Empire / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$8.37
(Save 71%)
Est. Return Date: 12/21/2014
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$23.29
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$17.05
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.48
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 84%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (37) from $4.48   
  • New (13) from $18.07   
  • Used (24) from $4.48   

Overview

Imperialism as we knew it may be no more, but Empire is alive and well. It is, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri demonstrate in this bold work, the new political order of globalization. It is easy to recognize the contemporary economic, cultural, and legal transformations taking place across the globe but difficult to understand them. Hardt and Negri contend that they should be seen in line with our historical understanding of Empire as a universal order that accepts no boundaries or limits. Their book shows how this emerging Empire is fundamentally different from the imperialism of European dominance and capitalist expansion in previous eras. Rather, today’s Empire draws on elements of U.S. constitutionalism, with its tradition of hybrid identities and expanding frontiers.
Empire identifies a radical shift in concepts that form the philosophical basis of modern politics, concepts such as sovereignty, nation, and people. Hardt and Negri link this philosophical transformation to cultural and economic changes in postmodern society—to new forms of racism, new conceptions of identity and difference, new networks of communication and control, and new paths of migration. They also show how the power of transnational corporations and the increasing predominance of postindustrial forms of labor and production help to define the new imperial global order.
More than analysis, Empire is also an unabashedly utopian work of political philosophy, a new Communist Manifesto. Looking beyond the regimes of exploitation and control that characterize today’s world order, it seeks an alternative political paradigm—the basis for a truly democratic global society.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Dear Peter,
You asked me to try to explain how I came to work on the book of Michael Hardt and Toni Negri and why I became enthusiastic about it and sought to persuade my colleagues that it was a book for us to publish and a very important one at that. In the 80s and 90s it seemed as if in the United States "official culture" of the Beltway and Ivory Tower was getting more and more remote from life as it was led by most Americans. The Clinton affair obsessed official culture and was of no concern to most people. What Greil Marcus calls "that weird Old America" was getting buried under more and more fancy chrome and veneer. When the manuscript that C.L.R. James called "the Struggle for Happiness" came out in 1993 as the book American Civilization, I fell in love with his picture of the promise of happiness that he argued the U.S. offered the world in this book he wrote on the eve of being kicked out of the country because he was a member of the Communist Party. He was absolutely upbeat about the promise held by the set-up of the U.S. republic. But in the U.S. in the 90s on Left and Right all one could see were pessimists. Then along came this book. I had known Michael for years because of my long-term interest in Italian things (I wrote my dissertation on Italian and English poetry), and he had advised me on a number of occasions. I knew of Tonio's work on Spinoza. When Michael offered me the book, it took me a while to understand what it was about. First of all , it was a shock to find true Marxists embracing the U.S. Constitution and for some of the same reasons thatC.L.R. James had. Second, it took me some time to understand the concept of the "multitude" and to see how it connected to that weird Old America that Marcus talks about and to the mass of non-elite Americans who were increasingly being ignored as the 90s wore on. I was wrestling with what it was that made me discontented with Richard Rorty's view of the United States in his Achieving Our Country. I was worried about the alienation of blacks and youth in the U.S. I was interested in globalization and was unsatisfied with knee-jerk rejections of it. This book is surprisingly pro-US for a book from the Left, but there is an important proviso that the US must live up to its radical democratic potential. The multitude is sovereign. This seemed to be a book that could shock into thought people stuck in ideological ruts Left and Right. We are an educational press. Helping people to think is our business. Our policy at the Press is that of Mao, "Let a thousand flowers grow." We are resolutely committed to publishing as diverse a list as possible. We had committed to publishng The Black Book of Communist. Our Board was enthusiastic about publishing this book. It has been a pleasure to work with Michael and Toni. I visited Toni last year in Rome at the apartment in Trastevere where he spends his day-time release hours from prison and we talked about this book, prison reform, and the poetry of Leopardi.
— (Lindsay Waters, Editor, Harvard University Press)
The Nation

Empire…is a bold move away from established doctrine. Hardt and Negri's insistence that there really is a new world is promulgated with energy and conviction. Especially striking is their renunciation of the tendency of many writers on globalization to focus exclusively on the top, leaving the impression that what happens down below, to ordinary people, follows automatically from what the great powers do.
— Stanley Aronowitz

New York Times

So what does a disquisition on globalization have to offer scholars in crisis? First, there is the book's broad sweep and range of learning. Spanning nearly 500 pages of densely argued history, philosophy and political theory, it features sections on Imperial Rome, Haitian slave revolts, the American Constitution and the Persian Gulf War, and references to dozens of thinkers like Machiavelli, Spinoza, Hegel, Hobbes, Kant, Marx and Foucault. In short, the book has the formal trappings of a master theory in the old European tradition… [This] book is full of…bravura passages. Whether presenting new concepts—like Empire and multitude—or urging revolution, it brims with confidence in its ideas. Does it have the staying power and broad appeal necessary to become the next master theory? It is too soon to say. But for the moment, Empire is filling a void in the humanities.
— Emily Eakin

Le Nouvel Observateur

One of the rare benefits to the credit [of the contemporary Empire] is to have undermined the ramparts of the nation, ethnicity, race, and peoples by multiplying the instances of contact and hybridization. Perhaps, at least this is the hope forwarded by these two Marx and Engels of the internet age, it has thus made possible the coming of new forms of transnational solidarity that will defeat Empire.
— Aude Lancelin

Foreign Affairs
A sweeping neo-Marxist vision of the coming world order. The authors argue that globalization is not eroding sovereignty but transforming it into a system of diffuse national and supranational institutions—in other words, a new 'empire'…[that] encompasses all of modern life.
New Left Review

The appearance of Empire represents a spectacular break. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri defiantly overturn the verdict that the last two decades have been a time of punitive defeats for the Left… Hardt and Negri open their case by arguing that, although nation-state–based systems of power are rapidly unraveling in the force-fields of world capitalism, globalization cannot be understood as a simple process of deregulating markets. Far from withering away, regulations today proliferate and interlock to form an acephelous supranational order which the authors choose to call 'Empire' …Empire bravely upholds the possibility of a utopian manifesto for these times, in which the desire for another world buried or scattered in social experience could find an authentic language and point of concentration.
— Gopal Balakrishnan

Time

Globalization's positive side is, intriguingly, a message of a hot new book. Since it was published last year, Empire…has been translated into four new languages, with six more on the way… It is selling briskly on Amazon.com and is impossible to find in Manhattan bookstores. For 413 pages of dense political philosophy—whose compass ranges from body piercing to Machiavelli—that's impressive.
— Michael Elliott

The Observer

How often can it happen that a book is swept off the shelves until you can't find a copy in New York for love nor money? …Empire is a sweeping history of humanist philosophy, Marxism and modernity that propels itself to a grand political conclusion: that we are a creative and enlightened species, and that our history is that of humanity's progress towards the seizure of power from those who exploit it.
— Ed Vulliamy

Sunday Times
Hardt is not just bent on saving the world. He has also been credited with dragging the humanities in American universities out of the doldrums… [Empire] presents a philosophical vision that some have greeted as the 'next big thing' in the field of the humanities, with its authors the natural successors of names such as Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.
Cultural Critique

Hailed as the new Communist Manifesto on its dust jacket, this hefty tome may be worthy of such distinction… Hardt and Negri analyze the multiple processes of globalization…and argue that the new sovereign, the new order of the globalized world, is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule… Though Empire ties together diverse strands of often opaque structuralist and poststructuralist theory…the writing is surprisingly clear, accessible, and engaging… Hardt and Negri write to communicate beyond the claustrophobic redoubts of the academy… In short, Empire is a comprehensive and exciting analysis of the now reified concept of globalization, offering a lucid understanding of the political–economic quagmire of our present and a glimpse into the possible worlds beyond it.
— Tom Roach

