Michael Hardt / Antonio Negri

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The realm of potentiality, which had been opened by the humanist principle of subjectivity, is limited a priori by the imposition of transcendent rule and order. Descartes surreptitiously reproposes theology on the terrain that humanism had cleared, and its apparatus is resolutely transcendental.
With Descartes we are at the beginning of the history of the Enlightenment, or rather bourgeois ideology.[20] The transcendental apparatus he proposes is the distinctive trademark of European Enlightenment thought. In both the empiricist and the idealist currents, transcendentalism was the exclusive horizon of ideology, and in the successive centuries nearly all the major currents of philosophy would be drawn into this project. The symbiosis between intellectual labor and institutional, political, and scientific rhetorics became absolute on this terrain, and every conceptual formation came to be marked by it: the formalization of politics, the instrumentalization of science and technique for profit, the pacification of social antagonisms. Certainly, in each of these fields we find historically specific developments, but everything was always tied up with the line of a grand narrative that European modernity told about itself, a tale told in a transcendental dialect.[21] In many respects the work of Immanuel Kant stands at the center of this development. Kant's thought is enormously rich and leads in numerous directions, but we are interested here primarily in the line that crowns the transcendental principle as the apex of European modernity. Kant manages to pose the subject at the center of the metaphysical horizon but at the same time control it by means of the three operations we cited earlier: the emptying of experience in phenomena, the reduction of Knowledge to intellectual mediation, and the neutralization of ethical action in the schematism of reason. The mediation that Descartes invoked in his reaffirmation of dualism is hypostatized by Kant, not in the divinity but nonetheless in a pseudo-ontological critique-in an ordering function of consciousness and an indistinct appetite of the will. Humanity is the center of the universe, but this is not the humanity that through art and action made itself homohomo. It is a humanity lost in experience, deluded in the pursuit of the ethical ideal. Kant throws us back into the crisis of modernity with full awareness when he poses the discovery of the subject itself as crisis, but this crisis is made into an apology of the transcendental as the unique and exclusive horizon of Knowledge and action. The world becomes an architecture of ideal forms, the only reality conceded to us. Romanticism was never expressed so strongly as it is in Kant. This is the leitmotif of Kantian philosophy: the necessity of the transcendental, the impossibility of every form of immediacy, the exorcism of every vital figure in the apprehension and action of being. From this perspective one should perhaps consider Arthur Schopenhauer the most lucid reader of Kantianism and its Romantic gesture. The fact that it is difficult if not impossible to reunite the appearance of the thing with the thing itself is precisely the curse of this world of pain and need. And this is therefore not a world constructed in a way so that noble and high forces, forces that tend to truth and light, can prosper.[22] In other words, Schopenhauer recognizes Kantianism as the definitive liquidation of the humanist revolution.
For this same reason Schopenhauer reacted even more violently against Hegel, calling him an "intellectual Caliban" to indicate the barbarity of his thought.[23] He found it intolerable that Hegel would transform the pallid constitutive function of Kant's transcendental critique into a solid ontological figure with such violence. This was indeed the destiny of the transcendental in the European ideology of modernity. Hegel revealed what was implicit from the beginning of the counterrevolutionary development: that the liberation of modern humanity could only be a function of its domination, that the immanent goal of the multitude is transformed into the necessary and transcendent power of the state. It is true that Hegel restores the horizon of immanence and takes away the uncertainty of Knowledge, the irresolution of action, and the fideist opening of Kantianism. The immanence Hegel restores, however, is really a blind immanence in which the potentiality of the multitude is denied and subsumed in the allegory of the divine order. The crisis of humanism is transformed into a dialectical dramaturgy, and in every scene the end is everything and the means are merely ornamentation.
