Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at
Sat Apr 15 14:03:48 MDT 1995

I didn't see myself necessarily "defending" Negri's style.  It certainly
does get pretty incomprehensible at times.  In fact, there's a point in
_Working Class Autonomy and the Crisis_ when Red Notes, the translators,
insert a footnote to say they don't have much of an idea of what Negri
was up to on such and such a page of the original Italian; so they sent
word to "Italian comrades" to try and find out what it meant, and the
word came back that *they* didn't know either, but that they didn't think
it mattered too much.  So Red Notes put in a footnote to say that there
was a page missing in the translation at this point, and that they'd be
happy to pass on their rough guesses as to the meaning to those who were

On the other hand, putting Negri in context does make him a little more
comprehensible.  I repeat that there is a long history of debate in
discussion over the terms Negri uses, a debate with Tronti, Panzieri,
Bologna, Alquati among others.  It is just very hard to find out about
this, because France (and to a lesser extent Germany) has been viewed as
the trendy locale for social and political theory.  Hardt and Negri's
joint-authored book, _Labor of Dionysus_, is more comprehensible still, as
it was written essentially for an Anglophone audience.

Moreover, I don't think it's fair to say Negri is difficult because of
his distance from the revolutionary movement; on the contrary, much of
the difficulty of the 70s piece arises because they were written in such
haste, as Negri was in the thick of the various extra-parliamentary
movements (why else did he have to write _The Savage Anomaly_ in prison?).

About Spinoza: strange though it might sound, one of the most
comprehensible guides to Spinoza that I've read is Gilles Deleuze's
_Spinoza: A Practical Philsophy_.  For those who are interested, this was
published by City Lights.

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list