Journal for the Study of British Cultures

In their recent book Empire—a highly explosive analysis of globalisation—[the authors] take the effort to develop a full narrative of this new world order, of the global postmodern sovereignty and its counter-currents. It is therefore not so much a book on hybridity only, but rather an attempt to reformulate and redefine the political under conditions of globalisation. The result is a resolute tour de force delineating the genealogy of the postmodern regime as well as its consolidation as a new 'society of control' under conditions of world-wide 'real subsumption' which creates one smooth, global capitalist terrain.
— Dirk Wiemann

Bookforum

Stretching back nearly twenty years, Antonio Negri's work has been until recently one of the best-kept secrets of Marxist theory in the United States… [Empire] is the culmination of Negri's lifework and a major contribution to Marx's uncompleted work on capitalism's international phase. Beyond its inherent scholarly merit, however, Empire provides a critical tool for understanding what the events following September 11th mean as history and politics.
— Curtis White

Symploke

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire…owes its density not to affected language—indeed, its manifesto-like communicative urgency is one of its greatest strengths—but to the exhilarating novelty of what it has to say… This is as simple, as apparently innocent, and as radically counter-intuitive when thought to its limit as the Sartrean dictum that existence precedes essence must have been in its time. It's not that this relation had never been thought before; the connection between the demands of labor unions and the development of the automated factory is well-known. But in Hardt and Negri's hands this relation becomes a powerful new way to theorize globalization and the development of capital itself… Hardt and Negri perform the urgent task of reclaiming Utopia for the multitude.
— Nicholas Brown

Choice
Hardt, an assistant professor of literature and a political scientist (and currently a prison inmate), has produced one of the most comprehensive theoretical efforts to understand globalization.
Political Science Quarterly

This sprawling book is filled with original ideas and analyses, including some well-aimed critiques of postmodernism, dependency theory, world systems theory, anti-imperialism, and localism—and there is much more besides to stimulate the reader… This is an exciting and provocative book whose depth and richness can only be hinted at in so brief a review.
— Frank Ninkovich

Stanley Aronowitz
Empire…is a bold move away from established doctrine. Hardt and Negri's insistence that there really is a new world is promulgated with energy and conviction. Especially striking is their renunciation of the tendency of many writers on globalization to focus exclusively on the top, leaving the impression that what happens down below, to ordinary people, follows automatically from what the great powers do.
Lawrence Grossberg
Empire is a stunningly original attempt to come to grips with the cultural, political, and economic transformations of the contemporary world. While refusing to ignore history, Hardt and Negri question the adequacy of existing theoretical categories, and offer new concepts for approaching the practices and regimes of power of the emergent world order. Whether one agrees with it or not, it is an all too rare effort to engage with the most basic and pressing questions facing political intellectuals today.
Saskia Sassen
An extraordinary book, with enormous intellectual depth and a keen sense of the history-making transformation that is beginning to take shape—a new system of rule Hardt and Negri name Empire imperialism.
Leslie Marmon Silko
By way of Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Marx, the Vietnam War, and even Bill Gates, Empire offers an irresistible, iconoclastic analysis of the 'globalized' world. Revolutionary, even visionary, Empire identifies the imminent new power of the multitude to free themselves from capitalist bondage.
Slavoj Žižek
After reading Empire, one cannot escape the impression that if this book were not written, it would have to be invented. What Hardt and Negri offer is nothing less than a rewriting of The Communist Manifesto for our time: Empire conclusively demonstrates how global capitalism generates antagonisms that will finally explode its form. This book rings the death-bell not only for the complacent liberal advocates of the 'end of history,' but also for pseudo-radical Cultural Studies which avoid the full confrontation with today's capitalism.
Dipesh Chakrabarty
Empire is one of the most brilliant, erudite, and yet incisively political interpretations available to date of the phenomenon called 'globalization.' Engaging critically with postcolonial and postmodern theories, and mindful throughout of the plural histories of modernity and capitalism, Hardt and Negri rework Marxism to develop a vision of politics that is both original and timely. This very impressive book will be debated and discussed for a long time.
Etienne Balibar
The new book by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, is an amazing tour de force. Written with communicative enthusiasm, extensive historical knowledge, systematic organization, it basically combines a kojevian notion of global market as post-history (in this sense akin to Fukuyama's eschatology) with a foucauldian and deleuzian notion of bio-politics (in this sense crossing the road of a Sloterdijk who also poses the question of a coming techniques of the production of the human species). But it clearly outbids its rivals in philosophical skill. And, above all, it reverses their grim prospects of political stagnation or the return to zoology. By identifying the new advances of technology and the division of labor that underlies the globalization of the market and the corresponding de-centered structure of sovereignty with a deep structure of power located within the multitude's intellectual and affective corporeity, it seeks to identify the indestructible sources of resistance and constitution that frame our future. It claims to lay the foundations for a teleology of class struggles and militancy even more substantially 'communist' than the classical Marxist one. This will no doubt trigger a lasting and passionate discussion among philosophers, political scientists and socialists. Whatever their conclusions, the benefits will be enormous for intelligence.
New York Times - Emily Eakin
So what does a disquisition on globalization have to offer scholars in crisis? First, there is the book's broad sweep and range of learning. Spanning nearly 500 pages of densely argued history, philosophy and political theory, it features sections on Imperial Rome, Haitian slave revolts, the American Constitution and the Persian Gulf War, and references to dozens of thinkers like Machiavelli, Spinoza, Hegel, Hobbes, Kant, Marx and Foucault. In short, the book has the formal trappings of a master theory in the old European tradition… [This] book is full of…bravura passages. Whether presenting new concepts—like Empire and multitude—or urging revolution, it brims with confidence in its ideas. Does it have the staying power and broad appeal necessary to become the next master theory? It is too soon to say. But for the moment, Empire is filling a void in the humanities.
Le Nouvel Observateur - Aude Lancelin
One of the rare benefits to the credit [of the contemporary Empire] is to have undermined the ramparts of the nation, ethnicity, race, and peoples by multiplying the instances of contact and hybridization. Perhaps, at least this is the hope forwarded by these two Marx and Engels of the internet age, it has thus made possible the coming of new forms of transnational solidarity that will defeat Empire.
Time - Michael Elliott
Globalization's positive side is, intriguingly, a message of a hot new book. Since it was published last year, Empire…has been translated into four new languages, with six more on the way… It is selling briskly on Amazon.com and is impossible to find in Manhattan bookstores. For 413 pages of dense political philosophy—whose compass ranges from body piercing to Machiavelli—that's impressive.
The Observer - Ed Vulliamy
How often can it happen that a book is swept off the shelves until you can't find a copy in New York for love nor money? …Empire is a sweeping history of humanist philosophy, Marxism and modernity that propels itself to a grand political conclusion: that we are a creative and enlightened species, and that our history is that of humanity's progress towards the seizure of power from those who exploit it.
Cultural Critique - Tom Roach
Hailed as the new Communist Manifesto on its dust jacket, this hefty tome may be worthy of such distinction… Hardt and Negri analyze the multiple processes of globalization…and argue that the new sovereign, the new order of the globalized world, is a decentered and deterritorializing apparatus of rule… Though Empire ties together diverse strands of often opaque structuralist and poststructuralist theory…the writing is surprisingly clear, accessible, and engaging… Hardt and Negri write to communicate beyond the claustrophobic redoubts of the academy… In short, Empire is a comprehensive and exciting analysis of the now reified concept of globalization, offering a lucid understanding of the political–economic quagmire of our present and a glimpse into the possible worlds beyond it.
Journal for the Study of British Cultures - Dirk Wiemann
In their recent book Empire—a highly explosive analysis of globalisation—[the authors] take the effort to develop a full narrative of this new world order, of the global postmodern sovereignty and its counter-currents. It is therefore not so much a book on hybridity only, but rather an attempt to reformulate and redefine the political under conditions of globalisation. The result is a resolute tour de force delineating the genealogy of the postmodern regime as well as its consolidation as a new 'society of control' under conditions of world-wide 'real subsumption' which creates one smooth, global capitalist terrain.
Bookforum - Curtis White
Stretching back nearly twenty years, Antonio Negri's work has been until recently one of the best-kept secrets of Marxist theory in the United States… [Empire] is the culmination of Negri's lifework and a major contribution to Marx's uncompleted work on capitalism's international phase. Beyond its inherent scholarly merit, however, Empire provides a critical tool for understanding what the events following September 11th mean as history and politics.
Symploke - Nicholas Brown
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire…owes its density not to affected language—indeed, its manifesto-like communicative urgency is one of its greatest strengths—but to the exhilarating novelty of what it has to say… This is as simple, as apparently innocent, and as radically counter-intuitive when thought to its limit as the Sartrean dictum that existence precedes essence must have been in its time. It's not that this relation had never been thought before; the connection between the demands of labor unions and the development of the automated factory is well-known. But in Hardt and Negri's hands this relation becomes a powerful new way to theorize globalization and the development of capital itself… Hardt and Negri perform the urgent task of reclaiming Utopia for the multitude.
New Left Review - Gopal Balakrishnan
The appearance of Empire represents a spectacular break. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri defiantly overturn the verdict that the last two decades have been a time of punitive defeats for the Left… Hardt and Negri open their case by arguing that, although nation-state–based systems of power are rapidly unraveling in the force-fields of world capitalism, globalization cannot be understood as a simple process of deregulating markets. Far from withering away, regulations today proliferate and interlock to form an acephelous supranational order which the authors choose to call 'Empire' …Empire bravely upholds the possibility of a utopian manifesto for these times, in which the desire for another world buried or scattered in social experience could find an authentic language and point of concentration.
Political Science Quarterly - Frank Ninkovich
This sprawling book is filled with original ideas and analyses, including some well-aimed critiques of postmodernism, dependency theory, world systems theory, anti-imperialism, and localism—and there is much more besides to stimulate the reader… This is an exciting and provocative book whose depth and richness can only be hinted at in so brief a review.
Aaron Shuman
[T]he real value of Empire, besides its restoration of people power to the center of Marxist historiography, lies in the intellectual credence and weight it gives the forms of political organizing and protest emerging now. When they hit you with Victorian novels like Das Kapital, you hit them with Empire.
Bad Subjects
Stanley Aronowitz
...a bold move away from established doctrine. Hardt and Negri's insistence that there really is a new world is promulgated with energy and conviction. Especially striking is their renunciation of the tendency of many writers on globalization to focus exclusively on the top, leaving the impression that what happens down below, to ordinary people, follows automatically from what the great powers do.Nation
Slavoj Zizek

