Michael Hardt / Antonio Negri



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The New Deal model, then, was first of all a development proper to U.S. politics, a response to the domestic economic crisis, but it also became a flag that the U.S. Army raised throughout the course of the Second World War. Several explanations were given for why the United States entered the war. Roosevelt always claimed to have been dragged in unwillingly by the dynamics of international politics. Keynes and the economists thought instead that the needs of the New Deal-confronted as it was in 1937 by a new type of crisis, challenged by the political pressure of workers' demands-had obliged the U.S. government to choose the path of war. Facing an international struggle for the new repartition of the world market, the United States could not avoid the war, in particular because with the New Deal, the U.S. economy had entered into another expansive phase. In either case, the U.S. entry into World War II tied the New Deal indissolubly to the crisis of European imperialisms and projected the New Deal on the scene of world government as an alternative, successor model. From that point on, the effects of the New Deal reforms would be felt over the entire global terrain. In the aftermath of the war, many viewed the New Deal model as the only path to global recovery (under the pacific powers of U.S. hegemony). As one U.S. commentator wrote, "Only a New Deal for the world, more far reaching and consistent than our faltering New Deal, can prevent the coming of World War III."[9] The economic reconstruction projects launched after the Second World War did in fact impose on all the dominant capitalist countries, both the victorious Allies and the defeated powers, adhesion to the expansive model of disciplinary society according to the model constructed by the New Deal. The previous European and Japanese forms of state-based public assistance and the development of the corporativist state (in both its liberal and national-socialist forms) were thus substantially transformed. The "social state" was born, or really the global disciplinary state, which took into account more widely and deeply the life cycles of populations, ordering their production and reproduction within a scheme of collective bargaining fixed by a stable monetary regime. With the extension of U.S. hegemony, the dollar became king. The initiative of the dollar (through the Marshall Plan in Europe and the economic reconstruction in Japan) was the ineluctable path to postwar reconstruction; the establishment of the dollar's hegemony (through the Bretton Woods accords) was tied to the stability of all the standards of value; and U.S. military power determined the ultimate exercise of sovereignty with respect to each of the dominant and subordinate capitalist countries. All the way up to the 1960s this model was expanded and perfected. It was the Golden Age of the New Deal reform of capitalism on the world stage.[10]
Decolonization, Decentering, and Discipline
As a result of the project of economic and social reform under U.S. hegemony, the imperialist politics of the dominant capitalist countries was transformed in the postwar period. The new global scene was defined and organized primarily around three mechanisms or apparatuses: (1) the process of decolonization that gradually recomposed the world market along hierarchical lines branching out from the United States; (2) the gradual decentralization of production; and (3) the construction of a framework of international relations that spread across the globe the disciplinary productive regime and disciplinary society in its successive evolutions. Each of these aspects constitutes a step in the evolution from imperialism toward Empire.
Decolonization, the first mechanism, was certainly a bitter and ferocious process. We have already dealt with it briefly in Section 2.3, and we have seen its convulsive movements from the point of view of the colonized in struggle. Here we must historicize the process from the standpoint of the dominant powers. The colonial territories of def eated Germany, Italy, and Japan, of course, were completely dissolved or absorbed by the other powers. By this time, however, the colonial projects of the victors, too (Britain, France, Belgium, and Holland), had come to a standstill.[11] In addition to facing growing liberation movements in the colonies, they also found themselves stymied by the bipolar divide between the United States and the Soviet Union. The decolonization movements too were seized immediately in the jaws of this cold war vise, and the movements that had been focused on their independence were forced to negotiate between the two camps.[12] What Truman said in 1947 during the Greek crisis remained true for the decolonizing and postcolonial forces throughout the cold war: "At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life."[13]
The linear trajectory of decolonization was thus interrupted by the necessity of selecting a global adversary and lining up behind one of the two models of international order. The United States, which was by and large favorable to decolonization, was forced by the necessities of the cold war and the defeat of the old imperialisms to assume the primary role as international guardian of capitalism and hence ambiguous heir of the old colonizers. From both the side of the anticolonial subjects and the side of the United States, decolonization was thus distorted and diverted. The United States inherited a global order, but one whose forms of rule conflicted with its own constitutional project, its imperial form of sovereignty. The Vietnam War was the final episode of the United States' ambiguous inheritance of the old imperialist mantle, and it ran the risk of blocking any possible opening of an imperial "new frontier" (see Section 2.5). This phase was the final obstacle to the maturation of the new imperial design, which would eventually be built on the ashes of the old imperialisms. Little by little, after the Vietnam War the new world market was organized: a world market that destroyed the fixed boundaries and hierarchical procedures of European imperialisms. In other words, the completion of the decolonization process signaled the point of arrival of a new world hierarchization of the relations of domination-and the keys were firmly in the hands of the United States. The bitter and ferocious history of the first period of decolonization opened onto a second phase in which the army of command wielded its power less through military hardware and more through the dollar. This was an enormous step forward toward the construction of Empire.
