Cookies disclaimer

Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to keep sessions open and for statistical purposes. These statistics aren't shared with any third-party company. You can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing our website without changing the browser settings you grant us permission to store that information on your device.

I agree

01 2024

Negri's conatus, constituent power, and maroon resistances

Katja Diefenbach, Ruth Sonderegger, Pablo Valdivia


The following paper is a slightly revised version of a talk we gave in honor of Toni Negri’s 90th birthday. The changes are minor and are not necessarily in keeping with the spirit of an (ever-unsatisfying) revision. Instead, they express a further deepening of our initial tribute, now from the perspective of those left behind who wish to continue, if not rebuild, the resistances against the reactionary threats of our time.

Toni Negri’s philosophical work, intellectual courage, and unshakeable confidence in the power of the multitude and collective action, no matter how disastrous times may be, have inspired our thinking in ever new dimensions. The inspirations reach from Negri’s early interventions in Karl Marx’s Grundrisse to the rereading of Baruch de Spinoza’s concept of potentia multitudinis and the books written with Michael Hardt – all aimed at renewing the critique of capitalist social formations from the viewpoint of the autonomization and self-valorization of living labor. Our profound affinity with Negri’s vitalist or Spinozist Marxism continues to this day. It is this relationship with his work that also drives the impulse to revise certain aspects of Negri’s Marxism, particularly concerning the question of how the Spinozian belief in a complete perfection of being, its ultimate beatitude and potentiality, was translated politically by Negri to emphasize the increase and ascent of the powers to act.

In The Savage Anomaly, Negri outlines with convincing clarity how, in the third and fourth books of Spinoza’s Ethics and in contradistinction to Western philosophy’s disregard for imaginations and affects, passive joys are made into catalysts of a transition that leads from a first to a second kind of knowledge, from imaginary affect-ideas to common notions, and simultaneously, from passive to active joys. Negri emphasizes Spinoza’s decision not to take imaginary ideas out of the constructive schema of his Ethics despite his claims regarding the inadequacy of imagination. He does so based on the argumentation that the joy expressed through unclear mental images is the only available resource accessible to everyone that enables the leap from imagination into thought. For us, it is crucial that Negri never ceased to propound how this excess of joyful passions refers back to the materiality of corporeal cooperation: When bodies collaborate with one another, they augment their powers to act. This increase, no matter how small or contingent it may be, is registered by the mind as joy and makes it, along with the bodies involved, “pass to a greater perfection.”[1] In other words, there is no cogito or subject in which the passage from imagination to thought is grounded. The production of thinking, Negri underlines, is therefore not an epistemological model of inevitable development guaranteed by a transcendent instance and reserved for few. It is, rather, a political model of bottom-up, trans-individual cooperation during which forms of mass intellectuality are generated, catalyzed by bodies and affects in an unguaranteed but joyful manner. This process simultaneously creates the conditions for the self-liberation and self-governance of the multitude, conditions which require continuous renewal.

By reconstructing Negri’s understanding of this materialism of imagination, in which the “human conditio” converges with the “political constitutio,”[2] we want to show how Negri attached the greatest possible importance to the ascent of human potentialities as actualized through a community of cooperation and a love uncontaminated by hatred. This focus on the steadfast increase of powers is one of the reasons why Negri’s revolutionary optimism tends to pay less attention to Spinoza’s critical analyses of economies of fear, hatred of difference, and negative cycles of reinforcement between political oppression from above and growing mass resentments from below, or to resistances in situations of extreme violence, exploitation, or enslavement. However, in the closing pages of his autobiography, Negri did question his own optimism in the face of today’s “resurgent fascism.” [3] There he writes about experiencing a new disintegration of the world around him that plunged him into a previously unknown numbness: “Could it be that my trust in being, my admiration for what is alive, no longer corresponds to something that can be loved?”[4]

The following assertions are dedicated to the insistence with which Negri encouraged himself and us to “not be afraid” and to “keep the front line”[5], even in times of such terrifying uncertainty. We want to continue on this path by returning to one of the keystones of Spinoza’s anti-Hobbesian philosophical endeavor that Negri always embraced, namely the question of how to transform fear into liberatory practices by actualizing the potency to “not be afraid.”[6] Negri links this mobilization of the potentiality to act to the overarching question – the answer to which he claimed never to have found – of whether the multitude is capable of giving itself an “organizational formula” whose differential or “network” logic would have an effectiveness comparable to that of the “‘labor union in the Second International or the ‘soviet’ in the Third.”[7] However, instead of returning to the history of the international communist movements, we want to focus on the political importance of economies of fear and their topologies of sad passions as well as resistances in constellations of maximal negativity and duress through a decolonial lens, linking anti-capitalist and antiracist perspectives, so as to highlight problems that Negri only dealt with in passing. We therefore decided to begin our farewell to Negri by rereading his interpretation of Spinoza’s “Caliban”[8] and the racist trope of the monstrosity of the colonial other – one of the prime examples of the multitude’s fear – which appears in Spinoza’s correspondence with Pieter Balling and was understood by Negri as an ambivalent paradigm of his materialism of imagination behind whose racist overdetermination Negri recognized the power of the colonized to employ transformative imaginations.

In adopting Negri’s figure of the monster in colonial modernity, together with its shifting meanings and political metonymies, we proceed in three steps: After reconstructing the basic specificities of Negri’s reading of Spinoza, we first debate Negri’s interpretation of Spinoza’s dream of an Afro-Brazilian maroon soldier and thereby propose four theses regarding a decolonial reformulation of the potentia multitudinis based in a contextualization about which Spinoza kept silent and which Negri also overlooked: the Dutch colonization of Pernambuco, its racist economies of fear, and the military strength of the Northern Brazilian fugitive slave and maroon settlements. Secondly, we comment on Negri and Hardt’s reference to a minoritarian Kant in Commonwealth, the limits of which we consider in a discussion of Immanuel Kant’s Third Critique as well as by way of some remarks on Iroquoian federalism. The latter will be related to Kant’s racist account of First Nations, in particular the Iroquois, in his Critique of Judgement. Thirdly, we will consider the position of the Mestiza in Negri and Hardt’s reflections on altermodernity in Commonwealth that we reread together with José María Arguedas’ statement against acculturation and Gloria Anzaldúa’s double figure of an indigenously marked Mestiza and a queer Chicana.

1. Negri’s conatus and maroon resistances

While in prison, Toni Negri spent much of 1979 and 1980 writing a book about Spinoza that was published almost simultaneously in Italy, France, and Germany under the title The Savage Anomaly. The French translation included a foreword by Gilles Deleuze, Alexandre Matheron, and Pierre Macherey who underscored the rigor with which Negri had developed a political reading of Spinoza through summarizing Spinoza’s entire thinking as a philosophy of practice or as an ontology of human productive power. While Louis Althusser describes Spinoza in Reading Capital as “Marx’s only direct ancestor”[9], who provides Marxism –centuries before its proper beginnings – with concepts of overdetermined dialectics and plural temporalities and rejects every philosophy of the origin or the subject, Negri found in Spinoza a subjective theory of being. He contends that the 17th-century philosopher derives this theory of productive being from Neoplatonic pantheism and Renaissance humanism by translating their mystical themes of the bliss of love and the magic potentiality of nature into the rational production process of bodies, affects, and knowledge. Negri emphasizes that Spinoza’s physics rejects both Aristotle’s qualitative understanding of nature and the new Cartesian model based on a quantifiable extension of substances that robs nature of all its power. While defending a nature endowed with forces, Spinoza simultaneously aims to preserve the 17th-century’s embrace of scientific rationality. He establishes an exceptionally heterodox concept of matter capable of self-formation and self-organization which contradicts the mechanistic and possessive understandings of cheap nature and dead matter that are the objects of an instrumental mind, i.e., of a mind whose conceptualization emerged between René Descartes and John Locke during the foundational crises of early Dutch and English colonial capitalisms.

In The Savage Anomaly, Negri retraces the formative process of Spinoza’s thinking, which, according to Negri, is driven by a single metaphysical question: How can the idea of “productive being”[10] that influenced Scholasticism, the Jewish and Arab philosophies of religion, and Renaissance humanism by way of their engagements with Neoplatonism, be radicalized? How can the conception of an emanative cause, which is to be located above the objective world, be replaced by the idea of an immanent cause, which is expressed within the finite things themselves and finds its highest articulation in an infinite increase of human existence? In this context, Negri speaks of a conatus inherent to Spinoza’s philosophy that leads to an inversion of its argumentative system, particularly Spinoza’s main work The Ethics. According to Negri, Spinoza shifts the Ethics’ perspective from substance to modes, that is, from a “first foundation” to a “second”[11] one, “from an emanationist to an expressive horizon”[12] due to the intratextual contradictions between the so-called “descending path” – the “degrading emanation of the final being” – and the “ascending path”[13] –  the “recognition of the power of the world of things.”[14] Negri holds that this inconsistency drives Spinoza’s argument toward a materialism of action and therefore proposes that Spinoza’s philosophy is “living the course of its praxis in ontological terms.”[15] Endeavoring to develop an idea of creative being, the thinking of the Dutch philosopher becomes creative in its own right by overcoming its Neoplatonic residues. Reconstructing Spinoza’s itinerary from the Short to the Political Treatise, Negri explicitly states what he understood to be the promise of Spinoza’s discourse from the outset – namely to think the constitution of the world from below through an assemblage of human forces that are “infinitely extend[ing] toward infinite perfection.”[16] If this is the conatus of Spinoza’s philosophy, what then is Negri’s?

