DEMOCRACY & NATURE: The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Vol. 8, No. 2 (July 2002)

Hardt and Negri’s Empire: a new Communist Manifesto or a reformist welcome to neoliberal globalisation?



Abstract: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000) has generally been characterised by the establishment press, but also by some in the Left, as a kind of new Communist Manifesto. However, a careful examination of the content of the book makes it clear that, far from having any radical implications similar to those of the original Manifesto, Empire should better be characterised as an objective welcome to neoliberal globalisation.



1. Empire and political globalisation

The political constitution of Empire

Empire, in Hardt and Negri’s (H&N’s) problematique, is the sovereign power that governs the present-day world; it is the political form of capitalist globalisation. The authors start out with a discussion of the constitution of Empire in juridical terms on the grounds that juridical transformations effectively point toward changes in the material constitution of world power and order. Using as their starting point the UN juridical structure, they then proceed to examine the renewed interest in the concept of “just war”, and describe the so-called right of intervention as stemming from a permanent state of emergency and exception justified by the appeal to essential values of justice’ (p.18). However, as H&N stress, although the practice of Empire is continually bathed in blood, the concept of Empire is always dedicated to peace a perpetual and universal peace outside of history. (p.xv).

Still, the authors, not restricting themselves to the juridical perspective, also analyse the transformation of the paradigm of rule from the perspective of biopolitical production, i.e. the production of social life itself, in which the economic, the political, and the cultural increasingly overlap and invest one another (p.xiii). In this context, they utilise both Foucault’s concept of the society of control, and Foucault’s insights into the nature of biopower (i.e. a form of power that regulates social life from its interior, following it, interpreting it, absorbing it, and rearticulating it (p.23-24)). In this framework, H&N see the contemporary form of Empire as consubstantial to the existence of a dipole (which they call the imperial two-headed eagle): on the one hand a juridical structure and a constituted power, constructed by the machine of biopolitical command (p.60), and on the other hand the plural multitude of productive, creative subjectivities of globalization that have learned to sail on this enormous sea (p.60). This dipole today cannot exist without any one of the two terms; in other words: the deterritorializing power of the multitude is the productive force that sustains Empire (p.61).

Having introduced the general theoretical toolbox we briefly described above, H&N then move on to discuss the shift from imperialism to Empire using as their point of reference the concept of sovereignty. They start out with the concept of modernity (distinguishing it from what they describe as the contemporary postmodernity) which they see as being defined by crisis, a crisis that is born of the uninterrupted conflict between the immanent, constructive, creative forces and the transcendent power aimed at restoring order (p.76). They consider three attempts at resolving the crisis of modernity: the development of the modern sovereign state; the development of the concept of nation and the related concept of people; and, finally, the emergence of colonial sovereignty. Their conclusion is that while colonialism is dialectical, reality is not, thus parting partially from Marxist orthodoxy. As a summary of the above three attempts at resolving the crisis of modernity, they offer the following chain of representation: the people representing the multitude, the nation representing the people, and the state representing the nation (p.134) a chain which, we may add, stems from a quite confused analysis of the relationship between nation and state (H&N seem to believe that a nation automatically induces a nation-state). In this context, it is worth mentioning that H&N, in examining the passage from the paradigm of modern sovereignty toward the paradigm of imperial sovereignty, consider postmodernist and postcolonialist theories (and fundamentalisms in a different way) to be important effects that reflect or trace the expansion of the world market and the passage of the form of sovereignty (p.138-139).

Their next goal is to describe today’s imperial sovereignty (i.e. sovereignty as it was constituted after the above passage). In this regard they examine the role the American Revolution played in the innovation of the genealogy of the concept of modern sovereignty, finding in it the basis on which a new imperial sovereignty has been formed. After a discussion of the imperialist tendency that has run throughout US history (the most prominent examples of which have been the exploitation of black labour and the Monroe Doctrine) H&N contend that the expansive tendency of Empire should be clearly distinguished from the expansionism of modern nation-states (p.166). Empire extends and consolidates the model of network power, while the space of imperial sovereignty is always open. The innovating element in their analysis is their view of Empire as a decentred and deterritorialising apparatus of rule that progressively incorporates the entire global realm within its open, expanding frontiers. In their view in the passage from imperialism to Empire there is progressively less distinction between inside and outside. (p.187). They see imperial sovereignty as organized not around one central conflict but rather through a flexible network of microconflicts. Rather than crisis, they believe the concept that defines imperial sovereignty might be omni-crisis, or, more correctly, corruption (a corruption that they feel is not accidental but necessary, p.202).