Today, in the midst of a difficult revolution of the forces of production, one attempts to revive the old ignominious and half-forgotten Marxist dialectic of forces of production and relations of production. How does the digitalization and the globalization of our lives influence not only the conditions of production in the narrow sense, but also our social existence, our customs and our (ideological) experience of social interaction? Marx readily paralleled revolutionary changes in production processes with a political revolution. His leitmotif was that the steam engine and other technical innovations of the 18th Century contributed considerably more to the revolution of the social quality of life than spectacular political events. Considering the unimaginable changes in production that are being accompanied by a sort of lethargy in today's political realm, isn't this guiding idea more relevant then ever? Because we are located in the midst of a radical transformation of society, of which we cannot clearly recognize the final consequences, many radical thinkers despair at the impossibility of taking adequate political measures.

Furthermore, the concepts that we use to describe the new constellation of forces of production and relations of production (post-industrial society, information society) continue to lack the form of true concepts. They remain theoretical emergency solutions: Instead of enabling us to reflect on historical reality (which these concepts create), they actually relieve us of our duty to think, even prevent us from thinking. The standard answer of postmodern trendsetters from Alvin Toffler to Jean Baudrillard is that we cannot think in this "new" way because we are stuck in the old industrial "paradigm." One would like to state against this commonplace that exactly the opposite is true: don't these attempts to overcome or to efface the concept of material production, in which one classifies the current transformation as a transition from production to information, in the end allow one to avoid the difficulty of reflecting on how this transformation itself is connected to the structure of collective production? In other words, isn't it actually the task at hand to, wherever possible, introduce the new developments into the concept of collective material production?

This is exactly what Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri try to do in their new book Empire (Harvard University Press, Cambridge)--a book that attempts to write the communist manifesto anew for the 21st Century. Hardt and Negri describe globalization as an ambiguous "deterritorialization": victorious global capitalism penetrates into every pore of our social lives, into the most intimate of spheres, and installs a never-present dynamic, which no longer is based on patriarchal or other hierarchic structures of dominance. Instead, it creates a flowing, hybrid identity. On the other hand, this fundamental corrosion of all important social connections lets the genie out of the bottle: it sets in motion potential centrifugal forces that the capitalist system is no longer able to fully control. It is exactly because of the global triumph of the capitalist system that that system is today more vulnerable than ever. The old formula of Marx is still valid: Capitalism digs its own grave. Hardt and Negri describe this process as the transition from the nation-state to global empire, a transnational space which is comparable to Rome, where hybrid masses of scattered identities develop.

These postmodern politics concentrate on "cultural wars" and fight for their own recognition: their foundation is sexual, ethnic and religious tolerance--they preach the multicultural gospel. When one reads these authors work, it is often difficult to ward off the impression that we would exploit Turks and other immigrants because we are unable to tolerate their "otherness." Cultural and sexual intolerance serves as the key for economic tensions, not vice versa as it used to be explained in the good old days of orthodox Marxism. Thus, Hardt and Negri deserve much praise, since they enlighten us about the contradictory nature of today's turbocapitalism and attempt to identify the dynamic of the progressive powers at work. Their heroic attempt sets itself against the standard view of the left, who are struggling to limit the destructive powers of globalization and to rescue what there remains to rescue of the welfare state. This standard left wing view is imbued with a, perhaps too deeply, conservative mistrust of the dynamics of globalization and digitalization, which is quite contrary to the Marxist belief in the powers of progress.

Nevertheless, one immediately gets a foretaste, as a result of the authors' style, of the boundaries of Hardt and Negri's analysis. In their socio-economic analysis there is simply a lack of concrete, precise insight which is concealed in the Deleuzean jargon of multiplicity, deterritorialization, etc. It is no wonder that the three "practical" suggestions with which this book ends seem anticlimactic. The authors propose the political struggle for three global rights: The right to global citizenship, the right to social income, and the re-appropriation of the new means of production" (i.e. the access to and control of education, information, and communication). It is paradoxical that Hardt and Negri, the poets of mobility, multiplicity, hybridization, etc. call for three demands that are phrased in the current terminology of universal "human rights."

The problem with these demands is that they fluctuate between formal emptiness and impossible radicalization. Let's take the right to global citizenship: with that, one can in principle only agree-nevertheless, if this demand were meant to be taken more seriously than a celebratory formal declaration in typical UN style, then it would mean the total "destruction" of the carrying out of global laws and even the abolition of state borders. Under the present conditions, such steps would trigger an invasion of the USA and western Europe by cheap labor from India, China and Africa, which would result in a people's revolt against immigrants with figures like Haider appearing as their example for multicultural tolerance. The same is true with regards to the other two demands: for instance, the universal right to social income--naturally, why not? But how should one create the necessary socio-economic conditions for such a transformation?

This critique is not only aimed at secondary empirical details. The main problem with "Empire", is that the book falls short in its fundamental analysis of how (if at all) the present global socio-economic process will create the needed space for such radical measures like the ones that Marx tried to develop in his explanation of how the proletarian revolution would eliminate the basic antagonism of the capitalist means of production. In this respect, Empire remains a pre-Marxist book.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Emily Eakin
[This] book is full of...bravura passages...[F]or the moment, Empire is filling a void in the humanities.
New York Times
Michael Elliott
Globalization's positive side is, intriguingly, a message of a hot new book.
Time
Sunday Times [UK]
Empire presents a philosophical vision that some have greeted as the 'next big thing' in the field of the humanities.
Stanley Aronowitz
Empire...is a bold move away from established doctrine.
The Nation
Ed Vulliamy
How often [is a] book...swept off the shelves until you can't find [copies] in N.Y. for love nor money?
The Observer [UK]
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674006713
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 687,926
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Hardt is Professor of Literature and Italian at Duke University.