There is no longer anything that strives, desires, or loves; the content of potentiality is blocked, controlled, hegemonized by finality. Paradoxically, the analogical being of the medieval Christian tradition is resurrected as a dialectical being. It is ironic that Schopenhauer would call Hegel a Caliban, the figure that was later held up as a symbol of the resistance to European domination and the affirmation of non-European desire. Hegel's drama of the Other and the conflict between master and slave, however, could not but take place against the historical backdrop of European expansion and the enslavement of af rican, American, and Asian peoples. It is impossible, in other words, not to link both Hegel's philosophical recuperation of the Other within absolute Spirit and his universal history leading from lesser peoples to its summit in Europe together with the very real violence of European conquest and colonialism. In short, Hegel's history is not only a powerful attack on the revolutionary plane of immanence but also a negation of non-European desire. Finally, with another act of force, that "intellectual Caliban" inserted into the development of modernity the experience of a new conception of temporality, and he showed this temporality to be a dialectical teleology that is accomplished and arrives at its end. The entire genetic design of the concept found an adequate representation in the conclusion of the process. Modernity was complete, and there was no possibility of going beyond it. It was not by chance, then, that a further and definitive act of violence defined the scene: the dialectic of crisis was pacified under the domination of the state. Peace and justice reign once again: "The state in and for itself is the ethical whole . . . It is essential to God's march through the world that the state exist."[24]
Modern Sovereignty
The political solution offered by Hegel to the metaphysical drama of modernity demonstrates the profound and intimate relationship between modern European politics and metaphysics. Politics resides at the center of metaphysics because modern European metaphysics arose in response to the challenge of the liberated singularities and the revolutionary constitution of the multitude. It functioned as an essential weapon of the second mode of modernity insofar as it provided a transcendent apparatus that could impose order on the multitude and prevent it from organizing itself spontaneously and expressing its creativity autonomously. The second mode of modernity needed above all to guarantee its control over the new figures of social production both in Europe and in the colonial spaces in order to rule and prof it from the new forces that were transforming nature. In politics, as in metaphysics, the dominant theme was thus to eliminate the medieval form of transcendence, which only inhibits production and consumption, while maintaining transcendence's effects of domination in a form adequate to the modes of association and production of the new humanity. The center of the problem of modernity was thus demonstrated in political philosophy, and here was where the new form of mediation found its most adequate response to the revolutionary forms of immanence: a transcendent political apparatus.
Thomas Hobbes's proposition of an ultimate and absolute sovereign ruler, a "God on earth," plays a foundational role in the modern construction of a transcendent political apparatus. The first moment of Hobbes's logic is the assumption of civil war as the originary state of human society, a generalized conflict among individual actors. In a second moment, then, in order to guarantee survival against the mortal dangers of war, humans must agree to a pact that assigns to a leader the absolute right to act, or really the absolute power to do all except take away the means of human survival and reproduction. "Seeing right reason is not existent, the reason of some man, or men, must supply the place thereof; and that man, or men, is he or they, that have the sovereign power."[25] The fundamental passage is accomplished by a contract-a completely implicit contract, prior to all social action or choice-that transfers every autonomous power of the multitude to a sovereign power that stands above and rules it.
This transcendent political apparatus corresponds to the necessary and ineluctable transcendent conditions that modern philosophy posed at the pinnacle of its development, in Kantian schematism and Hegelian dialectics. According to Hobbes, the single wills of the various individuals converge and are represented in the will of the transcendent sovereign. Sovereignty is thus defined both by transcendence and by representation, two concepts that the humanist tradition has posed as contradictory. On the one hand, the transcendence of the sovereign is founded not on an external theological support but only on the immanent logic of human relations. On the other hand, the representation that functions to legitimate this sovereign power also alienates it completely from the multitude of subjects. Like Jean Bodin before him, Hobbes recognized that "the main point of sovereign majesty and absolute power consists of giving the law to subjects in general without their consent,"[26] but Hobbes manages to combine this notion with a contractual schema of representation that legitimates the sovereign power a priori. Here the concept of modern sovereignty is born in its state of transcendental purity. The contract of association is intrinsic to and inseparable from the contract of subjugation. This theory of sovereignty presents the first political solution to the crisis of modernity. In his own historical period, Hobbes's theory of sovereignty was functional to the development of monarchic absolutism, but in fact its transcendental schema could be applied equally to various forms of government: monarchy, oligarchy, and democracy. As the bourgeoisie rose to prominence, it seemed there was really no alternative to this schema of power. It was not by chance, then, that Rousseau's democratic republicanism turned out to resemble the Hobbesian model. Rousseau's social contract guarantees that the agreement among individual wills is developed and sublimated in the construction of a general will, and that the general will proceeds from the alienation of the single wills toward the sovereignty of the state. As a model of sovereignty, Rousseau's "republican absolute" is really no different from Hobbes's "God on earth," the monarchic absolute. "Properly understood, all of these clauses [of the contract] come down to a single one, namely the total alienation of each associate, with all his rights, to the whole community."