The Freedom of Capital

The dissertation project inquires into the structure and the material conditions of the socially dominant liberal understanding of freedom. Drawing on contemporary feminist critiques of capitalist subjectivation (by Wendy Brown, Melinda Cooper, Nancy Fraser, and Silvia Federici, among others), the project examines the connection between the logic of capitalist production and a conception of freedom that implies the appearance of permanent change and of unlimited possibilities for transformation. At the methodological level, the work takes up Hegel’s and Marx’s analyses of bourgeois society, which reveal the genesis and inner logic of the liberal concept of freedom, and draws on them to show that the liberal state cannot conceive of the subjectivity-generating processes in political terms and thereby deprives itself of the possibility of shaping them. Contrary to this concept of freedom, which relies on the model of the freely choosing subject who is not restricted by any external conditions, the dissertation project will deal in the final part with practices of self-education as they were conceived by representatives of proletarian education and the women’s movement (especially Alexandra Kollontai, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and Clara Zetkin). Do changes in the organization of social production and reproduction also lead to changes in the modes of action and desire of the subject? Can we identify a changed concept of the free subject here, understood as one who freely gives him- or herself political determinations? To what extent do the processes of subjectivation taking place here point beyond the disciplining practices of subjectivation in capitalism, rather than merely founding another disciplinary system?