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TOTALITIES (from Empire)

Hardt and Negri

When Lukács claimed that only 'the totality is truth' and when Adorno inverted the claim saying that 'all is untrue', it is probable that despite the apparent conflict they were not really very far apart. For Lukács, in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet 1917, truth consisted in the totality of the revolutionary process that transformed everything, because in this process everything could be redeemed. For Adorno, on the other hand, in the great calm that proceeded 1968, totality meant imperialist domination plus its mirror-image of socialist domination. This was a one-dimensional totality that reduced and disempowered humanity - a falsified totality in itself and for itself. Would not Adorno too, however, have accepted totality as a category of philosophical understanding when the totality could be redeemed? Is not his utopian negativity aimed at just such a redemption? In order to avoid these quarrels that do not really have to do with totality but with redemption, a concept permitted only to those (unlike us) who have faith, we would prefer to speak of totality in two different senses. On one hand, in fact, there is the totality of right and of the State, the tendency toward the affirmation of an imperial right and a new sovereignty that extends over the global set of social, economic, juridical and political relations of our planet. On the other side, however, at the same time, in the same logical space, there is the insurgency against this right and against this new imperial authority. Totality against totality, then, stands in methodological opposition. The political scientist assumes the ???? totality as her or his terrain of study. He or she analyses the forms of power and the tendencies of its evolution, assumes obedience to authority as the objective and asks in what ways it can be produced and guaranteed. The political scientist investigates how obedience can be organized to insure the production of wealth and the reproduction of power. As the US Founding Fathers and the authors of the Federalist Papers wanted, political science merges with the science of the constitution, conceived as the set of rules that invest the totality of social practices and construct a political space adequate to the reproduction of the system. Political science (along with constitutional science) is a dogmatic science insofar as it assumes power as totality and within this totality exercises its extraordinary capacities of organizing and predicting the future.

We call the other point of view 'insurgent science'. This too conceives of the totality as its object of study, but the total object is not power but rather what Spinoza called 'the democratic absolute'. Insurgent science is also a dogmatic science, even if in an unusual way. It assumes disobedience and rebellion as its sole objects; sabotage and destruction as its functions of knowledge; refusal and insubordination as its positive terrain. It is a dogmatic science of desire, and thus it is resolutely antidialectical. The names of things that it indicates are common, ontologically grounded and moved by passions. It is rigorously antitranscendental and antiteleological: the totality it constructs is open, as open as the world of possibility, the world of potential. Critique, thus, functions within it as an arm of the practical deconstruction of the enemy totality and the articulation of a project in the desire of liberation. This too recalls the authors of the Federalist Papers, because, like they did, it presupposes a new 'science of politics on a level adequate to postmodern enlightenment (can we call it that?), or in any case on a level adequate to the new antagonisms of globalization. This is what testifies to the superiority of 'insurgent science' with respect to the 'normal science' of politics, because the former rests on the process and the latter on command, the former on constituent power and the latter on constituted power. Normal science is thus constrained to follow in the tracks of insurgent science because only it is able to discover, name and activate the new world. The two totalities are thus not only opposed but also asymmetrical, not only asymmetrical but also atopic that is, they constitute different places. Whereas the normal science of politics operates in the transcendent realm, insurgent science is from the beginning situated on the terrain of immanence. Here is produced concretely that totality that Lukács and Adorno both glimpsed as a positive utopia, an immanent redemption.

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