The Populist Moment, Chapter 11, Part 1
Alain de Benoist
“Multitudes” Against the People
On the Theses of Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri
Introduction here, Chapter 10 Part 2 here, Chapter 11 Part 2 here
Translated by F. Roger Devlin
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri published a book intitled Empire (E.) in the United States in April 2000, followed four years later by another essay, Multitude (M.).[i] Soon translated across the entire world, these two big works (nearly a thousand pages total) quickly began to exercise — and continue to exercise — great influence on certain segments of the anti-globalist movement. Upon publication, the New York Times said of E. that it constituted the “Communist Manifesto of the twenty-first century,” and described it as the “great theoretical synthesis of the new millennium.” In Germany, Die Zeit saw in it a “grand analysis of society.” Benjamin Stille predicted it would become an “international bestseller.”[ii] David Sherman spoke of the “most influential neo-Marxist work that has appeared since the monumental political events of the end of the 1980s.”[iii]
Not everyone agreed with these hyperbolic comments, however. Empire also aroused strong opposition, even on the part of those who recognized it as an important work of political philosophy, and there was no lack of criticism, from Slavoj Žižek to Robert Kurz, and from Anselm Jappe to Danilo Zolo. Passionate discussions have resulted. In France, a journal was created to transmit Hardt and Negri’s theses — the journal Multitudes[iv] — while all over the world publication of the two books has launched, then nourished, an intense discussion which continues today. We propose to take stock of these debates here and to evaluate the theories presented by Hardt and Negri.
Michael Hardt is an American from Seattle, Associate Professor of Literature at Duke University, and the author of a doctoral thesis on Deleuze and Negri. Antonio Negri is a much better-known figure. Born in 1933 in Padua, son of one of the founders of the Italian Communist Party in Liverno, he was active when he was very young in Catholic Action (Azione catolica). From the end of the 1950s, he participated in the elaboration of the “workerist” current of the Italian extreme Left in the pages of Quaderni rossi. In 1955, he spent time on an Israeli Kibbutz. In 1969 he was one of the founders of Potere operaio, then of the group Autonomia operaio beginning in 1973. At the same time, he has had a career as Professor of the Philosophy of Law at the University of Padua. There he defended armed struggle and exalted the figure of the “criminal worker.” During the anni di piombo,[vi] suspected of being the “brains” of the Red Brigades, he was arrested in April 1979 in the course of a vast dragnet operation and found himself imprisoned on the accusations of armed insurrection against the State, forcible confinement, and being an accomplice to muder in the Aldo Moro affair, none of which was ever accompanied by any sort of proof.[vii] It was in prison, where he was placed under strict surveillance, that he wrote his first book on the metaphysics of Spinoza, of whom he proposed a “Marxist” rereading in light of French post-structuralism, in particular of Gilles Deleuze.[viii] Elected a deputy of the Radical Party in June 1983, the very year in which his trial began, he left prison in the month of July thanks to the parliamentary immunity he had just acquired. When the Italian deputies decided to lift that immunity, he went into exile in Paris in September, where he joined the Collège international de philosophie. Close to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who introduced him to French intellectual circles, he taught at the University of Paris-VIII and at the École normale supérieure. Returning to Italy in July 1997, he was again imprisoned to complete his sentence. Paroled in 1999, he was finally freed in 2003. Today he divides his time between Venice and Paris, along with his companion, the philosopher Judith Revel. His play Swarm was produced in June 2005 at the Théâtre de la Colline.[ix]
Empire incontestably represents one of the most ambitious, but also most ambiguous, attempts to reformulate an entirely new analysis and strategy for the anti-capitalist Left. A number of observers, as we have seen, have recognized its importance, as well as emphasizing its imaginative power and the wealth of its philosophical references.[x] The work is in fact based on an impressive theoretical arsenal, which seems to make it difficult to refute. Antonio Negri “knows how to combine the rarely associated forms of prestige of both the revolutionary and the metaphysician,” says Philippe Raynaud, who also speaks of a “rather intoxicating music.”[xi]
What are the book’s main theses?
