The Politics of Orientation

Deleuze Meets Luhmann

By Hannah Richter

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Political Theory, Political Sociology
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438495064, 232 pages, October 2023
Paperback : 9781438495057, 232 pages, April 2024

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Table of contents


1. The Immanent Creativity of Sense

2. Nomadic Monads at the Autopoietic Fold

3. The Circle of Time Must Be Decentered

4. Bifurcating the Political Event

5. The Politics of Orientation

6. Post-truth Populism as a Politics of Orientation


Interlinks Gilles Deleuze's critical philosophy with Niklas Luhmann's systems theory to unpack contemporary democratic politics as a contest for complexity-reducing orientation in sense.


The Politics of Orientation provides the first substantial exploration of a surprising theoretical kinship and its rich political implications, between Gilles Deleuze's philosophy and the sociological systems theory of Niklas Luhmann. Through their shared theories of sense, Hannah Richter draws out how the works of Luhmann and Deleuze complement each other in creating worlds where chaos is the norm and order the unlikely and yet remarkably stable exception. From the encounter between Deleuze and Luhmann, Richter develops a novel take on postfoundational ontology where subjects and societies unfold in self-productive relations of sense against a background of complexity. The Politics of Orientation breaks and rebuilds theoretical alliances by reading core concepts and thinkers of Continental Philosophy, from Leibniz to Whitehead and Marx, through this encounter. Most importantly, the book puts Luhmann and Deleuze to work to offer urgently needed insight into the rise of post-truth populism. In our complex democratic societies, Richter argues, orientation against complexity has become the ground of political power, privileging the simplistic narratives of the populist right.

Hannah Richter is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sussex. She is the editor of Biopolitical Governance: Race, Gender and Economy.


"This is an exciting contribution to the literature that does the hard job of both rethinking Deleuze's and Luhmann's oeuvres and bringing them into conversation with one another constructively on a surprising number of topics. The use of this constellation to develop a politics of orientation ensures that the text goes beyond a comparative analysis to offer an original contribution to political theory." — Gavin Rae, author of Post-Structural Agency: The Subject in Twentieth-Century Theory