Empire (book)

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Title Empire
Swedish edition (Imperiet) cover
Swedish edition (Imperiet) cover
Author Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) Globalisation, geopolitics
Publisher Harvard University Press
Released 2000
Media type Print
ISBN ISBN 0-674-25121-0 (hardcover) ISBN 0-674-00671-2 (paperback)
Preceded by Labor of Dionysys: A Critique of the State-Form
Followed by Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

Empire is a text written by Marxist philosophers Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. The book, written in the mid 90s, was published in 2000 and immediately became a bestseller.[1] In general, the book theorizes an ongoing transition from a "modern" phenomenon of imperialism, centered around individual nation-states, to an emergent postmodern construct created amongst ruling powers which the authors call Empire (the capital letter is distinguishing), with different forms of warfare:

"..and if, according to Hardt and Negri's Empire, the rise of Empire is the end of national conflict, the "enemy" now, whoever he is, can no longer be ideological or national. The enemy now must be understood as a kind of criminal, as someone who represents a threat not to a political system or a nation but to the law. This is the enemy as a terrorist.... Hardt and Negri get this absolutely right when they say that in the "new order that envelops the entire space of... civilization", where conflict between nations has been made irrelevant, the "enemy" is simultaneously "banalized" (reduced to an object of routine police repression) and absolutized (as the Enemy, an absolute threat to the ethical order"[2])."[3]

They proceed to elaborate a variety of ideas surrounding constitutions, global war, and class. Hence, the Empire is constituted by a monarchy (the United States and the G8, and international organizations such as NATO, the IMF or the WTO), an oligarchy (the multinational corporations and other nation-states) and a democracy (the various NGOs and the United Nations). Part of their analysis deals with "imagine[ing] "resistance to it", but "the point of Empire is that it, too, is "total" and that resistance to it can only take the form of negation - "the will to be against"[4]. The Empire is total, but economic inequality persists, and as all identities are wiped out and replaced with a universal one, the identity of the poor persists[5]

This description of pyramidal levels is a replica of Polybius' description of Roman government, hence the denomination "Empire". Furthermore, the crisis is conceived as inherent to the Empire. Negri & Hardt are also heavily indebted to Michel Foucault's analysis of biopolitics[6] and Gilles Deleuze's philosophy. Before that book, Negri was best known for having written The Savage Anomaly (1981), a milestone book in Spinozism studies which he wrote in prison. Empire is thus, unsurprisingly, also influenced by Spinoza. The ideas first introduced in Empire (notably the concept of multitude, taken from Spinoza) were further developed in the 2004 book Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, which was also written by Negri and Hardt.

It was published by Harvard University Press in 2000 as a 478-page hardcover (ISBN 0-674-25121-0) and paperback (ISBN 0-674-00671-2).


[edit] Opening epigraphs

"Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right." — Ani DiFranco
"Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and then it turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name." — William Morris

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Empire hits back. The Observer, July 15, 2001.
  2. ^ pg 6 of Empire, 2000
  3. ^ pg 171-172 of Michaels 2004.
  4. ^ pg 173 of Michaels 2004
  5. ^ "The problem, as they see it, is that "postmodernist authors" have neglected the one identity that should matter most to those on the left, the one we have always with us: "The only non-localizable 'common name' of pure difference in all eras is that of the poor" (156)...only the poor, Hardt and Negri say, "live radically the actual and present being" (157)." pg 179-180, Michaels 2004
  6. ^ "Indeed, it is the irrelevance of political beliefs or ideas and their replacement by what (thinking to follow Foucault) Hardt and Negri call the "biopolitical", that mark the special contribution of the discourse of terrorism, which we might more generally call the discourse of globalization." pg 173 of Michaels 2004.

[edit] External links

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