Postmodernity, according to Hardt and Negri, has brought about the disappearance of the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states. In the age of globalization, the classic states which were the great political actors of the modern age have become exhausted. The world is no longer governed by State systems, but by a single power structure of a sort never seen before. This global structure, with no outside [extériorité] and totally deterritorialized, has cosmopolitan universalism for its political and normative substance. Its form of action, neither statist nor national, is “biopolitical” power. It is this structure to which Hardt and Negri give the name “Empire.”
The Empire can be defined as a planetary structure of hierarchies and currents, based on a logic of volatile totality which transcends all the old cleavages between State and society, war and peace, constraint and freedom, center and periphery. Its emergence amounts to a total break with the political forms of classical modernity. “Contrary to imperialism, the Empire does not establish a territorial center of power and is not based on borders or fixed barriers. It is a decentralized and deterritorialized apparatus of government which gradually integrates the space of the entire world within its perpetually expanding open frontiers” (E. 17).
With Westphalian states out of the picture, “governance” is exercised beyond and above governments. However, the decline of nation-states has not actually caused sovereignty to disappear. The Empire holds a new form of sovereignty exercised by supra-and transnational organisms “united under a single logic of government” (E. 16). Within the Empire, a totality with no exterior and no outside, “Capital and sovereignty become totally confounded” (M. 380). The Empire is the political form of capitalist globalization. The “politics” of the Empire is no longer based on the State’s fictitious unity, the general will, or popular sovereignty, for global “governance” itself tends to become “fractal”; i.e., “to integrate conflicts not by imposing a coherent social apparatus [or plan: dispositif], but by controlling differences” (E. 411). No longer building itself upon the centrifugal forces of nation-states, imperial normativity — the New World Order — has been established on the ruins of state sovereignty. The Empire is without spatial limits (“no territorial frontier limits its reign”) or temporal limits (it presents itself as “an order which genuinely suspends the course of history, and thereby fixes the present state of affairs for eternity”). Abolishing space and time, the Empire “presents its power not as a transitory moment in the flow of history, but as a regime without natural frontiers, and thus in this sense outside history or at the end of history” (E. 19). Bereft of center, it only exists by constantly extending the limits of its grasp. The Empire is “smooth,” a non-place.
Hardt and Negri also note that the expansion of this new dominant system is no longer carried out in the name of any right of conquest, but above all in the name of peace — in the name of the right of “humanitarian” intervention and interference. At the same time, the return of “just war” (bellum justum) makes of war an “intrinsically self-justifying activity” (E. 36), the enemy being at once banalized (he is reduced to the object of a police action legitimized by universal values) and absolutized (he becomes a figure of Evil threatening the world’s moral order). “Imperial justice,” a series of techniques based on a permanent state of emergency and the use of an international police power, is confounded with a right of justified interference in the name of superior ethical principles. The Empire’s expansionist tendency is thereby radically distinct from that of the old imperialism, which consisted essentially in the expansion of the nation-state. The space of the old imperialism necessarily had an external geographical boundary; the Empire abolishes the distinction between exterior and interior. Instead of being “exclusive,” the Empire is fundamentally inclusive insofar as it presents itself as the primer for a universal republic.
The two authors go on to affirm, forcefully, that neither the United States nor any other country constitutes the Empire’s center. Far from being its heart or motor, the United States merely holds one piece among others of the Empire’s apparatus: “Contrary to what the last advocates of nationalism maintain, the Empire is not American.”[xii] Going still further, Hardt and Negri state that the United States is in no way itself an imperialist power: “The United States is not the center of an imperialist project; and in fact, no State can be today. Imperialism is over. No nation henceforth will be a world power as the nations of Europe used to be” (E. 18).
