Negri's Marxism

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Feb 14 11:24:35 MST 1996


On Wed, 14 Feb 1996, J Laari wrote:

> Louis,
> 
> why that is so rotten? From what context that particular passage is 
> taken? Please enlighten us.  -Jukka L
>
Negri:
----- 
"But it remains to be demonstrated that the innovations of 
the '60s should above all be understood within the universe of 
consciousnesses, of desires, and of modes of behaviour." 


Louis: 
-----
The innovations of the '60s should not *above all* be understood 
within the universe of consciousnesses, of desires, and of modes of 
behaviour. This is a formula that has nothing to do with Marxism. It is 
the sort of thing that has been said much more effectively by Charles 
Reich in "The Greening of America" or the late Paul Goodman in any number 
of places.

What 1968 was about was the opening up of the possibility for the first 
time since the 1930s of proletarian revolution in advanced capitalist 
countries. Negri and Guattari look back at 1968 and see counter-cultural 
activities which point in the direction of liberated individual 
life-styles. They reject the notion of an assault on state power and 
construction of socialism in countries that went through these massive 
upheavals: France and Italy especially.

"Communists Like Us" is filled with all sorts of concessions to Deleuze 
and Guattari's peculiar notion of "micro-politics". The class-struggle 
recedes into the background while resistance to oppressive and 
bureaucratic institutions by members of the "social movements" preoccupies 
them.

They had fixated on a particular phase of the class-struggle in the 1960s 
and 70s when students, women, oppressed nationalities took center stage. 
A Marxist appreciation for this period would have taken into account more 
profound changes that were taking place in the working-class. The social 
movements are not what they used to be, while the working-class is 
starting to assert itself in more powerful ways, like the recent French 
strikes indicate.

"Communists Like Us" is an exercise in new leftism. I, for one, am bored 
with new leftism. It seemed dated in 1968 when I first ran across it and 
nowadays lacks even the most minimal insouciant charm it once had. It 
is like encountering a 50 year old man in tie-dyed t-shirt, granny 
glasses and sideburns. You want to run in the opposite direction.


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