Antonio Negri is an independent researcher and writer. He has been a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Paris and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Padua.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. The Political Constitution of the Present
    • 1.1 World Order
    • 1.2 Biopolitical Production
    • 1.3 Alternatives within Empire


  • 2. Passages of Sovereignty
    • 2.1 Two Europes, Two Modernities
    • 2.2 Sovereignty of the Nation-State
    • 2.3 The Dialectics of Colonial Sovereignty
    • 2.4 Symptoms of Passage
    • 2.5 Network Power: U.S. Sovereignty and the New Empire
    • 2.6 Imperial Sovereignty


  • Intermezzo: Counter-Empire
  • 3. Passages of Production
    • 3.1 The Limits of Imperialism
    • 3.2 Disciplinary Governability
    • 3.3 Resistance, Crisis, Transformation
    • 3.4 Postmodernization, or The Informatization of Production
    • 3.5 Mixed Constitution
    • 3.6 Capitalist Sovereignty, or Administering the Global Society of Control


  • 4. The Decline and Fall of Empire
    • 4.1 Virtualities
    • 4.2 Generation and Corruption
    • 4.3 The Multitude against Empire


  • Notes
  • Index

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Note: This text is a transcription of an interview video, Retour vers le futur, which was produced in the days leading up to Negri's return to Italy and to prison. This translation is posted here by permission of the translator.


Prison and Life

I'm not a masochist who would try to go through some kind of deprivation in order to construct something. I think that really there is no substantial difference between prison and the rest of life. I think that life is a prison when one doesn't make something of it or when the time of life is not grasped freely. One can be free in prison or outside prison. Prison is not a lack of freedom, just as life itself is not freedom -- the life of workers. The problem, then, is not that one must go through prison and the problem is not to make a philosophy out of this. There is no need to go through any deprivation. This is not a condition of philosophy. The fact is that one must make live the positive passions. The positive passions are the ones that construct, whether one is in prison or outside. And the positive passions are the ones that construct community, that liberate relationships, that create joy. And this is completely determined by the capacity to grasp the movement of time and translate it into an ethical process, in other words, into a process of the construction of personal joy, community, and the free enjoyment of divine love.

 

Solitude

I don't know, it's clear that defining solitude is difficult. I would say that solitude is powerlessness. This is the definition of solitude. There are times when you have exhausted a certain kind of study, a certain kind of work, and you find yourself alone. For example, here in France there was a period when I first arrived when I was "alone," as you say -- in other words, not only alone from a theoretical point of view but also from a practical, material point of view. And all this obviously led me to reflect on Leopardi's reaction to solitude, which was a poetic reaction but also and above all a philosophical one -- that capacity to invent great material worlds, like Lucretius, in which truly being and the construction of being rained down, and there was this capacity to construct new, possible worlds. This is the great thing about Leopardi's pessimism: the possibility to construct worlds, different worlds. Also, this construction of different worlds takes place through what is common, what is common to humanity. What you find in Leopardi is really a humanism after the death of Man. And really all that I experienced was a solitude of powerlessness. For example, after the political struggles in '95 that created an extraordinary initiative through which we began to understand what eventually could be a new construction of the public, the construction of an absolute democracy, there was a lull of activity, a lull that corresponded to the insufficiency of our means of analysis. We could analyze the struggles of '95 and understand them, understand them in their implicit goals but we were completely unable to develop them politically. That was my solitude, that powerlessness to act politically. When one experiences these great phenomena, these rebirths of the Paris Commune that history grants us ever fifty years, every thirty years, the thing that is absolutely fundamental is to rediscover political theory in them. It's from this point of view that my powerlessness to continue the sociological work that we had started, that we had experienced, became a kind of solitude.

 

The "choice" of prison

Is a line of flight, in Deleuze's terms. There were moments, when faced with a flattened reality, a world that had become completely flat, you find, but this from all points of view, from political, emotional, affective points of view, you find that there is the possibility, the necessity to make an hypothesis, a political hypothesis, which can set out from anywhere, from prison or from the social field, just as it can from certain administrative structures. What is important is linking this kind of analysis, of daily practices, to a basic project to gather together all the elements to make it constituent, productive. Each of us is a machine that produces reality, each of us is a machine that constructs. And today there are no longer prophets, there is no longer the person who can preach out in the desert calling a people to come, to construct. There is only the militant, in other words, the one who succeeds in experiencing the poverty of the world completely and identifying the new forms of exploitation, the new forms of suffering, and organizing around this the processes of liberation, but also participating in them. The figure of the prophet, even the great prophet in the style of Marx or Lenin, is completely gone. Today there is simply this "direct" ontological and constituent construction, which each of us has to experience completely. There can be parentheses in a life, one can be more or less alone in different ways, but it's nonetheless true that then the real solitude that counts is Spinoza's solitude, that is, that solitude that is a constitutive act of being around oneself, the construction of community that passes through the concrete analysis of every atom of reality and that recognizes, within that atom of reality, the disjunction, the break, the antagonism, and acts on these in order to push forward the process. I believe, then, that from this point of view, in postmodernity, to the extent that material and immaterial labor end up being posed against one another, the figure of the prophet, that is, the intellectual, has no role insofar as it has been completely realized, and that therefore militancy becomes fundamental. In other words, we need people who are like the members of the IWW in the United States at the beginning of the century, who ride the rails across the great West and at every station stop to create a political cell, a cell of struggle. It's through their travels that this communication of struggles, of desires, of utopias took place. And on the other hand we have to be like Saint Francis of Assisi, that is, truly poor, poor because only at that level of solitude can we rediscover the real paradigm, the key to exploitation today. This "biopolitical" paradigm invests both work and life, along with the relationships among people. And therefore it is "full" of cognitive facts, of organizational, social, and political facts, and emotional, affective facts.

 

Work

There is too much work because everyone works, everyone contributes to the construction of social wealth, which arises from communication, circulation, and the capacity to coordinate the efforts of each person. As Christian Marazzi says, there is a biopolitical community of work, the primary characteristic of which is "disinflation," in other words, the reduction of all costs that cooperation itself and the social conditions of cooperation demand. This passage within capitalism has been a passage from modernity to postmodernity, from Fordism to post-Fordism. It has been a political passage in which labor has been celebrated as the fundamental matrix of the production of wealth. But labor has been stripped of its political power. The political power of labor consisted in the fact of being gathered together in the factory, organized through powerful trade union and political structures. The destruction of these structures has created a mass of people that from the outside seems formless -- proletarians who work on the social terrain, ants that produce wealth through collaboration and continuous cooperation.

Really, if we look at things from below, from the world of ants where our life unfolds, we can recognize the incredible productive capacity that these new workers have already acquired. What an incredible paradox we are faced with. Labor is still considered as employment, that is, still considered as variable capital, as labor "employed" by capital. Employed by capital through structures that link it immediately to fixed capital. Today this connection, which is an old Marxian connection, but before being Marxian it was a connection established by classical political economy, today this connection has been broken. Today the worker no longer needs the instruments of labor, that is, the fixed capital that capital furnishes. Fixed capital is something that is at this point in the brain of those who work; at this point it is the tool that everyone carries with him- or herself. This is the absolutely essential new element of productive life today. It is a completely essential phenomenon because capital itself, through its development and internal upheavals, through the revolution it has set in motion with neoliberalism, with the destruction of the Welfare State, "devours" this labor power. But how does capital devour it? In a situation that is structurally ambiguous, contradictory, and antagonistic. Labor is not employment.

The unemployed work, and informal or under-the-table labor produces more wealth than the employed do. The flexibility and mobility of the labor force are elements that were not imposed either by capital or by the dissolution of the welfarist or New Deal-style agreements that dominated politics for almost half a century. Today we find ourselves faced with a situation in which, precisely, labor is "free."