With the Empire, capitalism causes economic and political power to fuse into a single order at the same time as it pushes the coincidence between morality and law to an extreme point. It thereby constitutes the very model of “biopower,” in the sense that it tends to rule not only human interactions but also human nature (his knowledge and affects). “Biopower” must be understood here in the manner of Michel Foucault,[xiii] a power issuing from State administrations, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, transnational institutions, and agents of “governance,” which henceforth tend to manage the most intimate aspects of daily life and the private sphere; i.e., itself to produce the totality of social relations and forms of life. Biopower results from the interpenetration of the economic, the political, the social, and the cultural. By producing cultural goods, forms of existence, and affects, biopolitical power ends by transforming consciences (subjectivities) and bodies — in short: life itself.
The emergence of biopower marks the passage from the old (modern) disciplinary society to the (postmodern) society of surveillance and control, whose main characteristic is the increased interiorization of constraint:
While disciplinary society puts the population to work and assures itself of obedience thanks to a ramified network of institutional apparatuses which produce and rule customs and practices (the school, the workshop, the prison, the asylum), the society of control is familiar with mechanisms of mastery which are ever more democratic and ever more immanent throughout the social realm: power is exercised from now on thanks to machines which directly organize brains (communication systems, information networks) and bodies (social advantages and supervised activities) in the direction of an autonomous state of alienation.”[xiv]
The Empire’s constitution, as described by Hardt and Negri, “is formed neither on the basis of a contractual mechanism nor by the intermediary of a federative source. The source of imperial normativity is born of a new machine at once industrial, commercial and communicational — of a globalized biopolitics within which economic production and political constitution, far from forming a hierarchy or determining each other in the final instance, tend increasingly to coincide.[xv]
Up to this point, Hardt and Negri offer a rather good description of the transfer of sovereignty happening today from states toward supra- or transnational organisms, the deterritorialization of the dominant forces, and the rise of a global form of “governance” exercised at the expense of governments. Taking polysemy into account, however, one might debate the aptness of the word “empire” to describe this new reality. In any case, the informal concept of empire, as opposed to the formal empire which extends itself by successive territorial conquests, is not as new as the two authors suggest. It has been used in the past to describe many non-military attempts at domination (acculturation, corruption of local elites, etc.), including in Antiquity, and is found in the modern age in so-called dependency theories (Immanuel Wallenstein), and even in neo-Marxist theories of monopolistic capitalism (Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy).[xvi]
The thesis according to which the Empire has in some sense neither Capital nor “emperors” is even more questionable. Hardt and Negri are not wrong to say that the New World Order has no absolutely identifiable center (which is normal, for it is present everywhere). But it does not follow that certain countries do not benefit from it more than others, that they are not its motors or vehicles more than others, nor that there do not exist elites corresponding to it. In reality, there most certainly does exist a transnational elite — the global New Class — which, however decentralized and globalized it may be, nonetheless represents the heart of this new power: a deterritorialized transnational elite to accompany a deterritorialized transnational economy. That this elite is informal rather than institutionalized does not make its existence any less real. It is this elite which controls international markets, while the political elites in the proper sense constitute that part of the transnational elite which controls the New World Order’s politico-military dimension. In being unable to identify this new global elite, Hardt and Negri differ from the theoreticians of the New Class (Paul Piccone, Christopher Lasch, etc.) who, most often referring to Theodor Adorno and his theory of “artificial negativity,” see in the emergence of this New Class the climax of the emergence of a “totally administered society.” Moreover, as we shall see, while the theorists of the New Class propose to go back to what remains of the traditions and customs of pre-modern organic societies, Hardt and Negri undisguisedly celebrate the process of capitalist modernity by affirming that it is in the process of opening new paths of action.
