A politics of the present?: Negri's contribution to the critique of power*

Arianna Bove and Erik Empson

Negri's thought is a non-transcendental postmodern marxism. The guiding principle in much of his writings - coalescing in Empire the most recent book - is the insistence on the role of constituent power in any politics of the prevailing social mode of production. Negri theorises power from 'below', his politics always attuned to understanding the shifts in established power as the result of the creative, generative and constitutive power of people themselves.

One of Negri's strengths lies in his focus on the social form and relations of production whilst at the same time registering alternative modes of perceiving these relations - outside the canonical Hegelian Marxism frame to which they have been sutured. The immanent ontology of power is not derived from an analytically prior philosophical investigation but is the result of the deconstruction and reconstruction of concepts in view of finding those that adequately express the material relations of power that are the substance of society, as well as creating those that can operate within material practices of its subversion. Negri's contribution as a whole is a philosophical detour from this hierarchy, and an alternative designation that passes through the metaphysics of Spinoza, the philosophies of Nietzsche and Deleuze and engages in a continuous critical dialogue with the massive insights of Marx's analysis of capital, the preferred frame of reference of which is the Marx of the Grundrisse. This Marx is that of the tendency of the changing processes of relation between capital and labour, conceived as the struggle over social power. Negri's politics and theory are always a matter of intervention in the here and now, and are anathema to every politics of separation that seeks to divorce the power of constitutive activity from its effects in this or that state or economic policy.

Negri's work shares deep affinities with the theoretical revolutions in French thought in the 60s and 70s, [1] the Spinozian and Nietzschean revivals, whilst avoiding the tendencies to absolute epistemological scepticism and political defeat, so characteristic of the New Philosophies. Postmodernism, now universalised as definition of every theory that registers a new periodisation of economic and political realities, is appropriated by Negri to describe the new conditions of possibility for social emancipation. It has little to do with the banal, jouissance of a-political postmodernisms whose deconstruction of categories as an end in itself results in the kind of entanglements of a cat that plays with a ball of string [2]. Less should the post-modern element of Negri's thought be seen as an attempt to untangle this fine mess. Rather postmodernism refers to the identification of a new configuration of the forces and relations of production, a new state of society or its condition as in the sense used by Harvey [3] or Jameson [4]. The body of concepts that are adequate to this world are those of aleatory materialism, expressions of a different re-orientated content that have exploded their dialectical representations. That this content is that of the materiality of power is something we would like to demonstrate here.

Our argument states that the idea of power and its theorisation is 'of the present' in that it is always a historical reality.[5] But also that the conflict in power relations and struggles ought to be treated immanently, as a matter of the here and now. This 'Umwelt of antagonism' [6] opposes to the ideology of eternal returns and the antinomy of the synchronic of life and the diachronic of history, the ideas of dislocation and innovation. Power as authority (potestas) - even if bolstered by the tradition of thousands of generations - is only power because it is effected in the present.

Total subsumption.

The interiorisation of the outside and the absolute domination of capital over all productive forms is what we understand by total subsumption, and is seen by Negri as a development on Marx's discussion of formal and real subsumption [7]. Total subsumption is crucial to Negri's argument because it combines both of these approaches: that of a genealogy of the present [8] and an ontology of immanent materialism. Even though we recognise many similarities to other theories of the postmodern, whose deconstructive practice is itself paradoxically premised on the assumption of a meta change in the social, we argue that Negri's approach is radically different from these, since 'change' is understood through the correct analysis of the processes that preceded and produced it. Rather than theorising technological developments and innovations as themselves causes of change, the central dynamic within society - the red thread of Negri's analysis - is understood as the developing contradiction and contestation between the creative activity and strength of people and the responsive mechanisms of regulation that feed off and limit its power (potentia). In this sense and in contradistinction to the technologist or culturalist versions of the paradigm shift, Negri's analysis cognises it through first principles as political.

Total subsumption as the absolute domination of capital coincides with the interiorisation of the outside. With nothing outside of capital left for it to colonise, exploitation and capital's expansion must assume a new intensive form. The import of total subsumption is really the end of a dialectic between inside and outside. For Negri and others who similarly understand modernity as a finished project, nature and extra-social elements are no longer

'seen as original and independent of the artifice of the civil order. In a postmodern world, all phenomena and forces are artificial, or, as some might say, part of history. The modern dialectic of inside and outside has been replaced by a play of degrees and intensities, of hybridity and artificiality'. [9]

The reality of this dialectical impasse is profound in that it provokes a radical reordering of our understanding of power. The crux of the Negrian idea of total subsumption is that it is treated politically. We will first look abstractly at this, and then consider the historical application of this idea before going on to place the critique of power in its immanent context.

The Red Thread

Its ironic that, although Marx's Das Kapital was an argument against the objectification of capital as a thing and the positive attempt to deconstruct this appearance in order to demonstrate its reality as a relation between people, in the prevailing consciousness of the left the idea of capital has suffered an ideological objectification. Not only does capital appears as a separate, alien power, it is theorised as such and, in some marxisms, has itself replaced class as an expressive totality, resulting in the impossibility of cognising power outside of adopting its perspective. In today's times, so powerful and complete that even the state is impotent to challenge it. It has been argued that Jameson's idea of postmodernism effects exactly this type of totalisation. [10] For Warren Montag, in Jameson there is no space for where opposition to capital might generate, and the culturalist work of Jameson is compared to the Beautiful soul in Hegel [11] that withdraws from the world to preserve its perfect difference and sanctity.

Maybe the staid argumentation of Das Kapital - its stricture in the form of the Hegelian darstellung - to some extent furnishes support to these perceptions [12]. Das Kapital charts the development of capital emerging from within itself, as its own object. [13] Indeed in its structuralist rendering both capitalists and workers are respectively the 'functionaries' or 'bearers' of capital's relations - there is a lot of evidence in the later Marx to support this reading. The dialectics of contestation, struggle, limitation and overcoming with which the Grundrisse is replete, appear in the 3 Volumes of Das Kapital with an apparently stultifying objectivism. Negri is intoxicated with the Grundrisse. It makes stand out 'the primary practical antagonism within whatever categorical foundation'. [14] Though singing a familiar tune (see Cleaver [15], Lebowitz [16],) for Negri, Das Kapital represents the attempt to elucidate the system from above, from the perspective of capital itself. Counterpoised to this is a political insistence on the necessity of a view from 'below'. [17] There is no question about where Negri stands with respect to orthodox schools of Marxist thought, although at times there are similar concerns. He is concerned with the social form of value and the form of labour that creates it. Yet far from fixing the value form to an essence of capital Negri constantly tries to identify where and why the law of value is in crisis, and the movements within the relations themselves that determine new configurations of labour. The object of Negri's marxism has not been to hypostasise the law of value but to continuously deconstruct it, both in theory and practice. [18]

For a number of postmodernists, this deconstruction has produced or aided a move away from the consideration of economic conflict over social power. Yet for Negri it is the reverse, because the law of value is the site of conflict, wherein capital, through measure, attempts to reduce human beings to homogenous simple labour.

This focus on labour and sensitivity to its changing forms means Negri politics do not find themselves in the peculiar position of looking outside of the capital relation for the subject that will transcend it. The view from above, whether the economic objectivism or the idea of total commodification in the Frankfurt School has the tendency to cancel out subjectivity from within the capital relation. That Marx himself made this mistake in das Kapital - to the point that Negri can argue Marx's theory of value was really a theory of the measure of value [19]- has lead Lebowitz and others to accuse Marx of an unhealthy collusion with the bourgeois categories of political economy. That both modernists and postmodernists draw apocalyptic conclusions from the reality of total subsumption makes Negri's reconsideration of production all the more welcome. Undeniably capital has power, but the substance of its power is never anything but the productive power of people.