[27] The other conditions that Rousseau prescribes for the definition of sovereign power in the popular and democratic sense are completely irrelevant in the face of the absolutism of the transcendent foundation. Specifically, Rousseau's notion of direct representation is distorted and ultimately overwhelmed by the representation of the totality that is necessarily linked to it-and this is perfectly compatible with the Hobbesian notion of representation. Hobbes and Rousseau really only repeat the paradox that Jean Bodin had already defined conceptually in the second halfof the sixteenth century. Sovereignty can properly be said to exist only in monarchy, because only one can be sovereign. Iftwo or three or many were to rule, there would be no sovereignty, because the sovereign cannot be subject to the rule of others.[28] Democratic, plural, or popular political forms might be declared, but modern sovereignty really has only one political figure: a single transcendent power. There is at the base of the modern theory of sovereignty, however, a further very important element-a content that fills and sustains the form of sovereign authority. This content is represented by capitalist development and the affirmation of the market as the foundation of the values of social reproduction.[29] Without this content, which is always implicit, always working inside the transcendental apparatus, the form of sovereignty would not have been able to survive in modernity, and European modernity would not have been able to achieve a hegemonic position on a world scale. As ArifDirlik has noted, Eurocentrism distinguished itself from other ethnocentrisms (such as Sinocentrism) and rose to global prominence principally because it was supported by the powers of capital.[30]
European modernity is inseparable from capitalism. This central relationship between the form and the content of modern sovereignty is fully articulated in the work of Adam Smith. Smith begins with a theory of industry that poses the contradiction between private enrichment and public interest. A first synthesis of these two levels is confided to the "invisible hand" of the market: the capitalist "intends only his own gain," but he is "led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."[31] This first synthesis, however, is precarious and fleeting. Political economy, considered a branch of the science of the administrator and legislator, must go much further in conceiving the synthesis. It must understand the "invisible hand" of the market as a product of political economy itself, which is thus directed toward constructing the conditions of the autonomy of the market: "All systems either of preference or of restraint, therefore, being thus completely taken away, the obvious and simple system of natural liberty establishes itself of its own accord."[32] In this case, too, however, the synthesis is not at all guaranteed. In effect, a third passage is necessary. What is needed is for the state, which is minimal but effective, to make the well-being of private individuals coincide with the public interest, reducing all social functions and laboring activities to one measure of value. That this state intervenes or not is secondary; what matters is that it give content to the mediation of interests and represent the axis of rationality of that mediation. The political transcendental of the modern state is defined as an economic transcendental. Smith's theory of value was the soul and substance of the concept of the modern sovereign state.
In Hegel, the synthesis of the theory of modern sovereignty and the theory of value produced by capitalist political economy is finally realized, just as in his work there is a perfect realization of the consciousness of the union of the absolutist and republican aspects-that is, the Hobbesian and Rousseauian aspects-of the theory of modern sovereignty.
In relation to the spheres of civil law [Privatrecht] and private welfare, the spheres of the family and civil society, the state is on the one hand an external necessity and the higher power to whose nature their laws and interests are subordinate and on which they depend. But on the other hand, it is their immanent end, and its strength consists in the unity of its universal and ultimate end with the particular interest of individuals, in the fact that they have duties towards the state to the same extent as they also have rights.[33]
The Hegelian relationship between particular and universal brings together in adequate and functional terms the Hobbes-Rousseau theory of sovereignty and Smith's theory of value. Modern European sovereignty is capitalist sovereignty, a form of command that overdetermines the relationship between individuality and universality as a function of the development of capital.
The Sovereignty Machine
When the synthesis of sovereignty and capital is fully accomplished, and the transcendence of power is completely transformed into a transcendental exercise of authority, then sovereignty becomes a political machine that rules across the entire society. Through the workings of the sovereignty machine the multitude is in every moment transformed into an ordered totality. We should play close attention to this passage because here we can see clearly how the transcendental schema is an ideology that functions concretely and how different modern sovereignty is from that of the ancien r‚gime. In addition to being a political power against all external political powers, a state against all other states, sovereignty is also a police power. It must continually and extensively accomplish the miracle of the subsumption of singularities in the totality, of the will of all into the general will. Modern bureaucracy is the essential organ of the transcendental-Hegel dixit. And even ifHegel exaggerates a bit in his quasi-theological consecration of the body of state employees, at least he makes clear their central role in the effective functioning of the modern state. Bureaucracy operates the apparatus that combines legality and organizational efficiency, title and the exercise of power, politics and police. The transcendental theory of modern sovereignty, thus reaching maturity, realizes a new "individual" by absorbing society into power. Little by little, as the administration develops, the relationship between society and power, between the multitude and the sovereign state, is inverted so that now power and the state produce society.
