BOKO

With existence comes responsibility.

BOKO

BOKO
Birthday
August 04
Bio
If you try to cure evil with evil, you will add more pain to your fate.--Sophocles

MY RECENT POSTS

BOKO's Links

MY LINKS
No links in this category.
DECEMBER 30, 2011 6:12PM

Zinn versus "Empire"

Rate: 21 Flag

Introduction: Looking Out from Here

As the crisis deepens, and nationalism and religious belief, the twin last resorts of capital, are mobilized around the world to set working people everywhere against each other in the false name of "democracy," it might help us to ask what exactly is being built.  Up until now, the anti-capitalist critique, of which until recently there was an enormous production, has focused on the failures of neoliberalism and what, if anything, the global financial ruling class was attempting to maintain by staying in power.  But the processes of capital do not stop.  It is just as much a fantasy to speak of arresting them as it is to speak, like the neo-Keynesians, of reversing them and returning to a previous era.  In fact one of the main impetuses for the rapidly rising stench of nationalism in America right now is the belief that if only certain things are done, we will return magically to a (mostly fictional) time of vast productivity and relative peace between the classes.  This myth is constantly pushed in the media and even here on OS, while the ruling class goes on setting one area of the country against another, aligning one sector to demolish all the rest, much like the same goal is being pursued in Europe by setting one group of "richer, more developed" eurozone nations against the "poorer, more indebted" ones.  Never mind that the poverty being described in both cases was created by capital's viciously uneven and wildly unplanned development.

But again, instead of focusing on fantasy, let's ask ourselves, "What is being built?"  For as the savage plans of austerity politicians and financial traders move forward, society does not cease to evolve.  Rather it evolves at an increased rate.  And we are not, in fact, headed into the past, as some ex-left and pseudo-progressive critics would have it.  We are moving into an altered future, one that is steadily being transformed by capital in its attempts to hold a power structure in place that has obviously failed on every level to deliver for social need.  In this sense, capital is doing what comes natural to it--expanding, while trying to keep its core structures intact--and as it wallows in its objectifications of people's misery as "laziness," "recalcitrance," "faithlessness," and finally, and most deadly of all, a lack of belief in one's nation (does everyone have their made-in-America uniforms yet?), the cycles of production, and social reproduction, continue.  And we find ourselves more and more dependent on a system that is capable neither of extricating itself from its core structural problems, nor even of accurately perceiving the tremendous dangers created by its increasingly precarious real-material conditions.  Steeped in its own fantasies of faith and nationalistic self-delusion, it is descending into ruin, and taking us with it.

 

Old Empire and New 

In this situation, where everything is dovetailing quickly with the nation and the state, where capital has fled to protect itself from the growing disorder caused by it, and the unrest of the multitude, it is perhaps useful to remind ourselves of the work of Howard Zinn, the anti-imperialist historian who labored for many decades against the power structures of America and what he saw as the threat of global hegemony.  As the privileged site from which the most violent movements of global capital are already being projected--finance, militarism, the murderous "diplomacy" of a false internationalism--America has a special role to play in the coming future, the one that capital is busy trying to inaugurate, whether its individual agents are aware of it or not.

This is not exactly the future predicted by Zinn's tireless warnings against traditional imperialism, either, as another pair of authors, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, have sought to point out in their trilogy of books focusing on the recent evolution of global power.  Like with many powerful critiques that point to a possible future, and caution against it, Zinn's ideas were bounded by his own time and his own background, in his case the post-War period and non-violent resistance movements.  This led him to take up a principled stance against what he saw as the main threat to democratic freedom and a better society for the vast mass of people--American imperialism.  In the first in their own series, Empire*, Negri & Hardt point out some of the limitations of traditional anti-imperialist criticism and maintain that what is being brought into existence by the spread of information economies, control societies, and the new structures of global capital--all the most unique outgrowths of the recent evolution of power under capital--is a kind of "floating empire." 

Negri & Hardt's idea of empire is one that exists not as a direct consequence of the actions of only one nation, but rather as a structure that operates through multiple, interlocking mechanisms, all for the benefit of an emerging global ruling class.  This is centered around finance, but it has many arms, including a kind of monarchy in the militarism and "cooperation" of the richest and most powerful countries (the G20, especially those "blessed" with nuclear weapons); a series of legislative bodies (in the various false internationalist organizations, the UN, EU, IMF, which really serve the interests of the monarchy exclusively); and a war machine (mostly the US and NATO) and finance control mechanism (global monetarism) which act as the main levers in a global control society.  This is not your grandfather's imperialism.