By recognizing Spinoza as a theorist of an early modern ontological concept of labor power, understood in the widest sense of transindividual action, Negri strives, in stark contrast to Althusser, to put human activity and appropriation back at the center of French or post-structuralist Marxism. In doing so, Negri presents Spinoza as the first “anti-Hobbes” in “the history of Western political thought.”[17] He summarizes Spinoza’s philosophy as a sort of ‘possessive transindividualism,’ that results in a convenientia based on the excess of joyful passive passions, but also on conflict and violence. He highlights Spinoza’s intellectual courage in thinking that we not only affirm what increases our power to act but also oppose what is opposed to such an increase. According to Spinoza, being thus strives to override whatever seeks to impose a higher, transcendent, or normative meaning and thereby restrains its power to act. The “expansiveness” of the conatus, Negri writes, is also the expansiveness of a “destruction” whose negativity is part and parcel of “the growth and overabundance of the vital process”[18] in which being produces itself.

Given what has been said so far, it is no wonder that Negri saw Spinoza as part of an anti-juridical tradition in political philosophy that extends from Machiavelli to Marx, and which places the power of the multitude at the center of its reflections. In contrast to Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or G.W. F. Hegel, who believe in the private character of human capacities whose socialization requires mediation or contract, Negri shows that Spinoza’s multitude or the many are able to transindividually compose their forces from below, without any intervention of transcendent means. By affirming their own power of acting through their conatus, the multitude or the many are – in the midst of given conflicts – elements of socialization in themselves. They are able to produce a commonwealth through an internal transformation of their power of acting, that proceeds from imagination to intellect, from passive to active joy, from external to internal necessity. What then, according to Negri, are the cornerstones of this philosophy of joy?

Negri emphasizes Spinoza’s rejection of the Cartesian dualism of inert matter and active mind. Where Descartes links body and mind in an inverse relationship, so that the body suffers when the mind is active (and vice versa), Spinoza stresses that an action in the mind is necessarily also an action in the body (and vice versa).[19] It is one of Spinoza’s greatest heresies to suspend the Cartesian obedience of the body to the mind on which Western morality is founded. For Negri, the materialist character of Spinoza’s philosophy becomes obvious through the degree of reality and effectivity granted to bodily experiences and positive passions. Negri reconstructs how, according to Spinoza, joy assists us in building our first rational ideas or common notions: In the first kind of knowledge, we build only imaginary ideas of the bodily encounters in which we are immersed. We understand the effects, not the causes of these encounters. We develop our imagination, but not our capacity to think. Negri underlines how, in favorable moments, bodies can increase their power to act in instances where they are capable of combining their physical forces due to having something in common, even if this only occurs by chance. According to Spinoza, it is this very increase that is experienced and absorbed by the mind as joy, through which the mind, along with the body, “passes to a greater perfection.”[20] Negri emphasizes that this little increase in power, this accidental by-product of a favorable opportunity of cooperation, is the only resource we have at our disposal in the passage towards the production of rational ideas or common notions. This little joy might easily be lost since it remains a passive passion and can be overlaid by sadness, hatred, or resentment. However, even if the first kind of knowledge is characterized by inadequacy and instability, projection, and ambivalence, it comprises an ontological resource for the transition to thought through joy, i.e. to the second kind of knowledge. It is this understanding that led Negri to identify one of Spinoza’s foundational theorems in the 18th proposition of the fourth book of The Ethics, which reads: “A desire which arises from joy is stronger, other things equal, than one which arises from sadness.”[21] In light of this proposition, Negri reconstructs the performativity of what he conceives as mass intellectuality correlated with an activated body and catalyzed by active affects: Once the intellect begins to form “clear and distinct ideas” of the relationships engaged in by the body, once it deduces “some [ideas] from others,”[22] and once it connects these ideas in an increasingly consistent order – producing a science of transindividual matter and passions –, the body will be able to organize its affective experiences in an ever-increasing positive, joyful, and cooperative way with other bodies.

Negri finally subjectivizes the conatus by advocating a quasi-ideal community that is united in the third kind of knowledge, one “that constantly aims upward, seeking to create more with ever more power, up to the point of engaging with the love of God, that is, the love of nature as a whole, the common in its most expansive figure.”[23] Hence, in his reading of Spinoza, Negri comes close to a Feuerbachian dissolution of anthropology in theology. When Negri delineates the production of thought – catalyzed through the active capacities of bodies and affects – in the ascent towards a community united by both an unknown love that is uncontaminated by hatred and an inner joy without ambivalence, he tends to underestimate the economies of sad passions and the fear of difference, as well as the importance that Spinoza assigns to epistemological obstacles and errors which Negri primarily conceptualizes as dimensions that the multitude can overcome. It is therefore hardly surprising that when addressing the extent to which the dream image of an Afro-Brazilian person, which Spinoza mentions in his letter to Pieter Balling from 1664, indicates a theoretical blockade in Spinoza’s materialism of imagination, Negri focuses on surmounting this obstacle instead of further exploring what is conceptually and symptomatologically at stake when Spinoza articulates his fear of the maroon multitude which obviously includes the fear of some consequences of his own thinking.

In a letter to his friend Pieter Balling, a radical Mennonite and merchant with trading relationships in the Spanish colonies, Spinoza quite suddenly and completely out of context mentions a “black, scabby Brazilian,” who “remained before his eyes” one morning, “when he woke from a very deep dream.”[24] Why does Spinoza conjure up this colonial image of a leprous other? Who is he afraid of? Why does he invoke colonial stereotypes of monstrous human beings that we are more familiar to hearing from Locke’s natural law discourse, according to which everyone in the state of nature is free to punish offenders – addressed as “noxious creatures,” “wol[ves],” or “lion[s]”[25] – for violating property? Although the notion of servitudo is an organizing category of his philosophy, Spinoza remains silent about the transatlantic slavery that he witnessed in both direct and indirect forms. In The Savage Anomaly, Negri only rarely goes into greater depth about the fact that Spinoza lived in an age in which the Netherlands had established itself as the center of the emerging colonial capitalist world economy through its two colonial trading companies, the East and West India Company. Negri characterizes the anomalous position of Holland during the First Stateholderless Period as that of an antagonism between colonial capitalism on the one hand – with “Leiden, Zaandam, and Amsterdam” being “among the largest industrial centers of Europe” whose “commerce and pirating stretched from the Vistula River to the West Indies, from Canada to the Spice Islands”[26] – and an unprecedented bourgeois liberalism, on the other hand, that was open to Jewish culture, tolerant towards the Anabaptist protestant sects, and upheld the spirit of Renaissance humanism. Negri devotes a large part of his attention to the question of how the entanglements of both dimensions affect the Dutch Renaissance culture of “building and reforming,” its cosmopolitism, and freethought. He spends far less time analyzing how Dutch production, transportation, and the finance sector managed to undergo rapid globalization, despite the West India Company’s economic failures in the Atlantic sugar business, making the Netherlands the first world economy of early modern racial capitalism.

However, to fully understand and contextualize Spinoza’s dream image, we must place it in a 17th century where the United Provinces expanded overseas in both the Atlantic and Pacific hemispheres, bringing heterogeneous places and temporalities into violent contact by way of slave trade and slave labor, plantation economies as well as mining, stocks, and seafaring.[27] The flourishing Dutch cities were provided with sugar, cotton, tobacco, and precious metals, all of which had been extracted or produced by slaves who themselves had been deported from African ports such as El Mina and Luanda by, among others, the Dutch West India Company. Spinoza was well-aware of these developments because the guarantee of religious freedom motivated hundreds of Amsterdam’s Sephardic Jewish families to immigrate to Pernambuco. Several of them became some of northern Brazil’s “largest plantation owners, slaveholders, and slave traders,”[28] although the majority of colonial trade, slave economies, and financial profits was organized and realized by Dutch Protestant capital. Spinoza’s father traded fruits and other goods, mainly from or through Spain and Portugal, and used warehouses where sugar and brazilwood from Dutch Pernambuco were stored. Spinoza joined his father’s business sometime around 1650. His brother Gabriel and half-sister Rebecca both settled in Caribbean slave-owning colonies – Gabriel initially settling in Barbados in 1664 or 1665, where Recife emigrants had founded the first Synagogue, The Dispersed of Israel, and later moving to Jamaica in 1671; Rebecca settling in Curaçao sometime between 1679 and 1685 (after Spinoza’s death).[29]

Despite all of these circumstances, Spinoza only hints at transatlantic slavery and Dutch colonialism in that single enigmatic statement formulated in the letter to Pieter Balling in which he is mainly concerned with consoling his friend who had recently lost his son and was accusing himself of ignoring the signs that had heralded the infant’s death. Spinoza assures Balling that there are two forms of imagination: a mental one that is of higher and predictive quality, though being most commonly ignored (such as Balling’s premonition of his child’s impending death), and a second imagination, a mere bodily one, that does not have any predictive quality (such as Spinoza’s dream memory of a Black Brazilian). Referring to Aimé Cesaire’s rewriting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Negri and Hardt ignore this irritating doctrine of two imaginations. Behind the racist terminology of a leprous other, they recognize the figure of a “monster” that can be reappropriated in anti- and decolonial terms because it “expresses the excessive, savage powers of the imagination.”[30] Their positive reading of Spinoza’s “Caliban”[31] all too hastily passes over the striking fact that Spinoza immediately referred his dream image to a subordinate form of bodily imaginations. This thesis is in complete contradiction to the body-mind parallelism that Spinoza had already developed by the mid-1660s. By assigning the dream image, and with it the colonized, to an inferior mode of corporeality, Spinoza destroys a keystone of his onto-epistemology in which increases and decreases in both body and mind are analogized by denying any primacy of one over the other.

