Publication 7130

Richter H. (2021) Re-thinking poststructuralism with Deleuze and Luhmann: Autopoiesis, immanence, politics. In: Rae G. & Ingala E. (eds.) Historical traces and future pathways of poststructuralism: Aesthetics, ethics, politics. Routledge, New York: 183–203. Fulltext at
This chapter explores the theoretical intersection between Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory and Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy as an avenue for post-structuralist political thought. Against the predominant reception of Luhmann’s thought as analytically positivist and politically conservative, it highlights the potential of Luhmann’s work as a critical theory. Linking Deleuze’s and Luhmann’s theories of sense, the chapter first develops an immanent perspective on onto-genetic creativity. For both theorists, sense-expression is ungrounded but self-grounding. In sense, material and epistemic singularities are always already interlinked so that neither can be assumed to hold constitutive primacy. Second, the chapter uses Luhmann’s political sociology in conjunction with Deleuze and Guattari’s work to sketch out a post-structuralist theory of how democratic politics functions in contemporary capitalist societies. Luhmann shows how, under the conditions of general functional differentiation, which mirror Deleuze and Guattari’s account of capitalism, politics functions autopoietically and reproduces itself through providing orientation in sense.

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