H&N stress from the beginning of their book that today sovereignty has taken a new form, composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule (p xii). In this vein, they draw the correct conclusion that although the United States occupy a privileged position in Empire, this does not mean that the United States is its leader, in the way European nation-states were leaders of the world in the past: our postmodern Empire has no Rome (p.317). However, since they do not see a centre of Empire in the form of, say, a transnational elite, and are simply satisfied with stating that a supranational quasi-state is not being formed (p.38-39), their thesis of an Empire without Emperors becomes untenable, apart from offering in the process some complicated formulations that remain abstract and not connected to the real-life world.

An Empire without Emperors

Alternatively, one may argue[1] that the forms of political structure that emerged in the society of modernity have always aimed to be compatible with the various forms of the market economy that developed over time since its establishment about two centuries ago. There are therefore significant variations between the various forms of political structures in the era of modernity. Thus, the representative democracy of liberal modernity evolved into a political system of a much higher degree of concentration of political power at the hands of executive power during statist modernity, both in the West and, even more so, in the East.[2] This system is presently being replaced by new internationalised political structures to fit the already internationalised economic structures, representing an even higher degree of concentration of political power to match the corresponding huge concentration of economic power brought about by globalisation. Thus, in neoliberal modernity, the old Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states is being replaced by a multi-level system of political-economic entities which at the micro-level extends to micro-regions, world cities and up to traditional states, whereas at the new internationalised macro-level (where the most important decisions are taken) extends to a new transnational elite and its political and economic expressions.

For H&N, the political constitution of Empire (i.e. the New World Order) is expressed as a juridical formation (p.3). However, this description of Empire does not provide any answer to the crucial issue of the entity which takes the initiatives on how best to reproduce the economic globalisation and secure the overall stability of the system. Obviously, the juridical structure and constituted power they describe can only implement decisions and norms but cannot take the initiative to set the norms themselves or to wage the wars necessary for the stability of the world system. A centre of power, an elite, is required for this purpose and although the authors are right that today there is no such centre of power in terms of a single imperial power like the USA, this does not rule out the existence of a decentred transnational elite, which, in itself, represents a centre of power.

In previous forms of modernity, (i.e. liberal modernity in the 19th century and statist modernity in the 20th), where the market economy was basically national, it was the nation-states which were assigned this role. The question therefore is: who plays this role in today’s internationalised market economy? Clearly, economic globalisation requires a complementary political globalisation, or, to put it differently, a transnational economy, needs its own transnational elite. Other Marxists, like Leslie Sklair[3] have demonstrated the existence of a new transnational capitalist class whereas one of us has also attempted to do the same with respect to a transnational elite.[4] On this, H&N offer the utterly inadequate thesis of a new Empire with no centre and no Emperors to manage it!

In this alternative theoretical framework, the new transnational elite can be considered as a decentred apparatus of rule with no territorial centre of power based on a single nation-state, i.e. as an elite which draws its power (economic, political or generally social power) by operating at the transnational level a fact which implies that it does not express, solely or even primarily, the interests of a particular nation-state. It consists of transnational political, economic and professional elites and is differentiated from national elites because of the fact that it sees its vital interests in terms of the international markets rather than the national markets.[5] This is therefore an informal rather than an institutionalised elite. Thus, in the same way that economic globalisation expresses an informal concentration of power at the hands of the members of the economic elite, so political globalisation expresses an informal concentration of power at the hands of the members of the political elite. So, the economic elite constitutes that part of the transnational elite which controls the internationalised market economy, whereas the political elite constitutes that part of the transnational elite which controls the distinctly political-military dimension of the New World Order. The main institutions securing the concentration of economic and political power at the hands of the transnational elite are the market economy and representative democracy respectively, whereas the main organisations through which the transnational elite exercises its informal control are the EU, NAFTA, the G8, WTO, IMF, World Bank, NATO and the UN.

