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Agamben and Radical Politics$
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Daniel McLoughlin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402637

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402637.001.0001

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Form-of-Life and Antagonism: On Homo Sacer and Operaismo

Form-of-Life and Antagonism: On Homo Sacer and Operaismo

(p.189) 9 Form-of-Life and Antagonism: On Homo Sacer and Operaismo
Agamben and Radical Politics

Jason E. Smith

Edinburgh University Press

This Chapter argues that one of the key concepts in Agamben’s account of the ‘coming politics’ – form-of-life – was initially developed through a critical engagement with three concepts central to the post-workerist strain of Italian Marxism: general intellect, multitude, and antagonism. Smith makes the argument through a close reading of the essay ‘Form-of-Life’, which appeared two years prior to the Italian publication of Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. The chapter suggests that Agamben’s account of ‘form-of-life,’ which is a power irreducibly antagonistic to sovereignty and the social, is a contribution to the revolutionary communist tradition. However, Smith raises concerns that Agamben’s account of antagonism does not adequately account for the fact that certain forms of social identity – namely the categories of worker and woman – are themselves constituted through forms of antagonism that traverse the social.

Keywords:   Agamben, operaismo, workerism, form-of-life, multitude

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