Hannah Richter is a Ph.D candidate in Political and Social Thought and an assistant lecturer at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. Her Ph.D research explores the domain of sense as a productive ground of contemporary politics by drawing on the theory of both Gilles Deleuze and Niklas Luhmann.
Richter H. (2015) Complexity, Power, Intuition: Unearthing the Affective Ground of Economic Structures. Review of The Power at the End of the Economy by Brian Massumi. Constructivist Foundations 11(1): 186–188. https://cepa.info/2251
Upshot: Massumi innovatively interlinks poststructuralist theory with ideas from cognitive psychology and Luhmann’s systems theory to deconstruct rational choice as the founding myth of the liberal economy. His politically charged constructivism explores socio-economic reproduction as a process of constant re-stabilization between the openness of affective response and the closure of rationality. Defying social determination, Massumi shows how affect can constitute a source of potential change when modulated trans-individually in response to political events.
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. https://cepa.info/7130
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.