The second mechanism is defined by a process of decentering the sites and flows of production.[14] Here, as in decolonization, two phases divide the postwar period. A first, neocolonial phase involved the continuity of the old hierarchical imperialist procedures and the maintenance ifnot deepening of the mechanisms of unequal exchange between subordinated regions and dominant nation-states. This first period, however, was a brieftransitional phase, and, in effect, in the arc of twenty years the scene changed radically. By the end of the 1970s, or really by the end of the Vietnam War, transnational corporations began to establish their activities firmly across the globe, in every corner of the planet. The transnationals became the fundamental motor of the economic and political transformation of postcolonial countries and subordinated regions. In the first place, they served to transfer the technology that was essential for constructing the new productive axis of the subordinate countries; second, they mobilized the labor force and local productive capacities in these countries; and finally, the transnationals collected the flows of wealth that began to circulate on an enlarged base across the globe. These multiple flows began to converge essentially toward the United States, which guaranteed and coordinated, when it did not directly command, the movement and operation of the transnationals. This was a decisive constituent phase of Empire. Through the activities of the transnational corporations, the mediation and equalization of the rates of profit were unhinged from the power of the dominant nation-states. Furthermore, the constitution of capitalist interests tied to the new postcolonial nation-states, far from opposing the intervention of transnationals, developed on the terrain of the transnationals themselves and tended to be formed under their control. Through the decentering of productive flows, new regional economies and a new global division of labor began to be determined.[15] There was no global order yet, but an order was being formed.
Along with the decolonization process and the decentering of flows, a third mechanism involved the spread of disciplinary forms of production and government across the world. This process was highly ambiguous. In the postcolonial countries, discipline required first of all transforming the massive popular mobilization for liberation into a mobilization for production. Peasants throughout the world were uprooted from their fields and villages and thrown into the burning forge of world production.[16] The ideological model that was projected from the dominant countries (particularly from the United States) consisted of Fordist wage regimes, Taylorist methods of the organization of labor, and a welfare state that would be modernizing, paternalistic, and protective. From the standpoint of capital, the dream of this model was that eventually every worker in the world, sufficiently disciplined, would be interchangeable in the global productive process-a global factorysociety and a global Fordism. The high wages of a Fordist regime and the accompanying state assistance were posed as the workers' rewards for accepting disciplinarity, for entering the global factory. We should be careful to point out, however, that these specific relations of production, which were developed in the dominant countries, were never realized in the same forms in the subordinated regions of the global economy. The regime of high wages that characterizes Fordism and the broad social assistance that characterizes the welfare state were realized only in fragmentary forms and for limited populations in the subordinated capitalist countries. All this, however, did not really have to be realized; its promise served rather as the ideological carrot to ensure sufficient consensus for the modernizing project. The real substance of the effort, the real take-off toward modernity, which was in fact achieved, was the spread of the disciplinary regime throughout the social spheres of production and reproduction.
The leaders of the socialist states agreed in substance on this disciplinary project. Lenin's renowned enthusiasm for Taylorism was later outdone by Mao's modernization projects.[17] The official socialist recipe for decolonization also followed the essential logic dictated by the capitalist transnationals and the international agencies: each postcolonial government had to create a labor force adequate to the disciplinary regime. Numerous socialist economists (especially those who were in the position to plan the economies of countries recently liberated from colonialism) claimed that industrialization was the ineluctable path to development[18] and enumerated the benefits of the extension of "peripheral Fordist" economies.[19] The benefits were really an illusion, and the illusion did not last long, but that could not significantly alter the course of these postcolonial countries along the path of modernization and disciplinarization. This seemed to be the only path open to them.[20] Disciplinarity was everywhere the rule.
These three mechanisms-decolonization, decentering of production, and disciplinarity-characterize the imperial power of the New Deal, and demonstrate how far it moved beyond the old practices of imperialism. Certainly the original formulators of the New Deal policies in the United States in the 1930s never imagined such a wide application of their ideas, but already in the 1940s, in the midst of war, world leaders began to recognize its role and power in the establishment of global economic and political order. By the time of Harry Truman's inauguration, he understood that finally the old European-style imperialism could have no part in their plans. No, the new era had something new in store.