This passage in the history of ideas does indeed parallel the development of social history. It corresponds to the dislocation of the organizational dynamic of the state from the terrain of medieval hierarchy to that of modern discipline, from command to function. Max Weber and Michel Foucault, to mention only the most illustrious, have insisted at length on these metamorphoses in the sociological figures of power. In the long transition from medieval to modern society, the first form of the political regime was, as we have seen, rooted in transcendence. Medieval society was organized according to a hierarchical schema of degrees of power. This is what modernity blew apart in the course of its development. Foucault refers to this transition as the passage from the paradigm of sovereignty to that of governmentality, where by sovereignty he means the transcendence of the single point of command above the social field, and by governmentality he means the general economy of discipline that runs throughout society.[34] We prefer to conceive of this as a passage within the notion of sovereignty, as a transition to a new form of transcendence. Modernity replaced the traditional transcendence of command with the transcendence of the ordering function. Arrangements of discipline had begun to be formed already in the classical age, but only in modernity did the disciplinary diagram become the diagram of administration itself. Throughout this passage administration exerts a continuous, extensive, and tireless effort to make the state always more intimate to social reality, and thus produce and order social labor. The old theses, … la Tocqueville, of the continuity of administrative bodies across different social eras are thus profoundly revised when not completely discarded. Foucault, however, goes still further to claim that the disciplinary processes, which are put into practice by the administration, delve so deeply into society that they manage to configure themselves as apparatuses that take into account the collective biological dimension of the reproduction of the population. The realization of modern sovereignty is the birth of biopower.[35]
Before Foucault, Max Weber also described the administrative mechanisms involved in the formation of modern sovereignty.[36] Whereas Foucault's analysis is vast in its diachronic breadth, Weber's is powerful in its synchronic depth. With respect to our discussion of modern sovereignty, Weber's contribution is first of all his claim that the opening of modernity is defined as a scission-a creative condition of individuals and the multitude against the process of state reappropriation. State sovereignty is then defined as a regulation of this relationship of force. Modernity is above all marked by the tension of the opposing forces. Every process of legitimation is regulated by this tension, and operates to block its capacity for rupture and recuperate its creative initiative. The closure of the crisis of modernity in a new sovereign power can be given in old and quasi-naturalist forms, as is the case with traditional legitimation; or rather, it can be given in sacred and innovative, irrationally innovative, forms, as in charismatic legitimation; or finally, and this is to a large extent the most effective form of late modernity, it can be given in the form of administrative rationalization. The analysis of these forms of legitimation is Weber's second relevant contribution, which builds on the first, the recognition of the dualism of the paradigm. The third relevant point is Weber's treatment of the procedural character of the transformation, the always present and possible interweaving of the various forms of legitimation, and their continuous capacity to be extended and deepened in the control of social reality. From this follows a final paradox: ifon the one hand this process closes the crisis of modernity, on the other hand it reopens it. The form of the process of closure is as critical and conflictual as the genesis of modernity. In this respect Weber's work has the great merit to have completely destroyed the self-satisfied and triumphant conception of the sovereignty of the modern state that Hegel had produced.
Weber's analysis was quickly taken up by the writers engaged in the critique of modernity, from Heidegger and Lukaïcs to Horkheimer and Adorno. They all recognized that Weber had revealed the illusion of modernity, the illusion that the antagonistic dualism that resides at the base of modernity could be subsumed in a unitary synthesis investing all of society and politics, including the productive forces and the relations of production. They recognized, finally, that modern sovereignty had passed its peak and begun to wane. As modernity declines, a new season is opened, and here we find again that dramatic antithesis that was at the origins and basis of modernity. Has anything really changed? The civil war has erupted again in full force. The synthesis between the development of productive forces and relations of domination seems once again precarious and improbable. The desires of the multitude and its antagonism to every form of domination drive it to divest itself once again of the processes of legitimation that support the sovereign power. Certainly, no one would imagine this as a return of that old world of desires that animated the first humanist revolution. New subjectivities inhabit the new terrain; modernity and its capitalist relations have completely changed the scene in the course of its development. And yet something remains: there is a sense of d‚j… vu when we see the reappearance of the struggles that have continually been passed down from those origins. The experience of the revolution will be reborn after modernity, but within the new conditions that modernity constructed in such a contradictory way. Machiavelli's return to origins seems to be combined with Nietzsche's heroic eternal return. Everything is different and nothing seems to have changed. Is this the coming of a new human power? "For this is the secret of the soul: when the hero hath abandoned it, then only approacheth it in dreams-the super-hero."[37]
Michel Foucault's final works on the history of sexuality bring to life once again that same revolutionary impulse that animated Renaissance humanism. The ethical care of the self reemerges as a constituent power of selfcreation. How is it possible that the author who worked so hard to convince us of the death of Man, the thinker who carried the banner of antihumanism throughout his career, would in the end champion these central tenets of the humanist tradition? We do not mean to suggest that Foucault contradicts himself or that he reversed his earlier position; he was always so insistent about the continuity of his discourse. Rather, Foucault asks in his final work a paradoxical and urgent question: What is humanism after the death of Man? Or rather, what is an antihumanist (or posthuman) humanism? This question, however, is only a seeming paradox that derives at least in part from a terminological confusion between two distinct notions of humanism. The antihumanism that was such an important project for Foucault and Althusser in the 1960s can be linked effectively to a battle that Spinoza fought three hundred years earlier. Spinoza denounced any understanding of humanity as an imperium in imperio. In other words, he refused to accord any laws to human nature that were different from the laws of nature as a whole. Donna Haraway carries on Spinoza's project in our day as she insists on breaking down the barriers we pose among the human, the animal, and the machine. If we are to conceive Man as separate from nature, then Man does not exist. This recognition is precisely the death of Man.
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