The primacy of resistance: Conceptual explorations between historical closures and contemporary openings
thesisposted on 10.04.2017, 09:17 authored by Marco Checchi
Traditional accounts of political resistance often conceptualise it as a reaction to power. Widely discussed yet still enigmatic remarks by Michel Foucault, however, invite us to think resistance as primary. This thesis elaborates on these remarks with respect to their reception and antecedents and argues for an understanding of resistance’s primacy. Through the primacy of resistance, we prioritise resistance’s creative and transformational character above its oppositional qualities. This alternative appreciates resistance without presupposing opposition as necessary to it: it relegates resistance’s oppositional character to the status of an accidental misfortune. So if resistance needs to be against something, it is primarily against the against that follows it. Following chapters devoted to introduction to and elaboration upon the above, the core of the thesis is divided into two parts. Part One considers historical examples of the primacy of resistance’s closure. Chapter Three illustrates how the creative potential of early discussions of human nature - Etienne de la Boétie’s account of natural companionship in particular - was obstructed by the figure of the liberal subject of rights. Chapter Four highlights how the expansive conceptions of labour present within the work of Mario Tronti and JK Gibson-Graham are foreclosed by neoliberal discussions of human capital and bio-financialisation. Part Two of the thesis explores the primacy of resistance’s contemporary openings. Chapter Five proposes an inverted reading of Jacques Rancière’s concept of politics as interruption that resonates with Antonio Negri’s emphasis on Baruch Spinoza’s potentia qua resistance. Chapter Six then stages a virtual encounter between Gilles Deleuze’s ontology of matter and Foucault’s account of the primacy of resistance with which we began. By elaborating upon Foucault’s enigmatic remarks through this series of explorations, the thesis traces a conceptual trajectory beyond Foucault, establishes the affinity between resistance and creation and suggests new avenues for subsequent investigation.