How is this inconsistency in Spinoza’s Afro-Brazilian dream image to be understood? The Freudian-Marxist sociologist Lewis S. Feuer is the first to associate Spinoza’s dream memory with Henrique Dias, commander of a Black army of fugitive slaves during the Pernambucan Insurrection who fought on the side of the Portuguese planters against the Dutch who were feared by First Nations and Black slaves for their brutal colonial regime.[32] In 1654, Dias’s Terço da Gente Preta helped the Portuguese crown win the war and expel the Dutch from Brazil.[33] In contradistinction to Negri, Feuer interprets the dream image as an imaginary menace that is directed against the conservative representatives of the Jewish community in Amsterdam, most notably against Isaac Aboab da Fonseca – the former Rabbi of Recife, great Talmudist, and later on a follower of Sabbatai Zwi – who survived the siege of Recife and the maroon soldiers’ attack on the city. It was none other than Aboab da Fonseca who, after his return from Pernambuco, read the decree by which Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community. The intimacy and horror of the colonial dream memory are evaluated by Feuer as an image of “all the hostile forces” that “await a Jew in the outside world”[34] and that Spinoza is now hurling back at those who excommunicated him. But why should we stop short at the Jewish experience of trauma and fear alone, which Feuer characterizes as structured by an insurmountable “cultural superego,”[35] and Spinoza’s hatred of the conservative members of the community? If one assumes, as recent research suggests, that the excommunication was not traumatizing for Spinoza but passively intended in certain ways, more politically powerful theses need to be considered should one want to continue the identification of the dream image with Afro-Brazilian maroons. We propose the following four theses for further research and discussions:

First, Spinoza’s image of the colonial other proves that it would take him his entire intellectual life to adequately develop a theory of the power of the multitude that allowed him to find a productive solution to the Hobbesian theme of fear, which includes fear of uprising, fear of civil war, and most fundamentally, fear of violent death. Spinoza was already familiar with the philosophical subject of fear through his reading of the Roman historians who determined the masses as a negative principle capable of destroying even the most stable government. Spinoza repeatedly recoils from the radicalism of his own thought concerning the multitude’s mass constituent power. This manifests itself in his recurrent quoting of Tacitus’ formula, “the mob is terrifying, if unafraid,”[36] as well as in the exclusion of women, strangers, poor, and slaves from the doctrine of an absolute democracy at the end of his unfinished Political Treatise. Like Emilia Giancotti, Étienne Balibar, or Warren Montag, Negri reconstructs how Spinoza comes to detect the figure of the potentia multitudinis in the very feedback processes between the terrorization of the masses and the fright they spread. In other words, influenced by Machiavelli, Spinoza starts to understand insurrection not as the opposite principle of political society but as a radical variant of its constitution. Hence, the dream image of Henrique Dias manifests the colonial dimension of Spinoza’s fear of his own theory, which is the very medium through which he slowly learns to affirm the power of the multitude in an immanent transformation of his viewpoint. This process is summarized by Negri with the insight that through the monstrosity of his dream image, Spinoza acknowledges the power of the colonized to imagine the world differently and thereby change it.

Second, we must simultaneously consider that theological, nationalist, or racist fears of difference are at the heart of Spinoza’s materialist ideology theory, which includes the idea of a negative “causal chain” coming into play between the repression of the multitude from above by rulers or priests and “violent passions”[37] from below. It is along this path of influence that the hatred between classes, national and ethnic groups, or religions will exponentially escalate the more the multitude is suppressed and held in check by the introduction of transcendent figures like God, king, social contract, nation, or race. Spinoza’s obsessive engagement with the reflexive structure of the fear of the masses, which is always to be understood, “in the double sense of the genitive,”[38] as both the fear that grips the masses and the fear that others have of them, helps Spinoza develop a realistic, non-utopian “science of liberation,”[39] as Negri puts it. This is why Spinoza is, at the very least, minimally confident that a radical social transformation is possible and will therefore take place because he is convinced that the forces of life are excessive to such an extent that they can manifest the change from imaginary identifications to egalitarian ideas as well as institute this change by imbuing it with rigor and duration. At the same time, Spinoza’s thought is maximally realistic and critical since it registers the extent to which the forces of life are invested in political-theological apparatuses of domination. This not only requires reflection on how politics can be practiced in situations of maximal fear, exploitation, and disenfranchisement, but also to what extent political acts have to interrupt the reemergence of racist or nationalist fears of difference, and their destructive and exploitative forces within the very processes of resistance. In this regard, it is important to keep in mind that the Black maroon soldiers are located at the center of multiple overlapping economies of fear, pointing to a catastrophic imbrication of practices of domination, persecution, and resistance across the early modern Black Atlantic world that spark extreme violence and set in motion escalating chains of fear and entanglements of antisemitism, colonial racism, and exploitation of slave labor which escape Negri and Hardt’s attention. The imperial interests of the Portuguese Overseas Council and the maroons’ fear of being enslaved by the Dutch instigated an asymmetric military alliance between Portuguese planters and fugitive slaves who by then had built up semi-institutionalized Black troops commanded by Dias. Although the military techniques of the Black soldiers decided the war, the Portuguese Overseas Council did not grant freedom and permanent establishment to the maroon troops, which the runaway slaves had asked for. Instead, in recognition of the military performance of his units, Henrique Dias was given the Jewish synagogue and the land on which Recife’s Jewish cemetery was built. In addition, Dias received several royal honors including a knighthood in the Military Order of Christ, which came with significant emoluments from the Order’s commandries as well as tax abatements. Contrary to common practice, his son-in-law and distinguished lieutenant of the maroon units, Amaro Cardigo, would not inherit any of these royal benefits due to the stabilization of anti-Black colonial racism.[40] Cardigo’s case illustrates the growing identification of Black skin with slave ancestry and total social exclusion, which became entrenched around the turn of the 18th century with the expansion of plantation and slave economies. During the siege of Recife by Black and Portuguese troops, many members of the Jewish community starved, were massacred, or handed over to the Inquisition. Those who survived returned to Amsterdam and as documented in the archives, were supported by Spinoza who donated to the fund established to help the Jewish refugees from Dutch Brazil.

Third, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that it is not so much Henrique Dias or the Black troops that manifest the emancipatory actualization of the multitude’s power to act, but rather the large maroon settlements – mocambos or quilombos in the hinterland of Pernambuco – which had been attacked by Dias’ Black troops in the service of the Portuguese, albeit mostly without success. Although Dutch and Portuguese colonizers had organized annual military expeditions, the largest maroon settlement in Northern Brazil, Palmares, successfully defended itself against all attacks from 1605 to 1694. This robust capacity to resist is one of the reasons for the mythopoetic reputation of Zumbi dos Palmares, the quilombo’s last leader.[41] In Early Modern Black Atlantic Studies, Palmares’ military strength is traced back to, among other things, the fighting techniques of Imbangala warriors, who emerged from the historical entanglements of intra-African wars with the Portuguese and Dutch colonial and slave trade.[42] The Imbangala, who were themselves involved in the African slave trade, would take part in the establishment of maroon settlements in Brazil following their eventual deportation to the Americas. This engagement manifests an immanent transformation of their power of acting: Their social ties hacked away, their cultural, political, and religious knowledge in ruins, these wretched of the earth created a successful institution of war and survival in Brazil from the remnants of their traditions and experiences. Some of them succeeded in transforming the organizational structure of African slave traders into an organizational structure operating against transatlantic slavery in an immanent reversal of their own practices. With their immense military fighting capacities, they helped construct Palmares as a creole structure of resistance in the Portuguese and Dutch Atlantic world – primarily upheld by Black maroons, but also Indigenous peoples, Sephardic Jews, and even some European indentured servants.

Fourth, when Saidiya Hartman asks if C.L.R. James and W.E.B. DuBois’ Marxist notions of the Black worker, the Black general strike, or the cultural revolutionary term of the maroon are sufficient for thinking anticolonial Black resistances, she supplements and overwrites these figures with the complex positionality of Black women in slave economies.[43] Similarly, when Gloria Anzaldúa reinvents the figure of mestizaje by way of an indigenously marked Mestiza and a queer Chicana, she also refers to the non-totalizable and incomplete nature of the Mestiza – her border differentiality – which cannot be fixed in the position of a historical subject.[44] Seen through a Spinozist lens, both authors – Anzaldúa and Hartman – invite us to consider that the power of the multitude, in its excess and differentiality, comprises the power to interrupt all imaginary identifications of the multitude with itself. Politics in Spinoza can therefore be reformulated as an activity to interrupt the re-emergence of narcissistic schemes of identification, conservatism, or oppression in the very acts of resistance themselves. As such, politics demands that we be attentive, not so much to the maximum points of what Spinoza calls complete beatitude, but rather to the complex and critical junctures of political acts when they are in the process of changing their character. Those critical junctures manifest when new forms of subjugation emerge from liberation movements, or when the multitude’s capacities to disconnect liberatory acts from tendencies towards subjugation are reactualized.

2. More monsters (that break free from the dialectic of modernity and anti-modernity)

This essay is not only inspired by Toni Negri’s Spinozist proposal to elaborate a joyful anthropology of the common – an anthropology opposed to the negative anthropology of liberalism based on possessiveness and the war of all against all. We are similarly deeply indebted to the concept of altermodernity developed in Commonwealth within the context of marronage practices. It is these practices that help expose the issue of coloniality which we previously missed in Negri’s engagement with Spinoza, although colonial violence also briefly appears there in the guise of Spinoza’s dream of a Black militant Brazilian whom Negri dubs Caliban.[45] In Commonwealth, however, the authors contend that Spinoza’s dream is not merely the articulation of a racist fantasy but holds within it a further dimension. Negri and Hardt write that “[…] imagination for Spinoza is always excessive, going beyond the bounds of existing knowledge and thought, presenting the possibility for transformation and liberation. His Brazilian monster, then, in addition to being a sign of his colonial mentality, is a figure that expresses the excessive, savage powers of the imagination.”[46]

By ascribing “excessive, savage powers of the imagination” to the protagonist of Spinoza’s dream (independently of whether this protagonist refers to Dias or Zumbi), he becomes a figure that embodies much more than the racially marked Other of modernity. Indeed, Spinoza now envisages a figure of altermodernity that points beyond the dialectic of modernity and anti-modernity. We understand Negri and Hardt’s reflections on altermodernity as the claim that altermodern lines of flight from both bourgeois, property-based modernity and its anti-modern counterparts are already in place. Altermodern practices of insurrection and marronage have been developed in exchange with modernity since its inception. In contrast to attempts to develop an absolute counter-model to modernity – which Negri and Hardt make out, for example, in Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment –, altermodern insurgencies do not rely on a problematic, absolute outside, nor do they remain trapped in a negative fixation on modernity. On the contrary, they constitute their flight from within modernity. Since current and future altermodern practices of resistant flights can be strengthened by inspirations from past insurgencies, at least according to Walter Benjamin, we wish to add some altermodern practices of constructing the common to those discussed in Commonwealth – albeit by way of a detour.