Moreover, both authors remain totally indifferent to the fact that, under the cover of “cosmopolitanism,” globalism is diffusing specifically Western, and more especially Anglo-Saxon, values and criteria of well-being across the entire world. Their statement that the United States is not an imperial power, and therefore that anti-imperialism now only amounts to a reactive “sovereignist” nostalgia, makes them forget the role played by Washington in the most recent wars. More generally, it prevents them from seeing that hegemonic phenomena are still present today via soft power [in English in the original], and that current American politics means to be active on a world scale more than ever. Atilio A. Boron, for whom Empire “contains very serious diagnostic and interpretive errors,” goes so far as to say that “another victim of the Iraq War is Hardt and Negri’s theoretical construction.”[xvii]
“Imperialism,” he adds, “is neither an accessory fact nor a policy conducted by a few states, but a new stage in the development of capitalism. This stage is marked, today more than yesterday, by the concentration of capital, the crushing dominance of monopolies, the growing role of finance capitalism, the exportation of capital, and the division of the world into several ‘spheres of influence.’”[xviii] “In fact,” write Jérôme Maucourant and Bruno Tinel, “it does not seem to us as established, unless one wishes to skip over reality, that the American State and nation have dissolved into an imperial form of government on a world scale.”[xix] Indeed, the reality of American imperialism cannot be contested. Hardt and Negri’s mistake is to think the rise of the Empire has put an end to it, whereas the two coexist. The truth is that globalization certainly includes the United States, which is not its only motor (although its principal vehicle), but nevertheless American military, political, and “ideological” hegemony continues to make their effects known. Reducing the real to certain new tendencies — of which they declare rather hastily that they have abolished all that preceded them — Hardt and Negri do not see that the contemporary world remains a place where different and contradictory logics intertwine.
Danilo Zolo, for his part, maintains that it is still perfectly legitimate to speak of a “global empire” to describe the American political system in a geopolitical, systemic, normative, and ideological sense. He adds that for Hardt and Negri, “Empire” tends to become a pure mental category, which poses obvious problems for those who mean to combat it: On the one hand, if everything is imperial, to the point that nothing remains which isn’t, then we can just as well say that nothing is imperial (the use of the term amounts to an arbitrary convention); on the other hand, the question obviously arises: “if we exclude the politico-military apparatus of the great Western powers, in particular that of the United States, who is carrying out imperial functions?”[xx] And so who or what must we oppose?
But it is when judgement must be passed on the “Empire” that the real debate begins. Hardt and Negri announce this at the outset, in fact; for them, the Empire is not something bad. Quite the contrary. By putting an end to the system of nation-states and substituting for it a cosmopolitan perspective, it has done something rather positive. Hardt and Negri congratulate themselves on the Empire’s cosmopolitanism. They adhere to it fully. What they want is merely to extend this cosmopolitanism by taking advantage of the circumstances which have allowed its imposition, in order to give it a more “just” form: the “imperial” constitution must be preserved, but placed in the service of non-capitalist ends. In other words, it is a matter of controlling or regulating the Empire, “perfecting” it, but in no case of destroying it (E., 416). The construction of the Empire in this sense represents a “step forward.” The Empire is progress, “better than what preceded it” (E., 434).
Obviously, the same goes for globalization, which is good because it has created “new circuits of cooperation and collaboration which cut across nations and continents, thus giving rise to an unlimited number of encounters and interactions” (M., 7), and because it “tends to blur the borders separating political, economic, social, and cultural forms of power and production” (M., 380).[xxi] In the same spirit, Hardt and Negri state that the current decline in international law is rather a good thing (M., 47). We therefore need not less, but more globalization: “Instead of resisting the much-decried globalization, we should accelerate the process so as to build new democratic structures meant to benefit the exploited forces as soon as possible.”[xxii] This way of proceeding is based on taking into account capitalism’s ambiguity: On the one hand, it has generalized human exploitation; on the other, it is — by the same title as many currents which oppose it — the vehicle of an intrinsic cosmopolitanism which can only be applauded. Thus, the Enlightenment philosophy which engendered liberalism is good per se. It must merely be purged of its dross.
But Hardt and Negri go still farther. Not only is the Empire not something bad, since its inspiration is fundamentally good, but — divine surprise! — it offers superior possibilities of “creation and liberation.” Why? Because, says Antonio Negri, “the legal order of the global market does not simply mark a new form of supreme power which it tends to organize: it also registers powers of life and insubordination, of production and class struggle which are new.”[xxiii] The key idea here is that the Empire itself generates the conditions leading to its own transcendence insofar as by its very functioning, it ends up creating the historical agent which will succeed it; viz., the “multitude,” a key concept we will say more about below: “Globalization, insofar as it carries out a real deterritorialization of old structures of exploitation and control, is really a condition of the multitude’s liberation” (E., 82). In other words, the authors say explicitly, the Empire is good in itself, but not for itself.
