Bio-politics, Transspecies Love and/as Class Commons-Sense

Jennifer Cotter


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Robert Faivre


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As class contradictions have grown sharper with intensification of the crisis of profitability in global capitalism, cultural theory in the North Atlantic retreats further and further into spiritual explanations and resolutions of material contradictions. Yet, rather than confronting the relationship of increasing exploitation and, therefore, poverty of workers around the world, the concentration of wealth into fewer hands, sharp increases in unemployment and economic insecurity, the commodification of all aspects of "life" subordinating them to production for profit, and the sharpening alienation of workers to class relations founded on exploitation in production, contemporary cultural theory is retreating away from the social, the historical, and the material basis of these questions in production relations to "immaterial," "affective" and "spiritual" resolutions of material contradictions and ideologically translating capitalism and exploitation into existential conditions of "life" as such. 

It is in this context that cultural theory in the global North has embraced what Christian Marazzi calls "the biopolitical turn of the economy"—an increasing turn to "bio-politics" as a means to explain and address the social and economic contradictions in capitalism now (as qtd. in Corsani 107).  At the core of "bio-political" theory is a substitution of "life"—particularly the spiritualist concept of a creative "life-force" or what Henri Bergson calls elan vital—for the historical and material relations of the dialectical praxis of labor and class as explanations of the material basis of contradictions in capitalism now and their transformation. In other words, at the core of biopolitics is a cultural spiritualism which ideologically translates historical and material relations into a transhistorical and autonomous power of life—a mystical vitalism—and posits this spiritual vitalism as the basis of bringing about new social relations. This new "spiritualism" of life is offered in a variety of articulations in contemporary cultural theory from the writings that overtly address theories of "biopower" and "biopolitics" as in the writings of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Commonwealth), Giorgio Agamben (Homo Sacer), Maurizio Lazzarato, and Antonella Corsani, among others, to the transspecies posthumanist writings of Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I Am), Agamben (The Open), and Donna Haraway (When Species Meet). These biopolitical theories claim to address a range of material problems that are the effect of production for profit in capitalism while at the same time abstracting these problems from their origins in class relations and exploitation: from the encroachment of commodity relations into all aspects of life, including the private ownership of strands of DNA and whole species of plants and animals; to the degradation of the environment in the interests of profit; to economic crisis; to the extension of the working day; to the subordination of love and sexuality to production for profit; to the estrangement of workers from social wealth...  In place of addressing the material conditions and relations that have given rise to these problems, however, bio-political theories posit an "other-world"  and an "other-worldly life"—a concept of spiritual life that is prior to, constitutive of, transcendent of and/or outside of the historical and social relations of capitalism—as the basis of a new "commons" beyond the material contradictions of capitalism. 

The spiritualization of life in biopolitical theories, to be clear, is represented as a new form of materialism. The substitution of "life" for "class" in bio-political theories draws from Foucault's theory of "bio-power" in which he argues that "modern man is an animal whose politics calls his existence as a living being into question" (The History of Sexuality Vol 1 143). "Bio-power," Foucault contends, is a regime of power that, rather than ruling by threat of death, produces life through the disciplining of bodies, the regulation of populations, and through the "technologies of the self" in which bodies come to bind themselves to identities produced through sovereign power. In fact, Foucault posits "bio-power"—the instrumental disciplining of bodies such that they come to experience their own subjection as the norm of life and source of pleasure—rather than the exploitation of labor as the material basis of capitalism. Capitalism, Foucault contends, is not possible without "bio-power": "bio-power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism; the latter would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production" (140-141). According to Foucault, "There is no binary and all encompassing opposition between rulers and ruled at the root of power relations" (94). In this view there is "no regulative mechanism" of power relations. Instead, in Foucault's cultural imaginary of power, "power is everywhere ... because it comes from everywhere" (93). 

In this narrative, an explanatory critique of "power" as the effect of class relations of capitalism—relations between exploiter and exploited—is part of a "binary metaphysics" of power which discursively imposes a regime of truth (power/knowledge) onto what is "actually," so the story goes, an ineffably and mysteriously plural, diffuse, and amorphous "multiplicity of forces." On the one hand, "life" is assumed to spontaneously produce a discursive proliferation of meanings (knowledges) that then discipline and contain it. On the other hand, life is regarded as an ineffable and plural opacity that "resists" all conceptual explanation. The subjection of bodies is reduced to a contingent, "spontaneous" and aleatory effect of "life" as such or the sheer fact of living. This makes it appear as if "power over life" comes not from structural relations relations of exploitation, but from a non-structural, amorphous, cultural plurality—a cultural democracy of "power from below" to which all have access by virtue of living—that is "everywhere." 

Foucault's theory of "bio-power" is not a form of materialism but a form of cultural spiritualism. When Foucault argues that "bio-politics" is at the root of capitalism, he dehistoricizes "the machinery of production" into which he claims bodies are "inserted." The existence of "the machinery of production"—or a "controlled insertion" of bodies—is itself the effect of the dialectical praxis of labor. This is because power is not an autonomous, trans-historical life force nor is it an ineffable diffuse plurality beyond historical and conceptual explanation, but an effect of definite historical and material conditions and relations. Power, in other words, rests upon material conditions of production.  Whether or not the society has the "power" to end starvation or to condemn the majority of the laboring population to a lifetime of starvation, has to do with the level of development of its material conditions of production—its forces of production—and the social relations of production (the labor and property relations) that determine the social ends and interests toward which labor is put. This is another way of saying that power is the historical and material effect of labor in the form of property. In a society in which property is privately owned, power is the capacity of the ruling class to "command over the surplus-labor" of workers in production (The German Ideology 102). At the root of power relations is an antagonistic class relation: the antagonism between owners of the means of production and workers who only own their labor to sell in order to survive and are exploited. The binary of class, to be clear, is historical and material not, at root, discursive: class binaries are not the effect of nature, god, nor are they the effect of "western metaphysics," "discursive construction," "binary thinking," or conceptualization, but the effect of private ownership of the means of production.

Foucault's theory of power does the ideological work of capital by concealing and ideologically inverting the structural relations of class in capitalism. In place of the material transformation of structural relations of capitalism, Foucault advocates "resistance" within—a change in the discursive and cultural regimes and a re-valuing of "life"—as the basis of a "different economy of bodies and pleasures" (159). This amounts to the the updating of the culture of capitalism as the limit of change while the needs of the masses for material abolition of exploitation is dismissed as a reactionary nostalgia for the impossible—what Foucault dismisses as "The 'right' to life ... beyond all the oppressions" (145). Changing the cultural values of life and regarding this as constituting material change—i.e., as an end in itself—becomes a means to ideologically update power relations without fundamentally transforming them.

The spiritualism that is implicit in Foucault's theory of "bio-power" has become more pronounced in contemporary articulations of biopolitics. In their most recent book, Commonwealth, for example, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri put forward the concept of "biopolitics" as a supplement to Foucault's "biopower." While "bio-power" they argue, is the power "over life," they deploy the concept of bio-politics to argue for an autonomous "power of life" to resist. In doing so, as this essay discusses at length further below, they posit an abstract and essentially spiritualist concept of a creative life force—a neo-Augustinian conception of life—outside the social and historical as the basis of a new "commonwealth" and "mass exodus" from capitalism. Giorgio Agamben, in contrast to Hardt and Negri, uses the term "bio-politics" instead to refer to the "mechanisms and calculations of State power" over life—what Foucault calls "biopower"—rather than an autonomous "power of life."  For Agamben, what Hardt and Negri call the "power of life" to resist, is always already an extension of the sovereign "power over life" not a resistance to it. The "originary moment" of politics, according to Agamben, is that natural life, "the simple fact of living" or "life common to all" (what the ancient Greeks called zoē)has been subsumed, "captured" by "biopolitical regimes of power" so that precisely when natural life (zoē) is posited to be "outside" of sovereign power (bios)—banned by it, excluded from it—this is actually an extension of the inside of sovereign power. Politics, in other words, is always already the inclusion of this "excluded" life, the politicizing of natural life—the reduction of bodies to de-sacralized or "bare life." Yet, despite their different theories and different semantic uses of the term "bio-politics," Agamben's biopolitical theory as a whole is predicated—as much as is Hardt and Negri's theory—on restoring a spiritualist concept of life. In contrast to the life of "bios and zoē"—at the interstices of which, Agamben contends, is always already de-sacralized "bare life"—Agamben posits a "new form-of-life," a "messianic redemption" or "happy life" as a moment of transcendence (Means Without End 114-115). Finding even Foucault to be "too historical" for positing biopower as a stage in the development of history, and history itself to be always already a reduction of life to bare life, Agamben puts forward this new form of life as outside of history. For Agamben, there is no historical possibility of ending exploitative social relations and bringing about freedom through material transformation—all social, political, and historical life is always already a violent subordination of life to bio-politics. All historical and social life—regardless of the actual social and economic organization of society—is in this view always already a form of "de-sacralized" life or "bare life" (Homo Sacer 82).  Rather than articulating a materialist theory of social transformation and the historical and material possibility of bringing about social relations free from exploitation, Agamben articulates a spiritual song of mourning and melancholia for a "lost" sacred life that has never been: "Redemption is not an event in which what was profane becomes sacred and what was lost is found again. Redemption is, on the contrary, the irreparable loss of the lost" (The Coming Community 102). Social transformation is reduced to a  spiritual journey toward the "messianic" common life "to come" that can never fully be materialized without becoming "bare life"—a journey, in other words, in which the working class, like Ralph Ellison's invisible man at the Battle Royal, is "kept running."

This essentially spiritualist understanding of life, moreover, is codified on a new level within a specific variant of biopolitical theories—transspeciesist posthumanism—which posits a common spiritual life beyond historical differences between "humans" and "animals" as the basis of new global social relations. As a form of biopolitical ideology, transspecies posthumanism displaces class relations with an ahistorical and spiritualist understanding of common life. Transspecies posthumanism does so more specifically by declaring the historical differences between species—specifically between humans and other animals—as a metaphysical abstraction of the the common fact of living that exists within all species.  One of the main goals of transspecies posthumanism is to divert attention away from class relations and exploitation of surplus-labor, by enacting a "fissure" in the concept of the human—that is, by ideologically dissolving the historical difference between human and animal—and, in so doing, invoking a  "crisis" in the concept of human labor-power. Transspecies posthumanism, therefore, situates "life"—which it understands as "transspecies" life or life common to all species—outside of the historical relations that produce differences between the species. In doing so it dispense with projects for material transformation of historical relations of production on the grounds that they are "violently anthropocentric" and function on the basis of what Donna Haraway calls "the goad of human exceptionalism" (When Species Meet 46).

One of the central concepts through which biopolitical and transspecies posthumanist theories advance a new spiritualism is in their theorizations of "love."  "Love" is re-articulated in these discourses as an autonomous life-force that will bring into being new social forms and particularly a new "true," alternative globalization—what Hardt and Negri call an "ontological event" which brings into being the "commons," and Donna Haraway calls an "other"-world but is, in actuality, a spiritualist theory of the "other-worldly" which provides an ideological space for the privileged to accommodate capitalism and the exploitation of labor of the majority, in the name of a "resistant" and alternative globalization.  In particular, post-nuclear and transspecies love, family and/or sexual relations are put forward in biopolitical and posthumanist theories as "constitutive" of a new world order. This paper addresses the class politics of the new bio-political and transspecies posthumanist spiritualism and especially what they offer as "resistant" theories of questions of life, love, family, and sexuality now. In particular, this essay critiques the class politics of Hardt and Negri's argument that "love" is a "biopolitical event" that constitutes the commons, including their seemingly radical argument in Commonwealth for a "mass exodus" from the family and capitalism, which they argue is an institution which corrupts the creative forces of biopolitical labor and prevents the multitude from bringing about commonwealth in society.  As well, this essay critiques the class politics of Donna Haraway's transspecies posthumanist theory of love in which intimacy and "love" with companion species are represented as a radical "other-world-making" evolution and thus, representing capitalism itself as evolved and the regime of the "evolved."