For Negri the relentless expansion of capital since the 1960s - its drive to interiorise its outside - has an increasing intensity to it. [20] However, the basis of this expansion is the conflict internal to capital itself, because the need of capital to colonise the outside is due to the resistance inside the capital relation to its attempts to reduce the value of labour. We could say that 'Empire', as a world historical actuality, arises when the consequent drive of capitalist social power to colonise the outside is complete. This tendency is given by contradictory elements within the capital relation: the overproduction/ under-consumption problem, namely the tension in capital wherein the need to de-valorise labour power reduces the market for its products amongst those consumers internal to its relation (i.e. wage labourers). [20a] This is not a new problem, in many ways the whole discourse of postmodern Marxism hangs on this question. However, what makes Negri's argument stand out is its capacity to treat total subsumption politically without having to abandon politics. For many, the totalisation of capital relations entails either an abandonment of anti-capitalist politics in the face of their perceived impotence and futility, or the celebration of this or that conciliatory political project, often consisting in the reinvention of a public sphere or the power of consumer choice[21]. For Negri, on the contrary, totalisation of capitalism makes communism an immanent historical possibility. [22] How can this be so?

The answer lies in the fact that capital does not expand in spite of class struggle but as a direct consequence of it. For Negri, each development in capital's re-structuration is a consequence of its need to contain class struggle. Capital's laws are always in crisis, because in essence they rely on an imposition of social power upon subjects whose needs and desires always expose work, power and command as exterior limitation.[23] Capital does not reign supreme over labour as a transcendental force but is in a continuous battle within society to allow for its valorisation, to stem the crisis of the law of value.

Shifts in capitalist form of production (and, as we shall see, in the political form of the state) in turn are premised upon the struggle with the working class; the drive to exploitation and technical development aim to negate both the subversive power of workers and the struggle over wages, as well as the ideological conflict [24]. This complex is termed the couplet 'workers struggle /capitalist development' and was the theoretical product of, amongst others, Mario Tronti and the regulation school. [25]

A very general schematisation suggests the following order of determination:

1) productive subjectivity (potentia)

2) innovation of exploiter class +political form as authority and regulation (state)

3) class subjectivity

Rather than:

1) Capital (potestas)

2) labour defensive opposition (political organisation)+political form that represses the opposition

3) capital colonising the political form ' in order to negate class politics. [25a]

This schema might be as misleading as it is helpful, but we seek a means of exposing the specificity of the Negrian view in contradistinction to the whole host of positions which we see as wrongly adopting the 'perspective' of capital in the vacuum of epistemological perspectivism (the expressive totality) left by the decomposition of humanist marxism and the deconstruction of standpoint theory, i.e. often as a direct result of attempts at some form of objective or historical materialism. [26]

Since Negri's first writings, the dialectic that places ontological primacy on the productive labouring, desiring, self generating but relational subject would have been the challenge or alternative to modernity ' this is 'materialism'. [27] Ever positioned in the view from below, and true to his own prescriptions of viewing the political nexus of productive subjectivity, Negri's work from the 1960s to today charts the unknown, lambasted and denied waters of this subversive power of materialism.

To avert the risk of theorising this outside of actuality, we will now look at the various historical instantiations of the treatment of the capital relation from below, whose crucial operative concepts are class composition [28] and the state form.

Three main periods of capitalist re-structuration and class re-composition are outlined. Perhaps the most familiar is the period of the mass worker, which coincides with the Fordist/ Taylorist regime, preceded by the professional worker/artisan and superseded by post-Fordism which tries to find its political resolution in 'Empire'. Most of Marx's analysis of labour and capital corresponds to the period of the emergence of the mass worker. [29] The struggles that unfold during this period cause the emergence of the figure of the 'social worker' and equal the deconstruction of the category of the 'mass worker' - both theoretically and within the social field so to speak. All this coincides with the 1960's and the coming to be of the living generation in the seat of power whose dreams and nightmares we make our own.

Fordism, factory society, discipline and the State form.

With the emergence of factory society, the artificial separation between political and economic constitution loses affectivity. No mediation is necessary, accumulation is its own discipline. The state as the executive organ of capital represents the direct negation of single capitalists, in favour of the class interests of capital. It embodies the 'political law of collective capital'. Capital becomes synonymous with the general interest.

'The 'democracy of labour' and 'social democracy' both reside here: they consist of the hypothesis of a form of labour that negates itself as the working class and autonomously manages itself within the structures of capitalist production as labour-power. At this point capitalist social interest, which has already eliminated the privatistic (sic) and egoistic expressions of single capitalists, attempts to configure itself as a comprehensive, objective social interest.'[30]

Thus the post-war revolutionary import of socialist principles in the constitution is annulled. In fact, organised labour comes to facilitate the restructuring of the capitalist class.

'As an organised movement the working class is completely within the organisation of capital, which is the organisation of society. Its watchwords and its ideological and bureaucratic apparatuses are all elements that are situated within the dialectic of bourgeois development.' [31]

At the point where capital is identified with the common interest of society, an inversion occurs in the realm of social phenomenology wherein the labour nexus appears as the strength of capital's valorisation and the basis of society itself [32]. This is reflected in the incorporation of the socialist principles like labour being the source of all wealth ' that Marx incidentally had already taken up in the Critique of the Gotha programme ' being instantiated as a principle within the Bourgeois constitution (Negri calls the integration of this reformism the constitutionalisation of labour ). This notion is progressively deconstructed in the 1960's and the following years, when the factory regime is attacked across the West. Against the tyranny of both Trade Unions and the Party, we witness the birth of autonomism and the creation of resistance cultures that refuse the very ideology of social democracy, organised labour and their motto: Arbeit macht frei. [33]

Society of control, biopower and immaterial labour

The traditional centres where disciplinary techniques are deployed (class, party, school, nuclear family, wage labour) [34] are in crisis. Disciplinary rationality is substituted by more efficient, economic, discrete and implicit procedures aimed at governing people. In Foucault's analysis this begins in the mid C 19 with the emergence of the social insurance systems in France [35] which prefigures a science of control based on the prevention of risk and enacted under the auspices of the security of the life of the population. This is also the time when biopower becomes fully operative within the workings of the modern state. Biopower takes life as its object. For Hardt and Negri total subsumption operates at the level of biopolitical production because production has subsumed life itself, but as society becomes a factory (diffuse factory) it also becomes a school, a hospital, a prison and an army. [36]

The science of control functions through a predictive medicine (with no doctors nor patients) whereby it treats society as a reserve of diseases and individuals as carriers of pathologies; through an education that is transformed into life long learning where each individual is compelled to remain productive throughout his/her life; through a surveillance that is used not as a evidence of crime but as a preventive tool for recognising, inserting into databases and scanning human bodies and behaviour. Every individual who acts suspiciously becomes a carrier of criminality. The end of the outside coincides with the crisis of traditional disciplinary institutions and the diffusion of mechanisms of interiorisation: self exploitation, self rationalisation and internalisation of responsibility prove to be more effective tools of government.[37]

This move towards control societies also causes a re-territorialisation of the place for struggle. The retreat of disciplinary institutions opens spaces of 'abandonment', ghettos, refugee camps, where bare life is at the mercy of the lawless management of the Polizeistaat, which acts on the basis of a permanent state of exception. [38]

Whereas the factory society corresponded to the Fordist mechanisms of labour exploitation, which attempted to homogenise labour and break down the power of the professional worker [39], the society of control corresponds and is a response to the movement away from the 'productive labourer' (as specifically theorised by Marx [40]) as the essential substance of the alienated labour that produces value and surplus value.[41]

Biopower entered history by turning the ancient right to 'take life or let live' into a power to 'foster life or disallow it into the point of death'[42]. Foucault writes, 'This power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism; the latter would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production [']'. [43]

Negri and Hardt take this side of Foucault's analysis further [44] and look at biopolitical production under post-Fordism precisely at the point where this process has reached its apex. The body is fixed capital. Labour is no longer 'employed' by capital. The instruments of labour are the brain-machines of social cooperation. [45] Disciplinary power was productive of subjectivities within institutions. It had a 'place'. Now these institutions are breaking down and with them the function of representation, negotiation, and delegation. Subjectivities are now -immediately individuated by power- capital, hence the importance of immaterial affective labour as producing value-subjectivities.