Certainly, on one hand, capital has won, it has anticipated the possible political organizations and the political "power" of this labor. And yet, if we look for a moment behind this fact, without being too optimistic, we also have to say that the labor power that we have recognized, the working class, has struggled to refuse factory discipline. Once again we find ourselves faced with evaluating a political passage, which is historically as important as the passage from the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution. We can truly say that we have experienced in this second half of the 20th century a passage in which labor has been emancipated. It has been emancipated through its capacity to become immaterial, intellectual, and it has been emancipated from factory discipline. And this presents the possibility of a global, fundamental, and radical revolution of contemporary capitalist society. The capitalist has at this point become a parasite, but not a parasite in classical Marxist terms -- a finance capitalist; rather, a parasite insofar as the capitalist is no longer able to intervene in the structure of the working process.

 

Brain-machine

Clearly when we say that the working tool is a tool that workers have taken away from capital and carry with themselves in their lives, embodied in their brains, and when we say that the refusal of work has won over the disciplinary regime of the factory, this is a very substantial and vital claim. In other words, if labor and the tool of labor are embodied in the brain, then the tool of labor, the brain, becomes the thing that today has the highest productive capacity to create wealth. But at the same time humans are "whole," the brain is part of the body, the tool is embodied not only in the brain but also in all the organs of sensation, in the entire set of "animal spirits" that animate the life of a person. Labor is thus constructed by tools that have been embodied. This embodiment, then, envelops life through the appropriation of the tool. Life is what is put to work, but putting life to work means putting to work what exactly? The elements of communication of life. A single life will never be productive. A single life becomes productive, and intensely productive, only to the extent that it communicates with other bodies and other embodied tools. But then, if this is true, language, the fundamental form of cooperation and production of productive ideas, becomes central in this process.

But language is like the brain, linked to the body, and the body does not express itself only in rational or pseudo-rational forms or images. It expresses itself also through powers, powers of life, those powers that we call affects. Affective life, therefore, becomes one of the expressions of the incarnation of the tool in the body. This means that labor, as it is expressed today, is something that is not simply productive of wealth, but it is above all productive of languages that produce, interpret, and enjoy wealth.

And that are equally rational and affective. All this has extremely important consequences from the standpoint of the differences among subjects. Because once we have stripped from the working class the privilege of being the only representative of productive labor, and we have attributed it to any subject that has this embodied tool and expresses it through linguistic forms, at this point we have also said that all those who produce vital powers are part of this process, and essential to it. Think for example of the entire circuit of the reproduction of labor power, from maternity to education and free time -- all of this is part of production. Here we have the extraordinary possibility of reanimating the pathways of communism, but not with a model of the rationalization and acceleration or the modernization and supermodernization of capitalism.

We have the opportunity of explaining production and thus organizing human life within this wealth of powers that constitute the tool: languages and affects.

 

The Becoming-woman of Labor

With the concept of "the becoming-woman of labor" you can grasp one of the most central aspects of this revolution we are living through. Really, it is no longer possible to imagine the production of wealth and knowledge except through the production of subjectivity. And thus the general reproduction of vital processes. Women have been central in this. And precisely because they have been at the center of the production of subjectivity, of vitality as such, they have been excluded from the old conceptions of production. Now, saying "the becoming-woman of labor" is saying too much and too little. It is saying too much because it means enveloping the entire significance of this transformation within the feminist tradition. It is saying too little because in effect what interests us is this general transgressive character of labor among men, women, and community. In fact, the processes of production of knowledge and wealth, of language and affects reside in the general reproduction of society. If I reflect back self-critically on the classical distinction between production and reproduction and its consequences, that is, on the exclusion of women from the capacity to produce value, economic value, and I recognize that we ourselves were dealing with this mystification in the classical workerist tradition, then I have to say that today effectively the feminization of labor is an absolutely extraordinary affirmation. The feminization of labor because precisely reproduction, precisely the processes of production and communication, because the affective investments, the investments of education and the material reproduction of brains, have all become more essential.

Certainly, not only women are engaged with these processes, there is a masculinization of women and a feminization of men that moves forward ineluctably in this process. And this seems to me to be extremely important.

 

Multitude

Some historical clarification is need here. The term multitude is a pejorative, negative term that classical political science posed as a reference point. The multitude is the set of people who live in a society and who must be dominated. Multitude is the term Hobbes used to mean precisely this. In all of classical, modern, and postmodern political science the term multitude refers to the rabble, the mob, etc. The statesman is the one who confronts the multitude that he has to dominate. All this in the modern era before the formation of capitalism. It is clear that capitalism modified things, because it transformed the multitude into social classes. In other words, this division of the multitude into social classes fixed a series of criteria that were criteria of the distribution of wealth to which these classes were subordinated according to a very specific and adequate division of labor. Today, in the transformation from modernity to postmodernity, the problem of the multitude reappears.

To the extent that social classes as such are falling apart, the possibility of the self-organizational concentration of a social class also disappears. Therefore we find ourselves faced again with a set of individuals, but this multitude has become something profoundly different. It has become a multitude that, as we have seen, is an intellectual grouping. It is a multitude that can no longer be called rabble or mob. It is a rich multitude. This makes me think of Spinoza's use of the term multitude because Spinoza theorized from the perspective of that specific anomaly that was the great Dutch republic, which Braudel called the center of the world, and which was a society that had mandatory education already in the 17th century. A society in which the structure of the community was extremely strong and a form of welfare existed already, an extremely widespread form of welfare. In which individuals were already rich individuals. And Spinoza thought that democracy is the greatest expression of the creative activity of this rich multitude. Therefore I think of Spinoza's use of the term, which had already reversed the negative sense of the multitude, like the wild beast Hegel called it, which has to be organized and dominated. And this rich multitude that Spinoza conceived instead as the real counter-thought of modernity, in that line of thought that goes from Machiavelli to Marx, of which Spinoza forms more or less the center, the central apex, the transition point, ambiguous, anomalous, but strong. Well, this concept of the multitude is the concept that we invoked before. There exists today a multitude of citizens, but saying citizens is not sufficient because saying citizens simply defines in formal and juridical terms the individuals that are formally free. You have to say rather that today there exists a multitude of intellectual workers, but even that is not enough. You have to say: there exists a multitude of productive instruments that have been internalized and embodied in subjects that constitute society. But even this is insufficient. You have to add precisely the affective and reproductive reality, the need for enjoyment. Well, this is the multitude today. Therefore a multitude that strips every possible transcendence from power, it is a multitude that cannot be dominated except in a parasitic and thus brutal way.

 

Minorities in Deleuze and Guattari's

"A Thousand Plateaus"

Deleuze and Guattari wrote this book at the beginning of the 1980s. They had the great foresight to recognize the crisis of the mass-worker. They recognized the becoming minoritarian, the incipient phenomena that we called in the context of Italian

workerism, in Autonomia, the social worker and the marginal forms of labor in revolt. The sociopolitical definition given in "A Thousand Plateaus" does not really go much further than this, from the point of view of phenomenological analysis. Therefore I believe in effect that they were thinking of this genesis, of this genealogy of the multitude in the terms we have been using today. They contributed through their subtle analysis of the constitution of minorities to the construction of this new concept of the majority that makes sense because it is a plural set of productive capacities, of capacities of cooperation.

What they signaled is a moment of resistance and passage that I think is extremely important. I have to point out that precisely in this section of their book they cite Italian workerists as the practical reference point of this type of experience. I believe that Gilles's and Felix's thinking always tended in this direction. And, on the other hand, in Deleuze's final book, "Grandeur de Marx," we find an extraordinary argument, an argument that translates an epistemological claim, which involves the definition of "common names" as the set of perceptions that constitute concepts, as the linguistic construction of an epistemological community, an argument that translates this process into an ontological process. Communism is the multitude that becomes common. That does not mean that there is something presupposed there, that there is an idea, something ontologically or metaphysically hidden. This does not mean that there is a unity.

The common is what is opposed to the one, it is anti-Platonism pushed to the extreme. It is also the inversion of the idea of communism proposed in that tradition where utopia necessarily constituted a unity and resolved the problem of unity and the sovereignty of power.