The argument that biopolitics is a form of spiritualism, to be clear, is at odds with the claims and self-representations of bio-political cultural theorists, who contend that their theories are a "new" and "true" form of materialism. Bio-politics maintains that capitalist relations of production has been fundamentally materially transformed by the development of bio-technologies, cybertechnologies, knowledge work, the growth of service industries, the erosion of industrial manufacturing in the North... so that earlier distinctions between "productive" and "reproductive" labor have collapsed. Antonella Corsani, for example, claims that "what is emerging from the metamorphoses of capitalism is a new relationship between capital and life" (107). "The sphere of reproductive activities," Corsani contends, "is integrated into that of production, so that 'life itself' is productive of surplus-value" whether we are eating, drinking, "even," she claims, "when we are sleeping or making love" (117).  Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri confirm this assumption when they suggest that we should no longer speak of capitalism in terms of "productive labor" but of "biopolitical labor" (which they use as a trope for reproductive labor) which produces social life itself or "subjectivities." In their recently published book, Commonwealth, Hardt and Negri displace "exploitation" with "alienation" as the key site of struggle and social transformation when they declare: "we find ourselves being pulled back from exploitation to alienation, reversing the trajectory of Marx's thought" (139-140).  According to Hardt and Negri, "alienation" has no material relation to exploitation (the theft of surplus-labor by owners of the means of production during the working day) and this, they claim, is owing "to the fact that some characteristics closely tied to exploitation particularly those designating capital's productive role, have faded" (140).  On this basis bio-political theories posit reproduction—what Hardt and Negri refer to as "biopolitical production"—as having materially displaced production in capitalism.

What has actually been occurring in transnational capitalism, however, is not a disappearance of productive labor or exploitation (the theft of worker's surplus labor by owners of the means of production), but the transfer of productive labor and the export of capital from the global North to the global South in search of securing sources of cheaper labor to exploit.  As Paula Cerni has argued "something very material has accompanied the creation of a 'post-material' economy where 83% of non-farm employees work in services." Far from actually bringing about a "post-material" economy "the real shift towards [unproductive] service sectors in Western economies" has resulted in a situation in which Western economies "no longer produce enough goods to fund [their] own massive physical requirements, and, as a result, [they are] running an unprecedented trade deficit" (Cerni n. pag.). What is at the root of this is the fact that it is labor not the "immaterial" of culture or ideology that is the source of social wealth. It is precisely because the basis of profit has been and continues to be the exploitation of productive labor that the wealth of North Atlantic capital—and its share of the profits of the world market—is in decline as it has concentrated investment in reproductive labor within its own respective national borders, has relied more heavily on productive labor around the world. To conflate the shifts in the way in which North Atlantic capital aims to acquire a larger share of the social wealth in transnational capitalism, with a fundamental change in basis of how this wealth is actually produced in transnational capitalism, is a parochial analysis of the global economy that erases the continued exploitation of surplus labor of workers around the world in China, in India, in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan... These shifts in production are not a break from the class relations of capitalism and the exploitation of workers around the world; they are an intensification of its irreconcilable class contradictions. And the consequences of these class contradictions and their "solutions" have been devastating for workers both in the global North and the global South, from the spiking of unemployment, to the loss of homes and pensions, to the gutting of public infrastructure for workers and transferring this social wealth to corporations, to increases in suicide rates, depression, anxiety, and pharmaceutical dependency, to "jobless and wageless recovery" which, in actuality, means an increase in the rate of exploitation of workers.

I argue that biopolitics and transspecies posthumanism, in displacing "class" with "life," "production" with "reproduction," "labor" with "love," are affective and ultimately spiritualist understandings of material contradictions that articulate what Marx calls an "inverted world-consciousness." In "A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right: Introduction," Marx critiques religion for the way in which it articulates an inverted world consciousness because, on the one hand, it is "an expression of and protest against real suffering" and, on the other hand, it provides an "illusory happiness" for "real suffering." By "illusory happiness" Marx means that religion provides an illusory resolution of the material contradictions of exploitation in capitalism that cause the "real suffering" to which religion is both an effect and a response. In this way, rather than providing a material solution to problems of social alienation whose origin are in material relations of production, religion ends up providing a "spiritual aroma" for capitalism that helps to ideologically blur material relations of class and culturally adjust exploited workers to ruling class interests. It is on this basis that Marx argues that "The call [to workers] to abandon illusions about their condition is the call to abandon a condition which requires illusions" (131).

Biopolitics and transspecies posthumanism articulate the "spiritual aroma"—the cultural imaginary—of transnational capital now. They do so by putting forward a "common share" in the "immaterial" of a new "global" culture under capitalism in place of transformation of the material relations of production in capitalism and freedom from exploitation. In doing so they serve to naturalize the material relations of exploitation and culturally adjust the contemporary workforces to the needs of capitalism now. In this respect, bio-political and transspecies posthumanist theories of love are a continuation—in a new historical form—of updating the working class into a new morality. George Sampson, in his 1921 book on British national education, English for the English, provides a telling historical example of this practice in his comments on the role of teaching "English" literature and culture to the working-class: "Deny to working-class children any common share in the immaterial, and presently they will grow into the men who demand with menaces a communism of the material" (as qtd in Eagleton 21). To put this another way, the "common share" in the "immaterial" of "culture" for all, was proposed by representatives of ruling class interests, such as Sampson, in order to ideologically smooth over severe material contradictions which were leading British workers to increasingly call into question the basis of ruling class wealth in their own exploitation.  More generally, moreover, these comments are symptomatic of the fact that it is in the material interests of capital to provide "immaterial" and "spiritual" resolutions to deflect attention away from the economic and at the same time maintain the cultural cohesion of social bonds that are necessitated by social relations of production founded on exploitation.

Bio-political and transspecies posthumanist theories of "love" are ideological and illusory articulations of workers' actual need to do away with the conditions that "require illusions." They are a form of "inverted world-consciousness" because they obscure the material need of workers to abolish the material relations under which they are exploited—material relations, that is, which lead to sharpening alienation for workers. This is to say that biopolitical and transspecies posthumanist theories of love are ideological and illusory not because exploited workers do not actually have affective needs; workers do, indeed, have affective needs such as needs for love. Rather, they are ideological and illusory—a form of "inverted world-consciousness"—because they present love as a spiritual force that will heal social alienation without the transformation of material relations founded on private property and exploitation that produce alienation in the first place.

In this sense, biopolitical and transspecies posthumanist theories of love, not only articulate the cultural imaginary of capital but in doing so they fulfill a practical need for capital. This is because changes in social reproduction—including love relations—without fundamental changes in the social relations of production (class relations) are the means by which the ruling class has always ideologically updated the contemporary workforces of capitalism with the skills and cultural intelligibilities needed to be more effectively and profitably exploited in new conditions of production. Bio-politics and its variations such as transspecies posthumanism are aimed at updating, reforming and crisis managing capital and particularly, producing new subjectivities who will adjust to the needs of capital now.

The general return of contemporary cultural theory to focus on questions of "love"—and its spiritualization of love as a creative "life-force" in bio-political and transspecies posthumanist theories in particular—is, as I have marked above an ideological response to material contradictions in transnational capitalism now.  At the same time and more generally, however, "love" becomes a question for cultural theory and a site of contestation because "love" is what historical materialist Alexandra Kollontai calls a "profoundly social emotion" (278). Kollontai means by this that love—and specific forms of love—are produced under definite social relations of production and at the same time help to reproduce these material relations of production (278). "Love" plays a cultural and reproductive role in strengthening the social bonds that have been made materially necessary to a given society. On this point, Kollontai argues,

At all stages of human development love has (in different forms, it is true) been an integral part of culture. […] Love is not in the least a "private" matter concerning only the two loving persons: love possesses a uniting element which is valuable to the collective. This is clear from the fact that at all stages of historical development society has established norms defining when and under what conditions love is "legal" (i.e., corresponds to the interests of the given social collective), and when and under what conditions love is sinful and criminal (i.e., contradicts the tasks of the given society). (278-279)

"Love" is the subject of social contestation because of its historical role in strengthening the bonds of social relations which have been made historically and materially necessary to a given mode of production.  Love is not transhistorical but socially produced under definite conditions. Specific forms of love are produced and become culturally "valuable" within a given set of material relations of necessity for the way in which they help to reproduce the existing social relations of production. In class society, this means that the dominant forms of love become dominant or culturally valuable because they help to maintain the existing class relations and to reproduce the conditions necessary for maintaining class relations.

This role of love in strengthening social bonds in general—and the social bonds of class relations in particular—is historically and socially produced. For instance, Kollontai remarks that, "the ancient world considered friendship and 'loyalty to the grave' to be a civic virtue" whereas "love in the modern sense had no place and hardly attracted the attention either of poets or of writers" (280). This is owing to the fact that in order to reproduce its conditions of production, the ruling classes of the ancient world "recognized only those emotions which drew its fellow-members close together and rendered the emerging social organism more stable" (280). Moreover, under feudalism, where the feudal household is a site of production of social wealth, marriage is contracted according to the material interests of the family and individuals who choose a married partner against these interests are severely criticized. "Love" in marriage is not emphasized. However, what is valued as a "moral virtue" in feudalism is "chivalrous love" outside of marriage by a knight of an inaccessible woman of the ruling class—a "lady" of "nobility" such as the wife of a feudal lord or the queen. This re-articulation of "platonic" or "ideal" love—expressed not only in poetry but in military acts of "heroism"—is considered valuable under feudalism for the way in which it serves as a means to bind men of the exploited classes to fight on behalf of the material interests of their feudal lords (280-281). Lastly, as Kollontai demonstrates, the dominant sexual morality of "possessive individualism" that develops with the emergence of capitalism is not transhistorical but enabled by historical and material relations of production (237-249). More specifically, as the extended feudal household is broken up by the emergence of wage-labor/capital relations, the prevailing sexual morality and ideals of love also change. While capitalism, like feudalism, is a form of class society based on private ownership of the means of production and the private appropriation of surplus-labor, in contrast to feudalism, it entails the dominance of commodity production outside the household as the main form of the production of social wealth and converts labor-power from serf labor tied to the household to a "commodity" on the market. Under these new material relations of production, the family is no longer the main site of the production of social wealth but a site on the one hand of reproduction of the concentration of wealth into fewer hands (for bourgeois families) and, on the other, of the reproduction of exploitable labor-power by working class families. Correspondingly the prevailing sexual morality and ideals of love are changed. As capitalism develops and the family is pared down, nuclear "family values" and possessive individualism become the cultural ideal and prevent workers from seeing their mutual common interests as a class and to emotionally tie them into the new social relations of reproduction and production.

In historical materialist theory love and new moral or ethical codes of love, however, do not in themselves bring about new social forms. The shifts in new forms of sexual morality and love are made possible by material developments and changes in the social relations of production. And these new forms of love then serve to reproduce the material relations of production. New social relations of production can only be brought about by means of material praxis (revolution). And in turn, new forms of love presuppose the development of new material conditions for their production. Even in Kollontai's concepts of forms of love which break from private property modes of love—for instance, what she calls "red love" or "love-comradeship"—such forms of love are not "autonomous" forces but presuppose the emergence of new material relations of production; either new material relations that have been brought into being by social praxis or are in the course of formation.  A break from private property forms of love, in other words, necessitates the abolition of private property in the relations in production.       

The re-turn in contemporary cultural theory to focus on questions of "love" and "affect" more generally, is an articulation of the fact that love is a social emotion and an integral part of culture that is useful for reproducing the social relations of production. Love, and different forms of love,  therefore becomes a site of conflict and struggle in cultural theory and in daily life precisely because of the relation of love to material relations.  This as well, continues today: as class contradictions in capitalism have intensified and more family members have been pulled into the wage-work force, capital also puts pressure on the nuclear-family form insofar as it has begun to serve as a barrier for capital to extract more surplus-labor from the existing workforce. As a consequence a "new" flexible, "post-nuclear," and "posthuman"—but not post-class—sexual and moral code of love is emerging. The old morality of love is serving as a hindrance in many cases to the intensification of the exploitation of workers' surplus-labor around the world. The new spiritualism of "love"—in both its biopolitical and transspecies posthumanist variations—is at root an ideological purging of "old" moral codes of love and sexuality once useful to the ruling class during  an earlier stage in the development of capitalism and bringing about new moral codes of love and sexuality useful for adjusting workers to the intensification of class contradictions in transnational capitalism now. And yet, bio-political theories of love ideologically invert the relationship of these new "post-nuclear" and "post-human" moral codes of love to the material relations of production and posit new forms of love as themselves constituting new material relations in society. In concealing the relationship of love to class relations and diverting attention away from the need to transform the material relations of production, these spiritualist theories of love also conceal the fact that the "new" "post-nuclear" forms of love and sexuality they promote are not a break from capitalist relations of production, but an updating of its social relations of reproduction to adjust workers to the intensification of class contradictions now.



