Matteo Pasquinelli's book, Animal Spirits: A Bestiary of the Commons, asks us to get real about the dark, libidinal desires and living labour that underlie the 'multitude' and the commons. Review by Luciana Parisi
After the political delirium of postmodern times, this new century has seen a return to clear anti-capitalist positions reacting against the deterritorialisation of political thought. Leaving behind the ephemeral desert of the real, many have argued that political ideas must now be realised. Most recently, the crisis of value within the machine of capitalism has become yet another warning against those philosophies that offer a ‘shameful apology to capitalism'. A call to reactivate the historical specificity of the political animal is now pitting itself against cognitive capitalism's affective, creative and intellectual models of real subsumption.
During the '90s, the explosion of free software, open source and social network culture became the opportunity for a collective politics to declare autonomy from centralised media control. In the early '00s, a widespread sentiment of disillusionment towards the autonomy of such soft culture readily denounced the babble of creative capitalism. Already in the 1970s, Italian Operaismo had unveiled the emerging symptoms of such an extended ‘social factory'. The full capitalisation of Free Culture, however, has been realised by a computational meta-architecture governing everyday communication and penetrating every aspect of social relations. This is why it is now considered naïve to maintain that concepts, affects and sensations could ever remain subversive uncharted territories from the new form of communication, cognitive or immaterial capitalism. In this climate, given that all thoughts and affects are either believed to be always already (neoliberally) free or co-opted by the ingenious form of post-Fordist capitalism, the articulation of a new sense of the common has been a project shared by many radical voices.