With this new regime of labour the working class through the endeavour of its own agents collapses the privileged sector of the Fordist worker and instantiates new forms of subjectivities, a different class composition. Negri is decisive about the periodisation in the movement towards the social worker. The fact that he locates it in 1968 shows the persistent political dimension of his thought about reality and the importance of the event [46]. For us, the 1970's marked a pretty bloody period in what were the staged battles of this transition. Against the powerful labour force, the crisis state became centralised as a constant reality. But what is more crucial perhaps is the birth of struggles outside of the factory, which was reflected in the extension of the state administration of discipline (now control) into directly managing the production of subjectivity, whilst (and as a response to) subjects resisting the reduction of themselves to the labour power.

'The political composition of the proletariat is social, as is also the territory where it resides; it is completely abstract, immaterial, and intellectual, in terms of the substance of labour; it is mobile and polyvalent in terms of its form.' [47]

The idea of immaterial labour comes to be theorised as a result of the changes in the quality of labour brought about by what Hardt and Negri call the the postmodernization/ informatization of the economy. The Italian tradition of Operaismo links the notion of immaterial labour to the move from Fordist to lean production (or Toyotism), where prior to being manufactured, a product must be sold. The main requirement for the introduction of this model is the establishment of a system of communication between production and consumption, between factories and markets. The kind of immaterial labour involved in the industry primarily entails the transmission of data, which dictates that an increasing proportion of capital must be invested in the increasing the power of communicative techniques, corresponding to the increasingly cerebral nature of labour. It is in this sense that Hardt and Negri talk about the tertiarisation of industry. In the service sector itself, what is involved are more knowledge-based jobs. [48]

' Robert Reich calls the kind of immaterial labor involved in computer and communication work "symbolic-analytical services"-tasks that involve "problem-solving, problem-identifying, and strategic brokering activities. This type of labor claims the highest value, and thus Reich identifies it as the key to competition in the new global economy. He recognizes, however, that the growth of these knowledge-based jobs of creative symbolic manipulation implies a corresponding growth of low-value and low-skill jobs of routine symbol manipulation, such as data entry and word processing. Here begins to emerge a fundamental division of labor within the realm of immaterial production' [49]

Immaterial labour also refers to two different aspects of labour.

'As regards the 'informational content' of the commodity, it refers directly to the changes taking place in workers' labour processes in big companies in the industrial and tertiary sectors, where the skills involved in direct labour are increasingly skills involving cybernetics and computer control (and horizontal and vertical communication).

As regards the activity that produces the 'cultural content' of the commodity, immaterial labour involves a series of activities that are not normally recognised as 'work' - in other words, the kinds of activities involved in defining and fixing cultural and artistic standards, fashions, tastes, consumer norms, and more strategically, public opinion.'[50]

The idea that immaterial labour directly produces the capital relation - with material labour, this was clandestine- changes the phenomenology of capital and the substance of its social power. Immaterial workers are primarily producers of subjectivity.

'If production today is directly the production of a social relation, then the 'raw material' of immaterial labour is subjectivity and the 'ideological' environment in which subjectivity lives and reproduces. The production of subjectivity ceases to be only an instrument of social control (for the production of mercantile relationships) and becomes directly productive, because the goal of our post-industrial society is to construct the consumer/communicator -and to construct it as 'active'. Immaterial workers (those who work in advertising, fashion, marketing, television, cybernetics, and so forth) satisfy a demand by the consumer and at the same time establish that demand.' [51]

This third aspect of immaterial labour is what constitutes its 'affective' character. Affective labour is that 'embedded in moments of human interaction and communication'. It acts wherever human contact is required, it is essentially involved with 'producing social networks, forms of community and biopower. What is created in the networks of affective labour is a form-of-life'.[52]

Affective labour ends the dominatory tendency in the measure of value that was only appropriate to the time when labour was outside of capital and needed to be reduced to labour power. [52a] This is where biopolitical production is directly involved with the production of social relations, and where it becomes coextensive with social reproduction. 'Empire' is the process representing the totalisation of the corresponding command over this form: since concrete work is different in Empire, mechanisms of social control are interiorised and reproduced within subjectivities. The biopolitical notions of life and body are determined in the political constitution and in the real daily affirmations of social subjectivity. [53]

Total subsumption and the political in Empire

Potestas and constituted power

Under total subsumption, understood as a colonisation of the inside and outside by global capital, it is impossible ' even analytically - to detach economic and political power. A critique of power must entail a critique of labour. So the significance and determination of the total subsumption of society also resides in the de-actualisation of the conventionalised form of political space ' here the nation state as the locus of democratic power. Total subsumption is a political moment then through and through. It develops out of the generalisation of the factory regime of command, (which has the social state using the capitalist reformist integration of the official labour movement, and thus changes the nature of the particular exercise of that command) transforming the state function.

Here lies the end of the myth of the liberal autonomy of the political, or the separation of the public from the private, wherein the individual regarded the public as his outside, in this conception, 'the outside is the place proper to politics, where the action of the individual is exposed in the presence of others and there seeks recognition.' [54] In explaining this postmodern abandonment of the private/ public distinction - characterised by the deficit of the 'political' - Guy Debord, situationniste extraordinaire, is the explicit point of reference. [55] The public sphere proper evaporates as:

' The spectacle destroys any collective form of sociality - individualizing social actors in their separate automobiles and in front of separate video-screens - and at the same time imposes a new mass sociality, a new uniformity of action and thought.' [56]

When all aspects of life are subsumed by capital, all forms of action become immediately meaningful to the reproduction of that society - they are all socially productive [57]. Historically, the 'autonomy of the political' satisfied the need to fill in the gap left by the 'demise of class politics' -ideologically- where politics was only to be posed in 'universalistic' terms (a la Kant) as residing above interests: in other words, as a substitute for the politics of interests.

Paradoxically, when private sphere is ideologically destroyed, or is fully socialised (subsumed), the reactionary political elements in reformism repose the issue as one of recreation of the public sphere as the political arena. In the present the idea of an autonomy of the political could only be some form of liberalism, it could only function in the parameters as outlined in Marx's critique of Hegel's philosophy of the state i.e. the separation of decisions about the community from our existence as productive agents. Liberalism, however, does not sever the political from interest, in fact it always reorganises it but it compels to articulate politics only in terms of individual interests, and the discourse on power becomes the balance between individual right and duty (the latter only a modern incarnation of the latter). Social movements that claim to be communitarian [58] need to present their programs in terms of an ethical life and limitations to individual self-pursuit. They propose politics as a narrowing activity (anti-globalisation=pro democracy), and undermine universality in the guise of impartiality and neutrality of the state by demanding a special treatment on the basis of identity, through a demand for a 'defensive' democracy of state regulation [59].

Through immanent criticism, Negri takes this a stage further. The analysis of production in terms of social cooperation re-politicises the politics of interest in non individualist terms whilst purifying it of its moralist tendencies, whilst also refusing to reduce battles over interest to matters of identity politics, no matter how much agents describe their own actions in these terms. We recognise that the relations of social movements to the state are ambiguous [60]. Whilst they provide an opportunity for the state to repose itself as arbitrator in neutral terms, they also look for institutional recognition [61], which is potestas in operation within a liberal context. That is why Negri's insistence on reposing labour politics in non-identity terms is crucial, together with his emphasis on production and the corresponding recognition that the production of subjectivities and identities occurs fully under the generalised form of command appropriate to capital. In so far as these movements are political in a subversive-transformative sense, they are absolutely embedded within the social determinations of their subjectivities.

Jameson from a cultural political perspective looks at the same process as the formation of new identities made possible by the failure of universalising force of class and the demise of its institutional and organisational forms. Yet that the 'great explosions of the 60's have led, in the worldwide economic crisis, to powerful restorations of the social order and a renewal of the repressive power of the various state apparatuses' is treated almost as an incidental appendage to the process of the interiorisation of the outside. [62] Moreover, the 'sense of freedom and possibility ' which is for the course of the 60's a momentarily objective reality, as well as (from the hindsight of the 80's) a historical illusion' is restricted admittedly with the cynicism of the dark ages of the 80's, in terms of the 'superstructural movement and play enabled by the transition from one infrastructural or systemic stage of capitalism to another'[63]. Jameson does analyse total subsumption in terms of a new configuration of the mechanisms of containment that issue from newly unleashed subjectivities.