In the discourses of bio-politics love is abstracted from its relation to the material relations of production and grasped primarily as a trans-social affective and spiritual "life force" that "creates" and brings into being new social forms. Love is "spiritualized." It is represented as a "creative life force" that will heal social alienation in capitalism—which has its origin in the material contradictions of production in capitalism—without actually transforming the material relations of production founded on exploitation. For example, in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's latest book, Commonwealth (Harvard UP 2009), they argue that "love" is a "biopolitical event" that "produces the commons" (183). In other words, their claim is that love brings about new social relations that break from private property and bring about a "commonwealth." To understand their claims about "love as a bio-political event" that brings about a change in material relations, it is first necessary to understand what Hardt and Negri mean by "bio-politics." Drawing on Foucault's theory of bio-power, they make a distinction between "bio-power" and "bio-politics." Hardt and Negri deploy the concept of "bio-power" to refer to the "disciplinary regimes, architectures of power, and the applications of power through distributed and capillary networks" that are the subject of Foucault's investigations and that he argues do not "repress" but "produce" subjectivities. Hardt and Negri point out that "bio-power," although considered by Foucault to be productive of subjectivities rather than "repressive" of pre-existing subjectivities, is nonetheless a concept which discusses regimes of "power over life" (57; emphasis added). By contrast, Hardt and Negri use another term, "bio-politics," to refer to what they regard as "the other to power (or even an other power)" (56). They contend that "there is always a minor current that insists on life as resistance, an other power of life that strives toward an alternative existence" (57). In other words, in contrast to "bio-power" which is "power over life" bio-politics, in Hardt and Negri's theorization of it, is the "power of life" and, more specifically, the "power of life to resist and determine an alternative production of subjectivity" which "not only resists power but also seeks autonomy from it" (56-57). Moreover, Hardt and Negri not only understand "bio-politics" as a striving toward autonomy, but as having an an autonomous origin that transcends the historical and material relations of society: "the biopower against which we struggle is not comparable in its nature to the form of power by which we defend and seek our freedom" (57).        

"Biopolitics"—as Hardt and Negri understand it as the "power of life to resist"—is at root a theory of "creative life force," or what Spinoza calls potentia and Henri Bergson calls elan vital, which has its philosophical roots in spiritual creationisms. "Biopolitics" with its reliance on an autonomous "power of life" to "resist" is a spiritualizing of the dialectical praxis of labor and an erasure of the material relations of production. It translates what Marx calls the "dialectical praxis of labor" into spiritualist terms by abstracting "life" from its material conditions of possibility and ideologically converting productive activity or labor—which exists in a necessary relation to the relations of production—into an autonomous "creativity."

The existence of "life," which is to say "the existence of living human individuals," and the "power to resist" presupposes material conditions which can enable and sustain human life. This is the case since men and women "must be in a position to live in order to be able to 'make history'"; they must be in a position to satisfy needs of "eating and drinking […] habitation, clothing and many other things" (Marx and Engels, German 42). In order to satisfy needs to sustain human life, the existence of human life is not only dependent on the means of subsistence, but on labor. Labor is, as Engels puts it, not only the source of all wealth but "next to nature," he argues, "it is the prime basic condition for all human existence" (Dialectics 170). There is no "human existence" that is prior to labor and labor is itself not outside of history; it is a dialectical and material relation:  

Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. He confronts the materials of nature as a force of nature. He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature. (Marx, Capital 283)

The existence of human "life" and its course of development never exists independently of the material conditions of production prevailing at the time (the forces of production) and the social relations within which this production takes place (the relations of production or property relations).  And these conditions and relations are themselves the product of past labor and, in turn, shape the course of all other aspects of social life. But labor conditions never remain static: as the forces of production develop this results in the production and satisfaction of new needs which come into direct contradiction with the relations of production, requiring transformation in the relations of production. Human existence is not prior to the social "metabolism" between the forces of production and the relations within which this production takes place and are transformed. As Marx and Engels argue,

The fact is, therefore, that definite individuals who are productively active in a definite way enter into these definite social and political relations […] the social structure and the state are continually evolving out of the life-process of definite individuals, however, of these individuals, not as they may appear in their own or other people's imaginations, but as they actually are, i.e., as they act, produce materially, and hence as they work under definite material limits, presuppositions and conditions, independent of their will. (Marx and Engels, German 41)

Biopolitics, by abstracting life from the material relations of production and the dialectical praxis of labor, puts forward an understanding of the "power of life" as limitless. In erasing the relation of necessity between "life" and the dialectical praxis of labor, one of the goals of biopolitics and its ideological renewing of spiritual creationism is, as I discuss further below, to update the contemporary workforces of capitalism to increase their productivity (under the banner of the "power of life") without eradicating exploitation in production. Raising productivity without eradicating exploitation means raising the rate of exploitation of workers with the aim of raising the rate of profit for capital. 

By theorizing love as a "bio-political event" Hardt and Negri understand it as a trans-material, trans-social, and trans-historical, "creative life force." They argue that love, as a bio-political event, is "productive" by which they mean that it produces "new subjectivities" and "singularities" and, they add, it is productive of new social forms and relations: "When we engage in the production of subjectivity that is love, we are not merely creating new objects or even new subjects in the world. Instead we are producing a new world, a new social life" (181). What Hardt and Negri call relations of "production" are actually relations of reproduction.  In their theory, the relations of reproduction in capitalism—and specifically the ideological reproduction of subjectivities and the relations through which this takes place—are considered to be the material terrain of social transformation and freedom. The actual material relations of production—the labor and property relations by which social wealth is produced—and the relationship of love to these relations of production are inverted and hidden from view. 

The assumption of this theory is that capitalism is held in place at root not by its material relations of production but by the reproduction of subjectivities who will adjust to and participate in capitalist production. Moreover, by this logic, change in subjectivities—or subjective change—is taken to constitute material change as an end in itself.  In this narrative subjective change and more specifically, the mere act of "loving"—or "loving differently" —as an end in itself "constitutes" new social relations: "love is a process of production of the commons and production of subjectivity. This process is not merely a means to producing material goods and other necessities but also an end in itself" (180). No transformation outside of "loving differently" and transforming the forms of affective relations is, according to this theory, necessary in order to bring about human freedom. In this theory, not only are the relations of production ideologically "dematerialized" but so are the relations of reproduction themselves. When Hardt and Negri appear to make references to "love" and "love relations" as "social," they do not mean by this that love—and the form that it takes—presupposes specific social relations and material conditions of possibility, rather they theorize "love" as a transsocial and immaterial life force that brings into being new social forms. Love, they claim, is at root an "ontological event" that constitutes being and reality as such: 

Every act of love, one might say, is an ontological event in that it marks a rupture with existing being and creates new being [...] Being, after all, is just another way of saying what is ineluctably common, what refuses to be privatized or enclosed and remains constantly open to all. (There is no such thing as a private ontology.) To say that love is ontologically constitutive then, simply means that it produces the common. (181)

Love, in this argument, is outside of social relations but "creates" them. Social relations in other words presuppose love. Human life and reality as such presuppose love in this scenario. Love, in this narrative, is both origin (arche) and end (telos) of reality or Being as such. At different points in their narrative Hardt and Negri refer to love as: an "economic power"; an affective network; a bio-political event;  an bio-political force which creates and brings into being new social forms; a force which composes singularities (differences) within the commons; and the basis of ontology or Being as such (180-183). In short, in Commonwealth, love is understood in theological and spiritualist terms: it is regarded to be all powerful, it is all knowing, absolute reality, it is all encompassing, it creates all that is and all that will ever be. It is ideologically "cleansed" from its actual relation to the material relations of production.

To complete their theological sermon on the "power of love," Hardt and Negri argue that love is a "force to combat evil" (189-199). Here Hardt and Negri deploy the theological concept of "evil" in place of a rigorous historical materialist analysis of material contradictions. Having ideologically displaced the dialectical praxis of labor as the basis of social forms with "love" as a creative life force, the deployment of the concept of "evil" now enables Hardt and Negri to displace analytical critique of private property relations and exploitation as an explanation of social inequality with a theory of moral and panhistorical "corruption." In Hardt and Negri, "evil" is understood as the "corruption" of love and the common or what they elsewhere call "love gone bad":

Our proposition […] is to conceive of evil as a derivative and distortion of love and the common. Evil is the corruption of love that creates an obstacle to love, or to say the same thing with a different focus, evil is the corruption of the common that blocks its production and productivity. Evil thus has no originary or primary existence but stands only in a secondary position to love. (192)

According to Hardt and Negri's logic, since love is an ontological category that constitutes "being" and at the same time is a creative life force that brings into being new social forms, "love" brings about all social relations. Thus, social relations which are unequal are, so the story goes, best "explained" as the "corruption" of love or what they also call "love gone bad." To this end, they suggest that "As soon as we identify love with the production of the common, we need to recognize that, just like the common, love is deeply ambivalent and susceptible to corruption" (181-182). On these terms, Hardt and Negri posit that "capitalism" too, like all social forms is at root made possible by love, but a "love gone bad" (193). Capitalism, in their view, is not an historical relation based on private property relations and the exploitation of labor-power—the theft of surplus labor in production. Rather, they argue that capitalism and its alienating effects are best explained as a form of "love gone bad," by which they mean as a form of "corruption." 

More specifically, according to Hardt and Negri, the "corruption" of love is manifested in "identitarian love" or "love of the same" rather than "love of difference." Race love, nation love, patriotism, romantic love, marriage-couple love are, for Hardt and Negri, examples of "love of the same" (182-183). As an "antidote" to love of the same, Hardt and Negri expand upon the concept of "love thy neighbor," and following Nietzsche they argue that higher than love of neighbor is "love of the farthest" (183). Here Hardt and Negri reduce social transformation to moral platitudes and lessons in multiculturalism and "loving difference." In doing so they erase the fact that exploitation under  capitalism is the root cause of inequality and, as well, exploitation is entirely compatible with "love of the farthest" as transnational capitalism goes "all over the globe" and "must settle everywhere, nestle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere" not only to expand its markets but to secure sources of exploitable labor-power to stave off declines in profit (Marx and Engels Manifesto 487). What Hardt and Negri then propose as the "solution" to "love gone bad" or "love of the same" and toward the "commons" is not social transformation but a "mass exodus" from institutions of the family, the nation, the corporation... As a "force to combat evil," Hardt and Negri contend, "love now takes the form of indignation, disobedience, and antagonism. Exodus is one means […] of combating the corrupt institutions of the common, subtracting from claims of identity, fleeing from subordination and servitude" (195). 

Hardt and Negri's argument for a "mass exodus" from "old/bad" forms of love is, as I explicate further below, an updating of the culture of capitalism—of the methods used to help reproduce the social relations of production founded on exploitation—and not a break from capitalism. However, before further examining Hardt and Negri's theory of "love," "evil," "corruption," and "exodus" and their ideological role in transnational capitalism now, it is first important to understand the genealogy of Hardt and Negri's theory in classic idealism. This is important both because Hardt and Negri overtly claim to be producing a "materialist" theory and because their theory is taken by others as a "new" "true" materialism. Materialism, broadly, is the explanation of the origin of existence on the basis of exclusively material relations and laws of motion. When Hardt and Negri claim that love is "ontological" and constitutive of "Being," this does not mean that they are working with a materialist understanding of love. Despite their claims for a "materialist teleology" (59) and a "materialist perspective" (194), at its core Hardt and Negri's theory of love and the "commons," is not actually an historical updating of materialism for new material conditions of production that are in the process of formation, but an ideological updating of classic Christian idealist (spiritualist) ontology in which the "real" is represented as grounded in the ideal or spiritual. This can be seen not only in their direct references to St. Paul's theology, but in how closely Hardt and Negri's theory of "love as being" and "love as a force to combat evil" resembles Augustine of Hippos' classic Christian idealist ontology of "God as being" and of "good" and "evil" and their "relation" to each other.  In classic Christian ontology, "God is being" and is the "real." More specifically, the concept of God, in classic Christianity, is understood as absolute spirit: the all powerful, immutable, ineffable, excessive, and unquantifiable divine life force. This concept of absolute spirit, moreover, is regarded to be the absolute basis of the real as such and is regarded as "supremely good." In this theory of being, the concrete and sensuous world of the earth is considered to be an effect of god. The world, in other words, according to this ontology is "God's creation" and God is its 'life force." However, according to classic Christian ontology, "God" is regarded to compose or create but does not constitute the world.  In other words, for Augustine and classic Christianity in general, the divine creator is not the creation.  To put this another way, in classical Christian ontology, the world is not seen as "God incarnate" because, in this theory of ontology, "God" is an immaterial, divine force which cannot be incarnated. In this view, "God" as absolute spirit is outside any terms of empirical measurement, not contained in or by any material, concrete, or sensuous form or relation.  In the Confessions, for example, Augustine remarks that "truth says to me: Your God is not heaven or earth or any kind of bodily thing" (213). Although, in the course of the Confessions, Augustine formally rejects the theories of Plato and ancient Greek philosophy in general, his theory of "God" at the same time derives from Plato's concept of ideal forms and the theory of ontology of which it is a part. In Republic, Book X, for example, Plato distinguishes between "ideal forms," which he argues is the product of "God" and is the one "true" form; the concrete or material form manufactured by an artisan, which Plato regards to be a copy of the ideal form; and the image or representational form (as in painting or poetry) produced by what Plato regards to be an "imitator" of the concrete. In this theory of ontology the ideal form is the basis of being. The concrete form produced by human labor is considered to be a lesser copy of the ideal form produced by God, and the image or representation of the concrete form is regarded by Plato to be an even lesser copy of a copy—an "imitation" of a copy—of the ideal form (Plato, Dialogues 477-495). 

