Negri's Marxism

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at
Thu Feb 15 23:41:09 MST 1996

"Any bites"?  Some nibbles:

Bryan Alexander					Department of English
email: bnalexan at			University of Michigan
phone: (313) 764-0418				Ann Arbor, MI  USA    48103
fax: (313) 763-3128

On Fri, 16 Feb 1996, Marcus Strom wrote:

> On Negri and Autonomia
> I have some sort of romantic attachment to the autonomia groups that
> sprang out of the 60s and 70s. Everyone goes on and on about Paris in
> 1968, well, the way I look at it, '68 lasted most of the 70s in
> Italy.
> The founding works of the italian autonomia movement are a breath of
> fresh air from the 70s which were full of 'newLeft' bollocks - their entire
> orientation is to working class independent organisation and overthrow
> of the capitalist state. Negri was one of the main activist/theoreticians
> of this movement and they are worth studying.
> Much of this work has been 'postmodernised' in the 1990s. However,
> the ongoing thread of analysis on class composition is still useful.

Wait - can you develop what you find useful?  You trash Negri in the
following lines - so why is he worth studying? to destroy and learn from
the ashes?

 > > On "Communist Like Us". When I first saw it, I couldn't help
> laugh. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read; I got my own
> copy from the comedy section of my local bookstore. I advise every
> one else to look in their comedy sections for it.
> As a piece of revolutionary text it has to be one of the most
> obfuscating, ridiculous, self-indulgent pieces of twadle I have
> *ever* read. It is the sort of book you read and keep laughing,
> underlying the funniest/ridiculous pieces and then reading them to
> your mates for a good laugh.

We can use MIMNotes for the same purpose.  Chacun a son gout.
> > On Wed, 14 Feb 1996, Bryan A. Alexander wrote:
> >
> > > COMMUNISTS LIKE US is a hybrid polemic, a rush of feeling and an
> > > exortation to thought and action.  It is not theoretically-based; it
> > > tries instead to recover communism from its abysmal position in many areas.
> > > 	For Negri's theory - which reads like a different author
> > > entirely - go to MARX BEYOND MARX, probably his best.
> Well Bryan. If you advocate this text (CLU), I think you are a fool.
> It is theoretically based, but alas, makes no sense.

I thought I was emphasizing MARX BEYOND MARX-
Look, it's an exhortation.  Those can be useful, dammit.  If you don't
think so, then I love you too (talk about theoretically based!).
> This is Negri's reading of the Grundrisse. I have never read
> Grundrisse. However, I think that THE ENTIRE BASIS OF NEGRI'S
> ANALYSIS IS INCORRECT. This flows on to the entire school that follws
> Negri - the Zerowork people, the Autopsy list and other like this.

So, he's worth studying? why?
> So, in the autonomia stuff, we have an overemphasis of the boycott of
> work, absenteesim and the like as a form of conscious class war. It
> is unconscious for most people.

And so...? your point?  Consciousness is a prime topic for our study, right?
> I respect Negri immensely. He is one of the few academics who are
> actually activists and not armchair revolutionaries. However, I think
> that at the end of the day, his stance is petit bourgeois. It has a
> 'abolish work' stance, rather than 'abolish the wages system' which was
> Marx's slogan. The difference is profound.
> Any bites?

	First of all, it's important to resist the fetishization of work
which is all too commonly a feature of 20th-century Marxism, from Stalin
to the CPUSA.  If Negri and the Autonomists (hardly the same things!)
critique work, they're one of the few parties doing so - and we need to
pursue our response further than a kneejerk "work=good, antiwork=evil" spasm.
	Second, Negri is the author of a plethora of articles and books,
ranging from the controversial set of theses most recently published in
POLYGRAPH to the radical reinterpretation of the GRUNDRISSE in MBM to the
strongest and most ambitious analysis of the modern state in modern
Marxism, THE LABOR OF DIONYSUS, to the new modeling of subjectivity in
THE POLITICS OF SUBVERSION.  If we want to dismiss him, we'll need to do
so accurately.

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