Negri's Marxism

Alessandro Coricelli fiastr at
Fri Feb 16 04:39:01 MST 1996

Three apologies  before I start :
1)I've posted a note on this subject a couple of days ago.I haven't seen it
though.I apologize if I'm going to repeat myself
2)Obviously I apologize for my broken english(I'm italian and a former
member of Potere Operaio,Toni Negri's group)
3)I apologize for the fact that I'm not able to quote from any specific
source becouse when I moved to the US(five years ago)I didn't bring my
books.I thought I woould have been living here for two years

Marcus Strom :
>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
>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.

Alessandro : if you restrict the period of "theoritization" to the '70s,I'd
say that Negri has been the "only theoretician" of Autonomia.Perhaps Franco
Piperno helped a little bit.

>Much of this work has been 'postmodernised' in the 1990s. However,
>the ongoing thread of analysis on class composition is still useful.
>On "Communist Like Us". When I first saw it, I couldn't help but
>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.

I don't think Toni Negri would mind too much for what you said.Let's not
forget though,the conditions in which Negri is writing in.Toni Negri's
peculiarity has always been his "comfort" of being in the middle of the
struggle.His "contraddiction" has been his "profession",for which he's
always been proud of.
A "philosopher",and a successeful one.He is in exile,this is a fact.He had
spent a few years in prison for a pretestuos accusation (the partecipation
in the killing of a good friend)following a list of other ridicolous
ones,being the leader of the "Brigate Rosse" or attempting to organize "the
insurrection against the State"(yes there is such a crime in Italy).Nothing
to laugh about.He is pictured as the "evil master"(or teacher) of a
generation.Mine.The fact is that most of the other leaders of our '68 are
now perfectly integrated in the italian establishement.He is not.Something
to think about as well.

>> 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.
>> >
>> Louis: OK, OK. I give up. If you and McInerney stick up for Negri, then
>> I'll withdraw my guilty verdict for the time being. MARX BEYOND MARX? Is
>> there lots of pages in small print? Are the paragraphs real long? Does it
>> use words like "problematize"? I guess I'll have to find out for myself....
this attitude is what I blame (if I may) for the "distance" between
American marxists and the real revolutionary movement in the US in the 60s
and 70s.Are you afraid of words ?Do you really know what you're talking
about?Do you have something to say about Negri and the leadership he
provided ? So,why Negri has been so crucial in the recent history of the
italian revolution?
Is because of the use the word "problematize"?

>On "Marx Beyond Marx".
>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.
>Negri COMPLETELY mixes up work and labour in this text. He calls for
>the abolishing of work. This is entirely un-marxist. Marx said that
>labour power, labour - was the commodified form of work under
>capitalism. All humans, in all ages work. It is part of what makes
>us human. Communism is to make work our prime want.
>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.
>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.
Alessandro : Apparently we have read a different Marx.It can happen.The
work that is "our prime want" is different.The "work" Marx is referring to
is a "creative" one.Not the one we (the humans) have known.
Simplyfying,the Negri's thought is the following :
A new figure of worker(in the late '50s)has shown up.Before,there was the
skilled worker(l'operaio di mestiere,in italian).Now there is the "worker
of thousands of jobs"(l'operaio "massa",in italian).No skills.This,if
possible,accentuated the alienation of work(be careful,in italian,thank
god,we don't distinguish work from labor,it's always "lavoro").This
transformation brought new forms of struggle(sabotage etc.),inimmaginable
before.So,for Negri,the "forms" of struggle are "created" by the
transformations in the way commodities are produced(I find this very
"marxian",BTW).The latter transformation is that the "place" where the
social surplus is created is no more relegated in the "factory walls".The
"factory"(or plant) has exended itself to all society.So,bring the struggle
where the surplus is produced.Everywhere(schools,offices,streets).

On work:
communism ("the actual movement which abolish the present state of
things")is the abolishment of work as we know it.This (grundrisse) will
happen through "work".The cretive "work" of todays is "revolution".
BTW,Negri is a "workaholic".
At last,let me say that is very ironic that while Negri's books can be
found in the comedy section is beliefs on "the end of work" are being taken
very seriously.I suggest everybody on this list the reading of Jeremy
Rifkin's "The End of Work,The decline of the Global Labor Force and the
Dawn of the Post Market Era"(Tarcher-Putnam).

>Any bites?

Alessandro Coricelli

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