In the Confessions, "God" is being, and is the "real," and the concrete and sensuous world is a second order reality or "becoming" but not being itself. For example,  Augustine remarks. "I considered all the other things that are of a lower order than yourself, and I saw that they are not absolute being in themselves, nor are they entirely without being. They are real in so far as they have their being from you, but unreal in the sense that they are not what you are" (147). In this view, "God creates the world in his own image" but the "image" (which in this theory of ontology is the concrete and sensuous world) is an effect and (lesser) copy of "God." In this view, the world then, because it is regarded to be created by a divine life force that is "supremely good" is also good, but because it is not this divine force in itself, it is a "lesser" good or second order good. As such it is regarded to be subject to corruption. This "corruption," in Augustine is given the name of "evil." In the classic Christian ontology because God is regarded as absolute reality, as Being, and as supreme good, "evil" is understood not to "exist." To this end Augustine remarks: 

For you evil does not exist, and not only for you but for the whole of your creation as well, because there is nothing outside it which could invade it and break down the order which you have imposed on it. Yet in separate parts of your creation there are some things which we think of as evil because they are at variance with other things. But there are other things again with which they are in accord, and then they are good. In themselves, too, they are good. (148-149)

Evil, for Augustine, is the absence of Being—its disintegrationand the corruption of Being and the good . "Evil," as it is regarded by Augustine, is not an autonomous "force"—does not "exist"—but is manifested in the corruption, disorder, decay and dissolution of God's creation which is good when things are "in their proper place" but evil when it becomes disordered (150-151). 

Hardt and Negri formally distance their theory of love (as divine life force) and evil (as earthly corruption of divine life force) from Augustine's theory of love, god and evil, by drawing from Spinoza's understanding that "evil" does "exist" but has a second order existence. They claim that,

Spinoza's difference resides at a deeper level where the education or training of the mind and body are grounded in the movement of love. He does not conceive of evil, as does Augustine, for instance, as the privation of being; nor does he pose it as a lack of love. Evil instead is love gone bad, love corrupted in such a way that it obstructs the functioning of love. […] And since love is ultimately the power of the creation of the common, evil is the dissolution of the common or, really, its corruption. (193)

This is primarily a language game but not a break from the basic spiritualist ontology of Augustine. While Augustine claims that "evil" does not exist, he still deploys "evil" as an explanatory concept in place of a rigorous explanation of historical relations of production. In like manner, when Hardt and Negri, following Spinoza, claim that "evil" does "exist" they are deploying a concept that vacates materialist critique. 

The point of contention in this essay, however, is not the specific theory of "evil" but the use of the concept of "evil" to explain material contradictions and the social inequality that arises from these contradictions. Any use of the concept of "evil" to explain capitalism and exploitation is an ideological mystification of material relations regardless of which specific theory of "evil" is used.  The concept of "evil" ideologically translates the material contradiction of class society—and the historical and material causes of intensified economic exploitation and social alienation in private property relations—into an eternal existential condition of life as such. "Love" is an autonomous life force but it is always already subject to "evil" and corruption. According to Hardt and Negri, "this is not to say we should imagine we can defeat evil once and for all—no, the corruptions of love and the common will continue" (198). The structural and systemic violence of capital, its onslaught into more levels and areas of human existence, and the social alienation that results from private property relations are abstracted from the historical conditions that produce them and transcoded into a transhistorical "corruption" rather than historical, and therefore, transformable material relations. As a result, as classic Christian idealists, Hardt and Negri's theory also returns to Plato's "ideal forms."  "Love" and "the commons" are deployed as ideal forms in which training is needed while the struggle to transform the social relations of production—the material relations of capitalism—is considered a corrupt copy of an ideal form. This is the marketing of a new religion to the contemporary global working class, dressed up as material resolutions to the class contradictions workers face. 

This does not explain but explains away and disappears the material contradictions in which workers live. Deploying the concept of "evil" to explain away material relations, puts the production of materialist knowledge of objective relations in suspension—knowledge which is necessary for bringing about more effective collective social transformation—and instead is aimed at rallying people around "moral certitude" without knowledge. It is quite telling for instance, when Hardt and Negri argue that their Spinozan theory of "evil" provides a more effective "explanation for why at times people fight for their servitude as if it were their salvation, why the poor sometimes support dictators, the working classes vote for right-wing parties, and abused spouses and children protect their abusers" (193). "Such situations," they contend: 

are obviously the result of ignorance, fear, and superstition, but calling it false consciousness provides meager tools for transformation. Providing the oppressed with the truth and instructing them in their interests does little to change things. People fighting for their servitude is understood better as the result of love and community gone bad, failed, and distorted. […] People are powerfully addicted to love gone bad and corrupt forms of the common. Often, sadly, these are the only instances of love and the common they know! (193-194; emphasis added)

Hardt and Negri update a ruling class paternalism that workers do not need to know the truth of material relations or struggle to produce concepts that can most effectively explain these relations. According to their narrative, even if the oppressed "know the truth" of material relations and their objective interests, it does "little good" because the oppressed are "addicted" to their own oppression. Here, they displace the materialist concept of exploitation of the surplus-labor of the working class by capital as an explanation of material contradictions in capitalism, including poverty, with the psycho-affective concept of the "addiction" of the working class to "corrupt" forms of love. They displace the explanatory concept of "false consciousness" with the "ignorance, fear, and superstition" of workers. Hardt and Negri claim that their approach embraces the "power" of the poor. "The poor," Hardt and Negri contend, "are actually extraordinarily wealthy," by which they further elaborate: "despite the myriad mechanisms of hierarchy and subordination" they are "creative" and "express an enormous power of life" (129, 131). This is an ideological inversion of the exploitation of workers surplus-labor under capitalism and a concealing of the brutal material contradictions under which workers live with the promise of "hope" and "spiritual wealth" in place of material equality. Moreover, according to this logic workers in transnational capitalism do not suffer from the exploitation of their labor or poverty at all, they suffer from a pathology—from a state of "addiction"—and get in the way of their own already existing freedom and "extraordinary wealth." The oppressed and exploited, in other words, are according to this logic "pathological" and "choose" their own poverty and exploitation. The implication of their argument regarding domestic violence, for instance, is that domestic violence is the "addiction" of abused spouses and children to "bad forms of love." This is not only not feminism, it is sexist anti-feminism which pathologizes the abused, oppressed and exploited and ideologically disappears the structural relations and the material contradictions of private property that enable the growth of domestic violence. What Hardt and Negri advance in the name of the "commons" is a cynical volunteerism and moralism against the working class. Workers' collective struggle for socialism and to end the exploitation of their surplus-labor is demonized as "evil" and "corrupt" and what the workers "really need," according to Hardt and Negri's sermon, is education and training in "love." The (ideo)logic of this is that the exploited and oppressed are poor and exploited because they don't know how to love. 

As in all forms of ideology, Hardt and Negri's biopolitics is enabled by specific historical and material relations and, at the same time, ideologically inverts them.  While the theory of "evil" and "corruption" has a genealogy in classic Christianity, it is resurrected today as a managerial strategy for transnational capitalism. Hardt and Negri's theory of the "corruption" of love and the family and their argument for a "mass exodus" from the capitalist family is not so much a break from capitalism as an ideological updating of it. In order to critique Hardt and Negri's theory that the family is a "corrupt" form of love, it is next important to understand their argument that capitalism its itself a form of corruption. In Commonwealth, Hardt and Negri advance their longstanding claim that "labor is increasingly autonomous" from capital and that "capital is increasingly external to the productive process and the generation of wealth" (141). "Biopolitical labor," Hardt and Negri claim, autonomously produces common wealth (141). "Capital" they argue, "may constrict biopolitical labor [and] expropriate its products [but] does not organize productive cooperation" (140). In other words, according to this narrative, there is no structural relation of exploitation between capital and labor, therefore, the private appropriation of socially produced wealth by capital is incidental not systemic. It is in this way that Hardt and Negri go on to redefine capitalism not as a mode of production, but as a form of "corruption" of an already autonomously produced commonwealth. This is entirely consistent with mainstream corporate theories which explain away the global economic crises of capital as an effect of the corruption of a handful of rogue financiers and in so doing conceal the structural relations—the social relations of production in capitalism—which reveal that exploitation and crisis is systemic and endemic to production for profit, founded in private ownership of the means of production. 

In much of their discussion of "commonwealth" what they are actually arguing for is a capitalist managerial strategy of raising the productivity of workers without transforming the social relations of production as a response to economic crisis. If capital is "external" to production and, moreover, production and labor are "autonomous" from capitalism then, according to this narrative, there is no need to transform the social relations of production and end private ownership of the means of production. Simply raising productivity itself—what Hardt and Negri call "expanding the commonwealth"—is, therefore, represented in Commonwealth as a "revolutionary" act of the "commons." Their main concern is that:

Labor-power has always exceeded its relation to capital in terms of its potential, in the sense that people have the capacity to do much more and produce much more than what they do at work. In the past, however, the productive process, especially the industrial process, has severely restricted the actualization of the potential that exceeds capital's bounds. (191)

By revising Marx's concept of "labor-power" with Spinoza's concept of potenza they naturalize the productivity of labor as an ahistorical "life force"—a natural and unlimited capacity of the body—and obscure the way in which individual concrete labor (work for wages) is shaped by abstract social labor (productive labor or what Marx calls "species-being"). In doing so, by arguing for the "actualization of the potential" of labor power to produce beyond the limits imposed by the current working day of capitalism and by arguing against the necessity to materially abolish class relations, Hardt and Negri produce an argument for the indefinite extension of the working day—seeking an increase in the rate of exploitation of the surplus-labor of the worker through an absolute extension of the working day. On the one hand, their argument that labor power has the potential to "do much more and produce much more" than what is done at work is concerned with increasing the extraction by capital of the surplus-labor of the worker by intensifying exploitation and extending the workday of the worker beyond the official working day in which they are paid an hourly wage. On the other, it articulates material interests of capital to constantly update its "production process" and techniques in order to remain competitive with other capitals and to eliminate outdated production practices that become a hindrance to the extraction of greater amounts of surplus-labor for profit. The actual aim of this corporate theory is not to end the exploitation of labor, but to get rid of the old forms of capitalist production and the old institutions that have supported its reproduction that are now becoming fetters to profit for transnational capital, without abolishing the content of capitalist production: private ownership of the means of production and the theft of workers' surplus-labor by the owners of the means of production (exploitation).  This is another way of saying that Commonwealth supports increases in the rate of exploitation of workers in capitalism and represents intensified exploitation of workers as if it were liberation. 

It is on these terms—i.e., on the terms of updating the relations of reproduction in capitalism and not on the terms of actually emancipating people from capitalism through ending the private property relations on which the family is founded—that Hardt and Negri declare that the family is a "corrupt" form of love and propose a "mass exodus" from the family.  A telling example of the class politics of Hardt and Negri's concept of "new" love relations is their bio-political fable of "wasp-orchid love." In this fable, which they present as an mass exodus from capitalism itself, they draw from Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of "wasp-orchid machine" (A Thousand Plateaus) and rework it into a fable of "wasp-orchid love"—a concept of so called "new" love relations which they contrast with both "marriage, family, and couple love" and with "love of worker bees." Hardt and Negri begin by criticizing Bernard Mandeville's 18th century entrepreneurial morality tale The Fable of the Bees—the story of a bee hive "riddled with all order of private vices" and competitive individualism, but wealthy and prosperous which is then transformed into a "virtuous" and moral hive only to fall apart economically.  More specifically, they criticize a pervasive interpretation of this fable, informed by Adam Smith's reading of it, which reads it as a "confirmation of capitalist ideology" (185). Hardt and Negri particularly take issue with Adam Smith's understanding that "self-interest" is the basis of public good.  "What Smith bans most adamantly from the marketplace" they argue, "is the common: only from private interest will public good result" (185). 

