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Earthly Plenitudes

Earthly Plenitudes: A Study on Sovereignty and Labor

Bruno Gullì
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Earthly Plenitudes
    Book Description:

    A fierce critique of productivity and sovereignty in the world of labor and everyday life, Bruno Gullì's Earthly Plenitudes asks, can labor exist without sovereignty and without capitalism? He introduces the concept of dignity of individuation to prompt a rethinking of categories of political ontology. Dignity of individuation stresses the notion that the dignity of each and any individual being lies in its being individuated as such; dignity is the irreducible and most essential character of any being. Singularity is a more universal quality.Gullì first reviews approaches to sovereignty by philosophers as varied as Gottfried Leibniz and Georges Bataille, and then looks at concrete examples where the alliance of sovereignty and capital cracks under the potency of living labor. He examines contingent academic labor as an example of the super-exploitation of labor, which has become a global phenomenon, and as such, a clear threat to the sovereign logic of capital. Gullì also looks at disability to assert that a new measure of humanity can only be found outside the schemes of sovereignty, productivity, efficiency, and independence, through care and caring for others, in solidarity and interdependence.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-981-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VIII)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. IX-X)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. XI-XII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. XIII-XVIII)

    Toward the end of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s great novelSozaboy, Mene, the main character and narrator (a young lorry driver dragged into a devastating war), says: “I begin to think that the world is not a good place even” (1994: 164). Indeed, it did not seem to be after his town, Dukana, and his private life were destroyed, and sickness and death prevailed, as the war had “uselessed¹ many people, killed many others” (p. 181). Yet, at the outset of the novel, set during an unspecified civil war, which is most likely the Nigerian-Biafran War of the late 1960s, the promise...

  5. PART I Critique of Sovereignty

    • CHAPTER ONE Singularity or the Dignity of Individuation
      (pp. 3-37)

      In theCommunist Manifesto, Marx and Engels’s famous description of the communal society to come is built on the absence of sovereignty-an absence that is the presence of a new essential difference. They say:

      In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all. (1994: 176)

      The free development of each individual, the free development of all, their dialogical and dialectical relationship, can only be understood outside of the logic of domination, the logic of sovereignty,...

    • CHAPTER TWO Exception and Critique
      (pp. 38-70)

      In Leibniz sovereignty becomes a relative concept when applied to the politi cal sphere, and full sovereignty only obtains in the sphere of theology. But there, too, it does not have (to use Schmitt’s expression) adecisionistcharacter; rather, it has a rational one. In other words, it is not based on the will, but on reason. Or God would also operate in accordance with the logic of tyrants (see Chapter 1).

      For Carl Schmitt, who follows Hobbes, the concept of sovereignty, as used in political philosophy and in juridical theory, is the secularization of a theological concept-but of a...

    • CHAPTER THREE Bataille’s Special Use of the Concept of Sovereignty
      (pp. 71-92)

      In his Nietzsche-inspired philosophyagainst servility, in the space of turbulence it opens up, Georges Bataille also deals with the concept of sovereignty in important ways. Indeed, volume 3 ofThe Accursed Share,Sovereignty, offers an interesting, although unusual, analysis and employment of the concept. In the first part of the volume, which bears the title of “What I Understand by Sovereignty” and the subtitle of “Theoretical Introduction,” Bataille says:

      The sovereignty I speak of has little to do with the sovereignty of States, as international law defines it. I speak in general of an aspect that is opposed to...

  6. PART II Sovereignty and Labor

    • CHAPTER FOUR Ax and Fire: Knowledge Production and the Superexploitation of Contingent Academic Labor
      (pp. 95-131)

      With the restructuring of the university, its corporatization, its full acceptance of the logic of capital, the fact of contingent academic labor should not be seen as an aberration, a scandalous (but perhaps temporary) anomaly that could be solved within and by the very system that produces it. Rather, the ever-increasing number of contingent academic workers, and the consequent reduction in the number and power of full-timers, is now the norm. Not only is it the norm, but it is the coherent, logical consequence of the corporatization process. That is, there could be no corporatization without the logic of sovereignty...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Sovereign, Productive, and Efficient: The Place of Disability in the Ableist Society
      (pp. 132-156)

      The critique of productivity and sovereignty yields a radically different concept of labor. This is the concept of labor as care, which has been recently worked out in gender and feminist philosophy. Eva Feder Kittay (1999), in particular, speaks of it as the work of dependency-a concept which, not confined to the economic sphere, has the power to redraw the map of political philosophy as a whole, as well as of the study of culture.¹ It does so by showing the falseness of the notion of the in dependent, fully autonomous, individual, and by replacing it with the infinitely more...

    • Conclusion: Labor without Sovereignty
      (pp. 157-158)

      At the end of the last chapter of this book, Pothier and Devlin’s critique of the ideology of productivity and efficiency points to the possibility of unshackling labor from the yoke of sovereignty. This labor, or rather the many labors expressing human creativity and praxis, human activities, can enter a completely new dimension, take on a new form, and be, not sovereign in turn, but free of the schema of sovereignty. To put it in a succinct and paradoxical form, the sovereignty of labor is labor without sovereignty.

      We have seen how the concept of sovereignty is a problem at...

    • Notes
      (pp. 159-168)
    • References
      (pp. 169-176)
    • Index
      (pp. 177-181)