Book Chapter

Politics of the Multitude: Seven Theses on Posthegemony



Baker P (2020) Politics of the Multitude: Seven Theses on Posthegemony. In: Marramao G (ed.) Interregnum: Between Biopolitics and Posthegemony. Sesto San Giovanni: Mimesis International.

First paragraph: This chapter presents seven theses which attempt to elucidate the significance of certain contemporary debates on the question of populism from the perspective of what others have identified as the contemporary crisis of the political architectonics of modernity through the work of contemporary Italian theory, especially the work of Paolo Virno. It will argue, against the grain of some of the dominant forms of understanding the theory and practice of contemporary populisms today, that the theory of populism as we find it in the work of Ernesto Laclau and others is in fact a specific response to emerging conditions of political action, and not the attempt to restore earlier and outdated forms of political sovereignty linked to the nation state form. Despite its place as both a theory and practice of political action in our contemporary conjuncture “after the Leviathan,” I suggest that the theory of populism as a theory of social and political action does not sufficiently explore the heart of the problem with which it is concerned; that is, the conditions which are given within the current configuration of capitalist relations which make action and reflection possible today. By taking a certain distance from the Laclauian theory of populism and accepting that there are areas of the human experience which are not reducible to politics as a field of action, we propose that the question over how contemporary conditions for action are given necessarily exceeds the political sphere. The multitude in the work of Paolo Virno, from this perspective, we argue, should not be considered a strictly political concept, even if it is presented as such within this Italian philosopher’s work. It is from out of this excess that is represented by the multitude, anterior to the moment in which politics constitutes itself as subject and object of the foundations of human organisation, that it becomes possible to offer a different orientation with respect to the political sphere. Drawing on ongoing debates which emerged in the context of Latin American Studies in the United States, I will propose to use the name "posthegemony" as the site for such critical reflection on the contemporary conditions of thought and action that does not seek to understand how to reconstitute new forms of political sovereignty but to take a step back from the omnipresence of the political field in contemporary debates, not in order to search for an apolitical or depoliticized register of thought, but precisely in order to repoliticize the political sphere in ways which are non-totalizing.

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online22/10/2020
PublisherMimesis International
Publisher URL…nd-posthegemony/
Place of publicationSesto San Giovanni

People (1)


Dr Peter Baker

Dr Peter Baker

Lecturer in Spanish & Latin American Std, Spanish