Here there is the multitude that constitutes the common. And this is the concept of communism that, from what I have understood, was constructed in the "Grandeur de Marx," Deleuze's unfinished book

 

The Biopolitical Entrepreneur

Here too, as usual, we are dealing with a sphere in which all the terms have been inverted -- direct terms. We must really succeed in inventing a different language, even when we speak of democracy and administration What is the democracy of biopolitics? Clearly it is no longer formal democracy, but an absolute democracy, as Spinoza says. How long can such a concept still be defined in terms of democracy? In any case, it cannot be defined in the terms of classical constitutional democracy. The same thing is true when we speak of the entrepreneur, when we speak of the political entrepreneur, or better the "biopolitical" entrepreneur. Or rather, when we speak of the one who could be single or a set of collective forces, that succeeds at times in focusing productive capacities in a social context. What should we say at this point? Should this collective entrepreneur be given a prize? Frankly, I do think so, but all this has to be evaluated within the biopolitical process. I would say that here we really have the opposite of any capitalist theory of a parasitic entrepreneur. This is the ontological entrepreneur, the entrepreneur of fullness, who seeks essentially to construct a productive fabric. We have a whole series of examples, which have each been at times very positive. There is no doubt that in certain community experiences, red (communist) collectivities, cooperatives basically, and in certain experiences of white (liberal) communities based on solidarity, we can see examples of collective entrepreneurship. As usual, today, we must first of all begin to speak not only of a political entrepreneur, but also of a biopolitical entrepreneur, and then begin to recognize also the inflationary or deflationary biopolitical entrepreneur. The biopolitical entrepreneur determines always greater needs while organizing the community and the entrepreneur represses and redisciplines the forces at play on the biopolitical terrain. There is no doubt that an entrepreneur in the Sentier neighborhood, to take an example from the studies we did here in France, is a biopolitical entrepreneur, one that often acts in a deflationary way. Benetton is the same thing. I really believe that the concept of entrepreneur, as a concept of the militant within a biopolitical structure, and thus as a militant that brings wealth and equality, is a concept that we have to begin to develop. If there is to be a fifth, a sixth, or a seventh Internationale, this will be its militant. It will be both an entrepreneur of subjectivity and an entrepreneur of equality, biopolitically.

 

Guaranteed Wage

There are reductive conceptions of the guaranteed wage, such as those we have seen in France -- for example, the French RMI laws in the form they were passed are a kind of wage structure of poverty, and thus a wage structure of exclusion, laws for the poor. In other words, there is a mass of poor people -- but keep in mind that these are people who work, who cannot manage to get into the wage circuit in a constant way, whom are given a little money so that they can care for their own reproduction, so that they don't create a social scandal. Therefore there exist minimum levels of the guaranteed wage, subsistence wages, that correspond to the need of a society to avoid the scandal of death and plague, because exclusion can easily lead to plague. And poor laws were born from this danger in England in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are thus forms of the guaranteed wage that amount to this. But the real question of the guaranteed wage is a different one. It is a question of understanding that the basis of productivity is not capitalist investment but the investment of the socialized human brain. Therefore, the maximum freedom, the break with the disciplinary relationship of the factory, the maximum freedom of labor is the absolute foundation of the production of wealth. The guaranteed wage means the distribution of a large part of income and giving the productive subjects the ability to spend it for their own productive reproduction. This becomes the fundamental element. The guaranteed wage is the condition of the reproduction of a society in which people, through their freedom, become productive. Clearly, at this point, the problems of production and political organization tend to overlap. Once we have pursued this discourse all the way, we have to recognize that political economy and political science, or the science of government, tend to coincide. Because we maintain that democratic forms, forms of a radical, absolute democracy-- I don't know if the term democracy can still be used -- are the only forms that can define productivity. But a substantial, real democracy, in which the equality of guaranteed incomes becomes ever larger, and ever more fundamental. We can then realistically talk about incentives, but these are discourses that in today's world are not very relevant.

Today the big problem is that of inverting the standpoint on which the critique of political economy itself is based. In other words, the standpoint of the necessity of capitalist investment.

We have said before and we have been saying for years, the fundamental problem is the reinvention of the productive instrument through life, the linguistic, affective life of subjects. Today, then, the guaranteed wage as a condition of the reproduction of these subjects and their wealth, becomes an essential element. There is no longer any lever of power, there is no longer need for any transcendental, any investment.

This is a utopia, it is one of those utopias that become machines of the transformation of reality once they are set in motion. And one of the most beautiful things today is precisely the fact that this public space of freedom and production is beginning to be defined, but it carries with itself, really, the means of destruction of the current organization of productive power and thus political power.

 

Empire

I would say that there are three things that demonstrate an absolutely fundamental epochal passage: the Tienanmen Square revolt, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Gulf War. We are entering the phase of globalization.

Things are so clear from this point of view that each of us has experienced them in a dramatic way. The Gulf War was important because it posed in the first place the problem of communication and its control As Baudrillard says it was a war that was not fought. It was a war that never existed, a war that invented its own story. Before that we had Timosoara, and there we had another whole series of extremely important elements that define this new imperial situation in which we find ourselves -- the most wicked things, the most terrible massacres can sometimes be hidden or invented. Now, what is the problem? The problem is to understand how the action, discourse, and resistance of a proletarian, who at this point has taken on a mass intellectual character, can confront these situations. Paradoxically, precisely these producers of images, languages, and forms are ones who are used to construct the false images of the world, to transform the senses of reality, to strip reality of any sense of antagonism. The big problem thus becomes to identify, among these force that we experience in this kind of world, that have come with this new type of reality, to identify in them a form of material expression that is no longer alternative (because alternative always implies some referent) but within this forced, globalized, and communicative unity to find points of support, points of rupture, constituent points of the new.

 

Los Angeles, Chiapas, Paris

We could say so many positive and negative things, because these struggles demonstrated the enormous power and the enormous difficulties of changing the relations of force in the world that is forming today. The struggles in Los Angeles were struggles in which all the urban, metropolitan unrest of marginalized groups was expressed in its highest form, in the form of occupying the social territory, looting the wealth of that shop window of the world which is Los Angeles. Los Angeles is Hollywood, the center of the largest industries of images that exist in the world, and thus the largest center of the production of languages.

Chiapas was no longer a bourgeois revolt, no longer a third-worldist revolt aimed at capitalist development, but a revolt that was grounded on the search for an identity and a permanent counterpower against the models of development. Paris was a struggle that was organized in a very ambiguous way at the beginning but in the course of struggle, through those stoppages of public transportation in Paris and in the rest of France, it developed into a practice of the constitution of a new public space. These three struggles really had in common as basis the drive to constitute a new absolute public space against a globalization that plays on differences in order to neutralize them. And thus, they all shared the emergence of singularity as the demand of the collectivity; they were three struggles that each had in themselves a moment of resistance against the constitution of this world center of direction, against the political form of the globalization of markets. And on the other hand, they had in themselves this little key, which is probably fundamental, the autonomy and independence of subjects in the constitution of public space. Can these three struggles, situated as they are, in their differences and in their lack of communication, construct the common for the 1990s?

Are they the crucial and paradigmatic limit experience of a revolutionary process to come, of a humanity to come? I don't know.

 

The French Strikes of '95

One could easily recognize at various levels the emergence of this new figure of production. The most elementary level was that of the reconstruction of urban communities through the impromptu organization of transportation. The subway wasn't running, the buses weren't running.

This incredible phenomenon emerged, which lasted for months, in which people went out in cars, organized themselves collectively, and waited in lines for cars that came by and gave them a lift. This expressed an incredible and enormous kind of socialization, community, and joy. But this was a superficial phenomenon, even though it was not irrelevant from the point of view of social habits, and indicated the rise of a wealth of communitarian affects that already exist among these metropolitan populations.

Then there was a second element, which had to do with the conception of public services. In other words, we have understood public services, rightly, as the fundamental precondition of every form of production. People didn't go out to defend the privileges of the public service workers. They went out to defend the public character, that is, the communitarian and collective character of all services as conditions of production. And therefore as conditions of their own lives. As something that must be linked back to life, to the "biopolitics" of each person. The third element, a very important one, had to do with challenging the current conceptions of privatization. What does privatization mean? It means giving over public goods into the hands of private owners; but even that could be seen as secondary.

