Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Gardiner, Michael

2nd Supervisor

Schuster, Josh


We can no longer be certain whether the central terms and conceptual matrix that the Italian Autonomist Marxist tradition richly develops and draws on--the common, the general intellect, immaterial labour, psychopolitics, cognitariat--are able to survive unscathed the theoretical problems that the epoch of the Anthropocene poses. In an attempt to push this conceptual matrix to its political and ontological limits, I expose a series of “ecological deficits” at the core of Autonomist thought and make the argument that semiocapitalism is a geological operator just as much it is a cognitive, financial or linguistic one. This has a plethora of paradoxical implications that are constellated throughout the three chapters. The first chapter explores the non-mediatic conditions of possibility behind “mediation”: following Jussi Parikka and Matteo Pasquinelli, the first “ecological deficit” emerges due to conflating the mediasphere with the subjective operations of the “sign” (semiotic flows of labour, knowledge, information) and “desire” (creative flows, libidinal energy, affects) as well as over-valuing the “general intellect” (the productive powers of the social brain) and its exclusive relation to the infosphere (knowledge transmission, big data, linguistic networks of communication), the cognitariat (social subjectivity, value-producing labour) and the technosphere (machines, fixed capital). The second chapter critiques Antonio Negri’s ontological theory of value: following Silvia Federici and Jason W. Moore, the second “ecological deficit” emerges due to Autonomism’s negligence of socially necessary unpaid work, non-human relations of reproduction and cheap nature that make possible value-producing labour; this chapter also, following Bernard Stiegler, critiques an ontology of the sign that privileges expressionism (immaterial semiotic productivity, meaning and epistemics) over impressionism (retentional systems of incarnation, reproduction and energetics). The third chapter develops a critique of representational eco-politics or the spectacular Anthropocene: following Jean Baudrillard and Yves Citton, the final “ecological deficit” emerges due to the hyperplasia of images, data and simulacra of the Anthropocene itself, whereby the referent is spectralized by the luminescent aura of the sign, resulting in complicated forms of irrelevance, boredom and attentional scarcities. Each chapter in its own way develops the speculative leitmotif of a “transcendental geology"--i.e. the claim that the earth is a condition of possibility for thought.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.