Empire on Lenin

Craig Brozefsky craig at red-bean.com
Fri Dec 7 06:03:51 MST 2001

"Greg Schofield" <g_schofield at dingoblue.net.au> writes:

> Charles to begin with your last point first on Negri-Hardt:
> "Do Hardt and Negri propose a strategy for fighting the "Empire", or
> do they surrender to it like Kautsky ? That seems the key question
> to me."
> I keep changing my mind on this. There is nothing worse than
> theoretical pieces which insert "working class" as if this solved
> problems "Empire" would certainly not be accused of this. But is the
> concept missing from their "multitude"?

They don't surrender to it, they provide a redeeming vision for their
reader so that they can situate themselves appropriatly in relation to
the amorphous blob with the cinematic name, "Empire".  This is the
"multitude" perhaps we can call it the rebel alliance?

Empire is an attempt at explaining the social condition with the
concepts and ideas of the advanced post-modernist wing of bourgeois
ideology.  Once that explication is provided, it's implications must
be explored with regards to their threats to bourgeois concepts such
as civility, democracy, subjective liberty, purity of desire and it's
expression thru untainted production.

Having drawn the monster, it must now offer a salvation, a faint hope,
a shining diamond of a vision that can inspire it's reader.  Naturally
it is expressed in the same language of bourgeois ideology, and it
provides a salvation for those concepts like civility and desire.  The
bourgeois concepts are preserved by the redemptive, untainted
productive biopower of the neutered working class of the globe, the

Kautsky did not surrender, nor do Negri and Hardt.  Within their
conception of the social condition they fabricated and offered a
resolution to the problems they saw.  However, the problems they saw
were radically different than the problems of the working class.

> The problem I find is that the political points and those of
> direction seem so ill-defined and loose as to be virtually absent
> from them - so I would say based on this one book, it is more like
> Kautsky then Lenin. However, I don't think their audiance is us, but
> post-modernists so I am not absolute in my convictions on this point
> - for a variety of reasons not least their methodology I do not
> propose that "Empire" itself is criticial to us other than it covers
> the territory we need to explore.

It covers the threat against bourgeois ideas and concepts, civility,
democracy, untainted desiring biopower, and the free global citizen.
That it is describing these in a world beseiged by a imperialist
superpower does not make imperialism their topic.  If it were than
they would not be creating shadow puppets of it in Empire in order to
set the stage for their redemption of bourgeois ideas.  Their real
topic is the redemption of bourgeois ideology by providing a narrative
for the continuation of its concepts.  They are drawing the next cycle
of bourgeois ideology, following Weber, the Frankfurt school and the
post-modernists.  They deploy the same tactics too, which Metzaros'
explains in great detail in The Power of Ideology.

> For instance, the role of the US is playing at the moment is counter
> to the tendency within "Ultra-imperialism" to a world civility for
> the international bourgeoisie to operate through. In fact, I can
> only understand the US actions as mostly driven by a resistence to
> becoming enmeshed in such international civility and because of its
> historic position most of the international bourgeoisie is dragged
> along with it on this.

This is because capital pays no heed to the concepts of bourgeois
ideology except were politically advantageous.  Metzaros' explanation
of Roosevelt's disassembly of the British Empire in Socialism or
Barbarism describes this.  The ultra-imperialist, global civilization
for the management of capital exists only as the pipe-dream of
previous cycles of bourgeois ideology, Kautsky for example.  That the
US acts in opposition to it is not because it fears being enmeshed in
it.  What does it have to fear?  The UN is it's colonial adminstration
outsourcing team along with the NGOs, not a predecessor or indicator
of a trend towards global ultra-imperialist civility.

> It could well be that US Global Hegemony will suceed in resisting
> this aspect of "ultra-imperialism" but the future is looking thereby
> as the barbarism that Marx foresaw as the future of capitalism freed
> from proletarian socialism.

What is it they are resisting tho?  They are not a resistance to it,
they are an expression of the contradiction that makes that bourgeois
concept of ultra-imperialist civility an impossibility.  Two global
conflagrations down and teetering towards another one and this
conflict is still seen as resistance to something which has never, and
will never rear it's head.  That bourgeois ideology and oppositional
politics are trapped in this perspective is a condition of their
historical development.

> Again there are obvious counter-vieling tendencies within capital,
> but these at the moment appear very weak indeed. What I was trying
> to say about understanding the different conditions that prevail, is
> that these tendencies have to be harnessed for the working class and
> as the world is becoming the dominion of the one power, national
> liberation looses its meaning (that is national liberation as a
> struggle against imperialism), all countries (even the US) have an
> equal interest in removing the rogue state as a superpower and
> providing a means for international civility to emerge.

Removing a rogue state does nothing, as there will be another
imperialist power to take it's place.  A few decades of jockeying for
power and then we'll have another US, perhaps in the EU or Germany.
The tact you are suggesting has been tried before, and we know the
results.  The establishment of international civility under existing
social metabolic conditions will be used as Roosevelt used it, an
excuse to dissasemble the remnants of the previous empire.

National liberation is still extremely important, as it is the first
step in the establishment of new social metabolic conditions.  Why the
working class should discard the neccesarry project of remaking those
conditions in exchange for the unseating of the current top dog with a
bourgeois ultra-imperialist civility that is doomed to failure and
will result in their further alienation is beyond me.

> Now I specifically don't say international socialism as a cure all,
> but international civility where the big bourgeoisie will have some
> interest, and I make no bones about calling this a reform. It is an
> achievable objective, it is no accident that the US needs to destroy
> international treaties, has to defy the UN and cower it into
> submission, has to exploit its alliance system to simply and
> unquestioningly follow the leader, and has to resort to force not
> only as its primary weapon, but apparently its only weapon.

So you are not surrendering, but you are taking the redemption offered
by Hardt/Negri and Kautsky.

> I take very seriously the idea that proletarian interest must become
> the leading interests of the whole of society in order to realise
> proletarian socialism, traditionally we have discounted this and
> avoided the consequence that this means leading other classes
> (including intitially the bourgeoisie).

Then why are you suggesting that the working class adopt the concepts
of the bourgeois in order to provide them with the redemption they
seek?  You are not talking about the working class interests leading
the whole of society, you are talking about substituting bourgeois
oppositional politics for working class interests.  You ask why the
theorist have no audience in the working class?  This is why.

Craig Brozefsky                           <craig at red-bean.com>
Ask me about Common Lisp Enterprise Eggplants at Red Bean!

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