The problem is that giving over into the hands of private owners means lowering the people's capacity for the enjoyment of wealth; it means the "disinflation" of the common. Whereas instead the thrust toward inflation, the inflation of new needs, is fundamental. Therefore we saw for the first time in France I believe at the level of countries of developed capitalism examples of communitarian construction that were extremely important. The construction of general assemblies, in which different trade sectors broke with what had been the vertical lines of command to create "soviets", the general assemblies were "soviets," they were communitarian forms of political discussion of the practices of all the different trade groups. Therefore, this was a practically definitive break in the relationship between the base and the leadership. And this happened without illusions, because even the "coordination" movements did not succeed in achieving this generality of general assemblies.

But always with an extreme intelligence. All this never fell into extremism, it always functioned.

And then the other fundamental element was the biopolitical internalization of public service. It was not so much a question of defending corporative trade interests but rather a question of adopting the public as the basic form of every production. This was thus an enormous critique of the private. And in the third place, the political critique of the liberals was pushed to its limit, with forms of class hatred that developed in extremely positive terms.

 

Albania

The strange province of the Third World, or of the Soviet, socialist Second World in crisis, or in any case as a phenomenon of flight, which was no longer a flight from civil war or from anything else, it was really this strange postmodern figure of a search for work, wealth, and culture that attracted them. That strange island, that strange country that is Albania, which was completely circled by the world, linked at times to bizarre ideologies and organizational structures, and which in the very moment when it was freed, no longer moved toward the State, toward the constitution of the State, but went simply in search of freedom. They all left in boats. What happened next? In order to control this labor power, to block it, to prevent masses of people from arriving and destabilizing the markets and countries of mature capitalism, they tried at all costs from the outside to restore the State by force. The situation of Albania is paradox that I find rather interesting. That said, however, there have been several other situations in the history of capitalism in which the same two necessities have come together: on one hand the need to have a very strong mobility of labor power and on the other the need to succeed in regulating it. All capitalist accumulation has passed through this passage between Scylla and Charybdis, through this alternative. There is no doubt that in this case too they tried intermediary formulas to block the movement of populations, like the poor laws in the history of capitalism when it formed, in England in particular, which were essentially laws that sought to block the flows of labor power. Today this attempt arises again, through State politics, through a certain redistribution around the areas where investment is possible, and where it is possible therefore to contain labor power.

 

Miscegenations

I can really see being formed, at least tendentially, this new dynamic order of population movements and thus ever larger miscegenations and hybridizations, capacities for ever larger cultural integrations that up to a certain point can also be functional to the productive order, but set out from a certain moment and become the lever that topples over that old order of nations. And this seems to me a very beautiful thing, the fact that this capitalist power, which must continually be reterritorialized, which must always become the norm, is upset by these movements.

 

North-South

There are no more walls, this seems to me an important fact.

There are obviously at times attempts to make exclusions, but these walls exist as much within each single country as they do between one country and another -- as much across the Mediterranean as across Paris, as much across the Pacific as across Los Angeles. The distinction between North and South is a distinction that no longer makes sense except when considered within the determinate arrangements in which the attempt to recontrol the movements of labor power have become fundamental.

Therefore there is no longer North and South but there is simply the participation in production or the exclusion from production, the situations where people are put in position to work, naturally at a lower cost, and those where people are excluded from work by threats. But these situations too where people are excluded from work are productive situations, as we said earlier.

 

Undocumented

I would say that the struggles of the "sans papiers," the illegal aliens in France reveals a fundamental thing: the demand really for a right of citizenship, and thus for biopolitical intensity, for presence on the social terrain. It is a radical demand for the right of citizenship for those who move around. It represents in itself a subversive element of the national legal order and represents a first political translation of a situation that is becoming generalized. This is becoming a demand for legal recognition, for the rights of citizenship for all who work. This development thus creates a political integration of the new world productive order and the movements that arise from it.

We have to be able to imagine the fact of being citizens of the world in the fullest sense, realizing no longer the Internationale of workers but a community of all the people who want to be free.

 

Immaterial Labor and Migrants

When we talk about immaterial labor we are not referring simply to intellectual labor. By intellectual labor we mean corporeal labor that certainly includes the intellect but refers primarily to its plasticity, its malleability, its capacity to adapt in some way to every situation. I would say that the category of immaterial labor is a category that allows us to understand profoundly precisely this plasticity of the new labor power. Certainly there are differences between speaking about mass intellectuality and speaking about flows of immigrants that are sometimes themselves flows of intellectual labor power. For example, with respect to North Africa or other such regions, the emigrants are normally people who have already had a certain level of education, high school or even several years of college. But this is completely secondary with respect to the fundamental characteristic, which is their mobility, that plasticity of this labor power, which can always adapt to the immateriality of productive flows.

 

Exile

You have to look carefully at this history. I would say that the exile that we experienced was extremely linear. Proletarian exile or nomadism is something completely different. Really we still lived—given our background, the quality of our culture, and the character of our practice –the experiences of the 19th century. They were often bitter and hard experiences as they were back then, but they fit within a continuous development and a transformation that were fundamentally the same as those of the old political émigrés. Today the question of exile has become the same thing as nomadism and "miscegenation." It involves on one hand the proletariat taking an active role in a world market of labor power, and on the other it tends toward the miscegenation or hybridization of knowledges and thus this flexibility that rises up between material-immaterial labor, these new forms of action, of cooperating in labor. Therefore I would say that our exile has been a literary paradigm of what were real phenomena. And this is true even though each of us has had to find work in construction, in cafes, and in the strangest places in order later to attain a somewhat strong intellectual position, and find a place finally in the new sites of "immaterial" labor power. But I think that really the continuity of our discourse should be linked instead to the great classical traditions of exile.

 

De Senectute

More than a reflection on growing old, this essay by Deleuze seems to me to be about disease. I always had the impression that all of Deleuze's judgments were reflections on disease, and in particular in a classic passage when he says Spinoza died after 40 years of disease but not of aging. As for myself, I am a perfectly healthy person. I just had my check-up and the doctor says I'm healthy in every respect. I await growing old, and I think that it is something completely different. In other words, I think that growing old is a slowing down of the ability to act, a simple and sweet slowing down.

Growing old is not the end but a sweet, calm extension of the ability to act. Death does reside in growing old like the interstices that run throughout life; death arises in growing old rather like something that the sense of eternity, and thus the intensity of life, can always go beyond. Fundamentally, death does not exist. Because when you exist death doesn't, and when death exists you no longer do. The possibility of going beyond death is the great dream not of youth but of old age. Succeeding in organizing life to go beyond death is a task facing humanity, a task as important as that of going beyond exploitation, which is the cause of death. Going beyond death is this great step forward. Death is not necessary for life; death is something that exists in addition to life, and growing old is not an approximation of death but a different joy of life. From all points of view: intellectual, sexual, social relationships. I am a great admirer of all those who write books on growing old, De Senectute, not because old people are the wisest, but simply because in old age you can live more. I've always been disgusted by sexual and erotic relations among young people with their rapidity, their violence, those animal desires. I like sweetness, time, and intellectuality, the immateriality of relations. And you can only have them when you are a certain age. There is a hedonism, a superior hedonism, in what people call old age, which is really the highest form of life, and which should be recognized.

I say this against the terribly irrational and idiotic conceptions of life, death, youth, and old age that were invented when the rhythm of life, when the average life expectancy was 40 years. This is an old idea that is still held today, when living past 100 years old is the least a person can expect.

Therefore, from this point of view, I would say that every old person should continue to work because retirement is absurd. Here we can really recognize a radical change in the ontology of the present.

Therefore this problem of growing old is something against which, even in Deleuze's writings, there is just the repetition of cliches.

