||What powers must we confront, and what is our capacity for resistance, today when we can no longer be content to say that the old struggles are no longer worth anything? And do we not perhaps above all bear witness to and even participate in the ‘production of a new subjectivity’? Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, p. 115
I want to seek a productive space between cultural studies and political economy by remembering autonomia, a theoretical and political tendency of the Italian radical left, developed ‘from below’ in the 1960s. Autonomia emphasised the self-organizing capacity of labour and everyday practices, in decentralized, nonhierarchical structures. It also strongly rejected not only the Soviet model, and the Stalinist party with its centralized leadership, but by and large representational politics. By the 1970s, autonomia had become a heterogeneous grouping of students, labour, women, and the marginalized. In some strands of autonomia—it has always been a diffused and contested movement —there was an increasingly strong influence of French poststructuralist thought, especially by Foucaultian microphysics of power and Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the inherent productivity of desire and subjectivity. These influences are manifested perhaps most clearly in the autonomist concept of the ‘social factory’ which sees power and productivity as dispersed, emanating as much in subjectivities, everyday life, and cultural practices as in traditionally-defined ‘factory labour.’ My longer-term interest is in the complex relationship between subjectivity, autonomy, and capitalist reproduction. For now, I want to take a figure well known in cultural studies—Michel Foucault—and remake him, in order to introduce what myself and others have taken to calling the ‘communication school’ of autonomist thought. To do so, I am following the Foucauldian impulse of ‘fabrication.’ That is, I want to construct all the necessary travelling documents in order to take Foucault on a spatial and temporal journey to a particular Italy—to make up the ‘Italian Foucault.’ In constructing the ‘fiction’ of the ‘Italian Foucault’ I am not willfully misconstruing an historical and theoretical narrative; rather, I am seeking lines of affinity in order to stimulate the imaginary in terms of what might be done—in terms of scholarly pursuits between cultural studies and marxist political economy; and in terms of our practices in everyday life. Thus, this paper will give Foucault the credentials of a particular kind of ‘marxist’, and take him through some foundational automonist texts before setting him down in the Bologna, first circa 1977, and then today.
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