76
Number of pages20
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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