The Multitude and the Machine: Productivism, Populism, Posthumanism

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There has been a proliferating literature on postcapitalist and post-work futures in recent years, underpinned by policy proposals like the basic income and a reduction in working hours. It has gained increasing uptake within left electoral politics and policymaking. The generational potency of these ideas require that we understand their theoretical roots. This contribution considers the interplay between the work of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri and the new postcapitalism exemplified by the likes of Paul Mason and Aaron Bastani, as well as its relationship with intellectual currents around Corbynism and the wider contemporary left. Through a discussion of their latest book, Assembly, it will be seen that Hardt and Negri both inform and are increasingly informed by the postcapitalist and post-work thinking popular on the left today – in particular at its ‘posthumanist’ fringes. However, this recent work is characterised by a series of tactical redirections that rather than indicating renewal reflect the potential collapse of this utopian framework for the future in the face of a rapidly unravelling global political context. Whilst the determinist understanding of social transformation cannot permit these setbacks, this shines a light on more general shifts in left strategy and analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-372
JournalPolitical Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date13 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020

Structured keywords

  • Digital Societies
  • Global Political Economy
  • Perspectives on Work
  • MGMT Work Organisation and Public Policy
  • MGMT theme Innovation and Digitalisation
  • MGMT theme Work Futures


  • Postoperaismo
  • Posthumanism
  • Populism
  • Productivism
  • Postcapitalism


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