A Tragic Note: on Negri and Deleuze in the Light of the 'Argentinazo'
Published in the British journal New Formations, Issue 68, Autumn 2009, edited by Jeremy Gilbert.
In a conversation between Antonio Negri and Gilles Deleuze, translated under the title 'Control and Becoming', the former philosopher denounced the problematic status of the latter's work - specifically A Thousand Plateaus, co-authored with Félix Guattari - in the context of political philosophy. For Negri, as we gather from his comments, inasmuch as Deleuze's framework is essential for thinking about the contemporary world, it remains a catalogue of unresolved problems on the all-important topic of politics. One of the central points of divergence is related to Negri's optimistic and teleological philosophical orientation vis-à-vis Deleuze's decidedly non-teleological ontology and philosophy of history. Negri famously hears a 'tragic note' in Deleuze's open-ended account. This article explores and evaluates this divergence, philosophically and politically, in the light of the period of revolts and radical political experimentation that broke out in Argentina after 2001. Siding with Deleuze, philosophically and politically, it concludes that the positive outcome of such a 'tragic' perspective is a constant concern for launching and re-launching instances of concrete political experimentation with a regard for just this open-endedness of the historical horizon.