Negri has it thus:

"Today the working class has all but disappeared from view. It has not ceased to exist, but it has been displaced from its privileged position in capitalist economy and its hegemonic position in the class composition of the proletariat. The proletariat is not what it used to be but that does not mean it has vanished." [64] The displacement of the industrial working class occurs through the neutralisation of its productive role in capital's attempt to sever its dependence on the agency of labour. The category of the proletariat is expanded it is read as the whole class of people who internally sustain capitalist relations of production and are subject to its discipline ' again there are visible threads in Marx that identify this tendency.

This is in no sense an abandonment of struggle. Negri's critique of power constantly displaces its points of attack. Power is never presented solely from the perspective of limitation, we could say that power is equally possibility and capacity. The form of domination of constituted power is always contextualized in the possibilities of resistance that it opens up and never reduced to the mask that power itself wears. The formal exercise of Power, or potestas, is only ever set in motion in response to the creative energy it tries to contain.

The radical immateriality of post-Fordist labour creates Empire in response to its lines of flight, exodus and refusal, the sensuous movement, miscegenation and diversification of the productive subject. Capital in its bloodthirsty expansion, its cooption of the outside, falls prey to its greatest adversary yet: the multitude, the living breathing mass, which it would destroy itself to conquer.[65]

At the level of labour, the productive subject that constitutes the political form of Empire has social cooperation as its absolute basis. Networks of information and communication form the marrow of every element in the synthesised and globalised productive space. Immaterial labour and affective labour are the basis for the collapse of mediation: justification becomes an immanent affair. [66] The myth of a realm of public space as negotiating ground finally decomposes. [67] The social state in its traditional guise sweats under the burden of the management of differentiating subjectivities to the point of dehydration. [68] The form of capital's command over labour in biopolitical production is a sinister state where 'the new slogan of Western societies is that we should all 'become subjects'. [69] Participative management is a technology of power, a technology for creating and controlling the subjective processes.' [70] But productive cooperation is at once indispensable and destabilising for post-Fordist production.

Under Empire the object of power becomes life itself, which is why for Negri politics is ontological. Empire has no centre, and represents more a network of power relations governed by a mixed constitution. The thesis of empire describes an order where the nation state is increasingly ineffective as a means for the ordering of subjectivities and empire points to a trans-national and abstract order of political right and force which has no centre and functions through networks even though certain of its elements have a privileged position of power. [71] Capital becomes indifferent to state power. this is a process in the making now, it is not something we can take a distance from, in so far as it is developing and founded upon social cooperation it is from the latter we need to start to reverse -where possible -or negate- where necessary - its operations.

Empire is hierarchical and one of the privileged sectors is of course the USA, but at the bottom end of its operation, its 'capillary points' lie institutions like NGOs that displace the traditional power of the nation state.[72] A very recent example of how NGOs operating in defence of life (or western notions of human right) enact moral rationale for military and police intervention in Empire is found in the effects of the campaign on behalf of women in Afghanistan. A campaign so steeped in Chantal Mouffe's particular universalism that the First Lady and Cherie Blair could equally use its rhetoric to supply another set of weapons to the arsenal of the militaristic western governments.

Critique of Power

We have now reached the Negrian idea of power, or application of politics. A decentred yet dynamic idea that sees expression/ productive activity as cause, as self determination, confronting the external limitations or attempts to govern it. The actuality of the political as ontological reaffirms the dynamic properties of being as politics when life itself is the object of power.

When it comes to value the political project of Negri and co arrives at a form of 'orthodox marxism' which orthodox marxism through its conventions would never reach. That is it derives the revolutionary configuration of subjectivity from the social form of value and the mode of production. It reflects the tensions within the capitalist form by recognising the subjective forces that capitalism at once invokes and tries to limit. Crucially then "constituent power" is not constructed in contradistinction to economic life [73]. A theory of alienation is not required because their is no ontological separation - what we are is what we do. The peculiar form of current capitalist demands for producing a marketable product makes creative subjectivity a requisite for valorisation. Capital is forced to employ the total - albeit a possibly depraved or limited form - in order to realise value. Demand as social need, as biopolitical need and desire means that capital needs to enact society - and thus is subservient to it - in order to produce. Hence under Empire, where a general form of social command is necessary for capital to produce, labour is crucially constituted prior to capital. Moreover civil society (as the system of needs within Bourgeois economy) is absorbed into the state. [74]

Theory of power?

Jameson reads structuralism as a formalism and though both he and Negri treat Althusserian structuralism as a modernist project, though there are some differences in this analysis. It seems that Jameson borrows mainly from the theorisation of ideology, which equally informs what Negri takes from the later Althusser, the sensivity to rupture, crisis and deriliction: the thinking of the new, "the continuous theoretical defintion of the possible'[75] when 'ideology has massively extended its domination over the whole of the real'.[76] For Jameson, modernism drives towards the disavowel of substance, where content is introduced only in order to allow for a particular form. Our reading of Negri, and what we see him take from the Spinozian side of Althusserian thought, is the understanding of effects as interior to the structural whole. [76a] Far from being a reaction to substantialist thinking [77] this is a way of seeing both cause and result in the immanent and inner structure of relations themselves. What Hegelianism rightly needs to posit a subject emminating out of itself, as developing through its own contradictions falls in the Althusserian schema because it tends towards the centring of the dialectic to a singular locus of social being - whether the proletariat as subject (Lukacs, Debord) or to capital itself. The simple contradiction, the conflict between inside and outside, has no real validity when social subjectivity is manufactured in diffuse ways, without a fundamental point to where it can be reduced. This is not a pluralisation of subjectivity in contradistinction to economic life, but a fundamentally different conception of its formation, never predetermined and most importantly, singular, individual and polyvalent i.e. constructions that are 'adequate', in the Spinozian sense, to their content.

We hope to reach the stage when a debate on postmodernism and modernism can take place without us taking political sides within the debacle. This nightmare does not belong to our generation. Our attitude is fully within the modernism of Kant, that of a critique of the present that takes as ontological foundation of becoming an autonomous self-constitution, a sapere and mutare aude, that entails exiting a state of inferiority characterised by the presence of authority. The inferiority humanity needs to arise from is that which represent the justificatory foundation for the existence and exercise of authority and command. In so far as we aim at doing without it, we are fully modernists.

On the other hand, the historicisation of the import of modernity on philosophy can allow for a search of a frame of references that goes beyond secular ideas of transcendence, in order to construe and ontology of the present and of ourselves. The import of those who were later to be seen as 'fathers of postmodernist' provided a legacy for such a critique, from the work of the structuralist, formalist to the Annales school. The former inserted itself in the problematisation of the collapse of mediation between representation and being, by introducing the notion of relation as foundational, and by attempting to construct a horizontal understanding of social reality, with all its import to the necessary breakdown of disciplinary classifications. The same goes for the Annales school in its early attempts at introducing geopolitics and spatiality in the study of history, at problematising the notion of event as a category of explanation of causes rather than symptoms. These very different threads of thought helped demolishing an idea of transcendence which established an unbridgeable separation between what is and what could be, existence and cognition, in itself and for itself, politics and epistemology. Negri's politics of the present cannot but defend an immanent materialist ontology.

Immanence must not seen as a totalising conspiracy of power, but as an approach to social reality that recognises that power is what it does, and in this respect there cannot be a 'Theory of Power', but only a critique and subversion of its operations in the present. Negri's contribution ' a purple rhapsody in red ' is a powerful intervention in this project.

In the fertile soil of the here and now, there is no need for us to pose our project in negative terms. The project of making communism real is a coming together, a generative act that must refuse the internalisation of limits and project itself in knowledge and politics as collectivity, openness and creation without regrets.


*Disclaimer: this text is copyleft and can be used, reproduced and disseminated in any manner. However, to take it as a definitive exposition on the subject in the title would be to malign the spirit in which it was written; as a momentary consolidation of developing and at times conflicting points of view. We have quite unashamedly used Negri's views as a sounding board for our own, and it is quite possible that during this exercise we have at times inadvertently misinterpreted his thought.