In order to formally distance their own argument from this private property conception of human relations, they initially contrast Mandeville's pro-capitalist narrative, with the fable of the "love of worker bees and flowers" (185).  This latter fable references the fact that bees, in the process of collecting nectar from fruit trees to produce honey, cross-pollinate fruit flowers, thus enabling them to bear fruit (185-186). "The economic fable of these bees and flowers," they suggest, is not based on competitive individualism and "self-interest" but, by contrast, "suggests a society of mutual aid based on positive externalities and virtuous exchanges in which the bee provides for the needs of the flower and, in turn, the flower fulfills the bee's needs" (186). And yet, according to Hardt and Negri, while "Bees and flowers do indeed suggest a kind of love" it is, they contend, "a static, corrupt form" (186). This is because, they claim:

The dutiful worker bees […] joined with their flowers in a virtuous union of mutual aid, are the stuff of socialist utopia. All of these bees, however, belong to the bygone era of the hegemony of industrial production. (187-188)

Hardt and Negri's casual dismissal of "love of worker bees" is an oblique reference to the writings of Alexandra Kollontai in such texts as her novel, Love of Worker Bees, as well as her theoretical writings and speeches such as "Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle" in which she develops a concept of "love-comradeship" or "red love" founded on the material abolition of class.  Their rejection of production for need as "utopia" is already an indication of how much their narrative is steeped in capitalist triumphalism which presumes that class is the bedrock real. On this basis, for example, they not only rationalize capitalism as "love gone bad" but, like Tea Party reactionaries, they also demonize socialism and workers collective struggle to transform the material relations of production in capitalism "as evil"—as a "corruption of love and the commons" (198-199).  

Switching species in order to write a "new fable," Hardt and Negri turn to Deleuze and Guattari's discussion of the "wasp-orchid machine" in which, as Guattari has put it "wasps fuck flowers" (as quoted by Hardt and Negri 186).  More specifically, some orchids give off the odor of the sex pheromone of female wasps and moreover, their flowers are shaped like female wasp sex organs. In this case, pollination occurs not through the collection of nectar to produce honey, but through "pseudo-copulation" as "male wasps move from one orchid to the next, sinking their genital members into each flower and rubbing off pollen on their bodies in the process" (186). What makes this fable a "radical break" from the "family" according to Hardt and Negri, is its "immaterial production."  Wasp-orchid love, they claim, "is a model of the production of subjectivity that animates the biopolitical economy" (188). Toward this end, they claim that: "These wasps aren't your dutiful worker bees; they aren't driven to produce anything. They just want to have fun" […] "The bees and flowers produce honey and fruit, but the wasps and orchids are just hedonists and aesthetes, merely creating pleasure and beauty!" (186-187;188). And finally, "Wasp-orchid" love evokes images of "serial sex" and "cruising," which they contend is a form of "resistance" to "marriage-couple and family love." 

What Hardt and Negri put forward is actually a private property conception of love.  First, at this juncture, it is important to point out that what Hardt and Negri call "love of worker bees," while an oblique reference to the writings of Kollontai, is actually an obscuring of Kollontai's Marxist theory of love and sexuality. What Hardt and Negri call "love of worker bees" in order to dismiss Marxist theory and socialism, is not the historical materialist theory of love and sexuality that is offered by Kollontai, but as evidenced in their story of "bees and flowers" is more or less a narrative of "bioharmony." By contrast, Kollontai's theory offers an enabling critique of the bourgeois family in its "nuclear" or "marriage-couple" forms that also has profound implications for a critique of the opportunist apologetics for capitalism that we see in the "post-family" writings of Hardt and Negri and their fable of "wasp-orchid love." Kollontai's critiques of "marriage-couple love" is not limited—as is Hardt and Negri's criticism—to a moral criticism of the family and what (as I discuss further below) is essentially a spiritual, cultural, and moral updating of ruling class "family" values into ruling class "(post)family" values. Rather, Kollontai offers a critique of the economics of the family that cuts through family values. 

For Kollontai, love is a "social emotion" the form of which develops as an effective of the material relations of production. Kollontai argues that love is an "integral part of culture"—meaning that it is part of the role of culture in reproducing the existing social relations of production. Love, in other words, is historical and does not transcend the social relations of production. Love relations develop in relation to the social relations of production. "From the very early stages of its social being, humanity" living under specific historical relations of production, "has sought to regulate not only sexual relations but love itself" (279). This is because love serves to strengthen the bonds of relationships that become economically necessary to preserve the prevailing relations of production. This does not, of course, mean that the forms of love prevail serve the interests of all of humanity rather, they serve the dominant class interests. 

This is the case, Kollontai argues, with the traditional "marriage-couple love" of the bourgeois "nuclear" family form—with its proprietary culture of possessive individualism—that emerges under capitalism. Kollontai argues that this form of family has historically been useful for capital as a means of regulating the concentration of wealth into fewer hands and of privately reproducing the labor force out of the wages of workers, in the interests of profit for capital. Yet, while workers are economically compelled to live in the family and pool resources, the bourgeois family form does not actually provide freedom for workers. Just as private property relations give rise to a concentration of wealth within some families—and the family as an institution developed as a protection of private property relations—so it leads to poverty in working class families who are required to shoulder the burden of the cost of reproducing living labor.  As Kollontai argues: "The destructive influence of capitalism destroys the basis of the worker's family and forces him unconsciously to 'adapt' to the existing conditions" (246). What she means by this is not that it destroys the morality of workers and "corrupts" them, but that it destroys the economic basis of their existence and impoverishes them. These are part of the irreconcilable class contradictions of capitalism: The family form that is useful for the ruling class to reproduce the concentration of capital into fewer hands becomes a space of dire need for the workers who must "privately" shoulder the cost of reproducing exploitable labor power out of their wages.  Under the economic compulsion of class contradictions, workers find ways to adjust to the economic contradictions and develop new forms of love, kinship, and sexuality to work within the confines of capitalism. Kollontai, in her own historical moment, cites the development of love and sexual relations outside of the prevailing "marriage-couple" arrangements from the mere postponement of marriage and children, to adultery and prostitution, to polygamous marriage of three or four persons, to "civil" or common-law marriages, to "free love," and so on. Today these forms include not only the "serial sex" and "cruising" that are cited by Hardt and Negri but various "post-nuclear" family, kinship, love, and sexuality forms such as divorce-extended families, transnational love relations, poly-sexual families, multi-ethnic families, post-marriage families, virtual and online relationships, urban tribes and, as I discuss further below, "transspecies" families among others. But these cultural shifts in the affective relations of the family, love, and sexuality do not in themselves constitute a transformation of the conditions that exploit workers to begin with or that give rise to the bourgeois family form. Without transformation of production relations cultural shifts in love and sexuality relations are not freedom from necessity but the inevitable results of conditions of necessity—in short they are adjustments to the contradictory needs of capital and the pressure that irreconcilable class contradictions exert on workers. The "problem" with "marriage-couple love" under capitalism, as Kollontai argues, is not simply its "hypocritical morality" but the "structure of [the] exploitative economy" upon which the family rests (263). The "hypocritical morality" of the bourgeois family is not an effect of "moral corruption" it is a translation into culture of its underlying class contradictions in production. These same class contradictions undergird the so called "new" post-nuclear or post-family family. To bring about changes in the moral and cultural relations does not in itself change the exploitative economy upon which the family rests. 

In fact, Hardt and Negri's theory conceals that transnational capitalism necessitates new and different forms of love, sexuality and reproduction relations. It is not workers who—by economic necessity—adjust out of "free consent;" capital economically compels workers to do this in order to have a more easily exploitable workforce. The ruling class, Kollontai argues "seizes upon the new" family forms developed by workers (247).Hardt and Negri's celebration of "wasp-orchid" love and their rejection of collectivity and solidarity of workers (under the rubric of "love of worker bees") is just as much a private property concept of love as "marriage-family couple love." Its reliance, for instance, on "cruising" and "serial sex" as "antidotes" to the bourgeois family form of "marriage-couple and family love" is not a break from private property relations or love and sexuality under the capitalist mode of production, but a marker both of the extension of the market further and further into human sexual and love relations—that is, the commodification of love and sexuality—and, moreover, of historical shifts in production practices, but not production relations, which put pressure on old family forms as an institution useful for reproducing capitalism."Serial sex" and "cruising" are contemporary examples of what Kollontai calls the "passive adjustment of the working class to the unfavorable conditions of their existence" (247). Like "prostitution," serial sex and cruising with their market logics of "free and equal exchange" undergirded by structural relations of exploitation, are ruling class ideological resolutions to the material contradictions and social alienation faced by the working class under private property relations. 

Kollontai's materialist analytics of the class contradictions of love under capitalism teaches workers not to be fooled by the ruse that the ruling class puts forward in equating changes in cultural mores and family values—which capital necessitates of workers—with changes in material relations. She points out that "The champions of bourgeois individualism" routinely "say we ought to destroy all the hypocritical restrictions of the obsolete code of sexual behavior" (237). They do so when they find that older codes of sexual behavior begin to become fetters for profit. And this is the case today with the "marriage-couple" arrangement which, in many instances has come to serve as a hindrance to profit for capital. The key, for capital now, underlying the "new" post-nuclear forms of sex and love is that they are flexible families and kinship relations. That is, they are families that are flexible in their practices and schedules, in their gender and sexual relations, in their understanding of what "companionship" and "love" are—in short, they are flexible in the methods they use to reproduce labor-power to allow for greater pliability of the workforce to the dictates of production for profit in global capitalism. "Post-nuclear" forms of love, kinship, and family are commodified forms of love not in the sense of being morally "corrupt" as conservatives argue. The "new" forms of family are as commodified as the old forms because these family and love relations are shaped by the needs of capital today for a "flexible" labor force that has no permanent ties or commitments that will get in the way of higher and higher levels of exploitation. Capital needs living labor, for example, to be able to pick up and move for a new job or position in another city, state, or nation. 

The decisive difference in Kollontai's historical materialist understanding of love and "love-comradeship" is that Kollontai's analysis does not conflate changes in forms of love with social transformation. "Love-comradeship" for Kollontai is an important social emotion in revolutionary struggle, but it is not an end in itself and does not "constitute" social transformation.  The assumption that it does leads to the idea that changing family values automatically and spontaneously brings about material change and freedom from exploitation. Hardt and Negri put forward the understanding that "mass exodus" from the family is in itself—spontaneously and automatically—constitutive of transformation of material relations. Hardt and Negri's call for a "mass exodus" from the family, in which at the same time they actively deny the need for workers to work to transform production relations upon which social reproduction under capitalism rests, covers over the dire conditions of necessity under which workers are economically compelled to live in capitalism and works to dismantle struggles for social transformation, displacing transformation with cultural reform in capitalism. The "new" post-nuclear family under capitalism is a cultural updating of the "old" form family but not a material transformation of conditions of exploitation. It continues to be what Jen Roesch, following Engels, calls an "economic unit" under capitalism: 

The institution of the …family as an economic unit is central to meeting the needs of capitalism. Under the current system, employers pay workers a wage, but take no responsibility for most of the social costs of maintaining the current generation of workers—or for raising the next generation of workers into adulthood. Rather than these responsibilities being shared collectively by society as whole […] they are shouldered by individual families. (n. pag.)

Under capitalism, workers reproduce their labor-power privately out of their wages while the majority of socially produced wealth is concentrated into fewer hands and put back into production for the profit of the owners. But a change in the gender, sexuality, marital status, and/or number of sexual partners and/or children is not a transformation of this material relation of capitalism in which the working class shoulders the economic burden of reproducing their own labor-power and the next generation of labor-power out of their wages while capital profits from the exploitation of their surplus-labor. Moreover, in all cases the worker still must give her wages back to the owners of the means of production in exchange for means of subsistence on top of submitting to exploitation for the wages to begin with. 

What the narrative of "exodus" supports is not freedom of the worker from conditions of necessity—which would require transforming production relations and abolishing production for profit—but the unfettered onslaught of capital and the increased atomization of the worker.  It is an articulation of the fact that capital, at its basis, does not need the "marriage-couple" form per se, so long as workers individually shoulder the cost of their own reproduction. What capital aims to do is to control the rate of growth and development of the surplus-value producing population. Thus when the "marriage-couple" is useful for reproduction of supply of workers in absolute terms it is promoted, but it can also get in the way of profit when capital needs an immediate supply of readily available labor to exploit—and thus capital works to dismantle or deregulate it and to produce reproduction, love, and sexual relations which are more and more subordinated to commodity exchange and production for profit. 

Ultimately, Hardt and Negri's arguments are not "resistance" but a normalization of the contradictory needs of capital.  On the one hand, they make an argument for the raising of productivity without the transformation of social relations of production. They endorse the notion that a "virtuous cycle" and raising productivity can "expand the common." This is, as I have marked, a way to raise the rate of exploitation. It is a recognition—by capital—that the exploitation of labor is the basis of wealth and that no amount of financial/usury/immaterial production actually produces wealth and that to stave off economic crisis and the decline in the rate of profit ultimately requires increasing the rate of exploitation, one way of which is to increase the productivity of workers and get rid of old production practices that now stand in the way of profit for capital. 