Into and Out of Modernity
The cold war was the dominant figure on the global scene during the period of decolonization and decentralization, but from today's vantage point we have the impression that its role was really secondary. Although the specular oppositions of the cold war strangled both the U.S. imperial project and the Stalinist project of socialist modernization, these were really minor elements of the entire process. The truly important element, whose significance goes well beyond the history of the cold war, was the gigantic postcolonial transformation of the Third World under the guise of modernization and development. In the final analysis, that project was relatively independent of the dynamics and constraints of the cold war, and one could almost claim, post factum, that in the Third World the competition between the two world power blocs merely accelerated the processes of liberation.
It is certainly true that the Third World elites who led the anticolonial and anti-imperialist struggles during this period were ideologically tied to one or the other side of the cold war divide, and in both cases they defined the mass project of liberation in terms of modernization and development. For us, however, poised as we are at the far border of modernity, it is not difficult to recognize the tragic lack of perspective involved in the translation of liberation into modernization. The myth of modernity-and thus of sovereignty, the nation, the disciplinary model, and so forth-was virtually the exclusive ideology of the elites, but this is not the most important factor here.
The revolutionary processes of liberation determined by the multitude actually pushed beyond the ideology of modernization, and in the process revealed an enormous new production of subjectivity. This subjectivity could not be contained in the bipolar U.S.-USSR relationship, nor in the two competing regimes, which both merely reproduced modernity's modalities of domination. When Nehru, Sukarno, and Chou En-lai came together at the Bandung Conference in 1955 or when the nonalignment movement first formed in the 1960s, what was expressed was not so much the enormity of their nations' misery nor the hope of repeating the glories of modernity but rather the enormous potential for liberation that the subaltern populations themselves produced.[21] This nonaligned perspective gave a first glimpse of a new and generalized desire.
The question what to do after liberation so as not to fall under the domination of one camp or the other remained unanswered. What were clear and full of potential, by contrast, were the subjectivities that pushed beyond modernity. The utopian image of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions as alternatives for development vanished when those revolutions could no longer go forward, or rather when they failed to find a way to go beyond modernity. The U.S. model of development appeared equally closed, since throughout the postwar period the United States presented itself more as the police force of the old imperialisms than the agent of a new hope. The struggle of subaltern populations for their liberation remained an explosive and uncontainable mixture. By the end of the 1960s the liberation struggles, whose influence had come to be felt in every interstice of world space, assumed a force, a mobility, and a plasticity of form that drove the project of capitalist modernization (in both its liberal and its socialist guises) out into an open sea, where it lost its bearings. Behind the fa‡ade of the bipolar U.S.-Soviet divide they could discern a single disciplinary model, and against this model the enormous movements struggled, in forms that were more or less ambiguous, more or less mystified, but nonetheless real. This enormous new subjectivity alluded to and made necessary a paradigm shift.
The inadequacy of the theory and practice of modern sovereignty became evident at this point. By the 1960s and 1970s, even though the model of disciplinary modernization had been imposed across the world, even though the welfarist policies set in motion by the dominant countries had become unstoppable and were naively championed by leaders in the subordinated countries, and even in this new world of communicative media and networks, the mechanisms of modern sovereignty were no longer sufficient to rule the new subjectivities. We should point out here that as the paradigm of modern sovereignty lost its effectiveness, so too the classical theories of imperialism and anti-imperialism lost whatever explanatory powers they had. In general, when these theories conceived the surpassing of imperialism, they saw it as a process that would be in perfect continuity with the paradigm of modernization and modern sovereignty. What happened, however, was exactly the opposite. Massified subjectivities, populations, oppressed classes, in the very moment when they entered the processes of modernization, began to transform them and go beyond them. The struggles for liberation, in the very moment when they were situated and subordinated in the world market, recognized insufficient and tragic keystone of modern sovereignty. Exploitation and domination could no longer be imposed in their modern forms. As these enormous new subjective forces emerged from colonization and reached modernity, they recognized that the primary task is not getting into but getting out of modernity.
