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  • Dividual Revolution:What Can Philosophy Do in the Digital Present?
  • Anaïs Nony (bio)

To speak about revolution, either as an event or as a concept, must appear presumptuous at a moment when racial discrimination, fascist politics, and the totalitarian war against women and minorities are amplified by a market economy based on systemic division. In the digital present, the systematization of division is magnified by newly algorithmic structures of machinic capitalism. In that context, the more the intellect aims to grasp the depth of revolutionary actions, the less the latter seem to make sense. In other words, both the failure and the promise of revolution have created a modern paradigm to address the political struggles of our times, one that is cyclically repeating itself to challenge the limits of humankind. And yet, one can always find reasons to interrogate the symptoms of revolutionary tragedies that proliferate against a background of intellectual numbness.

In DIVIDUUM: Machinic Capitalism and Molecular Revolution, the German philosopher Gerald Raunig asks us to ponder what division has to do with revolution and proposes to attend to revolutionary temporality in a molecular way. To address revolution, Raunig proposes to think about molecular forms of organization as functioning horizontally, at a temporal level that both resists and disrupts imposed categories of values, power, and their hegemonic mode of implementation in today's digital societies. The horizontal—which is in conversation with the rhizomatic in Deleuze and Guattari—calls for a temporality that is related to dividuality. By dividuality Raunig means a principle for division understood to produce both domination and emancipation. Crucial in the book is the link it forges between division and revolution as a framework to unpack the joint power of domination and emancipation. To link division and temporality, Raunig proposes [End Page 179] to go back to processes of machinic accumulation to include pre-Marxist forms of patriarchy and slavery. He questions how systems of exploitation and enslavement are made possible by the imposition of a dividual principle at the core of both obedience and disobedience, conformity and noncompliant divisions. Here division is a dividuality principle (division is inherent to all that it is), a dividual tendency (division is a dynamic quality that shapes relations), and a dividuum (division is a temporal operation). Engaged with the modalities of partition and extraction that are deployed in capitalist systems of domination, Raunig confronts the machinic operations of capitalism and positions the concept of the dividual as it develops in early Scholasticism, that is, prior to the advent of capitalism. The value of this approach is to think about the implementation of capitalist structures of dispossession, extraction, and partition long before Marxism emerged to theorize them.

In elaborating the notion of dividuality, the relation between economy and domination can be grasped as "annihilation of space by time" (Marx 424), or, to put it in more contemporary terms, "how every act of exploitation … depends upon an even greater act of appropriation" (Moore 54). When one is reading Raunig, it is useful to put Marxist theory in dialogue with operations of domination that pertain to the relationality of space and time to include colonialism, slavery, and patriarchy. What matters in terms of revolution is not the implementation of a linear scheme but the constant adaptation of dividual modalities as a means to both separate and aggregate temporalities. For Raunig, this adaptation, or modulation, calls to address the manifold complexity of division by looking at the long history of appropriation and by questioning the mechanization and automation of accumulation as a means of oppression in today's digital economy. In other words, the political value of the book resides in the consideration of a wider, longer, and more complex framework from which to question the becoming-dividual of social relations and assess how division and its dividuality principle resonate with the possibility of revolution in the digital present.

DIVIDUUM cultivates a properly transverse relationship with Deleuze and Guattari. Published by Semiotext(e) and translated by Aileen Derieg, DIVIDUUM interrogates the value of molecular revolution in today's digital societies and its newly engendered system [End Page 180] of financialization. Here, "molecular revolution" is a politico-philosophical program in which, in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1460-2458
Print ISSN
0882-4371
Pages
pp. 179-198
Launched on MUSE
2019-08-29
Open Access
No
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