On the other hand, Hardt and Negri also maintain that the exploitation of labor is part of a bygone era; that material production has been superseded by immaterial—or biopolitical—production and that what is important about biopolitical production is not the production of material needs but the production of subjectivities. In their reading of "love" and endorsement of the fable of "wasp-orchid love" they proceed to oppose the notion of a "virtuous cycle" which they now situate as part of the "love of worker bees." What they are "discontented" with regarding the latter is its focus on "material production." What they like about "wasp-orchid" love, by contrast, is that it focuses on "immaterial production" of non-productive affect, beauty, pleasures, fun and "subjectivity"—the sensual values of the market. 

This contradiction—on the one hand raising material productivity, without ending exploitation, in the name of "commonwealth" on the other hand rejecting "productive labor" in the name of immaterial production—is the effect of the contradictory needs of capital.  On the one hand, capital needs to raise the material productivity of workers in order to extract more surplus-labor precisely because the "immaterial economy" (concentration of service and non-productive labor in the North as well as the export of capital to the South) has not led to increases in wealth rather it is related to the crisis of profit. On the other hand, capital works to conceal the fact that it is based on the exploitation of productive labor and does so by ideologically translating material contradictions—which are the result of the exploitation of labor—into cultural values. The worker must produce more and more material wealth but expect affect in return—she must be contented with increased exploitation and poverty as long as she is "rich" in "love" or "sex," etc. 



While Hardt and Negri articulate a general theory of "biopolitics," the development of biopolitical ideology in contemporary cultural theory takes on many forms. One such significant form is the development of theories of transspecies posthumanism. Articulated in the writings of Derrida (The Animal That Therefore I Am), Giorgio Agamben (The Open: Man and Animal), and Donna Haraway (When Species Meet). As I marked above, like other forms of biopolitical ideology, transspecies posthumanism is also characterized by the displacement of "class," "labor" and production, with "life" and "life force" (e.g., the "power of life" etc.) as "explanations" of material relations of production. More specifically, however, transspecies posthumanism goes through the relay of the "animal" and "multispecies epigenetics" in order to ideologically displace "human labor power," the dialectical praxis of labor and the social relations of production. Contemporary posthumanism, to put this another way, is a theory of transspecies—an obscuring of the evolution of humans (through their labor) from non-humans—e.g., "animals".  Humans are, of course, animals but they are animals with an historical difference—they have developed a form of reasoning which is itself developed by praxis, that is, by the dialectical praxis of labor and the ensemble of social relations of production within which it develops. One of the main goals of contemporary posthumanism is to divert attention away from class relations and exploitation of surplus-labor, by enacting a "fissure" in the concept of the human—that is, by ideologically dissolving the historical difference between human and animal—and, in so doing, invoking a  "crisis" in the concept of human-labor power. 

Central to this movement in cultural theory is Donna Haraway's book, When Species Meet, in which she argues for the dismantling of what she calls "The Great Divides" between animal and human. Haraway cites as evidence of the collapse of boundaries between human and other animals, "the fact that human genomes can be found in only about 10 percent of all the cells that occupy the mundane space I call my body; the other 90 percent of the cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria, fungi, protists, and such, some of which play in a symphony necessary to my being alive at all, and some of which are hitching a ride and doing the rest of me, of us, no harm" (3-4). It is, for example, on this basis that Haraway puts forward the understanding that there is an aporia in Marx's concept of human labor power.  She contends that while "Marx understood relational sensuousness, and [...] the metabolism between human beings and the rest of the world enacted in living labor […] he was finally unable to escape from the humanist teleology of that labor—the making of man himself" (46). "In the end," she argues, "no companion species, reciprocal induction, or multispecies epigenetics are in his stories" (46). In short, Haraway's argument is that Marx has left out the "animal"—more specifically, the genetic constitution of the "human" by various "companion species"—and, therefore, according to Haraway, his focus on human-labor power is violently "anthropocentric." According to this transspeciesist logic, the biological constitution of the body defies the social logic of capital because on the one hand, the "animal" cannot be understood in terms of exploitation, Haraway claims, because "paws" are not "hands." On the other hand, human bodies are "constituted" by myriad microscopic "companion species" and therefore cannot be said to be distinctly "human" at all (46). The exploitation of the surplus labor of the majority of workers by a minority of owners in capitalism is, by this logic, evidently "biologically impossible." 

This is a rehearsal and updating of the ideologic of 18th and 19th century pseudo-scientific discourses of biological determinism such as craniometry in which the social and historical relations of production that give rise to exploitation were obscured and ideologically naturalized through the relay of the physical "raced" body. To be clear, transspecies posthumanism is a radically different form of this ideology. Haraway, for instance re-maps the body not in terms of the "cranium" and "race" but in terms of "dna" and "multispecies epigenetics." Moreover, while craniometry worked to ideologically construct all kinds of so called sub-species, posthumanism, by contrast, ideologically dissolves historical boundaries between species. For transspecies posthumanism, it is not that human and other animals are "identical" but that all species—and the material relations of evolution as well as the historical differences in the material conditions of evolution of a species—are now ideologically dissolved into an "omni-species." This omni-species, so the story goes, is itself constituted by multiple and, above all, post-binary "differences" whose multispecies epigenetics manifest themselves in what are believed to be "undecidable" ways.  Any conceptualization of historical boundaries between "species"—which would situate them in relation to the structural relations in which they are produced—are regarded to be an arbitrary and unethical cultural construction and a violent fixing of amorphous, undecidable, plural, micro-differences into metaphysical binary difference. 

This is a change in the form of 18th and 19th century pseudo-scientific ideology but not its content which reverts to the "physical body" and the so called "received biology" of bodies in order to obscure the social relations of production. Haraway substitutes the effects of evolution for the dialectical relations of evolution when she displaces the material conditions and relations under which natural selection and the evolution of diverse species are made possible, with the genetic "constitution" of bodies. This is a matterist understanding of biology which substitutes the bodily sensuous—the received biology of "flesh and blood" or the "physical"—for the ensemble of material relations that determine the development of a species.  But biological organisms are mediated by what Marx explains as the dialectical praxis of labor which acts on nature and transforms it in order to meet needs and in doing so produces new needs. Even Haraway's favored animal—the dog—is not outside of the dialectical praxis of labor and the social relations of production in which it develops—and the way in which these structural relations transform the natural environment.  As a species, the evolution of the dog from the wolf is itself the effect of the dialectical praxis of human labor as it intervenes in nature and transforms it to meet needs, and in doing so transforms its own needs.  Dogs are a result of human breeding of wolves: "Humans lived as roaming hunters and gatherers for most of their existence [and] wolves began following hunter-gatherer bands to feed on the wounded prey, carcasses or other refuse. At some stage a group of wolves, who happened to be smaller and less threatening than most, developed a dependency on human groups, and may in return have provided a warning system. […] Several thousand years later […] people began intervening in the breeding patterns of their camp followers, turning them into the first proto-dogs" (Wade n. pag.). 

More generally, and more importantly, as Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins argue in Biology Under the Influence, "The socially conditioned [production] and transformation of our environments" through the dialectical praxis of labor and the social relations of production in which this labor is organized "determine the actual realization of our biological limits" (36)  Biology, they argue, is not just "received biology" but "socialized biology" by which they mean it is mediated by the material relations of production. This is why, in advanced capitalism, 

A severe winter in an urban environment does not produce frostbite but hunger—when the poor divert resources from food to fuel […] It is the social mediation of individual biological phenomena, by the social relations of production based on exploitation, that turns a single day's incapacity from the flu into the loss of a job from an already marginalized worker, with consequent catastrophic economic failure and a [further] disintegration of health and general conditions of life. (Lewontin and Levins 37) 

While Haraway proposes that transspecies posthumanism is a "materialist" theory which is more concerned with "mud," "slime," and "earth," than it is with the "sky" or "heavens" (3-4), having ideologically displaced the historical conditions and material relations that enable  material development of "received" biology, transspecies  posthumanism—like other biopolitical discourses—puts in their place spiritual causes.  By dissolving all species into an "omnispecies," transspecies posthumanism translates the material relations of evolution and history through which biology is socially mediated by the dialectical praxis of labor into a generalized transhistory.  The theory of transspecies, to put this another way, ideologically dissolves historical life—life in historical and material relations of production—into general abstract "natural life" outside history. However, when the concept of "natural life," is abstracted from the historical and material conditions and relations in which it is produced, it is at root a spiritualist theory of life. This fundamentally idealist concept of life is part of the contemporary revival (also seen in the work of Agamben) of the concept that in classical Greek philosophy is understood as zoē. As marked further above, ancient Greek philosophy makes a distinction between two concepts of life: zoē and bios. While bios is regarded as mortal, biological life of, for example, the individual, zoē, by contrast, was understood as abstract general life (what is "common" to humans, animals, and God's according the the ancient Greeks) and more specifically as  transcendent, spiritual "life" in the absolute. What makes possible living beings, by this logic, is not definite historical and material relations but an ahistorical, common "life-force," which is a concept of life that has its root in a spiritualist ontology (idealism). 

If we turn to some of Haraway's cultural analysis, we begin to see this spiritualism and "animism" at work. For instance, her reading of "Jim's found dog"—a photograph, taken by a colleague Jim Clifford, of "a redwood stump covered with redwood needles, mosses, ferns, lichens…" that resembles the shape of "an attentive sitting dog" (5)—is premised on a spiritualist theory of "materiality" that is almost identical to the theory at work in the "found" images of the Virgin Mary in shadows, water stains, bird droppings—and in 2004 on a 10 year old grilled cheese sandwich auctioned on Ebay for $28,000. According to Haraway's narrative it is the evolved consciousness that recognizes the "canine soul [that] animate[s] the burned out redwood" (5).  "Whom and what do we touch when we touch this dog?" Haraway asks, and she continues, "How does this touch make us more worldly, in alliance with all the beings who work and play for an alter-globalization that can endure more than one season?" (5). 

Here, Haraway reads "Jim's found dog" as a figure of an "other" globalization, what she also calls "alter-globalization" or "autre-mondialization" and which she claims is a "more just and peaceful other-globalization" (3). But her theory of "other-globalization" actually has very little theoretical connection to the "worldly," or any materialist understanding of the world. Rather it is a signifier for a quasi-religious "other-worldliness." The "found dog" in Haraway's discourse is a trope for an ineffable, unrepresentable, transhistorical life-force. To touch the "found dog" is, in this narrative, to touch a life-force that "animates" all beings great and small from bacteria, fungi, protists, to the H1N1 virus containing swine, human, and bird genes, to the genetically altered onco-mouse and the cyborg. By this logic, an "other globalization"--that is, a new social form, an other world or other global society—does not have to be brought about by material transformation of historical relations in transnational capitalism. Rather, an "other-globalization" already exists within the existing. We merely have to come to recognition of our "natural co-existence," and it is this recognition that will actualize the "other-world" in practice. 

And the way, according to Haraway's narrative, is through transspecies "love." "Love" of multi-species is conceptualized in Haraway's argument as a transformative life force that helps us "be in touch" and "bring into being" the "other-world" within the world. Haraway contends that "love" is a "world making" activity that brings into being what she calls "other-globalization." It is "love" of "companion species," "messmates," etc... that, she argues, brings into being "a more just and peaceful other-globalization" (3).This is to say that, like Hardt and Negri, Haraway not only displaces "class" and the dialectical praxis of labor with "life" and "life force" but also regards love—in this case love of multi-species "others" which is a transspecies trope for what Hardt and Negri call love of difference and alterity or "singularities in the multitude"—as a creative force and "world-making" activity that brings into being new social forms and an "other" world. And yet, the "new social forms" that Haraway argues for are not a break from capitalist globalization they are founded on it. For example, Haraway puts forward the idea that the emergence of the "transspecies family" and intimacy with pets under capitalism's commodity relations marks a "new" and more "evolved" set of family relations. More specifically she puts forward a narrative in which the market and the commodification of pets and "pet needs" has developed a new and "improved" emergent transspecies family relation.  Owing to the onslaught of the market and capitalist production into more and more levels of social existence and the profits to be made by capital off of the pet industry (from pet food, to chiropractic adjustments, mental health therapy, and prescription anti-depressants for pets), now animals—specifically the pets of the privileged—have "rights."  Haraway remarks: "dogs in capitalist technoculture have acquired the "right to health," and the economic (as well as legal) implications are legion" (49). 

