On putting the active back into activism

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2009 Number 68

On putting the active back into activism
Rosi Braidotti pages -


This paper addresses a paradox: how to engage in affirmative politics, which entails the production of social horizons of hope, while at the same time doing critical theory, which means resisting the present. Drawing on the neo-vitalism of Deleuze, with reference to Nietzsche and Spinoza, the article argues in favour of an affirmative ethics: defined as a radical ethics of transformation. This new framework for re-thinking ethics moves away from the moral protocols of Kantian universalism, while also shifting its focus from unitary, rationality-driven consciousness to an understanding of subjectivity as processual in nature, propelled by affects and relations. Such a new framework disengages the emergence of the subject from the logic of negation and attaches subjectivity to affirmative otherness. Hence the self-other relation is reconceived in terms of reciprocity as creation and not as the recognition of Sameness. Taking critical distance from modern conceptions of self-centred individualism and the negative production of hierarchically inferior others which it assumes, an affirmative ethics for a non-unitary subject as proposed here aims at offering an enlarged sense of inter-connection between self and others, including the non-human or ‘earth’ others, following and enhancing the tradition of a bio-centred egalitarianism (Ansell-Pearson, 1999) that posits a nature-culture continuum (Haraway, 1997). Moreover by putting the emphasis on the positivity of affirmative ethics - conceived in a depsychologised sense similar to that of Nietzsche and Spinoza - the article suggests an ethics of sustainability: one that provides the subject with a frame for interaction and change, growth and movement; an ethics that affirms life as difference-at-work.

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To cite this article
Rosi Braidotti (2009) On putting the active back into activism, New Formations, 2009(68), -

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