Review of Hardt-Negri

Victor vrosado at
Mon Dec 24 22:07:47 MST 2001

on 12/24/01 11:36 AM, Louis Proyect at lnp3 at wrote:

> Though the master is hardly cited, Empire is a strictly Foucauldian
> work. From the complexities of Foucault’s writing Hardt and Negri,
> like many on the left, have extracted an unrelenting suspicion of any
> formal organization or assertion of collective identity as only a
> more subtle form of domination. Instead, “lateral connections” and
> “networks of relays” must somehow replace democratic government and
> all other forms of delegated authority. Hardt and Negri are right to
> warn against the spurious unities of national or indigenous culture,
> but the Foucauldian lens constrains vision as well as sharpens it.
> Empire has no place for organizations and leaders that arise out of
> oppressed groups and exercise power on their behalf, including trade
> unions, socialist politicians as well as problematic but undoubtedly
> progressive organizations like the African National Congress or Jesse
> Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.

Post-Nietzchean, petit bourgeois fetishism of POWER is sooooooo postmo...
can't we move on from that???

I find the Critical Realist notions of emergent totality and irreducibility
much more useful and accurate than the "decentred" totality approach of the
Post-Marxists and Althusserians in order to understand the system (or for
that matter any system.. e.g.- the human body)  we call global capitalism
and its emergent imperial apparatuses.

> There is no question that the secret of Empire’s success is its
> denigration of traditional forms of collective politics (along with
> its contrarian pro-Americanism). Rather than the “discipline of
> liberation,” they valorize individual desertion, the Bartlebys who
> “would prefer not to.” It is possible, I suppose, that everything has
> changed, and that the great political projects of the 19th and 20th
> centuries are all dead. But Empire hardly makes a convincing case for
> this. As the B-2s roar out of Whiteman, Missouri on their global
> police actions, neither Empire nor Empire seems to offer much of a
> way forward. 
The criticisms of Empire in this article, Callinicos' article on Negri and
Autonomism in the recent ISJ, and Lou's notes on Empire all seem to point
out a lot of the same flaws in Empire.

Hmmmm, I am beginning to wonder if much can be rescued from this over-hyped
book if the authors make a lot of obvious mistakes.  Perhaps the concepts of
'multitude' and 'global citizen'??   Maybe.  But next time, call me up and
let's have a chat... you'll save quite a few bucks because you won't have to
waste money on an overrated book that recycles basic Marxian conceptions but
with a performative glaze.  I'm no Lenin, but I got my basics down better
than the Post-Marxists. And I'll skip the performative petit bourgeois crap
free of charge!!!  


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