This comes from a thread below, following on Gerardo Muñoz’s “A Reply to Buttes.” It is a reply to replies, so it will only be fully understood if the previous comments are read as well. Or perhaps it won’t!
Of course Gerardo will speak for himself in terms of the issue of exploitation if he chooses. As for myself, I agree that exploitation exists, and in my opinion it is becoming more invasive than ever (although in some segments of western liberal-democratic societies, perhaps in other places as well, it may be less brutal than it has been in the past; but not less insidious). We do not need to accept a Marxian framework as THE framework (for me Marxism is still crucial for social and political analysis, but it is not the ultimate framework of my thinking, so I am a Marxist but not dominantly so–I could say a similar thing about Freudian and Lacanian thought), but it is simply not possible to deny the existence of exploitation at the very core of capitalism, which is our fundamental mode of production and pervades our lives. Infrapolitics projects itself in a world almost entirely hijacked by exploitation at an economic and social level, that is, at a political level.So in fact for me the attempt to take some distance from exploitation and not allowing it to define our lives is really at the very root of the thought of infrapolitics. From that perspective (I think I said this to Emilio Sauri in a previous discussion along similar lines) infrapolitics is always already a response to exploitation, and attempts a (precarious) subtraction from it to the extent that it is possible (again, the gap between lives exploited and infrapolitical lives, the punctum in that gap–the site of Borges’ “ancient innocence”). I think it is important to note here that does not mean that subtraction from exploitation is equivalent to sticking one’s head into the sand and pretending it does not exist. It is a subtraction with open eyes and even with a snake’s heart, as Nietzsche would put it. I make some remarks on the precariat in my first response–the point is that it is not a matter of adopting the precariat from academic thinking, as one adopts a cat, as one exerts a piety. This has been an endemic problem in subaltern studies, postcolonial studies, and generally in Marxism. Thought must assume its own ceaselessly precarious condition through the undoing of the mystifying separation between theory and praxis. Infrapolitics is always already a praxis–but not in the militant Marxist sense, that is, not in its very separation of a theory from actions that would then need to be carried out laboriously–practice as always already representation, whatever the thesis on Feuerbach meant to say, defines the history of Marxism even today. Let me just repeat my sense that there is a differend between us at the level of presuppositions, and that it is very difficult to look both for agreements or disagreements if the differend is not recognized as such. This is not the same as saying that you, for instance, insist on focusing on the pine trees whereas infrapolitics looks for everything else as well. Rather, the very perception of the “everything else” already goes through the recognition of the differend. At that level, I would say that “your” pine trees, from this side of the divide, are not the same as the pine trees we can see and deal with. In the same way, say, lust has different connotations for different ethical positions: a puritan sees lust where a libertine sees only desire, etc. When you think of exploitation, you are looking at an ultimate horizon from a productionist perspective that is consubstantial to Marxism. I think of exploitation in a way that recognizes productionism, the principle of general equivalence, and the reduction of the life-world to class struggle as in itself part of the system of exploitation organized by principial thought, of which capitalism is a symptom rather than a cause (and classical Marxism is also principial thought along Hegelian lines). On values, I would think the object of desire is not to be conceived as a value. If it is, well, then, you are smack in the middle of idealism in a rather fallen sense. (After all, the notion of value in Western thought is a direct derivation of the Platonic theory of ideas.) Regarding actuality-potentiality, it may be that I have not thought the issue through, but in principle it is because I am rather reluctant to do it, since it is difficult for me to see how potentiality as discussed today for the most part is anything but a hypostasis of the modern theory of the subject, that is, of the Cartesian subject. I have not studied the issue in Aristotle, but again, I suspect Aristotle himself lays some traps for us (the tendency today is to read potentiality through variations on the Nietzschean will to power.)