Michael Hardt / Antonio Negri

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In the postmodern era, as the figure of the people dissolves, the militant is the one who best expresses the life of the multitude: the agent of biopolitical production and resistance against Empire. When we speak of the militant, we are not thinking of anything like the sad, ascetic agent of the Third International whose soul was deeply permeated by Soviet state reason, the same way the will of the pope was embedded in the hearts of the knights of the Society of Jesus. We are thinking of nothing like that and of no one who acts on the basis of duty and discipline, who pretends his or her actions are deduced from an ideal plan. We are referring, on the contrary, to something more like the communist and liberatory combatants of the twentieth-century revolutions, the intellectuals who were persecuted and exiled in the course of anti-fascist struggles, the republicans of the Spanish civil war and the European resistance movements, and the freedom fighters of all the anticolonial and anti-imperialist wars. A prototypical example of this revolutionary figure is the militant agitator of the Industrial Workers of the World. The Wobbly constructed associations among working people from below, through continuous agitation, and while organizing them gave rise to utopian thought and revolutionary knowledge. The militant was the fundamental actor of the "long march" of the emancipation of labor from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries, the creative singularity of that gigantic collective movement that was working-class struggle.
Across this long period, the activity of the militant consisted, first of all, in practices of resistance in the factory and in society against capitalist exploitation. It consisted also, through and beyond resistance, in the collective construction and exercise of a counterpower capable of destructuring the power of capitalism and opposing it with an alternative program of government. In opposition to the cynicism of the bourgeoisie, to monetary alienation, to the expropriation of life, to the exploitation of labor, to the colonization of the affects, and so on, the militant organized the struggle. Insurrection was the proud emblem of the militant. This militant was repeatedly martyred in the tragic history of communist struggles. Sometimes, but not often, the normal structures of the rights state were sufficient for the repressive tasks required to destroy the counterpower. When they were not sufficient, however, the fascists and the white guards of state terror, or rather the black mafias in the service of "democratic" capitalisms, were invited to lend a hand to reinforce the legal repressive structures.
Today, after so many capitalist victories, after socialist hopes have withered in disillusionment, and after capitalist violence against labor has been solidified under the name of ultra-liberalism, why is it that instances of militancy still arise, why have resistances deepened, and why does struggle continually reemerge with new vigor? We should say right away that this new militancy does not simply repeat the organizational formulas of the old revolutionary working class. Today the militant cannot even pretend to be a representative, even of the fundamental human needs of the exploited. Revolutionary political militancy today, on the contrary, must rediscover what has always been its proper form: not representational but constituent activity. Militancy today is a positive, constructive, and innovative activity. This is the form in which we and all those who revolt against the rule of capital recognize ourselves as militants today. Militants resist imperial command in a creative way. In other words, resistance is linked immediately with a constitutive investment in the biopolitical realm and to the formation of cooperative apparatuses of production and community. Here is the strong novelty of militancy today: it repeats the virtues of insurrectional action of two hundred years of subversive experience, but at the same time it is linked to a new world, a world that knows no outside. It knows only an inside, a vital and ineluctable participation in the set of social structures, with no possibility of transcending them. This inside is the productive cooperation of mass intellectuality and affective networks, the productivity of postmodern biopolitics. This militancy makes resistance into counterpower and makes rebellion into a project of love.
There is an ancient legend that might serve to illuminate the future life of communist militancy: that of Saint Francis of Assisi. Consider his work. To denounce the poverty of the multitude he adopted that common condition and discovered there the ontological power of a new society. The communist militant does the same, identifying in the common condition of the multitude its enormous wealth. Francis in opposition to nascent capitalism refused every instrumental discipline, and in opposition to the mortification of the flesh (in poverty and in the constituted order) he posed a joyous life, including all of being and nature, the animals, sister moon, brother sun, the birds of the field, the poor and exploited humans, together against the will of power and corruption. Once again in postmodernity we find ourselves in Francis's situation, posing against the misery of power the joy of being. This is a revolution that no power will control-because biopower and communism, cooperation and revolution remain together, in love, simplicity, and also innocence. This is the irrepressible lightness and joy of being communist.
