About Michael Hardt
An Interview with Michael Hardt
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Michael Hardt is a professor in the literature program at Duke University.
‘Hardt and Negri are an extraordinarily rare breed: political theorists who actually believe in people, and their power and wisdom to govern themselves. The result is an inspiring marriage of realism and idealism’
Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
With the positive spirit and intellectual depth that are the authors’ hallmark, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire argues that some of the most troubling aspects of the new world order contain the seeds of radical global social transformation.
Exclusively for www.penguin.co.uk Hardt and Negri have put togther The University of Life: A very brief dictionary of the new world order. Immerse yourselves in short inspirational texts, which you won't see on TV, read in the papers or be taught at school:
The masters of the White House have been trying to resurrect the old practices of imperialism throughout their “war on terror” and especially in their invasion and occupation of Iraq. Their unilateral political and military operations, flaunting international law, are aimed at remaking the global environment and ruling over the global order. But try as they might they cannot achieve stability, order, and security for their interests. The failures of the would-be US imperialists demonstrate, in fact, that the practices of imperialism are a thing of the past. Today imperialist adventures can only bring disaster and destruction.
Empire is the only form of power able today to guarantee the global order and protect the interests of the rich and powerful. Empire is constituted by a global network of collaborating powers, including the dominant nation-states, the major capitalist corporations, the supranational institutions, along with various local and regional powers. Some powers are obviously dominant over others in this network, but none can “go it alone.” This Empire is a tendency, it is emerging today and not yet fully formed, but since it is the form of domination we will face in the future we would do well to begin to understand it and work against it today.
Empire claims to bring peace - the kind of imperial peace vaunted in ancient Rome - but really underneath the stability and order that Empire achieves is a permanent state of global war. We are entering an age in which war is a constant threat in every society across the world, in which war arises equally from outside and inside each society. War has always required a suspension of democracy and thus this permanent global war makes democracy seem impossible, even unimaginable.
The coordinated institutions of Empire form a global social body that is able to fulfill the needs of capital. Just as in a previous period the nation-state was able to guarantee the collective long-term interests of national capital, today Empire serves the same role for global capital.
Empire not only rules over populations and territories but also its power extends down to the deepest levels of society. It tends to mold and create all aspects of social life. It is a form of biopower that seeks to rule over social life in its entirety.
There is nothing more natural and noble than to resist authority and throw off the chains of tyranny. Just when the powers of Empire are extending ever more broadly and deeply in society, the bases of resistance are proliferating everywhere: from movements against big dams in India to movements of landless workers in Brazil, and from protests against patenting life forms to protests against the global war.
All the various resistance movements are based on specific, singular demands but they all also ultimately share a demand for global democracy or a democratization of the global system - not as their lowest common denominator but as their highest common aspiration. It is not immediately clear today, of course, what democracy can mean in a globalizing world. We certainly cannot simply take the national forms of democracy that functioned, however badly, in the modern era and project them larger onto the global space. The demands for global democracy that emerge from the global resistance movements pose a challenge to us to invent a notion of democracy adequate to a global world.
Multitude is a project for the organization of global democracy. In the multitude our differences are not negated or diminished, we remain singular, but we are able to act in common, we are able together to produce the common. A desire for the multitude is clearly established in the various contemporary forms of resistance, but the possibility of the multitude has to be established also in the new forms of labor, the new economic circuits, the ways we produce in common. This is the solid foundation on which the multitude can stand.
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The multitude is ultimately a project of love. We need to rescue the concept of love from sentimentality and its isolation within the confines of the couple. We need a political concept of love that recognizes the power and joy of being together and creating a new society in common.
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