[1] see F. Dosse, History of structuralism, v. 1: The rising sign, 1945-1966. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997. and P. Burke, The French historical revolution: the 'Annales' school, 1929-89. Polity Press, Cambridge, 1990.

[2] 'The philosophers of the postmodern who assume communication as exclusive horizon of being, declare the reality of communality. However, it is difficult to take their assertion positively. Their presupposition is really that of an accomplished teleology - and that is all (e basta). They stop research on the actual threshold of being, and go no further. They derive from it the exhaustion of the ontological sphere, the end of history, an omnivorous tautology of demonstration. If communality yields to these conditions, it presents itself as the end of communality.' A. Negri, Kairos, alma venus, multitudo. Nove lezioni impartite a me stesso. Manifestolibri, Roma, 2000. p.80-81. 'The growing complexity of society is the growing precariousness of domination. (The philosophers who have made of social complexity a labyrinth in which the revolutionary function of the proletariat gest lost, or the hermeneuticians who make of historical complexity a maze in which mice run indefinitely, all of these are only charlatans.) In effect, the more the laws of the transformation of the value form are realised, the more they demonstrate their efficacity as forces of the deconstruction, destructuration of Power. The motor force which constitutes the form of value, the antagonistic expression of the productive force of living labour, is simultaneously the motor of the deconstructon of the form of value. [...] Everyone is waiting to see to what extent the malaise of capitalist civilisation is really and simply the anarchy of meaning and the emptiness of its soul.' 'These on Marx' in S. Makdisi, C. Casarino and R. E. Karl (eds) Marxism beyond marxism. Routledge, New York, 1996., p. 159

[3] D. Harvey, The condition of postmodernity, Blackwell, Cambridge MA, 1990.

[4] '[Postmodernism] ' at least in my use, is also a periodizing concept whose function is to correlate the emergence of a new type of social life and a new economic order - what is often euphemistically called modernization, post-industrial or consumer society, the society of the media or the spectacle, or multinational capitalism.' F. Jameson, The cultural turn, Selected writings on the postmodern, 1983-1998. Verso, London, 1998. p.3. see also his Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of late capitalism. Duke University Press, Durham, 1991.

[5] 'The critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them. This practice requires a patient labour to give form to our impatience for liberty'. M. Foucault, What is Enlightenment?, in The Foucault Reader, 1984, p. 49-50

[6] A. Negri, La costituzione del tempo. Orologi del capitale e liberazione comunista. Manifestolibri, Roma, 1997.

[7] See Appendix to K. Marx's Capital Volume 1 pp 1019-1038

[8] 'The common name of historical praxis can only be a 'genealogy of the present', i.e. an imagination that brings to being what has been in the past, in the same way as it constitutes what is to come. The past is not interpreted but experimented.' A. Negri, Kairos, alma venus, multitudo. Nove lezioni impartite a me stesso. p 43.

[9] A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000. p. 187.

[10] In E. N. Kaplan (ed) Postmodernism and its discontents ed) London, Verso, 1988.

[11] G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977. pp 400.

[12] We by no means seek to detach Marx from Hegel in the manner of Althusser or follow the post-Keynesian ridicule of all that 'Hegelian stuff and nonsense' offered by the likes of Joan Robinson. Marx's debt to Hegel is there for all willing to see it. Negri's point here is more that the Hegelian frame of presentation adopted by Marx in the writing of capital from a synchronic point of view, limits our capacity to cognise the motor of class struggle in the formation of capitalist relations.

[13] There is ample evidence of course that Marx was never sure from what perspective to elucidate his views on the capital relation. (compare C. Arthur's 'Against the logical historical method; dialectical derivation versus linear logic', in F. Moseley and M. Campbell (eds) New investigations of Marxist method, , Humanities Press, New Jersey 1997.). The vacillation between highly charged political passages and the objectively scientific parts can only in part be attributed to the dialectics of the content itself. For all the subsequent attempts to rationalise Marx's procedure - be it Hegelian or structuralist, diachronic or synchronic, it is necessary to point out that even for Marx there was no single way of arriving at the nature of capital, as much as for Hegel the development of the absolute could have taken a different route. Thus so much of marxism and marxology has preoccupied itself with the attempt to derive from a proper notion of method, the correct political line. In our understanding of power and the critique of its mechanisms today, these debates only take us so far. Negri's intervention: Marx beyond Marx in its own way has done much to explode the prejudices attached to Das Kapital and reintroduce into the field of inquiry the radically subversive and immanent dimension to Marx's own thought, where the project of deconstruction of the bourgeois categories of value is intertwined with the cognition of the social processes that were reconstructing an alternative society: i.e. the real social processes that were affecting a crisis in the law of value.

[14] 'I do not need to plunge into Hegelianism in order to discover the double face of the commodity, of value; money has only one face, that of the boss.' A. Negri, Marx beyond Marx, Lessons on the Grundrisse. Autonomedia, New York, 1991. p.23.

[15] H. Cleaver, Reading Capital politically. Anti/Theses Press, Leeds, 2000.

[16] M. Lebowitz, Beyond capital:Marx's political economy of the working class. Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1992. chapter 5. According to Lebowitz, Marx only gives us one side of the totality, that of Capital. He consistently looks at work from point of view of the capitalist, not from side of the worker. Thus 'capitalism' is represented in a one sided way. By only showing half of the totality, that half is not represented in its interaction with the other i.e. wage labour. Only by looking at these two together, Lebowitz argues, do we reach the correct totality. For Lebowitz, the struggle against capital of the wage labourer is something that continually upsets its domination, and it is in the interaction between these two in struggle that constitutes the dynamic of capitalist society.

[17] see A. Negri, '20 Theses on Marx', p.178. see also A. Negri 'Value and affect': 'the dialectics, even a dialectics from 'below', is incapable of providing us with the radical innovation of the historical process, the explosion of the 'power to act' (affect) in all its radicality. A path of construction from below must come with a perception of the non-place. Only the radical assumption of the point of view of a non-place can liberate us from the dialectics of modernity in all of its figures''.

[18] 'The theory of value as a theory of categorical synthesis, is a legacy of the classics and of the bourgeois mystifications which we can easily do without in order to enter the field of revolution'. A. Negri, Marx beyond Marx, p.23.

[19] '[Marx's] theory of value is really a theory of the measure of value.' A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p. 355. We do not fully agree with this point of view, because we take seriously the idea that Marx used measure in a way similar to Hegel's treatement in the shorter Logic. In Theories of surplus value, Marx treats the theory of value not as an external pre-established criteria of measure, but as the immanent standard and substance of value. In the Hegelian dialectic measure is understood as qualitative quantum. In measure Hegel finds an identity between quantity and quality. Something 'lurks behind' quantitative changes which makes measure an antinomy. The example Hegel uses in the shorter Logic is the ancient Greek problem of whether the addition of a single grain makes a heap of wheat. At what point does a quantitative change equal a qualitative change? There is for Hegel a necessary qualitative aspect to measure which has ontological relevance. In ratios, which are relative kinds of measure (quantitative ratios), 'quantity seemed an external character not identical with Being, to which it is quite immaterial. The contradiction of quantity then, is that it is an 'alterable, which in spite of alterations still remains the same'. The resolution of this contradiction is not just to return to quality 'as if that were the true and quantity the false notion', but 'an advance to the unitary truth of both, to qualitative quantity, or measure.' For Hegel measure is implicitly essence. Cf Hegel Encyclopaedia Logic $105-111 (end of the first subdivision of Logic).If Marx was using this notion then Negri's charge does not fully hold because measure is but a stage in developing the substance of value. Though Negri is correct to characterise Marx's method as modernist in this sense.

[20] see A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire. Section 3.1

[20a] 'Capital itself is the moving contradiction, (in) that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of wealth. Hence it diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to increase it in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a condition ' question of life or death ' for the necessary.'[20a] K. Marx, ' Fragment on Machines', Grundrisse, p. 207. We could say in Empire capital has ideally gone beyond this limit..