In Haraway's narrative, capitalism has evolved and North Atlantic capital is the regime of the evolved who recognize their "kinship" with animals and call for new transspecies family and inter-subjective relations. For example, when comparing the cost of cholesterol medication for humans with the cost of "doggie dinners," Haraway moralizes that she would "throw away my Lipitor before I shorted my dogs and cats." On such practices she contends, "No one can convince me that this […] reflects bourgeois decadence at the expense of my other obligations" (51). "Furthermore," she adds,  

There could be no end to the search for ways to relieve the psychophysiological suffering of dogs and, more, to help them achieve their full canine potential. […] I am convinced that it is actually the ethical obligation of the human who lives with a companion animal in affluent, so-called first-world circumstances. I can no longer make myself feel surprised that a dog might need prozac and should get it—or its improved, still-on-patent offshoots. (61) 

This narrative puts in suspension materialist critique of class relations and the social relations of production in which the needs of all sentient beings—human or animal—are subordinated to production for profit and in which working class families are economically forced to negotiate between basic needs for its members (whether mono or multi-species) such as food and medicine. It then translates these material contradictions of capitalism into "family values" and "ethical" consumer choices. To critique the class privileges of the North Atlantic consummative subject and the sentimentalizing of these privileges—which are effects of class contradictions originating in exploitation in transnational capitalism—as a manifestation of "bourgeois decadence" is, consequently, represented as anthropocentric and "unethical" to the treatment of animals. Haraway's argument is not at all a point of departure from "anthropocentrism" but rests on the very presupposition of human superiority—the evolved superiority of the first world subject—that it purportedly breaks from.  It is in their ethical superiority over others, that some humans have the evolved consciousness to "recognize" their "kinship" with animals. This is a class narrative which ideologically sutures an "evolved consciousness" to the class privileges of some which are founded on material relations of exploitation and production for profit in transnational capitalism. This narrative uses animals as a decoy to disappear class relations and present social inequality as an effect of cultural and family values. 

Haraway claims her argument is a "materialist" understanding of love, because she understands "love" as a "worldly" activity: "To be in love," Haraway remarks, "means to be worldly, to be in connection with significant otherness and signifying others, on many scales, in layers of locals and globals, in ramifying webs. I want to know how to live with the histories I am coming to know. Once one has been in touch, obligations and possibilities for response change" (97). The "becoming worldly" in Haraway's discourse is, like Hardt and Negri's "biopolitics," rooted in a spiritualist ontology in which abstract, transhistorical "life" is said to have "practical" consequences and bring about new social forms and new material relations. However, insofar as Hardt and Negri's bio-political discourses draw from classic Christian ontology the transspecies posthumanism advanced by Donna Haraway and others, by contrast, is perhaps closer to the idealist ontology of Hinduism manifested in such texts as The Bhagavad-Gita, in which the divine is said not just to create but to constitute the cosmos. Whereas in classic Christianity the divine creates but is not itself contained in the material and sensuous world or the cosmos, in ancient Hinduism the creator is the creation. In The Bhagavad-Gita, for example, Krishna says to Arjuna "I exist in all creatures" and "all creatures exist in me" (69, 85). In the Gita, "all creatures"—in fact, all aspects of the sensuous and material world, even inanimate and human-produced objects—are considered to be "fragments of divine power" (91). The divine is thought to divide itself—like a cell—into different entities creating the appearance or "illusion" (Maya) of separateness when all, according to this understanding, is actually a fragment of the (same) divine absolute, the same spiritual force. 

In the Gita, historical differences between "creatures" are dehistoricized and ideologically dissolved into a spiritual life force. Historical and social life—that is, the life of the individual or the species enabled by the ensemble of historical and material relations—is represented as an epiphenomenon of an eternal transcendent absolute spirit or spiritual "life force." In the Gita, for example, Krishna says to Arjuna, "Just as the embodied self/ enters childhood, youth and old age,/ so does it enter another body" (33). The basis of material life according to the Gita is not the historical or social life of the individual or even the historical life of the species, it is a transhistorical and transmaterial absolute spirit that goes through the eternal "cycle of many births" (33). The "embodied self" in this translation of the Gita is a reference to the Sanskrit concept of atman, what is roughly translated into the "true," transcendent and abiding (and for lack of a better term) "self." Unlike the Christian concept of the soul, or later Western concepts of the "self," however, atman is not considered to be a distinct individual soul or self. The seemingly individual soul (atman), in this understanding, is indivisible from infinite spirit or the "absolute" (Brahman). This is another way of saying that in this narrative it is a transhistorical or divine "absolute" that is the "life force" of the material and concrete world. Krishna continues: "Contacts with matter make us feel/ heat and cold, pleasure and pain./ Arjuna, you must learn to endure/ fleeting things—they come and go!" (33). Material reality is seen as an epiphenomenon of the divine absolute: "Nothing of non-being comes to be,/ nor does being cease to exist;/ the boundary between these two is seen by men who see reality" (34). 

In the Gita, in other words, social history is under-written by a spiritual trans-history and, as well, there is an "other-world"—a spiritual and divine Being—that exists within and at the same time enables the material and concrete world (i.e., the creator is the creation). Moreover, the material contradictions, differences, and the social inequalities that exist are understood as epi-phenomena of a spiritual and other-worldly common infinity. All are already part of this "other-world," the divine absolute is already in existence, however, according to the Gita people suffer from "delusion" and inaction and do not recognize their unity as fragments of the divine. They become attached to the "illusion" (Maya) of Brahma—to historical and concrete differences—and are "unaware" of their place in the other-world or spiritual absolute. 

It is through this idealist ontology that the Gita provides a spiritual resolution of material contradictions and, in doing so, it ideologically legitimates social and economic inequality, particularly caste. The Gita ideologically converts the caste system and its economic and social inequalities which are the effect of an historically produced and therefore transformable social division of labor and production relations founded on exploitation into sacred "difference" and affirms different "sacred duties" (dharma) on earth in the name of "awareness" and "recognition" of one's specific "place" in  the cosmos (i.e., as a "fragment" of a divine absolute). "Awareness," or the evolved spiritual consciousness as it is defined in the Gita means, "action" (karma) with "detachment from the fruits of action" (38). More specifically, this means performing one's caste duty without questioning or focusing on the material conditions or material consequences of action. This is, after all, the basis upon which Krishna councils Arjuna to go to war with his cousins, when Arjuna questions the historical and material consequences of doing so, including the validity of killing his kinsmen for a kingship. "Action with detachment to the fruits of one's action" is often read as a criticism of self-serving individualism—the Gita, for instance, emphasizes "detachment" from the "concrete" self and, as well, from material gain or the "fruits" of action. However, it is also a rejection of social critique and collective material transformation and an ideological legitimation of exploitation and the caste system. It is important to note that the Bhagavad-Gita itself is an historical document which is forged out of the history of class relations. As the sixth book of the Mahabharata—or "the great tale of the Bharata Dynasty"—its tales are part of the cultural reproduction of the private property relations of the time. What is, historically speaking, a brutal class war in which cousins are pitted against each other to slaughter each other and protect the private property holdings of competing dynasties, is represented in the Gita as the "sacred field of battle." In the context of private property relations and a caste-system which rests on private property, the command to perform one's duty but to remain detached from the "fruits" of action is an ideological legitimation of exploitation. 

Moreover, the Gita, provides further ideological resolution to material contradictions through the concept of the "equal eye." In the Gita, the "aware person" and the person of discipline see past duality to the common spiritual life force of all: "Leaned men see with an equal eye/ a scholarly and dignified priest, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and even an outcaste scavenger" (61). While the Gita puts in suspension the possibility of material transformation, in place of material equality it puts forward a spiritual equality, the basis of which is "recognition" and seeing the "common" spiritual life that unites all creatures: "Arming himself with discipline,/ seeing everything with an equal eye,/ he sees the self in all creatures/and all creatures in the self" (69). It is in this way that the material relations of caste—for example, the division between mental and manual labor—and, as well, the class relations of the time (private ownership of the means of production) are ideologically preserved in the name of spiritual recognition and equality.

Trasspecies posthumanism advanced by Haraway and others is an ideological updating of the ruling class ideology in The Bhagavad-Gita. The ideological dissolution of historical differences between species and the positing of an "omni-species" or a "transspecies" in posthumanism is an updating of the Gita's concept that "all creatures" are "fragments" of the divine absolute. Moreover, like the Gita's concept of the "equal eye" which translates material inequality into spiritual equality, Haraway's argument for "transspecies love" is an argument for the spiritual recognition of a "common" life-force constituted by multiple differences, without social transformation of the historical and material relations of exploitation that bring about inequality. Just as the Gita is actually a form of ruling class ideology, so is transspecies posthumanism. What is most telling about the class politics of transspecies posthumanism is the way it sentimentalizes and naturalizes the social and economic inequality that arises from historical and social (and, therefore, transformable) relations of production founded on the theft of surplus labor (exploitation).  At the core of Haraway's concept of "transspecies love" is what she calls "non-mimetic sharing," particularly "non-mimetic sharing" of suffering and pain: "Human beings' learning to share other animals' pain nonmimetically," Haraway remarks, "is in my view, an ethical obligation, a practical problem, and an ontological opening. Sharing pain promises disclosure, promises becoming" (84). 

This concept naturalizes the class contradictions of capitalism as a transhistorical and inevitable part of life as such.  More specifically, Haraway's theory of "non-mimetic sharing of pain and suffering" is based on the argument that in nature—in ecology for example—there are unequal or what she calls "non-mimetic" relations of use including the killing of some by others and, owing to this fact there are no social relations that exist outside of "use" and "killing" (73-82). The structural relations of production in which use-values are produced through a process of exploitation and killing occurs for profit are ideologically translated into a generalized trans-history of the eternal and perpetual cycle of life, use, killing, and death. This is not unlike the grounds upon which Krishna chastises Arjuna for questioning why he should accept his position in the warrior caste by going to war and killing his cousins. On the terms of the Gita, while an individual soul (atman) might achieve transcendence (moksha) and permanent dissolution into the divine absolute without being reborn, there is no end to the cycle of samsara and even the divine cosmos itself has its "day" and its "night"—its own cycle of samsara. However, in some contrast with the Gita, Haraway's argument is that humans must more fully and physically feel the pain of this process rather than detach from it, by involving themselves in the pain that is endured by other animals. This, however, bypasses social relations and restores what Roland Barthes criticized as the ideology of the "eternal lyricism" of life which de-historicizes birth, death, rebirth, pain, suffering, joy, and so on (Mythologies 100-102). Haraway puts the question of transforming the mode of production in suspension. Her argument distracts away from the necessity of collective social transformation of historical and, therefore, transformable, class relations and represents these structural relations as if they were permanent features of life. By her logic since "using" and "killing" exists in all modes of production because it exists in nature and the question of private ownership of the means of production is irrelevant. All we can do is the more "mundane" task of using ethically, killing ethically within capitalism. It is on these terms that Haraway argues: "Human beings must learn to kill responsibly. And to be killed responsibly [...]" (81). "Non-mimetic sharing" is an argument for so called "ethical" exploitation and so called "caring capitalism" whose actual aim is to naturalize and legitimate the expansion of transnational capitalism into all levels of existence. It is an argument for "equality" in exploitation for the majority. 

As a figure for what she calls "non-mimetic" sharing of suffering, Haraway discusses the fictional character Baba Joseph, who is a lab worker in a scientific outpost in Zimbabwe in Nancy Farmer's novel A Girl Named Disaster. As a lab worker, Baba Joseph works with guinea pigs who are being used as part of sleeping sickness research to save the lives of humans and other animals. As part of this research the guinea pigs are kept in wire cages, shaved and painted with poisons and then exposed to tsetse flies who bite them and suck their blood. In the course of the research Baba Joseph puts his unprotected arm in the cages and, like the guinea pigs, his skin is extensively bitten and swells up. His reasoning for this: "It is wicked to cause pain, but if I share it, God may forgive me" (Farmer as qtd in Haraway 69). Significantly, what Haraway celebrates about the character of Baba Joseph is that he does not resign from his job and lose his status in the community, he does not try to convince a young girl, Nhamo, not to work in the lab, and he does not consider freeing the guinea pigs or tsetse flies (74). In other words, Haraway celebrates the fact that Baba Joseph does not raise questions about the conditions in which he is working, but subjects himself to physical pain and asks for forgiveness. Even more significant is the unsaid of Haraway's argument and its postcolonial reason: Baba Joseph also, evidently, does not question the relations that lead to his own exploitation in transnational capitalism. He is, for all intents and purposes, a "good" worker of the global South from the standpoint of transnational capital because he does his "duty," accepts the conditions of his exploitation in transnational capitalism, helps to skill the next generation of workers in the same, and if that were not enough he sees himself as the aggressor who must ask for forgiveness. 