 

Love

The materialist definition of love is a definition of community, that is, a definition of the construction of affective relationships that extend through a generosity that constructs social arrangements. Love cannot be something that is closed in a couple or in the family, but must be something that opens up to a wider community. It must be something that somehow constructs communities of knowledge and desire, that becomes constructive of something else. Today love is posed in an absolutely fundamental way as the destruction of every attempt to close existence in something proper or private. I think that love is the fundamental key for transforming the proper or private into what is common.

 

Eternity

The materialist conception of eternity involves first of all the fact that every action that you do is not referred back to anything but to your own responsibility. That every action is singular and therefore acts on itself, and has no references except causal relations and the continuous relationship with others. Every time that you do this, that you assume the responsibility of an action, that thing lives forever, in eternity. There is no immortality of the soul, but there is the eternity of your actions. Eternity of the present you live in every successive instant. There is this complete fullness, apart from any possible transcendence, even any logical or moral transcendence. There is this intensity of action, of the responsibility of action. You understand because, for example, I can say to a woman who betrayed me, "You are a bitch." And if you say this with respect to immortality it would make no sense, but with respect to the responsibility of the act that each of us assumes, then I can be a bastard, she a bitch, because each of us is bastard or bitch in the responsibility of our concrete acts. There is no reference of responsibility. Each of us is responsible for his or her singularity, for his or her present, for the intensity of life, for the youth or age that each of us brings to it. And this is the only way to avoid death: seize time, hold it, and fill it with responsibility. And every time that you lose it in routine or in habit or weariness, depression, or anger, you lose the "ethical" sense of life. This is eternity. Eternity is our responsibility with respect to the present, in every moment and every instant. A complete ethical responsibility, in which we have to invest all of our beauty, or sometimes our meanness, but in either case with sincerity. I am proposing nothing less than a secular and atheistic Franciscanism.

 

Finitude

I don't know, when you say pessimism of the will or optimism of the intellect, I don't understand it in the terms you do. For me, optimism of the intellect is a Spinozian conception of being as eternity. And on this point I think that Felix and I were completely in agreement. And when I think of pessimism of the will, I think of the fact that the construction of struggle, of organizations, even of books and arguments, always goes over obstacles, but obstacles that can be surpassed -- therefore limits, or objects of finitude, limitedness, or otherwise they can be obstacles in the proper sense, something that can be surpassed. The ontological quantity of being, therefore the determination of possibility becomes fundamental at this point. In Felix's death there was, and this corresponds to all the conversations we had, in which I disagreed strongly with him, and it corresponds too to the sensibility of the end of the 1980s, there was an exasperation with the impossibility of surpassing finitude, the limit. Felix was dealing with a crisis that had its roots, like everything in his work, in psychopathological analysis, which was linked to this crazy wager he made to cure the women he had married. And on the other hand, he was dealing with what was his complete optimism of the intellect. And there everything fell apart. I saw him cry, I cry sometimes too, I saw him cry on my shoulder saying, "I can't take it anymore, this finitude, this negative determinacy is insurmountable." That became really a challenge he took on, but it fell apart. Félix, however, is eternal. I think he is one of the people who had the most being, the most happiness, the most joy, the greatest ability to bring together the vital spirits that run throughout the metropolises, the greatest ability to appreciate the vital things that his friends told him. Absolutely one of the most beautiful people I have ever known, and there he had that moment of desperation, and he touched on death. But it is a contradiction of both the things that we said, of the optimism of the intellect and pessimism of the will.

 

Poetry

I think that it is banal to say that poetry can grasp or foresee metaphysical moments or even particularly strong moments of historical analysis. As for Leopardi he was dealing with a great metaphor for the problem of the end of revolution. The revolution is over, but in the end of revolution what wins is a completely reactionary mode of living. And the nostalgia of the poet is really the attempt to reconstruct in this passage, this reactionary desert in which humans have been thrown, to reconstruct those other values, pushing them forward. Leopardi experienced the period of reaction and restoration after the end of the French Revolution, and in this situation he—a man fundamentally tied not only to a tradition but also to a specific culture, to a reactionary language like the language of the Italian Baroque in the final analysis—what did he do, what did he make? He managed to see beyond his own times. He searched in the period of restoration to rediscover the values that had been negated, that no longer lived; and he didn't do this with nostalgia, but did it really with an ability of poetic creation of the future. He managed even to propose horizons, even from the linguistic standpoint, to invent new forms of community that could powerfully disrupt this dark phase in which he found himself living and anticipate mass movements, movements of desire. Therefore poetry served as a scalpel for delving into history and making it bring forth not only what remained of the past but what could be invented in the future.

 

Eulogy to the Absence of Memory

I have never thought and I will never think that going back to Italy means taking up an inheritance. The inheritance no longer exists, it has been dissolved, and as often happens when these great patrimonies dissolve, the elements of it that remain are completely marginal, sometimes even perverse. There are numerous families that live with such stories of an enormous inheritance that has been dissolved in the complete pathology of their relationship to the inheritance. When I was much younger, maybe eleven years ago, I wrote an eulogy to the absence of memory. It was not really an eulogy to the absence of memory, but you can see from reading the article that it was an eulogy to the absence of patrimony. And this is the thing I would still stand by. My return to Italy will certainly not be an attempt to resurrect the old shadows and ghosts. It will be a dialogue, like Leopardi imagined, between an old collector of mummies and his mummies. Personally what I want is to understand a social reality that has completely changed. But in that social reality, and on this point I disagree with all the Italians I know, it is not true that only the negative aspects have won. Besides the sovereign power there is always the power of the multitude. Besides domination there is always insubordination.

And it is a matter of searching, and searching precisely from the lowest level, which is not really prison but the level on which people suffer, on which people are still poorest, most exploited, in which the senses and languages are most separated from every power to act, yet they exist. And all this is life, not death.

© 1998 Antonio Negri
Translation © 1998 Michael Hardt

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Fake Marxism

    Hardt and Negri assert that the new Empire of globalisation is essentially a process of emancipation. But it is superficial to see globalisation as basically a political process. It is also a ridiculous prettification of the political processes actually occurring in the world. Is the partition of Iraq part of a process of emancipation? The coups in Honduras and Paraguay? The destruction of Yugoslavia? The ‘ever closer union’ of the EU? According to Mark Thwaite’s review, Negri and Hardt’s new Empire “is the result of the transformation of modern capitalism into a set of power relationships we endlessly replicate that transcend the nation state (so anti-imperialism is out as a progressive politics).” Thwaite claims this book is ‘a key post-Marxist text’. All it shows is that post-Marxism is really just anti-Marxism. So anti-imperialism is ‘out’ - very comforting for the empire’s owners. This is to fetishise empire and to make it impossible to transcend. Hardt and Negri’s ultra-leftism comes full circle. Full of revolutionary rhetoric, they end up worshipping the empire they claim to oppose. Hardt and Negri use the work of French post-structuralist theorists such as Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Jacques Derrida. A reviewer from France wrote, “There is no 'inside' of metropolitan Capital and an 'outside' of its expansion. It has become territorially unhooked, supervenient, engulfing global social life in its entirety. The gut feeling - "the telos we can feel pulsing" - is that the modulation of imperialism into 'empire' is however just the condition of its vulnerability.” This proves all too well the uselessness of the French post-structuralist theorists. In reality, globalisation is just the liberals’ word for imperialism. Countries are right to assert their sovereignty against imperialism.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    I thought these guys were dead ...

    I wanted to edge this difficult work up a notch from 3 stars - but with the caveat that you have to be genuinely interested in peripheral trends in international politics to have a real need to read it. I would have thought that Marxists were buried under the rubble of the Berlin Wall, but this book proves me wrong. Though they point out things wrong with capitalism, and criticize the things wrong with the former Soviet Union, they don't see anything wrong with the ultimate end- state of Marxism. Give it up, boys - people aren't good enough for true Marx, so we'll have to settle for just making everyone gradually better off, one sleazy little capitalist at a time. This book would be good fodder for an academic paper.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2002

    Full of interesting observations

    This book is full of interesting observations that should at least stir some thought as to the true condition of the world.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)