Nina Power on "Multitude: Between Innovation and Negation"

He’s Not Beyond Good and Evil
Nina Power

Paolo Virno's latest book contends that the question of human nature – good or evil? – is suddenly topical, thanks to ‘immaterial labour'. But, if true, how useful is this insight?, asks Nina Power

Seen from a certain angle, the history of political theory is always, and at the same time, a set of claims about human nature. For several decades, however, on each side of the political spectrum, the tendency has been to worry that the very concept is a limitation at best and a mistake at worst – isn't the image of man the very thing that prevents us thinking properly about structure or process? Didn't Marx only really start talking about capitalism once he'd shrugged off the humanist idealisms of his youth? ‘Human nature’ seems a clumsy, old-fashioned thing, redolent of outdated philosophies and dubious biology.