Astonishingly, Kant figures prominently in Commonwealth’s design of altermodernity, at least the so-called minor Kant of “What is Enlightenment” that Foucault placed center stage. According to the authors of Commonwealth, the minor Kant not only teaches us the famous “dare to know,” but also the desire to become courageous: “know to dare.”[47] Like Foucault, the authors of Commonwealth find this courage in Kant’s enthusiasm for the French Revolution as well as in Kant’s optimistic belief that democratic progress is possible.[48] It is in this vein that Negri and Hardt write at the beginning of Commonwealth: “Whereas the major Kant provides the instruments to support and defend the republic of property even up to today, the minor Kant helps us see how to overthrow it and construct a democracy of the multitude.”[49]

In this section, we will first articulate our doubts regarding Kant’s contribution to the construction of a “democracy of the multitude.” We do so, however, intending to then show how monster-like figures of insurgent altermodernity also appear in Kant – despite Kant’s fierce attempts to relegate these figures to the realm of the unthinkable. In other words, we are far more skeptical than Negri and Hardt regarding Kant’s usefulness for the project of altermodernity. Indeed, we see him as a philosopher of the very fear that Spinoza critically engaged with throughout his life and overcame towards the end of it in favor of the very joy that Toni Negri strived to defend throughout and beyond his life. At the same time, our critique of Kant leads to further evidence supporting Negri and Hardt’s claim that the wonderful monsters of altermodernity can be found in the most unexpected places and territories most hostile to them. In other words, we wish to provide further evidence of Commonwealth’s proposition that the monsters of altermodernity will not only emerge at some alleged end of history. Much rather, they have repeatedly proven their constitutive power throughout modernity and in resistant confrontation with it.

As for Kant, we not only conceive of him as a defender of the republic of property as Hardt and Negri put it, but also as a powerful representative of the very negative anthropology and ontology that Hobbes circulated and against which Spinoza’s re-conceptualization of conatus is directed with joyful force, as demonstrated by Toni Negri. The negativity of Kant’s anthropology seems to contradict Kant’s optimistic belief in progress that Commonwealth references. However, Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology make it more than clear that his Hobbesian anthropology is merely a flip side of his belief in moral progress. The interdependence between a Hobbesian anthropology and Kant’s optimism can be found in an even more condensed form in the Critique of Judgement. Kant’s intention with this book was to not only bring his transcendental philosophy to a triumphant conclusion but also show how his transcendental philosophy could be reconciled with his lectures on anthropology. In the course of this megalomaniac enterprise of synthetization, it becomes more than apparent that Kant’s conception of man is not just thoroughly racist and sexist, but also based on the assumption that human beings can only develop into higher and possibly even moral beings of a cosmopolitan society through natural disasters, competition, inequality, various forms of exploitation, and wars. In other words, humans do not become ethical because of their inherent capacities – let alone the affective cooperation of their capacities – but only by way of external coercion.

According to Kant, it is nature that initially urges man – or rather, certain white men of property – towards civilization and regulates the civilizing influence of civilized men on each other. But once nature has reached its civilizing end in certain men, they take over nature’s civilizing mission and lead humanity from culturally refined civilization, and the concomitant imperative to subdue inner and outer nature, to the even higher realm of morality or, to use Kant’s wording, to an ethico-theology.[50] However, Kant immediately adds that the seemingly universal goal of nature to enforce the development of culture, the prerequisite of ethics, is not universal at all. Moreover, Kant maintains that inequality among humans is a necessary condition for some to be able to reach the highest forms of culture: “Skill can hardly be developed in the human race otherwise than by means of inequality among human beings. For the majority [of humans], in a mechanical kind of way that calls for no special art, provide the necessities of life for the ease and convenience of others who apply themselves to the less necessary branches of culture in science and art. These keep the masses in a state of oppression, with hard work and little enjoyment.”[51]  

It is therefore not cooperative capacities that bring people together and possibly lead to a better society which, in Kant’s view, would be the bourgeois society of male property owners but rather the competitive and hardship-ridden conditions of unsociability that drive at least some humans towards sociability. It is not without reason that Kant’s essay “Idea for a General History with a Cosmopolitan Intention” – oftentimes said to be the climax of Kant’s optimism – addresses an unsocial sociability, and leaves no doubt that unsociability comes first. “Human beings,” Kant writes, “who are otherwise so taken with unconstrained freedom, are compelled by need to enter into this condition of coercion; and indeed, by the greatest necessity of all, namely that which human beings who inflict on one another, given that their own inclinations make it so that they can not long subsist next to one another in wild freedom. Yet in such a precinct as civil union is, these same inclinations have afterward their best effect; just as trees in a forest, precisely because each of them seeks to take air and sun from the other, are constrained to look for them above themselves, and thereby achieve a beautiful straight growth; whereas those in freedom and separated from one another, that put forth their branches as they like, grow stunted crooked and awry. All culture and art that adorn humanity, and the most beautiful social order, are the fruits of unsociability, through which it is necessitated by itself to discipline itself.”[52]

This thoroughly Hobbesian scenario, which also undergirds “What is Enlightenment?” is born out of fear. A fear of the contingency of history and, as we will show below, the uncontrollable power of the multitude, as well as a racism that goes beyond that of Hobbes, with Kant claiming a scientific understanding of the phenomenon of ‘race.’ In most of his writings, Kant divides human beings into four so-called races and relegates Native Americans and Black peoples to the lowest ranks. In Kant’s Critique of Judgement, however, Native Americans play an almost leitmotif-like role. This holds particularly true for the Iroquois, whom Kant uses as paradigmatic examples of an absolute incapacity in matters of aesthetics and culture, which in Kant’s system relegates them to a place outside of civilization, sociability, and humanity in its fullest sense.

The baseline of the exclusion of the Iroquois begins in § 2 of the Critique of Judgment with the devaluation of an Iroquois Sachem (a representative chief of the indigenous confederacy in northeastern North America), whom Kant sets up as exemplary of the inability to achieve aesthetic disinterestedness.[53] This baseline runs directly through to what is often considered the emancipatory climax of Kantian aesthetics – the sensus communis. After Kant has established the learnability of sensus communis and, at the same time, aesthetic taste, he states in §§ 41 and 42 that not all humans are capable of such learning. And again, it is the Iroquois who appear – as a seemingly coincidental example – at the lowest stage of the ascent from so-called mere human beings who are incapable of any learning in matters of taste, to civilized man. For it is the Iroquois, Kant contends, who are only capable of painting themselves red.[54] Kant’s obsession with the Iroquois – or more precisely, his insatiable desire to relegate them to the lowest fringes of humanity and to present them as irrelevant in regard to all grand issues of civilization – must be seen in the context of discussions in 18th-century political theory, especially in the context of the drafting of the American constitution. Discussions, in other words, which cannot have escaped the manic reader that was Kant.

And this brings us back to Commonwealth, where – in the context of anti-colonial resistance at the transition from anti-modernity to alter-modernity – special mention is made of Iroquois federalism as a practice of negotiations between different Indigenous nations. These negotiations are based on the internal transformation of each other’s power and, therefore, do not depend on any separate sovereign or property-based system of law. Iris Marion Young, who devoted important studies to First Nation federalism at the end of her life, emphatically points out that the model of cooperative self-determination of Indigenous nations in exchange with each other is incompatible with the property-based Westphalian world. Nevertheless, federalist practices played an important role in the emergence of the U.S. political system; a role which was later actively forgotten.[55] David Kazanjian, who dedicated a book to these debates, contends: “[…] the Iroquois were represented in Dutch, French, British, and U.S. colonial discourses as a politically savvy and militarily brutal empire. This dual interpretation of the Iroquois as a politically advanced federation but a socially barbaric or underdeveloped people persists with remarkable consistency […].”[56]

The success of Iroquois federalism, first practiced among different Indigenous nations and later proposed as a strategy against settler colonialist extraction and expropriation, might help explain why Kant fantasizes the Iroquois into the realm which Hardt and Negri call that of monsters and witches. “Throughout modernity, often alongside the most radical projects of rationalism and enlightenment, monsters continually spring up. […] [T]hey present figures of sublime disproportion and terrifying excess, as if the confines of modern rationality were too narrow to contain their extraordinary creative powers.”[57] Kant evidently could not defeat the Iroquois on the terrain of political theory where they figured too prominently in his days. He therefore ostracized them from the sensus communis, which for Kant epitomizes not just aesthetics but true, discrete bourgeois, possessive personhood and sociability.

