In a seemingly prophetic remark by Engels in 1887, he describes his present as marked by a “general exhaustion” in which he recapitulates the catastrophic situation of the Thirty Years’ War as well as the impoverishment of the masses and foresees the autophagic agony of the First World War. At the same time, he projects into this crisis of the total exhaustion of politics, labor, and nature “the establishment of the conditions for the ultimate victory of the working class” . If it is true that an age is first accessed affectively before it is grasped thematically or conceptually, exhaustion appears as the dominant affect of the present , through whose prism diverse social and political phenomena and discourses can be bundled and unfolded. However, the ubiquity of exhaustion together with the hope embedded in this crisis – as in Engels – seems to lead into a performative paradox: How can we intervene in the material conditions for exhaustion and how can we realize the potentials for change that arise from the crisis of exhaustion, when it presents itself precisely as a crisis of agency and in the absence of subversive horizons?

If leftist politics are generally conceived as interventionist and voluntarist , the specificity of a possible politics emanating from Deleuze’s late work consists – I would argue – in the deactivating power of the political. As I already describe in in my book “Inorganic Life”, Deleuze’s work is traversed by the idea of a passive vitalism that is condensed in his late Beckett interpretation. Continuing along this line, one could think of an involuntary politics that uses the potentials of the crisis of exhaustion in an untimely way. To pursue this politics of exhaustion is the concern of this project.

Therefore, in this project, I will sketch first the current crisis of exhaustion multidimensionally, in order to show upon this backdrop the distinctiveness of Deleuze’s concept of exhaustion and to address the existing research literature. In order to more accurately tailor the research questions, I will first elaborate on the need for a (Deleuzian) politics of exhaustion. After presenting my preliminary work for this project, I will give some key points for classifying an involuntarist politics, as well as disclose the methods that will underlie my research. The conclusion of this project description will be the description of the actual implementation of the project, as well as the institutions and individuals involved.