[21] While Habermas presents the most sophisticated elaboration of this, the view is present in a number of current popular liberal anti-capitalisms like that of George Monbiot, Noreena Hertz, Naomi Klein. See 'Anti-capitalism with a smiley face' E. Empson Studies in Social and Political Thought. Issue 4.

[22] 'The current stage of the development of class struggle (of the social worker in the real subsumption), new technical conditions of proletarian independence are determined within the material passages of the development, and therefore, for the first time, there is the possibility of a rupture in the restructuration which is not recuperable and which is independent of the maturation of class consciousness.' A. Negri, '20 Theses on Marx', p. 165.

[23] Negri takes much from Spinoza here. The idea that things are 'causa sui' and the drive to life or 'conatus' the univocal energy of being, results in the notion that external force is a negation of the self-generating power of being.

[24] The demise of conventional union based struggles over wages, does not stem the fact that productive subjects are continuously upsetting the operation of the law of value, even if in todays circumstances the contest over the free time of life has a more individualistic basis. The talk show rhetoric of self-help is used in justification of adverse behaviour, the politics of identity for special dispensation, the growth in illnesses of abuse or discrimination all elements of control that are turned around by people to use for their own interests. Subversion is carried out on the terrain where power tries to establish itself, power is only meaningful where there is counter- power. The techniques of power can be reversed. These relations on a broader scale inform our perception of class. The working class responds to the factory regime through political homogenisation, through creating demands for equality of wage and right to work, the creation of its body as unified form of subject, that capital in turn tries to divided or undermine, by changing the nature of its productive forces or their location or by creating hierarchies of power within the working class. (see 'Archaleology and project' (in Revolution retrieved). The working class demands freedom and uses its collective power as a force to gain real reductions in time at work, the growth of its purchasing power and the increase in free time. (these are ever more present today, but have a much more individualist basis to them - i.e., the worker will take a day of sick, fake a dental appointment, sabotage a computer system, set off a fire alarm to gain freedom). The more individualised form of this resistance today is to the degree of the socialisation of the form of production away from the factory regime, and the corresponding degree of consciousness is reflected in more narrow individual interests than collective ones. Challenges to the system are political, but not concieved as determiante forms of political transformation to a better soceity, simply self interested distrubtion of production. Crime, and fraud, theft of resources are rife and these are minor but significant ways that workers improvement of the quality of his life directly affects the functioning and profitability of capital. Loosing files, corrupting disks, setting off fire alarms, mislaying keys, falsifying work time chits, lying about skills and experience, ripping off property, turning up late, knocking off early, manipulating flexible labour, and life-long education (training inorder to get out of work). See also J. Beasley- Murray 'Ethics as post-political politics' In Reaserch and Sociey No. 7 1994 pp 5-26

[25] A. Negri, 'Theses on Marx', p.178.

[25a] We could suggest that C. Arthur in describing capital as the negation of its negation, or 'labour as not-value', fixes the priority of capital in this way. See his Marx, orthodoxy, labour, value. PSAMSG, 1999, Sussex.

[26] 'The rendering absolute of capital's power is only an affect of the temporary defeat of the struggle against it 'From Robespierre to Stalin, from the revolts of the 1920s to those of the 1970s we have often witnessed the desire for transformation end up in terrorism. Victorious or vanquished, condiucted by the state or small groups, it reall makes no difference- in every case it signals the blockage of revolutionary action and it is allways in the figure of a retreat, perhaps a resentiment, the symptom of a defeat, the desperate resistance against an adversary that is felt to be stronger. We do not want any of this. Consequently social democracy is posed as a means of avoiding this tragedy. But we do not want this either. In affect we think these defeats were no inevitable and we will try again. Our task then is to recognise defeat and not be defeated.' A. Negri, 'Theses on Marx', pp 172.

[27] A. Negri and M. Hardt, Labor of Dionysus. A critique of the state form. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1994. p. 20

[28] A. Negri, 'Archaeology and project: the mass worker and the social worker', in Revolution Retrieved. Selected writings on Marx, Keynes, Capitalist crisis and new social subjects. 1967-83. Volume I of the Red Notes Italy archive. Red Notes, London, 1988. p. 209.

[29] Hardt and Negri argue that Marx's conceptions of political economy belong to this period. The definition of the mass worker ''represents a certain qualitative solidification of abstract labour (which is another way of saying a high level of subjective awareness of abstract labour). Ibid, p.210.

[30] A. Negri and M. Hardt, Labor of Dionysus. A critique of the state form. p.62.

[31] ibid. p. 61.

[32] see on this Negri's article on 'Keynes and the capitalist theory of the state' in Labour of Dionysus, chapter 2.

[33] see P. Virno's account of the Hot autumn in Italy in

[34] M. Foucault, 'La societe disciplinaire en crise'. In Dits et Ecrits vol III p532-533

[35] M. Foucault, 'About the concept of the 'dangerous individual' in 19C legal psychiatry', in the Journal of law and psychiatry, vol. 1, 1978, p1-18

[36] for an important contribution to understanding the transition from discipline to control in Foucault, see: A. Pandolfi, Tre studi su Foucault, Terzo Millennio Edizioni, Napoli, 2000, chapter 2.

[37] 'Factories formed individuals into a body of men for the convenience of a management that could monitor each component into this mass, and trade unions that could mobilise this mass resistance; but businesses are constantly introducing an inexorable rivalry presented as healthy competition, a wonderful motivation that sets individuals against one another and sets itself up in each of them, dividing each within himself. Even the state education system has been looking at the principle of 'getting paid for results': in fact, just as business are replacing factories, school is being replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment (control). It's the surest way of turning education into a business. In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything -business, training, and military service being coexisting metastables states of a single modulation, a sort of universal transmutation.' G. Deleuze, 'Postscript on control societies', in Negotiations, 1972-1990. Columbia University Press, New York 1990. p.179

[38] 'Empire is not formed on the basis of force itself but on the basis of the capacity to present force as being in the service of right and peace.Empire operates on the terrain of crisis, in the name of the exceptionality of the intervention there is the creation of a new right of the police.' (A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p.29)

'Wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilized for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity: massacres have become vital.' (M. Foucault, Will to knowledge, p. 137) In this respect Foucault's studies on liberalism and the police state are extremely interesting, in that they point to the transition from territorial to population state by looking at the introduction of political economy in the paradigm of sovereignty, which in turn changes the role of the state from sovereign into government. In the face of the emergence of the modern state as government, the question of associating the law with legitimacy by assigning it the role of being 'the barometer of truth' collapses onto itself. Law is be the last resort of sovereignty, rather than its constitutive foundation, in its functioning as the legitimate defence of the 'universality of the few' or the 'singularity of the many'. In this respect, it is merely procedural. One of the features of modern political rationality is that very presupposition that you can separate and pose against one another right and administration, law and order. One might argue that the legitimation of the state (the executive) comes from this attempt at reconciliating these two, which can only take the form of an integration of the law in the order of the state. Foucault's work on the political historical discourse of the XVIIth century, in Il faut defendre la societe as well as his 1978-79 cours at the College de France on security, territory and population show how liberalism needs the police to reduce government. The main point of Smith's invisible hand lies in its invisibility. Hardt and Negri see this particular process as culminating in a politics of avoidance: 'In the development of the postmodern liberal argument State power is not exerted according to what Foucault calls a disciplinary paradigm [']. State power here does not involve the exposure and subjugation of social subjects as part of an effort to engage, mediate, and organise conflictual forces within the limits of order. The thin state avoids such engagement: this is what characterises its liberal politics. ['] The liberal notion of tolerance coincides here perfectly with the decidedly illiberal mechanism of exclusion. The thin state of postmodern liberalism appears, in effect, as a refinement and extension of the German tradition of the science of the police. The police are necessary to afford the system abstraction and isolation: the 'thin blue line' delimits the boundaries of what will be accepted as inputs in the system of rule. [']

The crucial development presented by the postmodern Polizeiwissenschaft, is that now society is not infiltrated and engaged, but separated and controlled: not a disciplinary society but a pacified society of control. The police function creates and maintains a pacified society, or the image of a pacified society, by preventing the incidence of conflicts on the machine of equilibrium. ['] The method of avoidance then carries implicitly a postmoder Polizeiwissenschaft that effectively, and in practical terms, abstracts the system from the field of potential conflicts, thus allowing the system to order an efficient, administred society.' In A. Negri and M. Hardt, Labour of Dionysus, p. 237.