In stark contrast to Spinoza’s conception of nature as a thinking and agential entity, Kant is only able to conceive of nature as a dynamic that necessarily develops towards its own domination by rational men. Kant is likewise completely unwilling to embrace the openness of history that comes with the acknowledgment of a Spinozist account of conatus whose dynamics are as unpredictable as the movements of the multitude. Indeed, Kant’s whole philosophical system, which is brought to a strange close in the Critique of Judgement, is driven by the very fear that Spinoza learned to overcome towards the end of his life. Kant’s teleological and theological account of history, in the guise of the “Ethico-theology”[58] that concludes his Third Critique[59] (but does not really end as it is amended by a series of “remarks” after the Third Critique’s ending), is clearly directed against Spinoza whom Kant accuses of nihilism. Kant seems to be perplexed if not appalled and perpetually haunted by the mere possibility of a Spinozist being that is joyfully ethical without any guarantees of being rewarded in life or thereafter, for Kant writes: “Let us then, as we may, take the case of a righteous man, such, say, as Spinoza, who considers himself firmly persuaded that there is no God and – since in respect of the object of morality a similar result ensues – no future life either. […] He may, it is true, expect to find a chance concurrence now and again, but he can never expect to find a nature in uniform agreement – a consistent agreement according to fixed rules […]. Deceit, violence, and envy will always be rife around him, although he himself is honest, peaceable, and benevolent; and the righteous individuals that he meets in the world […] will be subjected by nature, which takes no heed of such deserts, to all the evils of want, disease, and untimely death, just as are the other animals of the earth. And so, it will continue until one yawning grave devours them all – just and unjust there is no distinction in the grave – and hurls them back into the abyss of the aimless chaos of matter from which they were first drawn – they that were able to believe themselves the final end of creation. – Thus the end which this right-minded man would have, and ought to have, in view in his pursuit of the moral law, would certainly have to be abandoned by him as impossible.”[60]

In other words, the truly joyful monstrous opening that Spinoza’s philosophy represents to this day. An opening whose implications Spinoza himself was afraid of for a very long time and which soon disappeared again from the history of philosophy and was actively rejected by Kant, among others. Considering this long history of fearful rejection and active forgetting, Toni Negri’s efforts to unearth Spinoza’s philosophy following uncountable efforts to make it disappear are even more impressive.

Hardt and Negri’s common sense clearly envisions the exact opposite of what Kant referred to in the same terms. Kant’s sensus communis advocates total detachment from all dependencies and relation so as to project oneself onto those others who are capable of the same detachment. In crass contrast to such an understanding of sensus communis, the authors of Commonwealth write: “We concentrate instead, following Spinoza’s conception of ‘common notions,’ on the production and productivity of the common through collective social practices.”[61] Such practices not only establish truth and freedom, as Commonwealth claims, but also beauty. In doing so, collective social practices transverse the borders between beauty, truth, and politics, which Kant sought so fiercely to establish forever.

Practices of the common that do not adhere to the boundaries between the true, the beautiful, and the political, also existed in Kant’s time, particularly among those whom Kant had deemed unfit for aesthetic education and simultaneously excluded from humanity in the fullest sense or relegated to the “eternal waiting room of history” (Dipesh Chakrabarty) that Hortense Spillers dubs “the vestibular.”[62] Time and again the monstrous others of modernity have, in Fred Moten’s wording, refused what was refused them – disinterested aesthetic practices, discrete liberal personhood, and a seemingly neutral universalism.

We would therefore like to conclude this section with at least one such altermodern aesthetic practice that is just as much political in nature. It is the practice with which Paul C. Taylor opens his book Black is Beautiful. A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics. The quote cited from Taylor regards an aesthetics that celebrates being-with-others and being-dependent-on-others, an aesthetics of beautiful insurgency that manages to endure under the most violent conditions. Taylor takes his citation from Sidney Mintz and Richard Price’s study of the beginning of African American culture, who in turn cite an eyewitness account reporting on the arrival of a ship with enslaved people on board in 1790 – the year in which Kant’s Critique of Judgment was published. The account bears witness to a self-empowering aesthetic practice among people who, violently bereft of a common language, found a path of commoning that powerfully resisted any relegation to zones outside of beauty, history, and politics.

“These new African Americans,” the account goes, “surprise you in only one respect. They have stars in their hair. Not real stars, of course. The new arrivals have had their heads shaved, leaving patches of hair shaped like stars and half-moons. Just as you begin to wonder how the ship’s crew settled in this way of torturing their captives or entertaining themselves, you receive a second surprise. Not far from where you are standing, a man who seems to be the ship’s captain is speaking with a man who seems to have some financial interest in the ship’s cargo. The capitalist asks the captain why he cut the [n-word]s’ hair like that, and the captain disclaims all responsibility. ‘They did it themselves,’ he says, ‘the one to the other, by the help of a broken bottle and without soap.’”[63]

3. Scenes of decolonial resistances

Lima, October 1968: The Peruvian writer José María Arguedas, who would die by suicide just one year later, is awarded the Inca Garcilaso Prize some months after the revolutionary uprising of 1968, a time when discussions were rife as to the significance and ramifications of the revolution which saw elements of Negri’s philosophy already taking shape. The award is a remarkable event: Its presentation took place only a few years after Arguedas had been almost unanimously criticized for his intention to portray what to him were the true specifics of Peruvian reality in his fifth novel Todas las sangres (1964). This perceived failure to express his vision was not just a painful artistic setback, but also a political one that would continue to haunt Arguedas. What was at stake? To understand the reality of his country was, at that time and especially for Arguedas, a highly political project. Arguedas, who stood in the literary and ideological tradition of the Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui, understood his literary interventions as an act of opposition to the disfigurations of this reality as instigated by the hegemonic narratives of the capitalist nation-state. The goal was to change Peruvian reality in the name of, and for the sake of, a reality that we could call altermodernity[64]. Arguedas, though very often identified as an indigenista, never envisioned the recreation of a pre-capitalist Indigenous society but – as is expressed in Commonwealth – “a new society within the shell of the old.”[65]

It is by no means an arbitrary decision to engage with aspects of altermodernity developed in Commonwealth when discussing Arguedas. Indeed, Perú plays a quite prominent role in the first part of this book with Hardt and Negri identifying José Carlos Mariátegui to be “in a privileged position to recognize […] that the revolutionary forms of antimodernity are planted firmly on the common.” [66] A few pages earlier, Hardt and Negri refer to the Lima of the Lima Inquisition, which seems to be “as good a place as any to identify the birthplace of modernity insofar as it brings together race thinking, coloniality, and administrative structures, producing in a paradigmatic way the hierarchies and power relations that define modernity.” [67] Finally, we want to focus on this last aspect of what Arguedas understands as Peruvian reality, one that constitutes a central structural topic in Commonwealth since it is realities like the Peruvian that foreground the question of colonial subjectivities and their potential for resistance. What specific forms of resistance are at stake here? To what extent are the highly ambivalent, if not monstrous, figures of “the mestizos/mestizas, Black Indians, ‘half-breeds’ […]”[68] those most able to perform the transformation of “refusal into resistance and violence into the use of force?” [69]

Arguedas’ remarkable speech at the award ceremony in Lima in 1968 offers some preliminary answers. Not having an original title, this speech is today mostly referred to by way of a central sentence expressed in the middle of his speech. Here, Arguedas passionately and insistently asserts his subjectivity through a negation: “Yo no soy un aculturado.”[70] (“I am not an acculturated man.”).

How is this negation to be understood, both in a theoretical and practical, political sense? Why did Arguedas choose to articulate his position with a negation? Which subjectification does this sentence want to resist? What politics of community are hereby evoked? What transformative logic is implied here? Which threat is being addressed?

These questions are justified because Arguedas’ negating sentence comes with a story. It is only after having read Mariátegui and Lenin, Arguedas admits, that this sentence became an actual possibility since their writings gave him an intellectual and energetic destiny, an orientation. This is a first indication that what is at stake here is more than just a negation, a violent but ultimately void refusal (which would be the modus operandi of antimodernity)[71]. The refusal expressed in this sentence goes beyond simple negativity as it is expressed with pride. This pride – a fundamental affective figure in anticolonial struggles – is remarkable because the subjectivity of the non-aculturado that Arguedas claims to be is a mestizo subjectivity. This subjectivity had, and has, largely been treated as an accidental by-product of colonial expansion, and not as an actor in history in its own right, able to realize a struggle for freedom.

By evoking these Marxist references, Arguedas widens the scope of his sentence, which is itself an implicit citation of the Cuban cultural theorist Fernando Ortiz. Ortiz coined the term transculturation in the 1940s in opposition to the concept of acculturation that was very widespread in ethnology at the time. He intended to put forward a fundamental conception for the thinking of any kind of agency emerging from the colonies as colonization should not only be considered a process of submission and annihilation but, as highlighted in Commonwealth, a “process of mutual transformation.”[72] Anyone expecting Arguedas, who was himself an ethnologist and familiar with this debate, to fulfill this negation completely in line with Ortiz’s thinking, will be disappointed and might even feel betrayed. Arguedas does not go on to describe himself as a transculturado, but instead affirms an identity that, at first glance, seems less progressive or emancipatory: the national identity. The sentence continues: “Yo soy un peruano que orgullosamente, como un demonio feliz habla en cristiano y en indio, en español y en quechua.”[73] [I am a Peruvian who proudly, like a happy demon, speaks in Christian and Indian, in Spanish and Quechua.]