The informal character of political globalisation is needed not only in order to keep the façade of a well functioning representative democracy, in which local elites are still supposed to take the important decisions, but also in order to preserve the nation-state’s internal monopoly of violence. The latter is necessary so that local elites are capable of controlling their populations in general and the movement of labour in particular, enhancing the free flow of capital and commodities. Needless to add that this form of political globalisation, given the uneven distribution of political/military power among members of the transnational elite, inevitably establishes the informal hegemony of the US political elite.

Therefore, the three wars launched by the transnational elite (and carried out mainly by the US elite) in the last ten years since its emergence after the collapse of actually existing socialism, (i.e. the Gulf war,[6] the war in Kosovo[7] and the on-going war on terrorism), in fact, constitute cases substantiating the existence of an informal system of transnational governance, a political globalisation presided over by a transnational elite. This political globalisation is wrongly characterised by some as the latest form of imperialism[8]a term which refers to a previous stage of the market economy and has little relation to its present internationalised form. Imperialism was founded on national states and markets, whereas today’s political globalisation is built on economic globalisation which, despite the untenable analysis of the reformist Left[9] (which H&N correctly criticise), is a new phenomenon and not controlled by any single national elite.

2. Empire and economic globalisation

The economic constitution of Empire

Up to this point, the authors’ analysis has been mainly focused on the concept of sovereignty. H&N then proceed to narrate the same passage (i.e. from imperialism to Empire) from the standpoint of production, whereby production is taken to encompass the whole spectrum ranging from economic production to the production of subjectivity. With that in mind, as a connector between the two standpoints (sovereignty and production) H&N introduce certain new concepts: nomadism, desertion and exodus. Complementing their belief that the dialectic between productive forces and the system of domination no longer has a determinate place (p.209) they stress that mobility and mass worker nomadism express a refusal and a search for liberation. They describe migration as consisting of two different tendencies, a negative one (desertion from the cultural and material conditions of imperial reproduction) and a positive one (exodus: the wealth of desire, the accumulation of capacities, and finally a certain hope[10]), while at the same time not ignoring the fact that these processes constitute merely a spontaneous level of struggle and by themselves are not enough for revolution which, by the way, is a concept to which H&N have apparently not clarified their relationship. That said, they then project their goals (an issue that they return to towards the end of the book): constructing, in the non-place, a new place; constructing ontologically new determinations of the human, of living a powerful artificiality of being (p.217-218).

H&N, in examining the economic order of Empire and the various analyses that have tried to explain its creation and functioning, clearly differentiate their stand from the stand of Marxists of the past (among whom Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg) stating that: The old analyses of imperialism will not be sufficient here because in the end they stop at the threshold of the analysis of subjectivity and concentrate rather on the contradictions of capital’s own development (p. 235). On the contrary, H&N find it important to stress the significance of the multitude’s struggles in prefiguring current developments. It is due to these struggles, H&N argue, that a new form of control had to be posed in order to establish command over what was no longer controllable in disciplinary terms (p. 256). This is an idea which keeps recurring in Empire: globalisation is in effect a result of the accumulation of class struggles, which led to the crisis of the 1970s and the neoliberal revolution from above that followed the crisis as a capitalist response to it.

Thus, H&N, after directly adopting a more sophisticated version of the usual conspiracy theories about globalisation[11], then move on to analyse economic postmodernisation, which they prefer to call the informatisation of production. In this vein, they examine the new role that knowledge, information, affect and communication play in today’s economy, and present the three primary aspects of immaterial labour in the contemporary economy: the communicative labour of industrial production that has newly become linked in informational networks, the interactive labour of symbolic analysis and problem solving, and the labour of the production and manipulation of affects (p. 293).

The discussion of what they view as the paradigm shift in production leads them to an examination of the role of transnational corporations in the modern economic system, and even more generally of the various articulations of power: they see these as constituted of a) the monarchic unity of power and its global monopoly of force, b) aristocratic articulations through transnational corporations and nation-states, and c) democratic-representational comitia, presented again in the form of nation-states along with the various kinds of NGOs, media organizations, and other popular organisms (pp.314-315). In this framework, they stress that imperial control (which operates through three global and absolute means: the bomb, money, and ether, p.345) corresponds to a new and more complete compatibility between sovereignty and capital, thus closing the discourse on sovereignty, with which they started their examination of the passage to Empire.

