More on Taking Apart Hardt

M. Junaid Alam redjaguar at
Sat Feb 22 08:23:58 MST 2003

"You're offlist Derek, you wish, but Junaid's crit is NOT on the money.
not taking the analysis as seriously as it has to be taken. And you're
taking Hardt apart, you're making fun of yourself as an
aren't you?"

Yes, Mr. Bond - I confess, clearly, my primary aim in all pursuits in
life is to 'make fun of myself as an anti-intellectual'. To Lerner's
'anti-Semite' and Hardt's 'anti-American', we can now add your profound
sticker label of 'anti-intellectual'.

"Do you think that the autonomists who endorse Hardt's erudite rubbish
(yeah, sometimes that's exactly what it is) can't act with clarity and
boldness? Of course they do!

I happened to hear Hardt smack Chris Harman at Porto Alegre last month
(though I had to leave after their opening salvos)."

 Well, that settles it then doesn't it? A verbal smack-down at the WSF
is the key measurement of intellectual clarity. Clarity here is to
identify the problem and find solutions. Since Hardt thinks the state is
withering away, he does not have clarity when it comes to identifying
the war machine.

You assert it is not clear that American imperialism is the main engine
behind the war drive. Then you say: "The last couple of days I've seen
compelling arguments from marxist perspectives about the importance of,
varyingly, overaccumulation, US hegemony, and oil...".

So what's your point? How does any of that specifically point away from
American imperialism? Are you not aware of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz
documents dating several years back on invading Iraq? On America's
growing energy needs? On the vast potential of oil profits? On the
pro-Israel lobby's push for war to expel the Palestinians? These
sections of the American elite are all pushing for war. So if it isn't
American imperialism pushing for war, as you seem to suggest, who is?
The toothfairy? "Overaccumulation, US hegemony, and oil" is not at all a
counter-proposal, it is just a list.

"So there's a terminological problem. Hardt/Negri want both to be
and to avoid the nation-state, so they call imperialism passe. But what
describe as Empire is what "we" call imperialism. Let's get over
and get into the substantive issues, eh?"

Actually, no. It's not a terminological problem at all but an
intellectual one. Empire and imperialism are not interchangeable terms
for Hardt - which is why he wrote that imperialism doesn't exist. How
can you claim that Hardt wants to "avoid the nation-state" and then say
that he is describing imperialism? That is patently absurd. Here you say
they avoid the nation-state, then later you say they do not "ignore" the
nation-state, but they "reject" it instead. Well I don't care if they
ignore it, reject it, or dance on it's head, it's there, it's in action,
and it needs to be recognized.

> But this is not all. As Mac Lennan further points out, Hardt extends
> mindlessness even further when he writes, "they [anti-globalization
> movement] imagined an alternative, democratic globalisation consisting
> of plural exchanges across national and regional borders based on
> equality and freedom."

" Yes, he's TERRIBLY weak on the real meanings of anti-capitalist
which I (personally, with experience mainly in Johannesburg) think HAS
retain the nation-state as the primary unit of political analysis."

You missed the whole point here. Hardt is saying that the global justice
movement has these features, but the anti-war movement doesn't. So when
I said:

> Hardt's flight into abstraction ones again makes nonsense out of
> reality. The character and composition of the protests objectively
> renders it an international character; of course it aims at the goal
> freedom and equality, because it was on behalf of the Iraqi people,
> of whom are about to lose their lives due to the action of criminal
> gangsters.

You said:

"Would Hardt disagree? Your moral tone is a real distraction, com."

Yes, he does freakin' disagree! He says as much in his essay here:

"The globalisation protest movements were far superior to the anti-war
movements in this regard. They not only recognised the complex and
plural nature of the forces that dominate capitalist globalisation today
- the dominant nation states, certainly, but also the International
Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation, the major corporations, and
so forth - but they imagined an alternative, democratic globalisation
consisting of plural exchanges across national and regional borders
based on equality and freedom."

And what is your complaint about "the moral tone"? I vehemently reject
Hardt's slander that the anti-war movement doesn't care about democracy
and freedom when it is all about human freedom and equality for the
Iraqis. And obviously it is, because the people marching don't want them
to get killed and occupied - this is not moralizing, it is indisputable

" Nah, there's much more going on here that requires rebuttal, not this
tired post-S11 stuff."

I don't even know what this means. I didn't even mention 9-11 and the
paragraph I wrote to which you responded as above has nothing to do with

> His dilemma is painfully clear: in his mode of Marxism, the antagonism
> of capitalism is not solved through revolution, class war, or open
> conflict. It is more like a subsuming, or absorption: nice
> ultra-imperialism endows the world with universal, democratic
> which the inert masses, like sponges, absorb, and then expand so as to
> transform existing global capital into a more democratic

"Different book than the one I read. What's the cite?"

The cite? Damn, how about, Empire? There's no central stronghold of
capital in there, there's the withering away of the state, there's the
grandiose globalization that cuts across all borders; there's blanket
capitalism that covers the world uniformly and evenly with no special
pressure points.

Again, Hardt's Marxism isn't about antagonistic contradictions, but
gradual seduction. Want to oppose the world order? Well, just let it do
it's thing, work it's magic, and then you can wield it to your own
purposes. That's the gist of his whole emphasis on the positives of
globalization vis. decentralization; he gives capitalism way too much of
a role in getting rid of capitalism.

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