One may speculate whether the happy demon – a monstrous figure – is a rendering of the transcultural subject and a close relative of a rebellious Caliban. What is beyond doubt is that Arguedas is invoking a mestizo identity here. The genesis of this identity turns out to be the result of a long and painful struggle against the humiliating rhetoric of contempt and the violent politics of expropriation. This pain reveals a telling affinity between Arguedas’ mestizo and Gloria Anzaldúa’s new mestiza, both of which are, as we want to suggest, variants of an altermodern subjectivity. This pain, which is so specific to the experience and, above all, the consciousness of the mestizaje, reminds us that the pride Arguedas speaks of is the expression of a very specific consciousness that cannot be understood solely in an orthodox Marxist sense. The altermodern subjectivity and pride in it, come into being through developing the demonic consciousness of the mestizo, a “consciencia mestiza”[74] [mestiza consciousness], and a “consciencia de mujer” [a woman’s consciousness].[75]

This consciousness, which is always bound to a body (thereby bearing a resemblance to the Caliban evoked in Commonwealth, though slightly different in manner), is not an abstract faculty as it includes the physical capacity to speak for oneself in a mestizo way. That is, in a demonic if not monstrous way, combining languages that were meant to have split destinies (one survives, the other becomes extinct). It is not by chance that Anzaldúa insists that the starting point is constituted by the “pride in my language.”[76]

For Arguedas, the proud use of this capacity means to use the far more efficient language (“medios más vastos”)[77] of colonial modernity against itself and strive for the creation and invention of an “individuo quechua moderno”[78] [a modern Quechua individual]. The capacity to speak in various languages is therefore something that must be acquired in a more substantial way and not something that is granted through the confluence of different ethnicities or linguistic skills. This way of speaking presupposes liberating oneself from the hegemonic order of discourse and confronting oneself with the knowledge and wisdom (“la sabiduría”[79]) that has been excluded by the language of the oppressors. This act of liberation includes an affective resistance to the hardening effects of an efficient language. Ultimately, this modern (not ancestral) language seeks to transform hate into a force, a “fuego que impulse” [a fire that drives], based on the idea that “la ternura es más intensa que el odio”[80] [tenderness is more intense than hatred]. Arguedas conceptualizes the process of mestizaje as overcoming – in both thought and expression, in mind and affect – the separation that the colonial and then capitalist-bourgeois state established to better manage and exploit the land. He argues that overcoming this regime, replacing its social barriers, and creating a new multitude is possible because no wall is completely isolating. Arguedas himself had been able to traverse both sides of such a wall as a child and was therefore able to know a world that would otherwise have been closed off to him: el mundo Quechua.

The rhetoric of overcoming a seemingly total separation, which is so crucial for the mestizo, is also at the core of Commonwealth. We find it in the Foucauldian assumption of an ever-existent freedom to which “all subjects have access.”[81] If this is true then the possibility of participating in history by overcoming the separation and exclusion from the dominant mechanisms that constitute and monopolize history is always given. From the perspective of the colonized, there is always an option to overcome the deadlock of an “antimodernity”[82] that remains “within modernity.”[83] The colonial struggle is about reappropriating a historical agency that has been occupied by colonial-capitalist modernity so as to create an altermodernity.

What Arguedas does not mention in his speech, but what is crucial for the genesis of the happy and demonic language of the mestizo, is the fact that this ability to negotiate both sides of the wall was only possible because he was a de facto orphan, expelled from the continuity of his patriarchal lineage and history. His mother died early, his father traveled a lot, and his stepmother, a criolla who aligned herself with the Hispanic elites, never accepted him. He was moved out of the family home and grew up with the Indigenous servants who, in the macho-imaginary of Peruvian criollo elites, were considered feminized men and primitive women deemed only to exist for exploitation. Arguedas’ initial abandonment was the precondition for him getting to know a world that would have otherwise remained invisible to him and whose language he never would have learned. Most importantly, he found, and this motif is also central in Anzaldúa’s work[84], other mothers. These other, unnamed mothers conveyed to him a culture of the (indigenous) commons, conceived in Commonwealth as one of the foundations of the revolution as it is a culture not founded on the values and desires of bourgeois-colonial society. The experience of this other world is not only the basis of his writing but also serves as evidence that the two great notions of Perú – the Andean and the Criollo culture – can unite in a flow, announcing the genesis of a new community. This is also meant in a structural sense since Perú, far from being the framework that enables a fusion, becomes the model for a heterogeneous unity. In his diary, Arguedas imagines a Perú where all people can live in their homeland.[85] Crucially, this new community emanates from a country that, as Arguedas notes in the same diary entry and highlights in his speech – “no hay país más diverso”[86] [there is no country more diverse] –, is far more diverse than pre-revolutionary Russia and therefore more suited to prepare the path for a revolution that will realize an altermodern common.

Identifying the mestizo as a new and different historical agent does not mean that Arguedas thinks of the mestizo exclusively in positive terms. In actuality, his conception is anything but an unadulterated praise of the mestizo. The mestizo is a highly suspicious, extremely ambivalent figure. Especially within the context of indigenismo, the mestizo was presented as the epitome of degradation, a treacherous, devious figure, concerned only with gaining their own advantage from any situation – nothing to be proud of. In a disturbing passage, Arguedas describes the strategy of survival and struggle the mestizo stands for in an early article about the novel in Perú – La novela y el problema de la expresión literaria en el Perú (1950):

“La lucha es feroz en esos mundos, más que en otros donde también es feroz. Erguirse entonces contra indios y terratenientes; meterse como una cuña entre ellos; engañar al terrateniente afilando el ingenio hasta lo inverosímil y sangrar a los indios, con el mismo ingenio, succionarlos más, y a instantes confabularse con ellos, en el secreto más profundo o mostrando tan sólo una punta de las orejas para que el dueño acierte y se incline a ceder, cuando sea menester.”[87]

[The struggle is fierce in those worlds, more so than in others where it is also fierce. To stand up then against Indians and landowners; to wedge oneself between them; to deceive the landowner by sharpening one’s wits to the point of improbability and to bleed the Indians, with the same wit, to suck them dry, and at times to conspire with them, in the deepest secret or by showing only a tip of one’s ears so that the owner may be right and be inclined to yield, when necessary.]

Against this backdrop, Arguedas’ refusal to identify as a transculturado can also be read in another sense. Not just as a heroic opposition directed against an external and dominating regime, but as an expression of an internal conflict, revealing that the decolonial struggle also encompasses an internal dimension that can be summed up as a practice of constant betrayal. Arguedas’ negative sentence, which avoids the expected positive term, can be understood as a conscious acceptance of this (self-)deceiving strategy of the mestizo. Speaking as a happy demon, he not only betrays the Indio and the landowners but resists any fixed position as well as any kind of simple reconciliation. It is only in this way that the mestizo can reject becoming a subject that enhances the hegemonic language of the capitalist nation-state. It is only in this way that the mestizo, who does not repress the tenderness of the Quechua world, avoids ending up as an aculturado, the opposite of the “demonio feliz,” who resists fusion. This is an important detail. When Arguedas insists in his acceptance speech that “el caudal de las dos naciones se podía y debía unir”[88] [the flow of the two nations could and should unite], he is not talking about one single totalizing fusion, but a union of forces. Perú represents for Arguedas one of those “países en que corrientes extrañas se encuentran y durante siglos no concluyen por fusionar sus direcciones, sino que forman estrechas zonas de confluencia, mientras en lo hondo y lo extenso las venas principales fluyen sin ceder, increíblemente.” [countries where strange currents meet and for centuries do not end by merging their directions, but form narrow confluence zones, while in their depth and width, the main stems flow incredibly without yielding.][89]

Before concluding these reflections on the resistance of the monstrous with Anzaldúa’s concept of the mestiza’s “new consciousness,” it is worth looking at the demon’s happiness or to be more precise: the path to this happiness, which surely has something in common with the joy of being a communist. Arguedas is happy not only because he purports to have freed himself from the separation imposed by colonial-capitalist modernity. He rightly describes himself as a happy demon because he presents a logical challenge to the hegemonic dialectics that Negri already questions in his earliest writings on Spinoza, though not in a decolonial context.

Commonwealth features a very clear, some might say simplistic, description of the path of decolonial struggle. The trajectory from modernity to antimodernity and then, finally, to altermodernity is meant to overcome dialectics, at least the kind of dialectics that is mechanistic and presupposes an atomistic conception of its elements. Complex structures, complex contradictions – this is the challenge contemporary Marxist theories have to deal with. One example is Negri’s interpretation of Spinoza’s philosophy that, according to him, “pushes philosophy beyond any dialectical form” thanks to its “materialistic transconfiguration.” [90]

It is interesting to note that, in Commonwealth, these questions reappear not just as a problem of materialism, as a question of dialectical form and logic, but most prominently as a question of subjectivities and positionalities (in history). It is precisely at this point that coloniality becomes recognizable as more than just a peripheral reality of capitalism, but as the context in which the constitution of capitalism shows its irrational and violent side, and where the material violence in and for the subjectivities governed by the so-called “republic of property” is explicit. It is for this reason that the question of a resistant subjectivity becomes so concrete and urgent. The colonial context makes it necessary to discuss altermodernity, and it is within the colonial context that capitalist subjectivity, a subjectivity that pretends to be a rational one, a subject of productivity, is irrefutably revealed to be a subjectivity whose vital forces are absorbed by the will to accumulate property. Accordingly, the capitalist system must continuously wage its war of property. A war of dispossession and extraction that is rationalized in the name of necessity and progress, and whose devastating effects become particularly visible in the colonized lands. The triad of modernity, antimodernity, and altermodernity represents a process that aims to question this necropolitical necessity of capitalist history and its mechanic dialectics by introducing a process of rupture, a resistance of vital forces against this fatal necessity.