Toward a New Global Paradigm
A paradigm shift in the world economic and political order was taking place. One important element of this passage was the fact that the world market as a structure of hierarchy and command became more important and decisive in all the zones and regions in which the old imperialisms had previously operated. The world market began to appear as the centerpiece of an apparatus that could regulate global networks of circulation. This unification was still posed only at a formal level. The processes that arose on the conflictual terrain of liberation struggles and expanding capitalist circulation were not necessarily or immediately compatible with the new structures of the world market. Integration proceeded unevenly and at different speeds. In different regions and often within the same region, diverse forms of labor and production coexisted, as did also different regimes of social reproduction. What might have seemed like a coherent central axis of the restructuring of global production was shattered into a thousand particular fragments and the unifying process was experienced everywhere singularly. Far from being unidimensional, the process of restructuring and unifying command over production was actually an explosion of innumerable different productive systems. The processes of the unification of the world market operated paradoxically through diversity and diversification, but its tendency was nonetheless real.
Several important effects follow from the tendency toward the unification of the world market. On the one hand, the wide spread of the disciplinary model of the organization of labor and society outward from the dominant regions produced in the rest of the world a strange effect of proximity, simultaneously pulling it closer and isolating it away in a ghetto. That is, liberation struggles found themselves "victorious" but nonetheless consigned to the ghetto of the world market-a vast ghetto with indeterminate borders, a shantytown, a favela. Onthe other hand, huge populations underwent what might be called wage emancipation as a result of these processes. Wage emancipation meant the entrance of great masses of workers into the disciplinary regime of modern capitalist production, whether it be in the factory, the fields, or some other site of social production, and hence these populations were liberated from the semi-servitude that imperialism had perpetuated. Entry into the wage system can be bloody (and it has been); it can reproduce systems of ferocious repression (and it has done so); but even in the shacks of the new shantytowns and favelas, the wage relation does determine the constitution of new needs, desires, and demands. For example, the peasants who become wage workers and who are subjected to the discipline of the new organization of labor in many cases suffer worse living conditions, and one cannot say that they are more free than the traditional territorialized laborer, but they do become infused with a new desire for liberation. When the new disciplinary regime constructs the tendency toward a global market of labor power, it constructs also the possibility of its antithesis. It constructs the desire to escape the disciplinary regime and tendentially an undisciplined multitude of workers who want to be free.
The increasing mobility of large portions of the global proletariat is another important consequence of the tendential unification of the world market. In contrast to the old imperialist regimes in which the currents of labor mobility were primarily regulated vertically between colony and metropole, the world market opens up wider horizontal paths. The constitution of a global market organized along a disciplinary model is traversed by tensions that open mobility in every direction; it is a transversal mobility that is rhizomatic rather than arborescent. Our interest here is not only in giving a phenomenological description of the existing situation, but also in recognizing the possibilities inherent in that situation. The new transversal mobility of disciplined labor power is significant because it indicates a real and powerful search for freedom and the formation of new, nomadic desires that cannot be contained and controlled within the disciplinary regime.[22] It is true that many workers across the world are subject to forced migrations in dire circumstances that are hardly liberatory in themselves. It is true, too, that this mobility rarely increases the cost of labor power; in fact, it most often decreases it, increasing instead the competition among workers. The mobility does carry for capital a high price, however, which is the increased desire for liberation.
Some significant macroeconomic effects follow from the new mobility introduced by capital's global disciplinary paradigm. The mobility of populations makes it increasingly difficult to manage national markets (particularly national labor markets) individually. The adequate domain for the application of capitalist command is no longer delimited by national borders or by the traditional international boundaries. Workers who flee the Third World to go to the First for work or wealth contribute to undermining the boundaries between the two worlds. The Third World does not really disappear in the process of unification of the world market but enters into the First, establishes itself at the heart as ghetto, shantytown, favela, always again produced and reproduced. In turn, the First World is transferred to the Third in the form of stock exchanges and banks, transnational corporations and icy skyscrapers of money and command. Economic geography and political geography both are destabilized in such a way that the boundaries among the various zones are themselves fluid and mobile. As a result, the entire world market tends to be the only coherent domain for the effective application of capitalist management and command.
At this point the capitalist regimes have to undergo a process of reform and restructuring in order to ensure their capacity to organize the world market. This tendency emerges clearly only in the 1980s (and is established definitively after the collapse of the Soviet model of modernization), but already at the moment of its first appearance its principal features are clearly defined. It has to be a new mechanism of the general control of the global process and thus a mechanism that can coordinate politically the new dynamics of the global domain of capital and the subjective dimensions of the actors; it has to be able to articulate the imperial dimension of command and the transversal mobility of the subjects. We will see in the next section how this process was realized historically, and thus we will begin to address directly the processes of the constitution of a global apparatus of government.

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