Neoliberal globalisation objectively welcomed

H&N supposedly reject a conspiracy theory of globalisation. In fact, however, what they reject is only the crudest versions of conspiracy theory according to which the neoliberal globalised order is dictated by a single power and a single center of rationality transcendent to global forces, guiding the various phases of historical development according to its conscious and all-seeing plan (p.3). Having said that, the authors, claiming Marxist orthodoxy, adopt a version of the capitalist plot theory on globalisation according to which capital (as they stressed in an earlier book[12]) faced with a crisis of its ability “to master its conflictual relationship with labour through a social and political dialectic, resorted to a double attack against labour: first, a direct campaign against corporatism and collective bargaining and second a re-organisation of the workplace “through automation and computerisation”, thereby actually excluding labour itself from the side of production. The conclusion drawn by H&N is that the neoliberalism of the 1980s constituted a revolution from above”, as a response to the crisis of the 1970s, whose “motor” was, as they stress in Empire, the accumulation of the proletarian struggles (p. 239). Or, as they put it explicitly further on, “If there had not been the class struggle of the 1960s capital would have been content to maintain its own arrangement of power, happy to have been saved the trouble of shifting the paradigm of production! (p. 275) a thesis which is compactly summarised in the phrase: “The multitude called Empire into being.

This view, however, not only completely disregards the role of systemic elements in social analysis but it also falsifies recent History in order to put in the Procrustean bed of the class struggle despite all the evidence to the contrary. As one of us attempted to show elsewhere[13], the internationalisation of the market economy is a process, which was set in motion with the very emergence of the market economy itself. Therefore, although it is true that throughout the post-war period the internationalisation of the market economy was actively encouraged by the advanced capitalist countries, in view in particular of the expansion of actually existing socialism and of the national liberation movements in the Third World, still, this internationalisation was the outcome mainly of objective factors related to the dynamics of the market economy. The subjective factors, in the form of the social struggle, played a passive role with respect to this intensifying internationalisation of the market economy. Particularly so after the major retreat of the labour movement, which was precipitated by the decimation of the working class brought about by the information revolution and the consequent de-industrialisation. These processes had nothing to do with capital conspiracies but were simply the result of the adoption by capital (in its dominant form of transnational corporations) of those technological processes that would allow the minimisation of the cost of production and of social controls on labour, in the face of the internationalisation of the market economy and the cut-throat competition that this entailed.

In this sense, the changes in the policies of the major international institutions (IMF, WTO, WB etc), and the corresponding changes in national policies that aimed at opening and liberalising markets, were endogenous, reflecting and institutionalising existing trends of the market economy, rather than exogenous, imposed by a revolution from above (i.e. a kind of capital conspiracy) in reaction to the intensification of the class struggle in the 1960s and early 1970s , as H&N argue. In other words, although the creation of a self-regulating market system in the 19th century was impossible without crucial state support in creating national markets, still, once this system was set up, it created its own irreversible dynamic which led to today’s internationalised market economy.[14] Therefore, the emergence of the neoliberal internationalised market economy is basically the outcome of this dynamic process and not the result of conspiracies, or of the policies of evil neoliberal parties and/or degraded socialdemocratic parties, as reformists in the Left assert. It represents, in fact, the completion of the marketisation process, which was merely interrupted by the rise of statism in the 1930s. Statism, however, collapsed in the 1970s when it became obvious that the kind of state intervention in the market that marked the statist period of marketisation was no longer compatible with the new internationalisation that emerged at the same time. This monumental event, at the political level, implied the end of the social democratic consensus which marked the early post war period i.e. the consensus involving both conservative and socialdemocratic parties that were committed to statism, i.e. active state intervention with the aim of determining the overall level of economic activity so that a number of socialdemocratic objectives could be achieved (full employment, welfare state, better distribution of income etc). In fact, the economic crisis of the 1970s, which led to the passage to neoliberal modernity, was due to the incompatibility of growing statism with the increasingly internationalised market economy that had emerged from below, whereas the intensification of the traditional class struggle at that time (which proved to be its last outburst) was mainly a symptom of this crisis and not an exogenous change which supposedly led to the crisis of the Bretton Woods system etc[15] (pp.266-67), as the authors assert.