Rosa Luxemburg explained that capitalism’s expansion, always going out from a central area in order to gradually absorb the margins, has regularly occurred at the expense of an external world. Today there is no such world, for capitalism has extended its grasp over the entire planet — or very nearly. This means, for Hardt and Negri, that the Empire can only be challenged from within. This is not wrong, but what is peculiar to Hardt and Negri is drawing the much more debatable conclusion that an internal struggle cannot take the form of frontal opposition. This is why they condemn any form that radically contests globalism, whether it occurs in the name of localism, ecologism, the old class struggle, popular cultures, third-worldism, communitarian thought, classical Marxism, etc. Against localism, for example, Hardt and Negri state that “the strategy of local defense is harmful, because it obscures and even denies the real alternative solutions and the possibilities for liberation which exist within the Empire” (E., 75). Anti-imperialism is similarly declared “reactionary,” for in fact it can only end by reinforcing the power of nation-states (or creating new ones). Finally, it is equally useless to try to reconstruct the old welfare state, as certain Left-wing parties attempt to do in order to confront the challenges of globalization.
To try to justify their way of proceeding, Hardt and Negri take shelter behind Karl Marx. “We say,” they write, “that the Empire is better in the same way Marx affirmed that capitalism was better than the forms of society and modes of production which preceded it” (E., 73). It was in fact the rise of capitalism which put an end to feudalism. Just as it would be a serious error to oppose capitalism in the name of the order which it succeeded, it would be just as serious an error to oppose the Empire in the name of the political sovereignty of states. “So non-global philosophy must be rejected, as well as any form of naturalistic ecologism and localism, as primitive and anti-dialectical positions; i.e., as essentially ‘reactionary.’”[xxiv] But Hardt and Negri forget that Marx, although he did congratulate himself upon the elimination of the feudal system by the bourgeoisie, nevertheless proposed to establish an anti-systemic force radically opposed to the system in place, namely capitalism, while the strategy preached by Hardt and Negri has absolutely nothing anti-systemic; quite the contrary. Marx, in other words, did not reference the role capitalism had played in the past to say we must compromise with it or expect any liberation as a result of its development. He rather proposed to confront it head on,[xxv] while Hardt and Negri assure us that we must above all not try to destroy the Empire. The comparison therefore quickly breaks down.
In fact, Antonio Negri limits himself to recycling old Italian “workerist” theories from the 1970s according to which the development of capitalism can fundamentally be explained as a reaction to workers’ struggles; i.e., to the inventions and development of the world of work, since only the movements of the proletariat produce history. Technological innovations, for example, are not the result of competition on the global markets between companies, but a response to the “organized threat” of the proletariat — which is obviously entirely false. In the 1970s, “workerism” defended the idea that the workers are the only artisans of the revolution, since they are the only ones who, starting from the factory, can drive Capital to develop in a liberatory direction. Totally rejecting parties and unions, along with all forms of struggle exterior to the factory, “workerism” thus claimed to “put back into motion a positive mechanism of capitalist development.” Since only the working class was creative, the grip of Capital became a mere reactive crystallization of confiscated proletarian energy. As late as 1977, Negri was able to write that “only the construction of capitalism [sic] can give us truly revolutionary conditions.” As Anselm Jappe has well observed, for Hardt and Negri, in the last analysis, “capitalist development is nothing but a parasitic and repressive redirection of what the proletarian spontaneously creates in his desire for freedom,”[xxvi] which amounts to saying that the limit of capitalism does not lie in its internal contradictions, but only in the subjectivity of the exploited.