In this argument, all class contradictions are translated from structural relations into matters of personal responsibility, consent, and the "correctly" evolved moral and ethical values. Toward this end Haraway argues: 

Sometimes, perhaps, "taking the place of the victim" is a kind of action ethically required, but I do not think that is sharing, and further those who suffer, including animals, are not necessarily victims. What happens if we do not regard or treat lab animals as victims, or as other to the human, or relate to their suffering and deaths as sacrifice? What happens if experimental animals are not mechanical substitutes but significantly unfree partners, whose differences and similarities to human beings, to one another, and to other organisms are crucial to the work of the lab and, indeed, are partly constructed by the work of the lab? (72) 

Haraway's concept of "significantly unfree partners"—which is a species of her argument for non-mimetic sharing—obscures the historical relations of production and the social division of labor. On one level, as marked above, this concept puts forward the idea that all are "significantly unfree" to transform social relations and are bound to an "eternal lyricism" of life (of birth, death, pain, love, joy). But, more significantly, Haraway deploys the concept of "significantly unfree partners" to represent lab animals and workers as having a "significant partnership" in the "unfreedom" of their labor relations. Her argument that animals and lab-workers are not "victims" but "partners" is by no means a "new" argument. Far from moving beyond "anthropocentrism" this is a form of social contract theory which argues that, at root, social relations are founded on agreement and mutual consent. Haraway projects onto both animals and exploited workers in labs consent to a global social division of labor in capitalism that is founded on production for profit and the exploitation of labor.  Haraway contends that there are already "degrees of freedom" within the existing social relations of production. "Lab animals," she contends, "have many degrees of freedom [...] including the inability of experiments to work if animals or other organisms do not co-operate" (72-73). It is on this basis that Haraway reads the height of alienation under private property relations—what in colloquial terms is referred to as "losing the will to live"—as a "degree of freedom" when she argues that: "Even factory meat industries have to face the disaster of chickens' or pigs' refusal to live when their co-operation is utterly disregarded in an excess of human engineering arrogance" (73). 

Haraway substitutes moral outrage for explanatory critique and social transformation and in doing so she uses the sensationalizing and moralizing rhetoric of "factory meat industries" as an "excess of human engineering arrogance" to detract attention away from the fact that her theory is a most effective ally of transnational capitalism. At every turn Haraway obstructs any serious examination and critique of the structural relations of production—of production for profit—and the way they determine and structure existing "relations of use" between owners and workers, between the global North and the global South, between humans and other animals, between humans and natural resources: 

I resist the tendency to condemn all relations of instrumentality between animals and people as necessarily involving objectification and oppression of a kind similar to the objectifications and oppressions of sexism, colonialism, and racism. I think in view of the terrible similarities too much sway has been given to critique and not enough to seeing what else is going on in instrumental human-animal world makings and what else is needed. (74) 

By suspending social critique for sentimentality, Haraway, echoing the Gita's injunction against social critique, ideologically converts the social division of labor founded on class relations and production for the profit of a handful of owners into "cosmic" duties.  In Haraway's narrative, the clinic-worker who accompanies animals to be euthanized, the "good" lab worker who has his hand eaten by tsetse flies without questioning the conditions of his own exploitation, the North Atlantic dog owner who puts her depressed pet on Prozac, etc. are all "fulfilling their ethical duty" to the cosmos and performing a "daily service of love," while persons who critique systemic relations of production and who argue for collective social transformation are described as anthropocentric, speciesist, reactive, lacking "response-ability" (69-93). Haraway formally distances her theory of "cosmic responsibility"—what she calls cosmopolitics—from the ideology of the Gita and other similar theories of divinity. She claims that her concept of the cosmos "is the opposite of a place of transcendent peace" (83). Haraway ostensibly rejects "transcendent unity" for what she refers to as a more mundane, worldly, and ordinary multiplicity and plurality. "The cosmos," she claims, "is the possible unknown constructed by multiple, diverse entities " (83). However, Haraway's ostensible rejection of "unity" and "transcendence" is not so much a break with the ideology of the Gita as it is an updating of its class politics for the class relations of transnational capitalism, which, in contrast to the private property relations manifested in the ancient caste system, require flexibility of contemporary workforces to be pulled in and out of different sectors of the workforce depending on what is profitable to capital. Given the Gita's argument that a sacred duty (by which is actually meant caste duty) is one's place in the cosmos (i.e. and the cosmos is the divine whole as far as the Gita is concerned), Haraway's concept of open "cosmic duty" is only a thin ideological updating of the concept of a fixed "sacred duty" and its violent class politics—updated for an era of "green capitalism" and the "greening" or "bio-diversifying" of exploitation. 

Non-mimetic sharing, to put this another way, is a euphemism for exploitation—for the theft of the surplus-labor of workers by a handful of owners. Moreover, as a euphemism, it is deployed to conceal and legitimate class relations. It is part of the ideology of imperialism. "Non-mimetic sharing" is an ideology that erases the relationship of difference and inequality around the world to the social relations of production founded on private ownership of the means of production and the theft of surplus-labor of workers around the world by a handful of owners. It affirms class inequality as "cultural difference" and erases that these differences are actually in relation to social structures of exploitation. All differences are relativized into a a post-difference hegemony of "transspecies classlessness." According to this "transspecies classlessness," it is the "ethical" obligation—the cosmic, sacred, or "ethically evolved" duty—of the North Atlantic subject to give her dog prozac for depression and gourmet dinners and to participate in the sport of fun agility competitions in her leisure time and, by contrast, it is the cosmic duty of the global worker of the South to have his unprotected flesh eaten by tsetse flies to pay for the "sins" of science and mankind.  This is a legitimation of inequality which stems from private property relations and the exploitation of humans by humans. It is the sine qua non of what Franz Fanon so aptly critiqued in his title (and book) The Wretched of the Earth, in which differences that are the result of the social division of labor, the structural relations of exploitation in capitalism—and the violent transfer of wealth from from the global workforce to a handful of owners around the world—are represented as "cosmic" duties or spiritual "callings" and, relative to the North Atlantic subject, it is the worker of the global South whose "cosmic duty" it is to do the most "non-mimetic sharing" of suffering. 

Transspecies posthumanism has become a way not to free all species of animals from the excesses of the material contradictions of capitalism and production for profit but the latest ruling class strategy to dismantle struggles for social emancipation on the grounds that they are violently "anthropocentric." Socialism, feminism, anti-racism, the struggle against imperialism… in short, the great struggles for human emancipation are said to be over because they are, so the story goes, founded on what Haraway calls "the goad of human exceptionalism" (46). References to animals and to the environment in the discourses of transspecies posthumanism are on the one hand a consequence of the fact that capitalism does, in fact, pollute the environment and alienate and commodify the needs of all sentient beings, by subordinating all species to production for profit. Yet, the ideological abstraction of these problems from the capitalist mode of production—from class relations and private ownership of the means of production—is the means by which the ruling class ideologically sutures a seemingly "transclass" "care" for the planet and all of its creatures to its own class interests. 

However, the "transspecies" or "green" family under capitalism is not an "evolutionary" break from capitalism or class relations but is an historical index of the expansion of capitalism into "green" products for the purpose of increasing profit.  As global capitalism comes into crisis its class contradictions break through the surface and require new ideological legitimations that obscure the material source of the contradictions lying in the exploitation of labor in production. As the global economic crisis wears on, it has become routine for spokespersons of global capitalism to ideologically renew capital with a "green revolution," thus obscuring the exploitative relations which alienate the needs of the majority for the profit of the few. It is in this context that the discourses of transspecies posthumanism have not only come of age, but have received widespread institutional support. In the 21st century, the subordination of all aspects of life on the planet to private property and production for profit has reached new levels: from the private ownership of genes, seeds, salt and entire species; to the industrialization and overproduction of wheat, milk, and animal slaughter, which is left to rot when it cannot be sold for a profit while people go starving; to e-waste and toxic computer dumping in exploited nations. Posthumanism represents the degradation of the environment as a cultural matter of "speciesism" that requires a new cultural revolution based on a transspecies ethics and thus obscures the class relations at the root of capitalism which actually explain the drive for profit and its destructive social and environmental consequences. By shifting the attention away from class exploitation to unethical speciesist practices posthumanism puts forward a vision of an ethical capitalism beyond capitalism, a capitalism that is above all sustainable and in which class exploitation is naturalized and taken to be the normal pattern of social organization.



Biopolitics in general and transspecies posthumanism in particular  have become the norm in cultural theory because they provide a cultural updating of the social relations of production in capitalism that is in accord with new strategies in which capital seeks to realize surplus-value through "green" technologies.  The greening of capitalism has become the new cultural horizon which justifies exploitation under the pretext of getting in touch with nature/the animal and the environment. More specifically, with the ideological "greening" of capitalist production, this means that the other which has been relegated to inhuman status—owing to the exploitation of the other's labor in production—is now discursively aligned with the animal and is revalued as a (re)source for a more just world or what Haraway calls "alter-globalization." This is a ruling class ruse for sentimentalizing exploitation.  What this does is romanticize the poverty of the other which is not caused by speciesist ideology but by wage-labor/capital relations. 

Transspecies posthumanism is ultimately a bypassing of the social—and the need for social transformation to abolish the exploitation of labor—and a return to a form of the "elemental" and the "natural."  To put this another way, posthumanism ideologically normalizes the way in which wage-labor/capital relations, through the exploitation of surplus-labor and the alienation of workers from the social products of their collective labor, reduces what Marx calls "species life" into "natural life" or a "mere means to individual existence" (113). In his theory and critique of alienated labor in The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Marx makes an important distinction between "species life" and "natural life."  "Natural life" is the life of "eating, drinking, procreating…" in short, of meeting immediate physical needs to reproduce individual life. "Species-life," by contrast, is the life marked by conscious laboring activity in which the human understands herself in historical and social relations—as an historical being not simply a biological being—and for whom the object of labor is not only one's own immediate physical needs but the historical life of the species—the material relations of their production. Through the historical development of their collective labor, humans are "species-beings" who have not simply developed the ability to meet their immediate individual physical needs but have also developed the ability to consciously and collectively transform their historical and social relations of production. 

And yet, in capitalism, Marx argues, the objects of production are torn from workers and confront the worker as forces alien to them. This is because in capitalism people are divided by material relations into two classes: those who own the means of production and therefore exploit the surplus-labor of others and make profits from it and the majority of others who own only their own labor and sell it for wages, which they pay back to the owners of labor to buy the food, medicine, houses, cars… they need to go back to work for the owners of labor.  This alienation of labor, moreover, is not simply an alienation of the worker from the specific products she produces—from the result of production—but is an alienation within "the act of production, within producing activity itself." "The worker therefore only feels herself outside of her work, and in her work feels outside of herself. She is at home when she is not working and when she is working she is not at home" (110). 

It is owing to the material relations of production founded on private ownership of the means of production and the theft of surplus-labor that workers are alienated and that capitalism reduces the life of the species to "a mere means to her existence" (113).  "In tearing away from [workers] the objects of [their] production," the alienation of labor "tears from [them] their species-life." Class relations, Marx argues, "change […] the life of the species into a means of individual life," and in doing so, the alienation of labor under capitalism "makes individual life in its abstract form the purpose of life of the species, likewise in the abstract and estranged form" (112-113). The world historical questions that enable people to direct their collective labor to build their world consciously and collectively by means of social praxis are marginalized and mere biological living ("individual life in the abstract") becomes the main goal of life for the majority in class society structured by exploitation.  This is another way of saying that capitalism reduces the majority "to work to live and live to work." 

Bio-politics more generally, and transspecies posthumanism in particular, are theories of "passive adjustment" to the ruins of capitalism. They spiritualize poverty and the subordination of love, kinship, and sexual relations to commodity exchange relations and production for profit.  They reduce species life to a mere means of individual survival within capitalism. This is a far cry from the understanding of "love" produced by historical materialists such as Kollontai who argued that the basis of the "hypocritical morality" of capitalism is not in its failure to produce "ideal (post)human beings"—what Haraway calls "companion species" or Hardt and Negri call "new and different subjectivities"—rather it is in its material relations of production. The hypocritical morality of capitalism is not an effect a specific kind of "love" or "family" (these are its symptoms and articulations) but rests on "the structure of its exploitative economy" (Kollontai 263).  Freedom of sexuality, love, desire cannot be produced unless emotional relations are, as Kollontai argues, "freed from financial considerations," which is to say, freed from class society and its privatized relations of production that produce dire economic necessity for the majority. This is not simply a matter of "meeting individual needs" for the reproduction of capitalism.  Rather, it requires freedom from necessity. Freedom, that is, from social relations of production based on the exploitation of labor which, if left intact, will inevitably subordinate human relations including love and sexual relations to "financial considerations." "Love"—of animals, of people, of differences, of the world—does not evolve or transcend beyond capitalism without the material transformation of capitalist relations of production. Rather, it is in dialectical relation to the material relations of production in society. "Love" can only be "freed" if it is freed from class society and its privatized relations of production that subordinate the planet to production for profit while producing dire economic necessity for the majority. For an emancipatory theory of love what is needed is a return to grasping the class relations that structure life under capitalism and  understanding that ending alienation requires bringing about social relations of production in which class antagonisms have not only already been abolished—because private property has been abolished—but have been, as Engels puts it, "forgotten in practical life" (Anti-Dühring 119).

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