Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 3 May 2000 11:47:41 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] chat about Empire

[x-posted from [ multitudes infos ] and [toninegri]]

> from, the online discussion with Michael Hardt and Toni Negri.

moderator from Thank you both for joining us this afternoon. Before
we sign off, do you have any final thoughts for the online audience?

AN: The concept of Empire and all the other hypotheses that we make are
to reveal the present state of order,but this isn't what's really important.
What's really important is the Augustinian idea of two cities; that is,
Exodus on one hand (fleeing the corrupt city of power), but also
a new city. Now we're in the stage where we can't yet see its outline, we
are crossing borders and haven't yet arrived.

Moderator from Can you please explain for us the concept of Exodus
as it has been discussed this and in your work?

AN: By Exodus we want to indicate the form of struggle that is based not in
direct opposition but in a kind of struggle by subtraction-a refusal of
power, a refusal of obedience. Not only a refusal of work and a refusal of
authority, but also emigration and movement of all sorts that refuses the
obstacles that block movements and desire. And thus the fact if recognising
ourselves as citizens of the world. And not only that, but also to recognise
ourselves as poor (in the sense of a slave leaving Egypt-Peter). <laughter>
There is not only weakness in such poverty but a great strength.

Moderator from I'd like to know what's on the horizon for both of
you. What can we expect next from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri-either as
a collaborative effort or solo?

AN: I just published a book entitled ALMA VENUS, which was written in
which is a reflection on some of the concepts that emerged in EMPIRE.
Together, however, our present problematic has to do with bio-politics and
how within the bio-political order, we can understand the concept of
organization; that is, in what way we can understand the new social struggle
or revolution. The question then is a matter of recognising the emergence of
powerful organisations, and really a question in our terms of how to
organise an exodus.

MH: In addition to that, I'm working on my own study of the work of Pier
Paulo Pasolini.

Peter from 4. We tend to associate empire historically with rise,
decline, stability, break-up. But you seem to suggest that a true return to
the local is no longer possible or desirable. Do you think that there are
forms of social organisations that can be non-exploitative and yet function

AN: I'm not sure I understood the question, but it seems to me that the
defence or return of the local on one hand, and the proposition of a global
alternative on the other, are not really contradictory. They could perhaps
become contradictory,but for the moment the struggles against the
centralisation of imperial power have kept this dynamic open, as Seattle
demonstrated, and as also demonstrates the struggles in Italy in recent

MH: The demonstrations in Seattle and Washington DC were remarkable for the
way they brought together what seemed previously to be unrelated or
antagonistic perspectives: anarchists, environmentalist groups, organised
labor. In these demonstrations we sought and perhaps haven't yet understood
how the local and the global today manage to coincide. -- (Negri continues):
The Chinese shouldn't be allowed to deal only with their local questions,
they should be brought into the global market. When we say the Chinese, we
mean the struggles of the Chinese, and to bring them to a global level.

Ken from New York: Empire is an impressive book which challenges much of
we have understood as important in postcolonial theory and a variety of
critical marxisms from the third world. In your book there is little
discussion of accumulation, a topic that postcolonial and third world
intellectuals have insisted is important. Can you tell us about what the new
dimensions of the process will become?

AN: We didn't write a treatise on political economy, but tried to grasp the
general outlines of our post-colonial and post-national realities.
the concept of accumulation was not at the centre of our analysis. Certainly
one can and should imagine a concept of accumulation within our framework
that would be defined as the entire ensemble of social labor, both material
labor and immaterial labor that is organised today. To me it seems that at
this point we can only understand accumulation as a pre-em to a communist
constitution of society. To be frank and clear: Empire exploits the maximum
co-operation of society for accumulation; it exploits the foundation of

margo from rockville: What steps would you like to see the IMF and World
Bank take?

MH: There are two elements that seem most interesting to me about the
demonstrations in Washing against the INS and the World Bank. The first is
the new intelligence of the protesters: the fact of choosing these
supranational organisms as the object of protest is something fundamentally
new. While many of those unsympathetic were critical of the protesters lack
of knowledge of the inner workings, I find it impressive and hopeful that
such a large group of young people have identified these agencies as the
object of protest. The second thing I find interesting: the protest, though
not united, are by and large not about globalization, despite news reports;
the protesters instead are asking for an alternative globalization, a
democratic globalization. And that in fact is primary goal of our project
too. So in this sense we watch the protesters with great interest.

AN: What seems to me fundamental is to make an exodus away from these
institutions and to lessen their power by moving away from them in order to
struggle for a different kind of relationship. The problem is not to try to
make these institutions democratic but to construct democracy otherwise.
Ron Day from Univ. of Oklahoma: In the section of Empire published recently
in Multitudes, you write of communication guiding and channelling the
imagination and modernity as a whole. I'm wondering if you can elaborate on
this. Does "communication" here mean communicational devices? An ideology of
communication/information? A rhetorical/aesthetic form that may be
understood today as "communication" or "information." thanks for your work.

MH: Indeed, we understand communication in a very broad sense to include not
only technological apparatus, but also human exchanges. One concept that is
fundamental to us in considering this problematic is Marx's concept of
general intellect. By general intellect we understand the social
of knowledge that extends well beyond the level of the individual that is
directly productive in many of today's production practices. We can
understand the productivity of communication in collective and social terms.

