Ana C. Dinerstein: The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organsing Hope.

Author:Bailey, David
Position::Book review

Ana C. Dinerstein The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organsing Hope, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; 282pp.: 0230272088 (hbk), 65.00 [pounds sterling]

Ana Dinerstein's book, The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America, is a major book of minor Marxism--by which I mean that it makes a major contribution to the more heterodox (or 'minor') readings of Marx and Marxism that are deservedly flourishing; and which include Holloway (2005), Cleaver (1979), Hardt and Negri (2005), Read (2003), Eden (2012), and Ana Dinerstein. What unites these approaches is their move away from the structuralist tendencies of 'mainstream' (or major) Marxism, with its focus on capitalism and the production of domination and subordination. Instead, minor Marxism focuses on the instability and impossibility of capitalist relations, or in Dinerstein's terms, the problem created for capitalism by the (ever-present) possibility of striving to organise autonomously--to think through how capitalism copes (does it cope?) with 'the signs, ideas, horizons, practices, dreams, i.e. elements, that cannot be recuperated and integrated into the logic of the state, the law or capital' (p. 22).

This book is a major contribution to minor Marxism in that it makes a major theoretical contribution--transcending what Dinerstein claims are cul-de-sacs of thought (in which we are forced to opt for either the state or for autonomy; for taking power or remaining marginal; for constituted or constituent power; and ultimately for ending up with either integration or rebellion. These debates, Dinerstein shows, are ultimately futile. How can we think of autonomy without considering structure--what would we be autonomous from? But how can we consider structure without at the same time foreclosing escape? It is this challenge which faces contemporary projects of emancipation, and it is in providing an answer to these questions that Dinerstein has made a major contribution.

For Dinerstein, autonomy has four moments--first, negation (what are we against?); second, creation (what are we for and how are we making it?); third, contradiction (the moment at which creation creates new opportunities for new forms of incorporation, remediation, co-optation and capture); and fourth, excess (the element of autonomous praxis that cannot be translated within contemporary apparatuses of control). Each of these stages, moreover, are filled with hope; and specifically a Blochian type of hope...

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