Desiring the Common in the Post-crisis Metropolis: Insurgencies, Contradictions, Appropriations

  • Theresa Enright
  • Ugo Rossi


Drawing on Marxist-Deleuzian-Spinozian scholarship, in this chapter we analyse the ambivalent politics of desire for the common in the post-crisis ‘biopolitical metropolis.’ In doing so, we first examine how different urban forces—mass justice movements, on the one hand, and capitalist economies, on the other hand—have fostered a ‘communist desire’ for the urban political understood as a space of the common within the post-recession transition; we then point to the contradictions that have allowed the populist backlash to emerge in the second half of the 2010s as a distorted manifestation of the politics of the common. In the conclusion, we turn back to what we call the ‘spirit of 2011,’ calling for a cross-sectional ‘politics of joyful encounter’ aimed at challenging the negative sentiments of chauvinist-communitarian populism.


  1. Ahmed, S. (2010). The promise of happiness. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alliez, E., & Lazzarato, M. (2016). Guerres et capital. Paris: Éditions Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  3. Arrighi, G. (1994). The long twentieth century: Money, power and the origins of our times. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Badiou, A. (2015). The communist hypothesis (1st ed. 2011). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  5. Benasayag, M. (2003). Les passions tristes. Souffrance psychique et crise sociale. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  6. Berlant, L. G. (2011). Cruel optimism. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beverungen, A., Murtola, A.-M., & Schwartz, G. (2013). The communism of capital? Ephemera Journal, 13(3), 483–495.Google Scholar
  8. Borch, C., & Kornberger, M. (Eds.). (2015). Urban commons: Rethinking the city. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Boudreau, J.-A. (2016). Global urban politics. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Bröckling, U. (2016). The entrepreneurial self. Fabricating a new type of subject. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brugmann, J. (2010). Welcome to the urban revolution: How cities are changing the world. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  12. Bryan, R., Martin, R., & Rafferty, M. (2009). Financialization and Marx: Giving labor and capital a financial makeover. Review of Radical Political Economics, 41(4), 458–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Castells, M. (1983). The city and the grassroots: A cross-cultural theory of urban social movements. Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, B. (2016). The emergence of the urban entrepreneur: How the growth of cities and the sharing economy are driving a new breed of innovators. Santa Barbara: Praeger.Google Scholar
  15. Cowen, T. (2017). The complacent class: The self-defeating quest for the American dream. New York: St Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  16. Crouch, C. (2009). Privatised Keynesianism: An unacknowledged policy regime. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 11(3), 382–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dean, J. (2012). The communist horizon. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  18. Deleuze, G. (1988). Spinoza: Practical philosophy (1st ed. 1970). San Francisco: City Lights Books.Google Scholar
  19. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1977). Anti-oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia (1st ed. 1972). New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Dellenbaugh, M., Kip, M., Bieniok, M., Müller, A. K., & Schwegmann, M. (Eds.). (2015). Urban commons: Moving beyond state and market. Berlin: Birkhäuser.Google Scholar
  21. Donald, B., Glasmeier, A., Gray, M., & Lobao, L. (2014). Austerity in the city: Economic crisis and urban service decline? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, Society, 7(1), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Douthat, R. (2015, December 3). Is Donald Trump a fascist? The New York Times. Retrieved from
  23. Douzinas, C., & Žižek, S. (Eds.). (2010). The idea of communism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  24. Drucker, P. (1976). The unseen revolution: How pension fund socialism came to America. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  25. Enright, T. (2017). The political topology of urban uprisings. Urban Geography, 38(4), 557–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ferguson, F. (Ed.). (2014). Make_shift city. Renegotiating the urban commons. Berlin: Jovis Verlag.Google Scholar
  27. Florida, R. (2012). The rise of the creative class—Revisited. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  28. Florida, R., & King, K. M. (2016). Spiky venture capital. The geography of venture capital investment by metro and zip code. Toronto: Martin Prosperity Institute. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  29. Gidwani, V., & Baviskar, A. (2011). Urban commons. Economic and Political Weekly, 156(50), 42–43.Google Scholar
  30. Glaeser, E. (2011). Triumph of the city: How our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter and happier. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  31. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the prison notebooks. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  32. Hardt, M. (1993). Gilles Deleuze. An apprenticeship in philosophy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  33. Hardt, M. (2010). The common in communism. In C. Douzinas & S. Žižek (Eds.), The idea of communism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  34. Hardt, M. (2011, February 3). Reclaim the common in communism. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  35. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2009). Commonwealth. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2012). Declaration. New York: Argo-Navis Author Services.Google Scholar