It was by adopting this scheme which denies any possibility of capitalism’s autonomous development that the two authors could present the Empire as the result of social struggles, whereas Marx perfectly demonstrated that one of capitalism’s great characteristics is, on the contrary, to organize the production of its own demands itself. In their books, Hardt and Negri maintain that the emergence of the Empire is itself already a positive response to a social critique prior to the power of globalization’s political domination. In this sense, the Empire represents a “victory of the proletariat” (sic) marking the birth of a new possibility for dissent. “The constitution of the Empire,” they write, “is not the cause, but the consequence of the emergence of the power of the multitude” (E., 394), which means that the Empire is merely Capital’s reaction to the transformations of labor imposed by the multitude, and to the new social relations which follow from this. Globalization must all the more be accepted in that it is itself the result of concessions which Capital has been forced to make to the forces of subjectivity, thereby constituting a possible source of a different globalization.
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[i] Empire 2000; Multitude.
[ii] Benjamin Stille, “Apocalypse Soon,” in The New York Review of Books, November 7, 2002.
[iii] David Sherman, “The Ontological Need: Positing Subjectivity and Resistance in Hardt and Negri’s Empire,” in Telos, no. 128, Summer 2004, 143.
[iv] In March 2000, Multitudes succeeded Jean-Marie Vincent’s former journal Futur antérieur, whose orientation was very different, however. The editor of Multitudes, Yann Moulier-Boutang, a son of the royalist philosopher Pierre Boutang, is professor Professor of economics Economics at Sciences-Po and the University of Compiègne. Longtime member of the economic commission of the Green Party, he belongs top Cosmopolitiques’the orientation committee of Cosmopolitiques and has also collaborated with such journals as Chimères, Vacarme, Alice, etc.
[v] Besides the texts cited in this article, cf. especially “Sovereignty, Multitudes, Absolute Democracy: A Discussion between Michael Hardt and Thomas Dumm about Hardt and Negri’s Empire,” in Theory and Event, 2000, 3; Paolo Virno, Grammaire de la multitude; Gopal Balakrishnan (ed.), Debating Empire (London: Verso, 2003); Ugo D. Rossi, “Le contre-Empire qui vient ou le discours du grand compétiteur. Essai de décryptage de l’ouvrage de Michael Hardt et Toni Negri,” in Cahiers pour l’analyse concrete, no 49-50, 2003, pp. 11-38 ; Negrisme
et Tute bianche : une contre-révolution de gauche (Nancy: Mutines Séditions, 2004); Nicholas Tampio (ed.), Can the Multitude Save the Left?, special issue of Theory and Event, 2005, 2; Atilio A. Boron, Empire and Imperialism: A Critical Reading of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (London: Zed Books, 2005); Ugo D. Rossi, Anti-Negri. Le contre-Empire qui vient ou le discours du grand compétiteur (Uzes: Inclinaison, 2007); and Louis Pinto, “La pensée post- de Toni Negri,” in Bertrand Geay & Laurent Willemey (eds.), Pour une gauche de gauche (Bellecombe-en-Bauges: éditions du Croquant, 2008).
[vi] The “years of lead,” a period of violence between the extreme factions of the Left and Right between the 1960s and 1980s.
[vii] Antonio Negri today states that he has “never approved violence as a practice” (interview in Philosophie Magazine, June-July 2006, 57).
[viii] L’Anomalie sauvage. Puissance et pouvoir chez Spinoza (Paris: Amsterdam, 2007). Negri has published his academic works under his full name, Antonion Negri, reserving the name Toni Negri for his more militant essays.
[ix] His ideas have recently been spread in Italy by small activist groups such as Tute bianche (“white combinations”), which was created in 1996 in the context of the coalition of alternative social networks, Ya Basta. The Tute Bianche, observed in Zapatista costumes during the demonstrations against the G8 Summit meeting in Genoa in July 2001, and whose spokesman at that time was Luca Casarini, shortly thereafter gave way to the Disobbedienti. On Antonio Negri’s political itinerary, cf. also Claudio Albertani, “Toni Negri et la déconcertante trajectoire de l’opéraisme italien », in A Contretemps, September 2003, 3-18.
[x] Cf., e.g., Gopal Balakrishnan, “Hardt and Negri’s Empire,” in New Left Review, September-October 2000.