1. On the declining sovereignty of nation-states and the transformation of sovereignty in the contemporary global system, see Saskia Sassen, Losing Control? Sovereignty in an Age of Globalization (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).
2. On the concept of Empire, see Maurice Duverger, "Le concept d'empire," in Maurice Duverger, ed., Le concept d'empire (Paris: PUF, 1980), pp. 5-23. Duverger divides the historical examples into two primary models, with the Roman Empire on one side and the Chinese, Arab, Mesoamerican, and other Empires on the other. Our analyses pertain primarily to the Roman side because this is the model that has animated the Euro-American tradition that has led to the contemporary world order.
3. "Modernity is not a phenomenon of Europe as an independent system, but of Europe as center." Enrique Dussel, "Beyond Eurocentrism: The World System and the Limits of modernity," in Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, eds., The Cultures of Globalization (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998), pp. 3-31; quotation p. 4.
4. Two interdisciplinary texts served as models for us throughout the writing of this book: Marx's Capital and Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus.
5. Ours is certainly not the only work that prepares the terrain for the analysis and critique of Empire. Although they do not use the term "Empire," we see the work of numerous authors oriented in this direction; they include Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Arjun Appadurai, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Giovanni Arrighi, and ArifDirlik, to name only some of the best known.
1. Already in 1974 Franz Schurmann highlighted the tendency toward a global order in The Logic of World Power: An Inquiry into the Origins, Currents, and Contradictions of World Politics (New York: Pantheon, 1974).
2. On the permutations of European pacts for international peace, see Leo Gross, "The Peace of Westphalia, 1648-1948," American Journal of International Law, 42, no. 1 (1948), 20-41.
3. Danilo Zolo, Cosmopolis: Prospects for World Government, trans. David McKie (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997), is the one who expresses most clearly the hypothesis that the paradigm of the project of the new world order should be located back in the Peace of Vienna. We follow his analysis in many respects. See also Richard Falk, "The Interplay of Westphalia and Charter Conception of International Legal Order," in C. A. Blach and Richard Falk, eds., The Future of International Legal Order (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 1:32-70.
4. Hans Kelsen, Das Problem des Souver„nit„t und die Theorie des V”lkerrechts: Beitrag zu einer Reinen Rechtslehre (Tbingen: Mohr, 1920), p. 205. See also Principles of International Law, (New York: Rinehart, 1952), p. 586.
5. Kelsen, Das Problem des Souver„nit„t, p. 319.
6. See Hans Kelsen, The Law of the United Nations (New York: Praeger, 1950).
7. On the legal history of the United Nations, see Alf Ross, United Nations: Peace and Progress (Totowa, N.J.: Bedminster Press, 1966); Benedetto Conforti, The Law and Practice of the United Nations (Boston: Kluwer Law International, 1996); Richard Falk, Samuel S. Kim, and Saul H. Mendlovitz, eds., The United Nations and a Just World Order (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991).
8. On the concept of "domestic analogy" both from the genealogical point of view and from that of international juridical politics, see Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (London: Macmillan, 1977); and above all Hidemi Suganami, The Domestic Analogy and World Order Proposals (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). For a critical and realistic perspective against conceptions of a "domestic analogy," see James N. Rosenau, Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).
9. See Norberto Bobbio, Il problema della guerra e le vie della pace (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1984).
10. For Norberto Bobbio's position on these arguments, see primarily Il terzo assente (Turin: Edizioni Sonda, 1989). In general, however, on recent lines of internationalist thought and on the alternative between statist and cosmopolitan approaches, see Zolo, Cosmopolis.