[39] for the attachment of the political organisation of class to the professional worker, see Z. Bauman, Memories of class. The Pre-History and After-Life of Class. Routledge, London, 1982.

[40] K. Marx, Theories of Surplus Value Volume 1. Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1969. pp 152 ' ff. See also Results of the Immediate Process of Production (Appendix to Capital Volume 1 1038- 1049. In theoretically terms, Marx essentially follows Adam Smith's definition of productive and unproductive labour. For Marx "the critical distinction between productive and unproductive labour lies in that the first is exchanged directly with capital and affords the capitalist the reciept of more labour time than paid out in wages, whereas unproductive labour is exchanged for revenue (i.e. out of the capitalists own profits) and does not produce surplus value. It consumes value rather than producing it. See also Grundrisse pp 273.

[41] It should be noted that Marx himself invisaged the progressive emergence of immaterial labour, which coincides with the extension of the wage form to all social activity. Yet crucially, what Marx saw as one of his greatest discovery 'the identification of the two fold character of labour- reduces the exploitable element to the abstract labour that is specific to productive work (as the labour that produces value). For Marx value producing labour was always abstract labour, value is produced because of the totality of work, not its individual concrete instantiations, which do not produce value but use-value. However, "since with the development of the real subsumption of labour under capital or of the specifically capitalistic mode of production, it is not the individual worker, but more and more a socially combined-faculty which becomes the actual functionary of the total process of labour, and the various labour-capacities which compete and form the total productive machine participate in the extremely diverse manner in the immediate process of commodity/ product formation: one man works more with the hand, and the other more with the head: the one as 'manager', enigineer, technologist, etc. the other as overseer', the third as direct artisan, or even mere manual labourer." (pp 134 Value Studies by Marx).

[42] faire mourir-laisser vivre/faire vivre-rejeter dans la mort. In M. Foucault, Will to Knowledge. p. 138

[43] M. Foucault The will to knowledge. Penguin Books, London 1998.

[44] For HandN views on resistance and subjectivity in Foucault see Insurgencies pp 27-28

[45] Negri, A. 'Back to the future'. In J. Bosma, P. van Mourik Broekman, T. Byfield, M. Fuller, G. Lovink, D. McCarty, P. Schultz, F. Stalder, M. Wark, F. Wilding (eds) Read me! Filtered by Nettime. Ascii culture and the revenge of knowledge. Autonomedia, New York, p. 182.

[46] Compare Jameson: 'the 60's, often imagined as a period when Capital and First World Power are in retreat all over the globe, can just as easily be conceptualised as a period when capital is in full dynamic and innovative expansion.': Frederic Jameson: Periodising the 60's;pp 186 Syntax of History (written 1984)Vol 1, Ideologies of Theory.

[47] A. Negri, '20 Theses on Marx', in S. Makdisi, C. Casarino and R. E. Karl (eds) Marxism beyond marxism. Routledge, New York, 1996. p 156.

[48] The importance of this form of labour is fully recognised by those in charge of economic policy making. Marazzi provides an insightful analysis from a macro-economic point of view of the policy changes undertaken by the US government of the Clinton administration in reconfiguring its role as maximiser of capitalist productivity. He looks, amongst others, at the works of Robert Reich (Secretary of Labour under Clinton and author of The work of nations) and Paul Romer. It is Reich in particular who points to the necessity of investing on immaterial labour not only for economic but primarly for political reasons in the new global order: 'In the long run, the products of immaterial labour will be the crucial assets for each nation: scientific and technological research, training of the labour-force, development of management, communication, electronic financial networks. In the universe of intellectual labour we find: researchers, engineers, computer scientists, lawyers, some creative accountant, management consultants, financial advisors, publicists, the 'practicioners', editors and journalists, university professors. This 'rank' is destined to accelerate the process of decline of all activities of the taylorist kind, i.e. the repetitive and executive ones, that are easy to reproduce in countries with low-cost labour force; whilst services to people, even though still important in a society with a strong tertiary sector, cannot benefit from material subsidies, since they are not, according to Reich, value creating activities. The economist's resoning runs more or less like this: the globalisation of the economy does no longer allow one to refer ownership of capital to the national composition of the means of production. For instance, a Ford is the result of partial and combined activities that are dispersed around the globe and concerted within global webs, where what counts is efficiency and the productivity of communication. The car that results from this process of productin is a composite of parts produced in different nations, by means of a capital of multinational ownership. However, what is lost as a consequence of the de-nationalisation of capital ownership (i.e. the means of production, costant capital) is recuperated at the level of ownership of immaterial labour, of the control of knowledge production. The denationalisation of physical-material capital is counterbalanced by the nationalisation of knowledge, and the command on its organisation. 'Buy American' means from now on: 'Valorise american knowledge'. Nationality, according to Reich's reasoning, is recuperated through a strategic investment in activities that create more value, i.e. immaterial activities that characterise the post-fordist mode of production. The income generated by immaterial activity must be nationalised in order to deal with the unemployment of the unskilled American labour-force and reduce the disparity of income between skilled labourers and the working poors (competition with emerging countries) without inhibiting the comparative advantage of the US with respect to the rest of the world. American pride ought to function as solidaristic glue: when compared with competitive countries, the greater wealth generated by greater productivity and skill of immaterial labour provides the fiscal means to temper the deterioration of the life conditions of unqualified and defeated American people.' (C. Marazzi, Il posto dei calzini. La svolta linguistica dell'economia e I suoi effetti sulla politica. Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 1999. p 90-91).

[49] Empire, pp 289.

[50] M. Lazzarato, 'Immaterial labour', in P. Virno and M. Hardt (eds) Radical Thought in Italy. A potential politics. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1996. pp. 132]

[51] Ibid pp 143

[52] M. Hardt, 'Affective Labour', in boundary2, 26, no. 2 (Summer 1999)

[52a] A.Negri, 'Value and Affect', in boundary2, 26, no. 2 (Summer 1999). Negri makes an interesting point here, that the notion of socially necessary labour time referred to pre-existing communal norms of consumption and standard of life. So when interior to capital, this measure becomes perfunctory ' beyond measure. We could ask when does a playstation or a tv become a necessary condition of life and how could we ever claim to quantify needs in these terms.

[53] For more on the issue of immaterial workers, see the journal DeriveApprodi on Immaterial workers of the world, Anno VIII, n. 18 Primavera 1999.

[54] ''In imperial society, the spectacle is a virtual place, or more accurately, a non-place of politics. The spectacle is at once unified and diffuse in such a way that it is impossible to distinguish any inside from outside - the natural from the social, the private from the public. The liberal notion of the public, the place outside where we act in the presence of others, has been both universalised (because we are always now under the gaze of others, monitored by safety cameras) and sublimated or de-actualised in the virtual spaces of the spectacle. The end of the outside is the end of liberal politics.' A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, pp188-189.

[55] G. Debord, The society of the spectacle, Zone Books, New York, 1995.

[56] A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p. 322.