An original aspect of Commonwealth’s analyses of coloniality lies in the way in which the affective dimension is brought to the fore. As Negri and Hardt insist, capitalist subjectivity is governed by affects related to private property – fear and hate: “What stands behind the hatred of the poor in its different forms is fear, since the poor constitute a direct threat to property.”[91] It is therefore only consistent that the affective dimension plays a central role in the decolonial struggle. In Commonwealth, this fact is discussed with reference to Fanon, a fundamental figure of decolonial resistance. Fanon serves as an archetype to demonstrate the importance of the transformation of affects and desire structures. In their book, Hardt and Negri reconstruct Fanon’s near to idealized “evolution of the ‘colonized intellectual”[92] as the paradigmatic example of a subject that overcomes the affective and emotional patterns of capitalist-colonial modernity, constituted mainly out of the fear of those who possess and the hatred of the poor. The colonized intellectual overcomes these patterns by passing through three stages: after a first (and hegemonic) moment of alienating identification with the modern-capitalist desire, the colonized enters a phase of overidentification with his supposedly original roots: the antimodern desire. Finally, in a third step, which is that of the real revolutionary struggle, this “colonized intellectual” becomes a historical figure in the fullest sense. He (the male pronoun is justified as this evolution can be read as an evolution of a male revolutionary desire) participates in history because his struggle transforms not only ‘his’ tradition but also himself: Instead of possessing a fixed identity, he is now a “revolutionary becoming” that no longer submits to the dictates of opposition. Instead, in a “post-dialectical”[93] process, he forces a “rupture and transformation”[94] of colonial-capitalist modernity in order to create “a new humanity”[95].

This is remarkably close to what Arguedas’ happy demon desires. Just like the Caliban in Commonwealth, he wants to overcome the prison of dialectics and thereby avoid a closing synthesis. But the fact that, up to this point, only male figures have been evoked raises questions. This could be read as an allegory for a subject that has overcome his negative affects and now practices a happy revolutionary becoming in the form of joyful self-dominion. And if this is the case: is the revolutionary process a process of male “consciousness,” implying there is a masculinist overcoming of fear at work here?

As much as we are committed to such a becoming, it seems fundamental for us to take the ambivalence of the monsters that we summoned together with Negri (and Hardt) seriously and to offer a nuanced reading of these figures, reconsidering the ambivalent pride of the mestizo. The intention is not to devalue them from a supposedly non-monstrous position (this position would be one of violent and colonial repression) but to think of their ambivalence as something that has to be resolved again and again. This process ultimately also reconfigures the notion of the “consciousness of renewal and transformation.”[96] From the experience of the mestizo, this consciousness cannot be a stable one and is never just cognitive, but also affective because this renewal and transformation is never free of pain, both emotional and physical pain. Such pain, easily obscured by an overly triumphant notion of “revolutionary becoming” also affects the relationship of the colonized self to itself, as Fanon insisted. The colonial subject confronts us with a major historical and emotional challenge because every becoming necessarily implies a loss – the certitude, felt in the bodies and the minds, that something is irretrievably lost and can at best only continue to exist in a distorted and monstrous translation in bodies that, while having known tenderness, have never known what belonging means.

This pain and the ambivalence, if not aporia, associated with the sensation of loss is one of the major questions in Gloria Anzaldúa’s seminal work Borderlands/La frontera from 1987. Consciousness here also means acknowledging the wound – one of the leitmotifs in Anzaldúa’s text: “I acknowledge that the self and the race have been wounded.”[97]

It is with this in mind that we see Anzaldúa’s evoking of a “new mestiza” as an undertaking that is anything but trivial, cultivating new ways of speaking from a queer mestiza position rooted in a long history of gendered violence, of silencing terror. The new position is not simply geared towards a future but represents an ongoing transformative work of memory against the violence of patriarchal tradition while simultaneously never negating or repressing the pain experienced throughout this history. The suspicion of betrayal directed against the mestizos, a suspicion already approached by Arguedas, is specified: It was and still is directed against women and sexual “deviants,” against those who, speaking various languages, question the stability of a fixed matrix of desire. At the beginning was la Malinche, a woman who betrayed both worlds, with a betrayal laying the foundations for this “new humanity.”[98]

It is especially necessary within the framework and conditions of late capitalism to specify the nature of this betrayal as a betrayal committed in the search of a liberated life, the liberation of vital forces from their colonial-capitalist exploitation. This process is not without risks, just as the project of creating “a new society within the shell of the old”[99] always runs the risk of being appropriated by the hegemonic capitalist forces. If it is true, then, that “[t]he new mestiza copes by developing a tolerance for contradictions, a tolerance for ambiguity”[100] to be able to transform the given order, then we will have to ask ourselves if and how these strategies may also contribute to a strengthening of capitalism that, in its turn, could develop a greater tolerance for contradictions and ambivalence. The image of the flow (“caudal”) that Arguedas uses reminds us just how difficult it is to break out of the hegemonic flow of patriarchal history. How can we determine whether the flow Arguedas speaks of really is a new one and not simply a more powerful version of the old one, separating more efficiently and reducing opposition even more? How can we be sure that betrayal does not become a tool of colonial-capitalist modernity in the end?

To (re-)think the process of “becoming revolutionary” from the experience of the new mestiza allows a more differentiated perspective on the (betraying) resistance to patriarchal power that is also approached in Commonwealth. The transformation of (an appropriable) refusal into (a post-capitalist) resistance is possible because the identification of the self operates outside the (re-)productive logic of the patriarchal system and its possessive logic. Anzaldúa refers to another monster, a beast that opposes the conscious will (often associated with the male will):

“There is a rebel in me – the Shadow-Beast. It is a part of me that refuses to take orders from outside authorities. It refuses to take orders from my conscious will, it threatens the sovereignty of my rulership. It is that part of me that hates constraints of any kind, even those self-imposed.”[101]

What at first glance seems to be a form of total resistance against any kind of authority, an attitude that characterizes the stage of antimodernity, turns out to be an expression of a consciousness that has moved beyond mere opposition, as Anzaldúa makes clear some pages later:

“At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes.”[102]

Once articulated by the new mestiza, the serpent and the eagle (a common image in pre-Columbian cultures and appropriated by the Mexican nation-state as a national symbol) can be read as the drama that it truly is – the coexistence of two extremes, the air and the earth. It represents a kind of union so essentially different from the fusion that is so fundamental for the “sovereign rulership” that the new mestiza is betraying to liberate herself.

Finally, this conscious refusal of rule is also a resistance against the subjectivity of (self-)possession or property in one’s own person. This is also reflected in the relation to earth. The mestiza consciousness, awakened by the experience of the alien, questions the relationship to earth that settler colonialism has naturalized in capitalist modernity. The path to the consciousness of altermodernity not only requires the acknowledgment of loss in an emotional sense but also in a very concrete and physical sense. Only then can the ambivalence of this new mestiza consciousness resist the desire structures of colonial-capitalist modernity:

“Every increment of consciousness, every step forward is a travesía, a crossing. I am again an alien in new territory. And again, and again. But if I escape conscious awareness, escape ‘knowing,’ I won’t be moving. Knowledge makes me more aware, it makes me more conscious. ‘Knowing’ is painful because after ‘it’ happens I can’t stay in the same place and be comfortable. I am no longer the same person I was before.”[103]

Anzaldúa gives us a detailed description of a tripartite process, illustrating an affective movement that exceeds any type of formal dialectics and which can be read as another concretization of the process of becoming revolutionary.

At the beginning, there is – as with Fanon – self-negation. The next step is to recognize and acknowledge the shadow-beast in herself – not only in an abstract sense but also in a very physical sense: On its face is “sexual lust and lust for power and destruction.”[104] Even if the emphasis on lust is a new element in the general process of self-acknowledgment, it appears that the structural progression of this trajectory mirrors Fanon’s. But the conclusion is different – and this has to do with a lust that is not related to any desire of original purity: “But a few of us have been lucky – on the face of the Shadow-Beast we have seen not lust but tenderness.”[105] The consciousness that sees at once with the eagles’ and the serpent’s eye, the consciousness of one’s own alienness, this very consciousness that in Negri and Hardt is the consciousness of “becoming revolutionary,” has at its core the sensation of tenderness.

This tenderness, also mentioned by Arguedas, is so rare because it presupposes the absence of the most powerful emotions that are – as Negri and Hardt insist – particularly powerful in capitalism: “hate and fear.” [106] Anzaldúa reminds us that these emotions are especially pronounced in those “who are pounced out.” [107] They develop a faculty (“facultad”)[108] for anticipating and escaping the violence directed against them. Overcoming fear in a world that “is not a safe space”[109] is a constant struggle and demands not just an affective mastery, an overcoming of fear by sovereign consciousness, but a transformation of isolating and structurally xenophobic affects into a tenderness that is always related to concrete others and to oneself, acknowledging the alienness in all of us. The new mestiza invites us to rethink and reexamine, including on an affective plane, a practice of fear that refuses to suppress fear or vulnerability but instead aims to practice a care that can be thought of as the first manifestation of a non-capitalist common. Just as tenderness is “a sign of vulnerability,”[110] “facultad” also represents the other face of a generous sensibility, a capacity to create and be part of a common.

Negri described the philosophical foundations of this sensibility with Spinoza’s conatus, defining it as a force that “is not in any way a finalistic essence but, rather, action itself, givenness, an emergent consciousness of a nonfinalized existence.”[111] Negri’s understanding of Spinoza’s political project coincides with Anzaldúa’s project of liberation – not accidentally, as we think – as they presuppose a faculty that brings people together in such a way that they leave fear and hate behind as well as the possessive and absolute subjectivity which constitutes the dominant modality of existence within colonial capitalism.

Toni Negri was an outstanding example of the struggle to create a community that is a manifestation of positive and vital impulses. This struggle also implied overcoming a fear that not only dominates us politically but is also deeply rooted in the hegemonic philosophical tradition of the West. Regardless of the differences that undoubtedly exist between Anzaldúa’s tenderness and Negri’s (uncorrupted) love, we feel we can safely say that the fight against “hate and fear” remains an essential inspiration for any “philosophical and political project”[112] that wishes to resist the “commodification of life.”[113]

An audio recording of the talk is available at:


[1] E3p11s, p. 161.

[2] Antonio Negri, “The Political Treatise, or, The Foundation of Modern Democracy,” in Subversive Spinoza. (Un)Contemporary Variations, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2004, p. 19, p. 25.