11. See the work of Richard Falk, primarily A Study of Future Worlds (New York: Free Press, 1975); The Promise of World Order (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1987); and Explorations at the Edge of Time (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992). The origin of Falk's discourse and its idealist reformist line might well be traced back to the famous initial propositions posed by Grenville Clark and Louis B. Sohn, World Peace through World Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958).
12. In Section 2.4 we will discuss briefly the work of authors who challenge the traditional field of international relations from a postmodernist perspective.
13. "Capitalism was from the beginning an affair of the world-economy . . . It is a misreading of the situation to claim that it is only in the twentieth century that capitalism has become 'world-wide.'" Immanuel Wallerstein, The Capitalist World-Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), p. 19. The most complete reference on this point is Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System, 3 vols. (New York: Academic Press, 1974-1988). See also Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century (London: Verso, 1995).
14. See, for example, Samir Amin, Empire of Chaos (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1992).
15. For our analyses of the Roman Empire we have relied on some of the classic texts, such as Gaetano de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani, 4 vols. (Turin: Bocca, 1907-1923); Hermann Dessau, Geschichte der r”manischen Keiserzeit, 2 vols. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1924-1930); Michael Rostovzeff, Social and Economic History of the Roman Empire, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926); Pietro de Francisci, Genesi e struttura del principato augusteo (Rome: Sampaolesi, 1940); and Santo Mazzarino, Fra Oriente ed Occidente (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1947).
16. See Johannes Adam Hartung, Die Lehre von der Weltherrschaft im Mittelalter (Halle, 1909); Heinrich Dannenbauer, ed., Das Reich: Idee und Gestalt (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1940); Georges de Lagarde, "La conception m‚di‚val de l'ordre en face de l'umanisme, de la Renaissance et de la Reforme," in Congresso internazionale di studi umanistici, Umanesimo e scienza politica (Milan: Marzorati, 1951); and Santo Mazzarino, The End of the Ancient World, trans. George Holmes (New York: Knopf, 1966).
17. See Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, 2nd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1992). The renewal of just war theory in the 1990s is demonstrated by the essays in Jean Bethke Elshtain, ed., Just War Theory (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992).
18. One should distinguish here between jus ad bellum (the right to make war) and jus in bello (law in war), or really the rules of the correct conduct of war. See Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, pp. 61-63 and 90.
19. On the GulfWar and justice, see Norberto Bobbio, Una guerra giusta? Sul conflitto del Golfo (Venice: Marsilio, 1991); Ramsey Clark, The Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1992); Jrgen Habermas, The Past as Future, trans. Max Pensky (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994); and Jean Bethke Elshtain, ed., But Was It Just? reflections on the Morality of the Persian Gulf War (New York: Doubleday, 1992).
20. For the influence of Niklas Luhmann's systematism on international juridical theory, see the essays by Gunther Teubner in Gunther Teubner and Alberto Febbrajo, eds., State, Law, and Economy as Autopoietic Systems (Milan: GiuffrŠ, 1992). An adaptation of John Rawls's ethico-juridical theories was attempted by Charles R. Beitz in Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).
21. This concept was introduced and articulated in James Rosenau, "Governance, Order, and Change in World Politics," in James Rosenau and Ernst-Otto Czempiel, Governance without Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
22. At one extreme, see the set of essays assembled in V. Rittenberger, ed., Beyond Anarchy: International Cooperation and Regimes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
23. See Hans Kelsen, Peace through Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944).
24. On Machiavelli's reading of the Roman Empire, see Antonio Negri, Il potere costituente (Milan: Sugarco, 1992), pp. 75-96; in English, Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State, trans. Maurizia Boscagli (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).
25. For a reading of the juridical passage from modernity to postmodernity, see Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), chaps. 6 and 7.
26. It is strange how in this internationalist debate almost the only work of Carl Schmitt that is taken up is Der Nomos der Erde im V”lkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum (Cologne: Greven, 1950), when really precisely in this context his more important work is Verfassungslehre, 8th ed. (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1993), and his positions developed around the definition of the concept of the political and the production of right.