A very peculiar, though not inexplicable aspect of H&N’ s analysis, is that although the authors, unlike the usual nonsensical analyses of the reformist Left, do not assume that the present neoliberal globalisation is reversible, still they view it favourably, as an objective basis on which an alternative globalisation could be built (although the meaning of this alternative globalisation is never spelled out). Thus, one of the foundational views in Empire in effect is that globalization should be welcomed because it is capital’s latest concession to the force of insurgent subjectivity and it contains the seeds of an alternative (communist) globalization. Our political task, they argue, is not simply to resist these processes but to reorganize them and redirect them toward new ends. In other words, H&N claim, in a dialectical twist, that the construction of Empire is good in itself but not for itself (p.42).

This stand is of course not surprising given the philosophical grounding that H&N offer for the resistance to Empire. In a nutshell, we can describe this as an inherently problematic attempt to synthesise a certain strand of Marxism with a particular variety of postmodernism, while at the same time holding on to the worst elements of both Marxism and postmodernism. H&N openly state that their main “sources of inspiration” are Machiavelli, Spinoza, and Marx (p.184). Although it is true that they depart from many typically Marxist political views (e.g. the separation between base and superstructure, p. 385) and also differentiate themselves from the discourses that claim to explain historical evolution in dialectical terms, they seem unable, at least in this part of the analysis, to rid themselves of Marxism’s objective aspirations. The authors thus speak of a materialist teleology, and even though they hasten to add that this teleology is not ideal, but based on a) a critical and deconstructive approach and b) a constructive and ethico-political approach (p. 47), this does not change the fact that instead of justifying their vision in the subjective self-reflective choice of humans, they choose to find an objective (no matter how refined) grounding for their stand.

At the same time, H&N agree with postmodern analyses on the issue of the entry into postmodernity. We already mentioned some of the methodological tools (rooted in postmodernism) that H&N have chosen to utilise. Furthermore, H&N also proceed to embrace postmodernism in a typically conformist way: it is useless to continue debates «for» or «against» postmodernism, as if we were standing at the threshold of a new era choosing whether or not to dive in. We are irrevocably part of this new era[16]. The net result is, as we shall see below, that H&N offer a contradictory hybridisation (another popular postmodern term!) of a certain Marxism, complete with its belief in the idea of Progress, and a certain postmodernism, despite the latter’s outright rejection of objectivism in History! A case in which this hybrid can be exemplified is the way H&N describe the afore-mentioned telos: their postmodern affiliations apparently lead them to stress that this telos is not predetermined, but is constructed in the process by subjects (p. 470). Still, this did not deter them from claiming that the functioning of imperial power is ineluctably linked to its decline (p. 361) and that anything that blocks this power to act is merely an obstacle … that is eventually outflanked, weakened, and smashed by the critical powers of labour and the everyday passional wisdom of the affects (p. 358). This however is a statement by H&N of an objective law/tendency whose outcome is taken for granted…

But, coming back to the authors’ stand with respect to neoliberal globalisation, one may point out that if neoliberal globalisation is neither a plot, nor irreversible within the market economy system, this does not mean that it should be welcomed, as H&N do, because it supposedly provides an objective basis on which an alternative globalisation could be built reminding one of the usual objectivist type of analysis about the necessary evils supposedly created by the process of Progress. As one of us has pointed out elsewhere,[17] the adoption of the idea of Progress (shared by very few nowadays) implies also the endorsement of such progressive conclusions as the Marxist one about the progressive role of colonialism[18], or the corresponding anarchist one that the state is a socially necessary evil[19]. H&N even seem to be aware of the historical precedents of such thinking since they write that: We claim that Empire is better in the same way that Marx insists that capitalism is better than the forms of society and modes of production that came before it (p. 43).

On the other hand, if we adopt the view that there is no unilinear or dialectical process of Progress and a corresponding evolutionary process towards forms of social organisation grounded on autonomy (and consequently, there is no materialist telos) and we assume, instead, that the historical attempts for autonomy/democracy represent a break with the past, then, forms of social organisation like colonialism and the state can be seen as just social evils, with nothing necessary about them, either as regards their emergence in the past, or the form that particular social evil has taken since, or will take in the future.

