#MLA22 Presentation Now Later, Never: the Anti-programmatic Politics of the Manifesto Genre

Session 28V – Marxism, Form, and Future

Organized by Oded Nir

Abstract

Now, Later, Never: the Anti-programmatic Politics of the Manifesto Genre

The manifesto genre shares at least two distinct political trajectories: a Marxist trajectory that conceives of its work as a programmatic exercise and a mondernist trajectory that prioritizes a politics of the present. The first, a long term political strategy, yields to the autonomies traditions that mobilized it, and ultimately rejected the genre (see Hardt & Negri’s Declaration). The second, a short term tactic focused on ‘the now,’ yields to a play of aesthetic categories, often abandoning the genre’s political promise.

This paper examines a combination of both political trajectories, forwarding an anti-programmatic concept of the genre that prioritizes its present temporal character, while also recognizing its role in refusing our contemporary “speculative time complex” (Avanessian’s The Time Complex). This refusal, captured by the genre’s multiple cultural forms, characterizes an anti-programmatic concept of the genre as an immoral position. This position is anti-managerial, opposed to the genre’s use as a tool of command, but also productive of illiberal (read leftist in an American context) political tactics that refocus the genre’s temporal interventions within Autonomist tradition. These tactics explicitly refer to Virno’s work on performativity and the virtual.

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