The Politics of Operations

Excavating Contemporary Capitalism

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: March 2019

Geography, Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

In The Politics of Operations Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson investigate how capital reshapes its relation with politics through operations that enable the extraction and exploitation of mineral resources, labor, data, and cultures. They show how capital—which they theorize as a direct political actor—operates through the logistical organization of relations between people, property, and objects as well as through the penetration of financialization into all realms of economic life. Mezzadra and Neilson present a capacious analysis of a wide range of issues, from racial capitalism, the convergence of neoliberalism and nationalism, and Marx's concept of aggregate capital to the financial crisis of 2008 and how colonialism, empire, and globalization have shaped the modern state since World War II. In so doing, they illustrate the distinctive rationality and logics of contemporary capitalism while calling for a politics based on collective institutions that exist outside the state.


"Given the enormity of the task it sets for itself, it is little surprise that this text seems to stage the concretion of critical theory into a general intellect. Encyclopaedic in its theoretical apercus, the book at times reads like a lengthy literature review intent on synthesizing the entirety of the critical academic catalogue, from the canonical repertoire – Althusser, Arendt, Gramsci, Harvey, Lefebvre, Lukacs, Luxembourg, Weber, etc. – to more recent contributions by media and postcolonial theorists such as Jussi Parikka and Verónica Gago. Closer inspection, however, reveals a well-crafted organization of the argument that proceeds from the general to the concrete, and back again." — Juan Pablo Melo, tripleC

"The Politics of Operations is a challenging, highly ambitious work. . . . Ultimately, the reorientation that Mezzadra and Neilson are proposing is a subtle one, indebted to a rich archive of political ideas. But they rework and recombine those ideas into a book that is shrewdly reasoned, superbly written, and thick with insight into the contemporary moment." — Martin Danyluk, Society and Space

“Offering an ambitious lens through which to view the politics, temporalities, spaces, and struggles that constitute contemporary capitalism, Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson creatively conceptualize the problems and possibilities that emerge out of the current moment's multiple forms of crisis. Their emphasis on capital as a set of relations has enormous stakes for how we understand the world and orient ourselves to the possibility of transformation. An important work, The Politics of Operations should be widely read and debated.” — Deborah Cowen, author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade

The Politics of Operations is a vital book in every sense. It is a lively and important account of the ways in which value materializes in the extractive, logistical, and financial operations of contemporary capital. Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson provide us at once with analysis, diagnosis, and prescription. Grounded in solidarity with labor movements around the world, this book serves both as critique and as manifesto. Its provocative conclusions open up essential debates for praxis today.” — Kaushik Sunder Rajan, author of Pharmocracy: Value, Politics, and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sandro Mezzadra is Associate Professor in the Department of Arts at the University of Bologna.

Brett Neilson is Professor in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.

Mezzadra and Neilson are coauthors of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii
Introduction  1
1. The Space and Time of Capitalist Crisis and Transition  17
2. Operations of Capital  55
3. Capital, State, Empire  94
4. Extraction, Logistics, Finance  133
5. Vistas of Struggle  168
6. The State of Capitalist Globalization  209
References  253
Index  287
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0283-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0175-1
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