27. In order to get a good idea of this process it may be enough to read together the disciplinary classics of international law and international economics, linking their observations and prescriptions, which emerge from different disciplinary formations but share a certain neorealism, or really a realism in the Hobbesian sense. See, for example, Kenneth Neal Waltz, Theory of International Politics (New York: Random House, 1979); and Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).
28. In order to get an initial idea of the vast and often confused literature on this topic, see Gene Lyons and Michael Mastanduno, eds., Beyond Westphalia? State Sovereignty and International Intervention (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Arnold Kanter and Linton Brooks, eds., U.S. Intervention Policy for the Post-Cold War World (New York: Norton, 1994); Mario Bettati, Le droit d'ing‚rence (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1995); and Maurice Bernard, La fin de l'ordre militaire (Paris: Presses de Sciences Politiques, 1995).
29. On the ethics of international relations, in addition to the propositions of Michael Walzer and Charles Beitz already cited, see also Stanley Hoffmann, Duties beyond Borders (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981); and Terry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds., Traditions of International Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
30. We are refering here to the two classic texts: Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline, trans. David Lowenthal (New York: Free Press, 1965); and Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 3 vols. (London: Penguin, 1994).
31. As Jean Ehrard has amply shown, the thesis that the decline of Rome began with Caesar was continually reproposed throughout the historiography of the age of Enlightenment. See Jean Ehrard, La politique de Montesquieu (Paris: A. Colin, 1965).
32. The principle of the corruption of political regimes was already implicit in the theory of the forms of government as it was formulated in the Sophistic period, which was later codified by Plato and Aristotle. The principle of "political" corruption was later translated into a principle of historical development through theories that grasped the ethical schemes of the forms of government as cyclical temporal developments. of all the proponents of different theoretical tendencies who have embarked on this endeavor (and the Stoics are certainly fundamental in this regard), Polybius is the one who really described the model in its definitive form, celebrating the creative function of corruption.
1. The passage from disciplinary society to the society of control is not articulated explicitly by Foucault but remains implicit in his work. We follow the excellent commentaries of Gilles Deleuze in this interpretation. See Gilles Deleuze, Foucault (Paris: Minuit, 1986); and "Post-scriptum sur les soci‚t‚s de contr“le," in Pourparlers (Paris: Minuit, 1990). See also Michael Hardt, "The Withering of Civil Society," Social Text, no. 45 (Winter 1995), 27-44.
2. See primarily Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1978), 1:135-145. For other treatments of the concept of biopolitics in Foucualt's opus, see "The Politics of Health in the Eighteenth Century," in Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon, 1980), pp. 166-182; "La naissance de la m‚decine sociale," in Dits et ‚crits (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 3:207-228, particularly p. 210; and "Naissance de la biopolitique," in Dits et ‚crits, 3:818-825. For examples of work by other authors following Foucault's notion of biopolitics, see Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, eds., Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), pp. 133-142; and Jacques Donzelot, The Policing of Families, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon, 1979).
3. Michel Foucault, "Les mailles du pouvoir," in Dits et ‚crits (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 4:182-201; quotation p. 194.
4. Many thinkers have followed Foucault along these lines and successfully problematized the welfare state. See primarily Jacques Donzelot, L'invention du social (Paris: Fayard, 1984); and Fran‡ois Ewald, L'‚tat providence (Paris: Seuil, 1986).
5. See Karl Marx, "Results of the Immediate Process of production," trans. Rodney Livingstone, published as the appendix to Capital, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Vintage, 1976), 1:948-1084. See also Antonio Negri, Marx beyond Marx, trans. Harry Cleaver, Michael Ryan, and Maurizio Viano (New York: Autonomedia, 1991).
6. See Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, The Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972).