[57] But at this point the spectacle exists and is theorised by Debord as a separation, as force that appears to be generated from above or outside of the social nexus.'The phenomenon of separation is part and parcel of the unity of the world, of a global social praxis that has split up into reality on the one hand and image on the other. Social practice which the spectacle's autonomy challenges, is also the real totality to which the spectacle is subordinate. So deep is the rift in this totality, however, that the spectacle is able to emerge as its apparent goal. The language of the spectacle is composed of signs of the dominant organisation of production, signs which are at the same time the ultimate end products of that organisation.' The Hegelian problematic emerges for all to see''The spectacle cannot be understood either as a deliberate distortion of the visual world or as a product of the technology of the mass dissemination of images. It is far better viewed as a Weltanschauung that has been actualised, translated into the material realm ' a worldview transformed into an objective force.' G. Debord, The society of the spectacle, Zone Books, New York, 1995. Thesis 7 and 5 respectively, pp. 12-13

[58] 'Entrepreneurialism now characterises not only business action, but realms of life as diverse as urban governance, the growth of informal sector production, labour market organisation, research and development, and it has even reached into the nether corners of academic, literary, and artistic life. ' To the degree that collective action was thereby made more difficult 'and it was indeed a central aim of the drive for enhanced labour control to render it thus ' so rampant individualism fits into place as a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for the transition from Fordism to flexibkle accumulation. ' But, as Simmel (1978) long ago suggested, it is also at such times of fragmentation and economic insecurity that the desire for stable values leads to a heightened emphasis upon the authority of basic insitutions 'the family, religion, the state.' In D. Harvey, The condition of postmodernity, Blackwell, Cambridge MA, 1990, p.171.

[59] Chantal Mouffe says 'radical democracy demands that we acknowledge difference ' the particular, the multiple the heterogeneous ' in effect, everything that had been excluded by the concept of Man in the abstract. Universalism is not rejected but particularised'' but concludes that this involves a deepening of the democratic tradition within modernity. in A. Ross (ed), Universal Abandon? The politics of postmodernism. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1989.

[60] 'NSM's in civil society exhibit a range of different forms of praxis that increase in political intensity as they move away from identity struggles towards more inclusive forms of democratic politics such as community, which in turn pose the question of their self-abolition as NSMs' in D. Schecter, Sovereign States or Political Communities. Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2000. pp 131. see also pp 110.

[61] On this issue, see also M. Foucault's intervetions on homosexuality, the dangers of institutionalisation and gay rights movements in P. Rabinow (ed), Michel Foucault. Ethics. Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984. Volume 1. Penguin Books, London, 2000. p. 157-173.

[62] F. Jameson, 'periodising the 60s', in The ideologies of theory. Vol. 2., Routledge, London, 1988. p. 181.

[63] Ibidem.

[64] A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p 53.

[65] The multitude is under theorised in Negri, but it represents a temporary designation of multifarious, decentred, diffuse and determining subjectivities that we witness today as the emergent form of a generational struggle for the enactionment/reappropriation of life from all authority that attempts to negate it as externality, is illegitmate power.

[66] 'What the theories of power of modernity were forced to consider transcendent, that is, external to productive and social relations, is here formed inside, immanent to the productive and social relations. Mediation is absorbed within the productive machine. The political synthesis of social space is fixed in the space of communication. This is why communications industries have assumed such a central position. They not only organise production on a new scale and impose a new structure adequate to global space, but also make its justification immanent. Power, as it produces, organises: as it organises, it speaks and expresses itself as authority. Language, as it communicates, produces commodities but moreover creates subjectivities, puts them in relation, and orders them. The communication industries integrate the imaginary and the symbolic within the biopolitical fabric, not merely putting them at the service of power but actually integrating them into its very functioning. [...] It is a subject that produces its own image of authority. This is a form of legitimation that rests on nothing outside itself and is reproposed ceaselessly by developing its own language of self-validation'. A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p. 33.

[67] with Habermas and Rawls versions of liberalism and discourse ethics as negotiable ethics, a subject centred communication that aims at reaching rational agreement, so that communicative action limits politics to consent, is opposed to Negri's idea of the function of command.

[68] On the difference between the rights-state and the social-state: the former operates on the terrain of private and individual interests, and is the guarantor state, guaranteeing the harmony of competing claims. The social state, on the other hand, that where the social power of labour in all its connotations is grounded in its political form, is effective at a different level. It interiorises the class relationship, and plans accordingly. It represses those who do not accept its right to act as stabiliser of the general social (capitalist) interest. The contradiction of the rights state was that of being effective at the level of private interests and rational order, the order that capital could not practically allow given the demands of accumulation. Law in this sense was more of an abstract (whilst more pragmatic in the social state) or formal, reflected in the liberal political theory the corresponding to it. I.e., The problem of rights in the context of pre-constituted facts about social reality. In the social state the attempt is made to retain most elements of the rights-state, such as freedom and equality, whilst making them compatible with sociality. It does this, in its reformist guise, with the language of natural right.

[69] F. Berardi (Bifo) portrays the human condition of immaterial workers in La fabbrica dell'infelicita' . New economy e movimento del cognitariato, DeriveApprodi, Roma, 2001. 'Depression starts emerging at a time when the disciplinary model of behavioural management, the rules of authority and conformity to the laws that assigned to social classes and sexes a destiny, fell apart in the face of norms that incite each person to individual initiative pushing her to be herself. Because of this normativity, the entire responsibility of our lives is placed upon us. Depression then presents itself as an illness of responsibility in which the feeling of inadequacy/insufficiency predominates. The depressed is not worth it; he is tired to have to become himself.', here referring to Alain Ehrenberg's La fatigue d'etre soi. (p.10)

[70] M. Lazzarato 'Immaterial Labour', in P. Virno M. Hardt (eds) Radical Thought in Italy. A potential politics. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1996.

[71] 'Some significant macroeconomic effetcs follow from the new mobility introduced by capital's global disciplinary paradigm. The mobility of populations makes it increasingly difficult to manage national markets (particularly national labour markets) individually. The adequate domain for the application of capitalist command is no longer delimited by national borders or by the traditional international boundaries. Workers who flee the Thirld World to go to the First for work or wealth contribute to undermining the boundaries between the two worlds. The Thirld World does not really disappear in the process of unification of the world market but enters the First, establishes itself at the heart as ghetto, shantytown, favela, always again produced and reproduced. In turn, the First World is transferred to the Third in the form of stock exchanges and banks, transnational corporations and icy skyscrapers of money and command.' A. Negri and M. Hardt, Empire, p. 253-254

[72] see pp. 35-37 and 312-313 in Empire for a discussion of how NGO's in Empire operate on the terrain of biopolitics in (selective) defence of life itself.

[73] see Warren Montag, in Historical Materialism No.8 for a useful review of Negri's idea of constituent power as theorised in Insurgencies.

[74] This is a complicated and problematic thesis: See Empire 3.2. And further Labour of Dionysus 269-272. The paradox of the postmodern state, lies in that the very moment when civil society is only apparent in political form i.e. where each social power is annulled and obliged only to find meaning in the form of the state, the modern liberal state suffers a crisis of its representative democratic principles.

'Political representation by means of the social mediation of parties is considered obsolete in the sense that it looks towards a mechanism of delegation that is formed in society (as a reality different than the state), that is verticalised in the state (as a reality different from society), and that selected political personelle (as a reality different than the rational adminstrative mechanism). This type of representation was adequate to a modern liberal society in which the subsumption of society under capital was not yet accomplished.' A. Negri and M. Hardt, Labor of Dionysus, p. 271.

[75]A.Negri, Notes on the evolution of the thought of the later Althusser (trans Olga Vasile) pp. 54

[76] Ibid pp 57

[76a] 'The synchronic is nothing but the conception of the specific relations that exist between the different elements and the different structures of the structure of the whole, it is the knowledge of the relations of dependence and articulation which make it an organic whole, a system. The synchronic is eternity in Spinoza's sense, or the adequate knowledge of the complex object by the adequate knowledge of its complexity.' L. Althusser, Reading capital, Verso, London, 1997. p.107.

[77] 'For structuralism as a method or mode of research is formalistic in that it studies organisation rather than content and assumes the primacy of the linguistic model, the predominance of language and of linguistic structures in the shaping of meaningful experiences. All the layers or levels of social life are ordered or systematic only in so far as they form languages or their own, in strictest analogy to the purely linguistic. Styles of clothing, economic relationships....all are systems of signs, based on differential perceptions and governed by categories of exchange and transformation...Structuralism may thus be seen as one of the most thoroughgoing reactions against substantialist thinking in general, proposing as it does to replace the substance (or the substantive) with relations and purely relational perceptions.' pp 10-11.) 'Transformations of the image in Postmodernity' in F. Jameson, The cultural turn, Selected writings on the postmodern, 1983-1998. Verso, London, 1998.


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