Reading “Poverty” through Laruelle
Almost done reading Laruelle and Non-Philosophy (ed. John Mullarkey and Anthony Paul Smith). But so far I keep coming back to Marjorie Gracieuse’s essay “Laruelle Facing Deleuze” who has laid out so well what I was hoping would validate my earlier thoughts (in an unpublished essay) on non-philosophy. Anthony Paul Smith was so kind to share some pdfs on Laruelle through his online seminar (at about that time Anthony was still at De Paul University) before I bought some of Laruelle’s major works in English. Starting then, I was already privately annotating Laruelle and was eager to find validations of my own thoughts on this intriguing trend in post-continental philosophy. Graciuese’s expository piece (on the difference between Deleuze’s and Laruelle’s concept of immanence) is so far the closest (to my taste).
“The One…is strictly human and does not need to presuppose a transcendent principle such as life or difference to think. The ‘dark thought of the One’, Laruelle says, does not need any mirror and is not a plane of absolute survey (contra Deleuze), for it is capable of enlightening itself from within and by its own means” (p. 50; underscoring mine).
In my essay (Axioms of Choice) I found myself writing (apologies for the narcissism this might suggest):
“The ordinary Man is the hypothetical axiom of expressive nullity—who has nothing to lose but her chain, the chain being a falsely abstracted condition of poverty that is not the poverty proper to human existence. The poverty she is forced to experience is not radical enough; it is a kind of poverty alien to her. The true, hence, axiomatic experience of poverty is the source of all human freedom—poverty before the Void whose richness is unbearable, whose wealth to offer is too huge to accommodate. The ordinary Man alone is in possession of this knowledge, the absolute knowledge that Socrates only discovered later…”
Elsewhere, trying to make sense of Negri’s and Hardt’s concept of the poor from a Laruellean perspective, I did quite a hasty survey:
“Negri and Hardt’s rendition of the notion of the poor as definable in terms of ‘possibility’ rather than of ‘lack’ is closer to our preference for the use of Ordinary Man. (See also Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Commonwealth [Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009], xi). “The poor, in other words, refers not to those who have nothing but to the wide multiplicity of all those who are inserted in the mechanisms of social production regardless of social order or property” (40). The ‘wide multiplicity’ here can be further radicalized in terms of the unilaterality of the Real. From the standpoint of the Real, humanity is a subject-in-struggle regardless of differences in class which defines poverty and richness in terms of property relations.
“More radically expressed, humanity is poor relative to the foreclosed essence of the Real whose unilaterality nonetheless is the source of infinite wealth (as we mentioned in a short passage from Bataille, cf. n. 22). One may not be surprised if we hear more of Negri and Hardt, stating: “In each and every historical period a social subject that is ever-present and everywhere the same is identified, often negatively but nonetheless urgently, around a common living form. This form is not that of the powerful and the rich: they are merely partial and localised figures, quantitae signatae. The only non-localisable “common name” of pure difference in all eras is the poor. The poor is destitute, excluded, repressed, exploited—and yet living” (Ibid., 156)! Laruelle has a similar quantum of thought in which the poor is rendered generic, nay, as the ordinary, the last instance knowledge of the human/subject-in-struggle through the vision-in-One/Real.
Towards the last section, I made mention of the role of the University in educating humankind in light of the unilaterality of the Real:
“This inimitable power of the ordinary man nonetheless always risks itself being made into an object-cause of the politics of truth by the non-ordinary subject of non-axiomatic politics, by contrast a subject who is deeply involved in truth, the activist of truth, one whose self-proclaimed mission is to represent the genericity of the non-truth subject by means of exhausting his concept of truth to the last political instance. In contrast the University risks representing the ordinary Man by reclaiming her ordinariness from non-axiomatic truths through re-training the soul in the autonomous light of the Real. It is in this sense that the absolute goal of the University is to redeem ordinary humans, make them reproduce their authentic radical possibilities.”