Thomas Atzert from Frankfurt (Germany): A great hello to both of you! -
Slavoj Zizek, in an essay that was published also here in Germany, wrote
about your book, that it is nothing less than the Communist Manifesto for
21st century. So do you think that the immaterial workers of today are an
universal class as well as the proletarians Marx had before his eyes back in

MH: If the immaterial workers are to be conceived as a universal subject of
labor today, one has to work hard to expand the notion of what it means to
immaterial labor. It refers only to the fact that for many products or many
elements of products remain immaterial-not of course that labor itself has
become completely immaterial. Today production takes place equally across
our body, our brains, our affects, and indeed all the forces of life.

michele genchi from roma - italia: Caro Professore, essersi arresi al
mercato,mi fa pensare che molte delle lotte dei nostri anni hanno avuto il
sapore amaro di un annuncio triste lasciato perdere, e che molte delle cose
che abbiamo gridato per strada hanno avuto un senso. l'eredit positiva e'
quella di aver educato i nostri figli alla solidariet e a un'atteggiamento
distaccato verso la povert intellettuale di questi tempi. Non crede,
Professore, che avremmo, forse, potuto fare di pi ? Osare di pi ? (Dear
Professor, many of the struggles of our years had the bitter taste of a sad
announcement, and that meany of the things that we yelled in the streets had
a sense. The positive heritage is that we educated our children in
and an attachment toward the intellectual povery of our times. Don't you
think, professor, that we could have perhaps done more? Dared to do more? )

AN: It doesn't seem to me that the question deals with Empire specifically,
but one can respond. If the question is simply could one do more? Then the
answer is yes, one could, and one could push Empire further. Pushing Empire
further first meant making the Soviet Union fall; it means making
international struggles stronger from the beginning; and it means attacking
the nation-state and it's abilities to blockthe movement of people; it means
opening borders, etc. etc. We have only been able to do this poartially. But
at least in Europe we wer eable to bring about the collapse of the factory
regime, and this was a fndamental fundamental factor driving towards

b. weber from austria: You define Empire as the universal rule of capital,
without a center. But the European Union and the US still seem to be engaged
in a struggle for dominance against each other, as one can tell from the
introduction of the Euro as a rival international currency and the european
attempts to create their own European defence body. How do you interpret
battle? (I must admit that up to now I just got to the middle of your book,
so excuse me if you tackled that question anyway in your work)

MH: When we understand Empire as a global constitution that does not exclude
the fact that there remains today national and international entities that
control currency, economic flow and production. Our concept of Empire is
based on the notion of mixed constitution that incorporates national, local
and international organisms withina super-national and in fact global order.
Itis still of extreme importance to struggle with and against powers of
nation-state and the international entities, such at Eupropean Union. But
also, wehave to recognize the ultimate sovereignty of the new order on a
global scale.
franca giordano from milano: non ho letto il libro (sar tradotto in
italiano?) una domanda a entrambi: sono una mamma di 45 anni e molti anni f
sono stata comunista. Ha ancora senso oggi credere in una idea che ha mosso
milioni di uomini e donne in tutto il mondo? (I have been a communist for
many years. Does it still make sense to believe in an idea that has moved
millions of men and women acroos the world?)

AN: I can't answer a question of faith or belief, but I think it is
reasonable to be communist today - today more than ever. When our society
lives off of a common sense-that is, a common constitution. Today
relationships of labor and social relationships are more common than they
were before. And that's the commonality that lives within both intellectual
labor and other labor-becomes ever important.
Cynthia P. Kelly from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: How can Socialis (and Marxism
in particular) help us reach a praxis of absolute democracy?

AN: We first have to mke a distiction. Socialism means simply "from each
according to his capacity." And communism, in contrast, "to each "according
to his needs."

MH: In this sense aboslute democracy is the foundation of communism. This is
the sense in which we understand a non-representativ form of communism, or
rather a communism that is of representation.

Peter from I am struck by how eclectic, in a positive sense, the
conceptual field of Empire is in terms of the multiple sources it draws on
>from Spinoza to Marx and A Thousand Plateaus. At the same time, it is so
positive, wasting so little time on the direct critique of liberal ideology.
How would you like to see others use your concepts?

AN: First the question of how the concepts would be used, we have nothing to
say or dictate how readers respond. This should be left up to them.
eclecticism: Eclecticism today has taken on a new critical value. It is
something like what Kant described as the struggle among the faculties. And
thus this struggle translates today as a struggle among the academic
discipline to destroy and communication. It develops in such a way that the
various disciplines-mathematics, economics-have developed boundaries so that
it is impossible for them to communicate. I mean that today one has to
intervene to destroy and confound the differences and distinctions among
them. One example of the mathematical structure and how it has become
completely detached from the ability to understand the economy, and thus our
entire insistence on "bio-politics"-our concept of bio power follows
strictly Foucault's conception of Kant's conflict among the faculty. I
think we need to open a new discussion about the faculties, even the
academic faculties, and that all problems of bio-politics lead us toward
overcoming the old academic divisions.

MH: Re; positivity: It is certainly our intention to present a ositive
critical account because we think that what contemporary discussion needs to
do is not only criticque the present state of affairs but to outline an
emerging alternative.

Peter from I am interested in the process of collaboration between
the two of you, especially in the light of the transcontinental connection.
Is their any reason you choose to have the book come out in American

MH: We worked together on all of the texts in the sense that we didn't
up chapters. What we did was exchange drafts so that all of the material in
the end was written equally by both of us. Because of Toni's legal
situation,this required my going to Europe several times a year. First
France, and then Italy-in order to collaborate face to face.

AN: I think that the problem with collaboration is defined by the way we had
already worked together, for and from the beginning, principally on American
questions. Simply the fact of working on American material for a European
intellectual is enriching from both perspectives. Why the book came out
in English, the response is very banal. American English is the most simple
and direct way to have one's ideas circulate at a world.

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