A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, by Paolo Virno

A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, by Paolo VirnoA Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life, by Paolo Virno
  • Year2015
  • LanguageRussian
  • Edition2000
  • Pages144
  • BindingPaperback
Available on Bookmate
Garage publishing program in collaboration with Ad Marginem Press

A new edition of the book, a joint publication between Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and Ad Marginem Press in 2013.

Paulo Virno’s book provides an original interpretation of the transformations that have taken place in Europe over the past few decades. The philosopher argues that these changes have led to the formation of a society composed of heterogeneous and continually shifting groups that he calls “the multitude.”

Virno asserts that peoples united by a common culture and ideology – with a clearly defined social class system – no longer exist. Instead, contemporary societies are shown to consist of heterogeneous and constantly changing groups that the author defines as ‘multitudes’. 
Virno’s ‘multitude’ is not a depersonalized ‘mass’ or crowd, but a community where each person retains his or her individuality. However, this notion of individuality is paradoxically connected to the characteristics common to all mankind – these are linguistic and intellectual capabilities as well as social skills, which he refers to as ‘general intellect’.
Virno explains his term ‘multitude’ by entering into a dialogue with various thinkers of the recent and remote past – from Aristotle, Hobbes and Kant to Marx, Heidegger, Benjamin and Foucault. He argues that the category of the ‘multitude’, developed by Spinoza in the seventeenth century, is in fact better suited to the analysis of contemporary life than the Hobbesian concept of ‘people’.
The book also defines some of the major characteristics of contemporary life and provides a positive evaluation of traditionally refuted human qualities; cynicism and opportunism, curiosity and chatter are all regarded by Virno as productive ways of adaptation to constantly changing labor and recreation conditions.

The publications of the programme can be found in GARAGE Bookshop, in the main bookstores of Moscow: "Moskva", "Biblio-Globus", "Molodaya Gvardiya", "Moskovskiy Dom Knighi", "Falanster", chain of bookstores "Noviy Knizhniy", and in the Internet store ozon.ru.


Paolo Virno (born in 1952) is an Italian Marxist philosopher, semiologist and theoretician of politics. From the 1970s, he has been actively engaged in political activities, campaigning for the organization ‘Potere Operaio’ (‘Power of Workers’). In 1979, Virno was arrested and accused of belonging to the terrorist organization ‘Red Brigades’. He spent three years in prison and was under prosecution until his eventual acquittal in 1987. He has been the editor of two major political journals: ‘Metropoli’ and ‘Luogo Comune’, and since 1993, has been teaching philosophy at universities in Italy and Canada. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at Roma Tre University.