The Production of Subjectivity: From Transindividuality to the Commons

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New Formations: A Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics


Collectivity is increasingly difficult to conceptualize. This is perhaps due to a long philosophical cold war. Which has left us with concepts of social relations that start with an irreducible individual, figuring society as nothing other than the sum total of individual actions, as in social contract theory and various forms of methodological individualism, on the one hand, and spectres of organic or functionalist totality, on the other hand. Against both terms of this division this paper examines Gilbert Simondon’s work on individuation to explore the transindividual production of subjectivity. The conditions of our subjectivity, language, knowledge, and habits, are neither individual nor part of any collective, but are the conditions of individual identity and collective belonging, remaining irreducible to each. These conditions have become increasingly important to the contemporary production process, becoming the source of new forms of wealth. They are the new commons that are increasingly becoming enclosed, privatized. Finally, following the work of Paolo Virno and Bernard Stiegler, I argue that these commons, the transindividual production of subjectivity, can become the basis of a new politics, a politics irreducible to individuality or totality