The same applies to neoliberal globalisation which has nothing necessary about it, as it is simply the inevitable outcome of an initial choice imposed on society by economic and political elites: the choice for a market economy and representative democracy. Furthermore, neoliberal globalisation cannot be the objective basis for a new democratic society. Such a society should, instead, unravel what passes for political and economic democracy today and create genuine democratic institutions that will hardly have any relationship to the present supposedly democratic institutions. Therefore, if by systemic change one means a real change towards a new society based on the equal distribution of power, like the type of society envisaged by the Inclusive Democracy project, then obviously neoliberal globalisation is far from the objective basis for such a society!

One may therefore conclude that the reformist demands proposed by H&N that we shall consider next are perfectly consistent with their approach on globalisation which not only sees it as a kind of capital conspiracy (a revolution from above) but in a contradictory way also welcomes it as an objective basis for a future society! For the authors, all that matters is the struggle of the network of the multitude, even if this struggle has no clear antisystemic character. No wonder that one of the authors recently celebrated the World Social Forum of 2002 at Porto Alegre (sponsored by Le Monde Diplomatique, the Ford Foundation and other similar bulwarks of radical social change! but boycotted and/or condemned by many radical groups and trade unions), despite its overtly reformist character for which he blamed the apparent strength of those who occupied centre stage and dominated the representations of the Forum that however (as Hardt stresses confirming once more his objectivist credentials) may ultimately prove to have lost the struggle![20]

3. Beyond Empire

However, whereas an objectivist analysis at the hands of Marx & Engels led to a radical Manifesto proposing the building of a mass antisystemic movement with clear goals and means to overthrow capitalism, the hybrid of objectivism and postmodernism used by Hardt & Negri led to this pseudo-radical Manifesto, which proposes global resistance against a nebulous Empire by a multitude that does not even need clear goals and means to overthrow it. Still, this did not deter them from ending their book by extolling the joy of being communist the communist militant being resembled by H&N to Saint Francis of Assisi (who also happens to be Mrs Thatcher’s’ idol!).

Thus, the authors, through an analysis that is mainly based on unfounded assertions about the nature of the welfare state (which they assume still exists in neoliberal modernity ignoring the fact that it is being replaced everywhere by a safety net)[21] and the confused as well as contradictory discussion of neoliberal globalisation that we examined above end up with reformist demands and no clear vision for a future society. In this context, H&N offer three programmatic political demands of the multitude (pp. 396-407): the right to global citizenship, i.e. the general right of the multitude to control its own movement; a social wage and a guaranteed income for all; the right to reappropriation, i.e. the multitude’s right to self control and autonomous self-production. What makes these demands purely reformist is that, unlike the corresponding demands of the original Communist Manifesto, they are not an integral part of a comprehensive project for systemic change. Therefore, even though such demands cannot possibly be met within the market economy system, still, the very fact that they are not part of an antisystemic political programme with clear long term goals about the form the future society will take and strategies to achieve them is bound to lead to the creation of a reformist mentality about these three demands, which the transnational elite could easily enhance by offering some painless (to it) reforms in connection to them. Thus, the offer of a European Union and Nafta citizenship could be used to undermine the demand for global citizenship. Similarly, the offer to enhance the present safety nets in order to secure some sort of minimum income can be used to dent the demand for a social wage and a guaranteed income for all. Finally, the transnational elite has already began undermining the third demand with the various projects for participation at the work place, the people’s capitalism supposedly established by the pension funds which invest in the Stock exchange etc. the effect of all these projects simply being to guarantee the decision-taking power of the elites and at the same time create the illusion to the rest of society that they have some say on its running.

H&N have thought up, however, many safety valves to guard against a reading like our own: the general vagueness in their analysis (e.g. they speak of non-representational democracy, but do not explain either the institutions on which it will be based, or how the new society can be created step-by-step inside the old the avoidance of the concept of revolution should have led them to such a gradual strategy) can be considered as such a valve. If noone understands what it is that H&N project, then almost noone will object to it. Even so, the fact that they offer no concrete vision is no less an invitation for criticism, especially today when, after the collapse of actually existing socialism, a new vision is indeed quite necessary. On the contrary, H&N openly state (p. 206) (in accordance with their postmodern credentials) that today one cannot offer an elaboration of a political alternative to Empire.