[3] Cf. Toni Negri, Storia di un comunista (vol. 1: Storia di un comunista, vol. 2: Galera ed esilio, vol. 3: Da Genova a domani), ed. by Girolamo di Michele, Milano: Ponte alle Grazie, 2015-2020. For the English translation of the last pages of the third volume cf. Toni Negri, “May eternity embrace us,”

[4] Cf. Toni Negri, “May eternity embrace us.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Antonio Negri, Savage Anomaly. The Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, Minneapolis and Oxford, University of Minnesota Press, 1991, p. 86; abbreviated as “SA.” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth, Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 99; abbreviated as “CW.”

[9] Louis Althusser et. al., Reading Capital. The Complete Edition, London and New York, Verso, 2015, p. 250.

[10] SA, p. 12.

[11] Ibid., pp. 12; 45-67; 144-182.

[12] Ibid., p. 251.

[13] Ibid., p. 80.

[14] Ibid., p. 54.

[15] Ibid., p. 48.

[16] Ibid., p. 228.

[17] Ibid., p. 112.

[18] Ibid., p. 152.

[19] Cf. Benedict de Spinoza, The Ethics, in A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, ed. and trans. Edwin Curley, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994, E3p2s, pp.155-8; abbreviated as “E.”

[20] E3p11s, p. 161.

[21] E4p18, p. 208.

[22] E5p10d, p. 250.

[23] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Commonwealth, Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 181.

[24] Baruch de Spinoza, Correspondence, Letter 17 to Balling, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1928.

[25] John Locke, The Second Treatise of Government, Chap. III, § 16, Source: Constitution Society, 1999.

[26] SA, p. 6.

[27] Cf. Immanuel Wallerstein, Modern World-System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World Economy, 1600–1750, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011, pp. 57-65.

[28]  Lewis S. Feuer, “The Dream of Benedict de Spinoza,” in American Imago: A Psychoanalytic Journal for the Arts and Sciences, vol. 14, no. 3, Fall 1957, p. 230.

[29] Cf. Steven Nadler, Spinoza. A Biography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp. 54 and 92-134.

[30] CW, p. 99.

[31] Ibid., p. 98-9.

[32] Cf. Feuer, “The Dream of Benedict de Spinoza,” p. 231.

[33] Hebe Mattos, “Black Troops and Hierarchies of Color in the Portuguese Atlantic World: The Case of Henrique Dias and His Black Regiment,” Luzo-Brazilian Review, vol. 45, no. 1, 2008, pp. 6-29.

[34] Feuer, “The Dream of Benedict de Spinoza,” p. 240.

[35] Ibid., p. 241.

[36] Cf. E4p54s and TP VII, 27: “Nihil praeterea in vulgo modicum terrere, nisi paveant.”

[37] Cf. Étienne Balibar, Spinoza and Politics, London and New York: Verso, 2008, p. 39.

[38] Étienne Balibar, “Spinoza, the Anti-Orwell: The Fear of the Masses,” in Masses, Classes, Ideas. Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After Marx, New York and London: Routledge 1994, p. 5.

[39] SA, p. 156.

[40] Cf. Mattos, “Black Troops and Hierarchies of Color in the Portuguese Atlantic World,” pp. 20-22.

[41] Cf. Joel Rufino dos Santos, Zumbi. Eine Gesellschaftsutopie im Brasilien des 17. Jahrhunderts, Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2019, pp. 36-40.

[42] Cf. Stuart B. Schwartz, Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels. Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996, pp. 122 ff. Cf. Robert Nelson Anderson, “The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil,” in Journal of Latin America Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, 1996, pp. 545-566.

[43] Cf. Saidiya Hartman, “The Belly of the World: A Note on Black Women's Labor,” in Souls. A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 166-173.

[44] Cf. Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera. The New Mestiza, San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987; abbreviated as “BL.”

[45] Cf. SA, p. 86.

[46] CW, p. 99.

[47] Ibid., p. 17.

[48] Cf. ibid., p. 360.

[49] Ibid., p. 21.

[50] For Kant’s ethico-theology see § 86 in his Critique of Judgement, p. 171ff.

[51] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, trans. by Meredith, James Creed; rev., ed. and introd. by Nicholas Walker, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, p. 261.

[52] Immanuel Kant, „Ideal for a universal history with a cosmopolitan,” translated by Günter Zöller, in: Immanuel Kant, Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. by Günter Zöller and Robert B. Louden, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 107-120; 112.

[53] Here is the opening of Kant’s exclusionary baseline in § 2: “If anyone asks me whether I consider the palace I see before me beautiful, I may, perhaps, reply that I do not care for things of that sort that are merely made to be gaped at. Or I may reply in the same strain as that Iroquois sachem who said that nothing in Paris pleased him better than the eating-houses. […] All this may be admitted and approved; only it is not the point at issue. All one wants to know is whether the mere representation of the object is to my liking, no matter how indifferent I may be to the existence of the object of this representation.  […] Everyone must allow that a judgement on the beautiful which is tinged with the slightest interest, is very partial and not a pure judgement of taste.” Kant, Critique of Judgement, § 2, p. 36f.

[54] “And thus, no doubt, at first only charms, e.g. colours for painting oneself (roucou among the Caribs and cinnabar among the Iroquois), or flowers, sea-shells, beautifully coloured feathers, then, in the course of time, also beautiful forms (as in canoes, apparel, etc.), which convey no gratification, i.e. delight of enjoyment, become of moment in society and attract a considerable interest. Eventually, when civilization has reached its height it makes this work of communication almost the main business of refined inclination […].” Kant, Critique of Judgement, § 41, p. 127. However, this stadial theory of civilizational progress towards aesthetic refinement is not Kant’s last word on the acquisition of aesthetic taste, sensus communis, or civilization. In the following section, Kant reformulates his account of aesthetic education and categorically excludes some humans from the process of civilization when he writes: “But, first of all, this immediate interest in the beauty of nature is not in fact common. It is peculiar to those whose habits of thought are already trained to the good or else are eminently susceptible of such training.” Kant, Critique of Judgement, § 42, p. 130.

[55] Cf. particularly Iris Marion Young, “Hybrid democracy: Iroquois federalism and the postcolonial project,” in: Political theory and the rights of indigenous peoples, ed. by Duncan Ivison, Paul Patton, and Will Sanders, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 237-257.

[56] David Kazanjian, The Colonizing Trick. National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America, Minneapolis and London: Minnesota University Press 2003, p. 156.

[57] CW, p. 95.

[58] Cf. the title of the CoJ’s § 86.

[59] The ostensible ending is strange as it is amended by a series of “remarks” after the Third Critique’s formal ending which might testify to the fact that Kant was not actually able to overcome his fear of contingency and death.

[60] Cf. Kant, Critique of Judgement, § 87, pp. 280 f.

[61] CW, p. 120f.

[62] Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, 8; Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” in: Diacritics, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 64-81, 67.

[63] Paul C. Taylor, Black is Beautiful. A Philosophy of Black Aesthetics, Malden und Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2016, p. 1.

[64] CW, p. 67.

[65] Ibid., p. 8.

[66] Ibid., p. 89.

[67] Ibid., p. 80-81.

[68] Ibid., p. 105.

[69] Ibid., p.16.

[70] José María Arguedas, “Yo no soy un aculturado,” in El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo, Caracas: Fundación Editorial el perro y la rana, 2006, pp. 11-13, here: p. 12. Translations, if not indicated otherwise, are by the author.

[71] CW, p. 67.

[72] Ibid., p. 68.

[73] Arguedas, “No soy un aculturado”p, . 12.

[74] BL, p. 77.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid., p. 59.

[77] Arguedas, “Yo no soy un aculturado,” p. 11.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Ibid., p. 12.

[81] CW, p. 75.

[82] Ibid., p. 69.

[83] Ibid.

[84] See BL, p. 30-31: “La gente Chicana tiene tres madres. All three are mediators: Guadalupe, the virgin mother who has not abandoned us, la Chingada (Malinche), the raped mother whom we have abandoned, and la Llorona, the mother who seeks her lost children and is a combination of the other two. Ambiguity surrounds the symbols of these three ‘Our Mothers.’”

[85] El zorro, p. 275: „Y el Perú ¿qué?: todas las natura- lezas del mundo en su territorio, casi todas las clases de hombres. […] nuestra patria, en la que cualquier hombre no engrilletado y embrutecido por el egoísmo puede vivir, feliz, todas las patrias.“ [And what about Peru: all the natural forces of the world in its territory, almost all classes of men, [...] our homeland, in which any man not degraded and brutalized by selfishness can live happily, all homelands.]

[86] “No soy un aculturado,” p. 12.

[87] José María Arguedas: “La novela y el problema de la expresión literaria en el Perú,” in: Tres textos de José María Arguedas (ed. por Víctor Viviescas), Bogotá: Señal que Cabalgamos, Número 110, Nueva época 2022, pp. 36-51, here: p. 41.

[88] “No soy un aculturado,” p. 11.

[89] Arguedas: “La novela,” p. 50-51.

[90] SA, p. 20.

[91] CW, p. 45.

[92] Ibid., p.103.

[93] SA, p. 20.

[94] CW, p. 104.

[95] Ibid.

[96] Ibid., p. 95.

[97] BL, p. 88.

[98] CW, p. 104.

[99] Ibid., p. 8.

[100] BL, p. 79.

[101] Cf. ibid., p. 16.

[102] Ibid., p. 76-77.

[103] Ibid., p. 48.

[104] Ibid., p. 20.

[105] Ibid.

[106] Ibid., p. 39.

[107] Ibid., p. 38.

[108] Ibid.

[109] Ibid., p. 20.

[110] Ibid., p. 84.

[111] SA, p. 146.

[112] CW, p. 180.

[113] Ibid., p. 27.