[xi] Philippe Raynaud, L’Extrême gauche plurielle. Entre démocratie radicale et révolution  (Paris: Perrin, 2010), 147, 170.
[xii] Toni Negri, “L’’Empire’, stade suprême de l’impérialisme,” in Le Monde diplomatique, January 2001, 3.
[xiii] Cf. Michel Foucault, “Naissance de la biopolitique,” in Dits et écrits. III : 1976-1979 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 818-825; and Défense de la société (Paris: Seuil-Gallimard, 1997).
[xiv] Céline Spector, “La multitude ou le peuple ? Réflexions sur une politique de la multiplicité,” in Critique, November 2003, 885.
[xv] Ibid., 882.
[xvi] On the different present-day uses of the concept of empire, cf. Danilo Zolo, “Contemporary Uses of the Notion of Empire,” in Jura Gentium, 2007, 1.
[xvii] Atilio A. Boron, Empire and Imperialism, op. cit.
[xix] Jérôme Maucourant & Bruno Tinel, “Avènement du néocapitalisme : d’une internationalisation à une transnationalisation des économies ?”, text uploaded on March 28, 2003. “Plus généralement, ajoutent-ils, tout le problème est que Negri prend ce qu’il souhaite pour ce qui est” (ibid.).
[xx] Danilo Zolo, La Justice des vainqueurs. De Nuremberg à Bagdad (Paris: Jacqueline Chambon, 2009), 153. Cf. also the debate between Antonio Negri and Danilo Zolo published as “L’Impero e la moltitudine. Un dialogo sul nuovo ordine della globalizzazione,” in Reset, 73, 2002, 8-19 (reprinted in Jura Gentium, 2005, 1, then in Antonio Negri, Guide. Cinque lezioni su Impero e dintorni [Milan: Raffaello Cortina, 2003], 11-33). The complete version of this interview has only been published in English, in Radical Philosophy, no. 120, 2003, 23-37.
[xxi] This is why in 2005 Negri publicly supported a “yes” vote on the referendum on the proposed European Constitutional Treaty which in his view represented a step forward in the weakening of existing forms of sovereignty (“Cette merde d’État-nation,” Libération, May 13, 2005), which earned him a lot of criticism. Yann Moulier-Boutang took the same position.
[xxii] Céline Spector, “La multitude ou le peuple ? Réflexions sur une politique de la multiplicité,” op. cit., 883.
[xxiii] Toni Negri, “L’’Empire,’ stade suprème de l’impérialisme,” op. cit., 3.
[xxiv] Danilo Zolo, La Justice des vainqueurs, op. cit., 153.
[xxv] One might also say that Marx thought quite simply that capitalism was better in this sense than it was worse — the worst social system can objectively be called “better” in the sense that it better clarifies the front lines and arouses more resolute opposition.
[xxvi] “Les habits neufs du marxisme traditionnel,” in Anselm Jappe & Robert Kurz, Les Habits neufs de l’Empire. Remarques sur Negri, Hardt et Rufin (Paris: Lignes-Léo Scheer, 2003), 37. Cf. also Anselm Jappe, Les Aventures de la marchandise. Pour une nouvelle critique de la valeur (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 274.
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“What is peculiar to Hardt and Negri is drawing the much more debatable conclusion that an internal struggle cannot take the form of frontal opposition. This is why they condemn any form that radically contests globalism, whether it occurs in the name of localism, ecologism, the old class struggle, popular cultures, third-worldism, communitarian thought, classical Marxism, etc.”
From Marx himself, through Lenin, the Frankfurt School, and now Negri, the function of big-brained “Marxist” thought has been to condemn any positive resistance or action as futile if not outright “counter-revolutionary.” The ignorant peasants may think that more money or better healthcare might make their lives better, but the wise “thinker” has discerned the Laws of History, which insure that the Revolution is inevitable, but by the same token, cannot be “forced” by doing anything “prematurely” or, as here, “frontally.” It is inevitable, so just wait.
The ultimate form: Woke Capitalism; i.e., congratulations, comrade, we’ve already won!
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