In closing, we urge the reader to admire the perfect agreement between Bernstein’s motto “the goal is nothing, the movement everything”, and H&N’s summary of their political aspirations (p. 207):  

Our pilgrimage on earth, however, in contrast to Augustine’s, has no transcendent telos beyond; it is and remains absolutely immanent. Its continuous movement, gathering aliens in community, making this world its home, is both means and end, or rather a means without end. 

Overall, Empire could cause a lot of damage to the antisystemic currents within the antiglobalisation movement by disorienting them as regards the true nature of globalisation and indirectly inducing them to adopt it as an objective basis for an alternative globalisation, if not to join the reformist currents, like those dominating antiglobalisation activity today through the World Social Forum and its affiliates, which are celebrated by the authors and are heavily promoted by the progressive mass media[22]


[1] See Takis Fotopoulos, The Myth of Postmodernity, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 7, No. 1 (March 2002), pp. 27-76.

[2] Ibid. for the various forms of modernity.

[3] Leslie Sklair, The Transnational Capitalist Class (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001).

[4] Takis Fotopoulos, Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 7, No. 2 (July 2002), pp. 233-281.

[5] See Takis Fotopoulos, Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement.

[6] See T. Fotopoulos, The Gulf War (Athens: Exantas, 1991) —in Greek.

[7] See T. Fotopoulos, The War in the Balkans: The First War of the Internationalised Market Economy”, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 5, No. 2 (July 1999), pp. 357-382.

[8] Niall Ferguson, Welcome the new imperialism, The Guardian (October 31, 2001).

[9] See Fotopoulos, Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement.

[10] One could only admire here the nerve of middle-class intellectuals who managed to interpret the uprooting of people, who risk their own lives in order to secure a survival, which neoliberal globalisation denies them in their places of origin, as having a positive aspect as well!

[11] See Fotopoulos, Globalisation the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement.

[12] Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1994), p. 240-241.

[13] See Takis Fotopoulos, Globalisation, the Reformist Left and the Anti-Globalisation Movement.

[14] Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy: The Crisis of the Growth Economy and the need for a new Liberatory Project (London: Cassell, 1997), ch. 1.

[15] Ibid. ch 1 for an alternative explanation of the Bretton Woods crisis on the basis of the above problematique.

[16] Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri, Labor of Dionysus, p. 13.

[17] See Takis Fotopoulos, Towards An Inclusive Democracy, ch. 8.

[18] See, e.g., Shlomo Avineri, ed., Karl Marx on Colonialism & Modernization (New York: Anchor Books, 1969), p. 13 and Anthony Brewer, Marxist Theories of Imperialism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 18.

[19] See G.P. Maximoff, ed., The Political Philosophy of Bakunin (New York: The Free Press, 1964) p. 145. See, also, M. Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology (Montreal: Black Rose Press, 1995), p. xvi.

[20]  See M. Hardt, Today’s Bandung?, New Left Review, No. 14 (March-April 2002), p. 117.

[21] Thus, in Labor of Dionysus they argue that if we take another perspective, however, and view the Welfare State in terms of State spending and State intervention in economic and social mechanisms, it did not wither during this period (1980s) but actually grew () the spending structures of the Welfare state showed signs of irreversibility and a remarkable resistance to the neoliberal attack (p. 241). It is obvious that the authors follow here the neo/social-liberal propaganda without realising that the maintenance, if not occasional rise, in total welfare spending was brought about by the mass rise of unemployment and poverty as a result of neoliberal globalisation and not because of any remarkable resistance to the neoliberal attack! In fact, the welfare state is everywhere being decomposed and replaced by a safety net [see T. Fotopoulos, Welfare State or Economic Democracy?”, Democracy & Nature, Vol. 5, No. 3 (1999), pp. 433-468].

[22] No wonder that, unlike the Communist Manifesto, H&N’s book has been published by the most prestigious university directly controlled by the transnational elite and has also been heavily promoted by the establishment media (which are controlled by the same elite), elevating it into a best seller! [see for example: The Observer (15 July 2001), The Sunday Times (15 July 2001) and The New York Times (7 July 2001)].






















































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