In LSE Review of Books Joshua Smeltzer reviews
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Assembly
Chapter Seven, ‘We, Machinic Subjects’, provides a glimpse of the resignation and complacency veiled in the paroles of revolutionary activism. The chapter begins with a call to reconceptualise the relationship between humans and machines: ‘Instead of rejecting technology […] we must start from within the technological and biopolitical fabric of our lives and chart from there a path of liberation’. The authors bring together Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer and criticise them for ‘positing an ontological division and even opposition between human life and machines’ in the wake of the Second World War. Instead, Hardt and Negri follow Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in arguing that humans and machines belong on the same ‘ontological plane’ and form ‘machinic assemblages’. This is intended to provide the principles of a ‘humanism after the critical adoption of the Nietzschean declaration of the ‘‘death of man’”. The future of revolutionary politics thus resides in properly acknowledging the inseparability of humankind and machine, of accepting our ontological position as ‘machinic subjects’.