The essay outlines the genealogy of the critic’s function starting from its notion in Aristotle’s Politics. The Aristotelian reference is useful to understand that the idea of critic as judgment between two opposite and alternative poles is typically modern. According to Reinhardt Koselleck, it comes from the period immediately before the French Revolution, when the critic could exercise his judgment only on a esthetic and moral sphere, but not on a political sphere. With the French Revolution this typically bourgeois critique becomes also political, but it loses its outside position respect to politics. With the edification of the bourgeois State (the Second Empire of Napoleon III) and, according to Harvey, with the arising of the speculative capitalism during the reconstruction of Paris under Haussman, a new form of intellectual life emerged “outside” whether the bourgeois citizenship or class conflict – the so-called bohème. Marx defined it in a disparaging way as “scum of all classes”, because it is irreducible to the class oppositions. According to Walter Benjamin, its exemplar exponent was Charles Baudelaire. Baudelaire aimed distinguish himself and his poetry from the leveling of the State-citizenship and from the conformism of crowd in the metropolis. He aimed to be individual. He understood that only the market could recognize his individuality, but not through his poetry, rather through his lifestyle. With a surprising definition that recalls the foucauldian “entrepreneur of himself”, Benjamin defines Baudelaire as the “impresario of himself”. In this post-1848 period, at the same time with the born of this new form of intellectual labor, it diffuses a new discourse, not only by Baudelaire, but also by the disappointed revolutionary Luis-Auguste Blanqui: the discourse about cosmos. In these authors the cosmos becomes a ideal reference for a way-out, an outside from the State. Going to our times, we find the notion of cosmos in a father of neoliberal thought like Friedrich von Hayek. Indeed, Hayek defines “cosmos” the spontaneous order of the market. In our terms, in the terms of the “Intellectual of himself”, the market as cosmos represents the possibility to find a place for the intellectual individual life style outside the conformism of the public opinion, of the academic labor, of the mass intellectuality. However, the production of differentiations – both in life styles and intellectual labors – outside the public sphere means to be within the market. But, as Hayek recalls, as cosmos the market is a destiny and no one is the master of own destiny. How could the Intellectual of himself exercise his free critique if his first issue is how to survive in the cosmos of the market? Is there a place for the critique outside both the State and the market?
Gentili, D. (2015). Cosmo e individuo. Per una genealogia del lavoro intellettuale nell'epoca neoliberale. AUT AUT, 365, 21-36.