  37. Harvey, D. (1978). The urban process under capitalism. International Journal of Urban and Research, 2(1–4), 101–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Huron, A. (2015). Working with strangers in saturated space: Reclaiming and maintaining the urban commons. Antipode, 47(4), 963–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jacques, M. (2016, August 21). The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  40. Jones, C., & Murtola, A.-M. (2012). Entrepreneurship and expropriation. Organization, 19(5), 635–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Joseph, M. (2014). Debt to society: Accounting for life under capitalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Judis, J. B. (2016). The populist explosion: How the great recession transformed American and European politics. New York: Columbia Global Reports.Google Scholar
  43. Kagan, P. (2016, May 18). This is how fascism comes to America. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
  44. Lazzarato, M. (2014). Signs and machines: Capitalism and the production of subjectivity. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  45. Lordon, F. (2014). Willing slaves of capital. Spinoza and Marx on desire (1st ed. 2010). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  46. Luogo Comune Editorial. (1993). Tesi sul nuovo fascismo europeo. Luogo Comune, 3(4), 6–8.Google Scholar
  47. Macherey, P. (2011). Hegel or Spinoza (1st ed. 1999). Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Madden, D., & Marcuse, P. (2016). In defense of housing: The politics of crisis. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  49. Mann, G. (2017). In the long run we are all dead: Keynesianism, political economy, and revolution. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  50. Marazzi, C. (2012). Capital and language: From the new economy to the war economy. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).Google Scholar
  51. Martin, R. (2002). The financialization of daily life. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Mason, P. (2015). Postcapitalism: A guide to our future. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  53. Massumi, B. (2015). Politics of affect. Malden: Wiley.Google Scholar
  54. Mayer, M. (2009). The ‘right to the city’ in the context of shifting mottos of urban social movements. City, 13(2–3), 362–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mayer, M. (2013). First world urban activism: Beyond austerity urbanism and creative city politics. City, 17(1), 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Merrifield, A. (2013). The politics of the encounter: Urban theory and protest under planetary urbanization. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
  57. Mishra, P. (2017). Age of anger: A history of the present. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  58. Montgomery, C. (2013). Happy city: Transforming our lives through urban design. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  59. Moretti, E. (2012). The new geography of jobs. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.Google Scholar
  60. Negri, A. (1987). Revolution retrieved. Writings on Marx, Keynes, capitalist crisis and new social subjects (1967–83). London: Red Notes.Google Scholar
  61. Peck, J. (2012). Austerity urbanism: American cities under extreme economy. City, 16(6), 626–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Peck, J., Theodore, N., & Brenner, N. (2013). Neoliberal urbanism redux? International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37(3), 1091–1099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Polanyi, K. (2001). The great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time (1st ed. 1944). Boston: Beacon Bress.Google Scholar
  64. Povinelli, E. (2011). Economies of abandonment: Social belonging and endurance in late liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Purcell, M. (2013). A new land: Deleuze and Guattari and planning. Planning Theory & Practice, 14(1), 20–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rifkin, J. (2014). The zero marginal cost society. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  67. Rossi, U. (2017). Cities in global capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  68. Ruddick, S. M. (2017). Rethinking the subject. Reimagining worlds. Dialogues in Human Geography, 7(2), 119–139.Google Scholar
  69. Srnicek, N. (2016). Platform capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  70. Stavrides, S. (2016). Common space. The city as commons. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  71. Streeck, W. (2016). How will capitalism end?: Essays on a failing system. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  72. Szeman, I. (2015). Entrepreneurship as the new common sense. South Atlantic Quarterly, 114(3), 471–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Toscano, A. (2004). Factory, territory, metropolis, empire. Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 9(2), 197–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Virno, P. (1996). The ambivalence of disenchantment. In M. Hardt & P. Virno (Eds.), Radical thought in Italy. A potential politics. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.Google Scholar
  75. Virno, P. (2004). A grammar of the multitude: For an analysis of contemporary forms of life. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  76. Virno, P. (2015a). Deja vu and the end of history. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  77. Virno, P. (2015b). L’usage de la vie. Multitudes, 58, 143–158.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa Enright
    • 1
  • Ugo Rossi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Urban and Regional Studies and PlanningUniversity of TurinTurinItaly

Personalised recommendations