7. See Gilles Deleuze and F‚lix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).
8. See, for example, Peter Dews, Logics of Disintegration: Poststructuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory (London: Verso, 1987), chaps. 6 and 7. When one adopts this definition of power and the crises that traverse it, Foucault's discourse (and even more so that of deleuze and Guattari) presents a powerful theoretical framework for critiquing the welfare state. For analyses that are more or less in line with this discourse, see Claus Offe, Disorganized Capitalism: Contemporary Transformations of Work and Politics (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985); Antonio Negri, Revolution Retrieved: Selected Writings (London: Red Notes, 1988); and the essays by Antonio Negri included in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 23-213.
9. The notions of "totalitarianism" that were constructed during the period of the cold war proved to be useful instruments for propaganda but completely inadequate analytical tools, leading most often to pernicious inquisitional methods and damaging moral arguments. The numerous shelves of our libraries that are filled with analyses of totalitarianism should today be regarded only with shame and could be thrown away with no hesitation. For a briefsample of the literature on totalitarianism from the most coherent to the most absurd, see Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951); and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Dictatorships and Double Standards (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982). We will return to the concept of totalitarianism in more detail in Section 2.2.
10. We are referring here to the thematics of Mobilmachtung that were developed in the Germanic world primarily in the 1920s and 1930s, more or less from Ernst Jnger to Carl Schmitt. In French culture, too, such positions emerged in the 1930s, and the polemics around them have still not died down. The figure of Georges Bataille is at the center of this discussion. Along different lines, on "general mobilization" as a paradigm of the constitution of collective labor power in Fordist capitalism, see Jean Paul de Gaudemar, La mobilisation g‚n‚rale (Paris: Maspero, 1978).
11. One could trace a very interesting line of discussions that effectively develop the Foucauldian interpretation of biopower from Jacques Derrida's reading of Walter Benjamin's "Critique of violence" ("Force of Law," in Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld, and David Gray Carlson, eds., Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice [New York: Routledge, 1992], pp. 3-67) to Giorgio Agamben's more recent and more stimulating contribution, Homo sacer: il potere sovrano e la nuda vita (Turin: Einaudi, 1995). It seems fundamental to us, however, that all of these discussions be brought back to the question of the productive dimensions of "bios," identifying in other words the materialist dimension of the concept beyond any conception that is purely naturalistic (life as "zoŠ") or simply anthropological (as Agamben in particular has a tendency to do, making the concept in effect indifferent).
12. Michel Foucault, "La naissance de la m‚decine sociale," in Dits et ‚crits (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 3:210.
13. See Henri Lefebvre, L'ideologie structuraliste (Paris: Anthropos, 1971); Gilles Deleuze, "A quoi reconnait-on le structuralisme?" in Fran‡ois Cha^telet, ed., Histoire de la philosophie, vol. 8 (Paris: Hachette, 1972), pp. 299-335; and Fredric Jameson, The Prison-House of Language (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972).
14. When Deleuze formulates his methodological differences with Foucault in a private letter written in 1977, the primary point of disagreement comes down precisely to just such a question of production. Deleuze prefers the term "desire" to Foucault's "pleasure," he explains, because desire grasps the real and active dynamic of the production of social reality whereas pleasure is merely inert and reactive: "Pleasure interrupts the positivity of desire and the constitution of its plane of immanence." See Gilles Deleuze, "D‚sir et plaisir," Magazine Litt‚raire, no. 325 (October 1994), 59-65; quotation p. 64.
15. F‚lix Guattari has perhaps developed the extreme consequences of this type of social critique, while carefully avoiding falling into the anti-"grand narrative" style of postmodernist argument, in his Chaosmosis, trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis (Sydney: Power Publications, 1995). From a metaphysical point of view, among the followers of Nietzsche, we find roughly analogous positions expressed in Massimo Cacciari, DRAN: m‚ridiens de la d‚cision dans la pens‚e contemporaine (Paris: L'‚ clat, 1991).
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