But this emerging Empire is not yet able to affect control over all nations or absorb all movements of resistance, and as a result it seeks rather blindly instead to concentrate on its own internal structures.  These are not the structures of capital exactly, but the reflection of past dreams of hegemony of the traditional imperialist kind denounced so eloquently by critics like Zinn.  All nations that tried to dominate their own time attempted to suppress the power of other nations, and other groups, that threatened (or that were pictured by hegemonic power as threatening) the interests of the empire.  With Negri & Hardt's Empire, too, the basic goals of domination and hegemony are starting points.  But with contemporary means of control available--the micro-control of information economies, global trading, "international" financial organizations, privatized security, hyper-technologized and "unmanned" warfare etc.--the possibility of a truly global Empire, one no longer centered in a single nation, comes into view.

With the end of the cold war, and America emerging as the victor, it seems obvious to the traditional anti-imperialist that an era of American super-domination would begin.  But beyond the illusions of American wardening of the world, and beyond the murderous lies of "humanitarian intervention" and "wars for democracy," the development of Empire continues.  This is no conspiracy, either, although the series of developments involved may contain within them any number of conspiracies, ideological flattenings, and deceptive moments: the "project for  a new American century;" the "bloodless" corporate invasions of smaller states that resist global capital's influence; the repurposing of regionalism, once a nationalistic military strategy, to fit the needs of the G20; even the spread of not-for-profits and non-governmental organizations in the name of "peace" and "cooperation" (when in reality they play a major part in the destabilization of national economies, loosening them up for restructuring and plunder by disaster capitalism). 

All this makes the recent rise in nationalism among capital's critics (including here on OS) especially stupid and worthless.  The theories of neoliberalism and neoconservatism have already become the property of a new point of view, one that cares nothing for national self-interest, and that sees it only as a means to manipulate workers and prevent resistance from reaching a critical point.  For any effective dissent in our own time, as a basic requirement, would have to ignore national boundaries and local chauvinisms.  This is why it is so useful to power to keep the ex-left, and pseudo-left, around--locked into their partisan and identitarian boxes (or worse still, the sentimental idiocies of religious belief), they are invaluable to Empire.  Without this distraction, the multitude might emerge--Negri & Hardt's term for an effective mobilization of the vast mass of people, across national boundaries (us v. them, US v. China, etc.) and internal segmentations (black v. white, immigrant v. native born)--which would challenge Empire for the global position.  Worse yet for power, and for the aging bourgeois interests of capital, a new form of society, with new political formations, might emerge out of the struggle.

 

The Coming Multitude...Still Coming...

Before going on with Negri & Hardt's concepts, it might be helpful to review a few of the characteristics of traditional imperialism and hegemony detailed by Zinn in his essays.**  In his work, Zinn gives us a series of strategies deployed by power around the construction of historical "fact," both in how we talk about the present and how we represent the past.  These insights are not mutally exclusive to Negri and Hardt's point of view.  It is rather necessary to understand them if we're to grasp how these strategies are still being used by power, and how their use differs, within the new framework of Empire.

 

1. The Massacres of History:

This concerns which massacres are remembered--those useful to power, especially those that can be used to stir up nationalistic sentiment and keep the founding myths of a nation (which obscure the founding violence) intact--and those which are forgotten, especially those where the victims are the subjects of power, slaves, minorities, indigineous peoples, workers (the murder of the American Indian, the expropriation of the Palestine, the systematic destruction and absorption of left parties in the West, and the East for that matter).  These power structures last into the present, where they continue to operate, and share in the operation of the state and corporations.

Today this is used to differentiate between events that are pictured as purposeful and "democratic," or democracy-supporting (like power would have us believe the invasion and takeover of Libya was), and "destabilizing" and therefore dangerous (like power would have us believe about the continuing ferment in Egypt).  The metric used is also obviously nothing "on the ground," or real in terms of the experience of the vast mass of people, but rather the current direction of markets, or the analyses of think-tank observers, or the talking points of corporate media, or all three.  Empire is speaking to us.  And it's speaking to us about history in real-time.  And its opinions are not limited to the interests of any particular nation, not even America.  If this were the case, then the debt ceiling debate between the US Congress and White House would not have turned into a massive demonstration of the power of the banks to direct government to do whatever it is they want government to do.  In Europe, the situation is a little worse, with the technocratic control arm of Empire wrenching democratically elected leaders (albeit ineffectual ones) from power and replacing them with dopplegangers.

 

2. Repurposed by Power:

Zinn points out in one essay how Veterans Day in the US, a day originally meant to celebrate peace--the armistice ending World War I, the war supposedly to end all wars--was turned into a celebration of militarism.  This demonstrates the perversion of history, both past and present, by power, and the extreme nature of this perversion.  It is often a total inversion, a turning-inside-out of the facts of the case, and a "repurposing" of previously radical tools for some of the more hideous purposes of power: war and internal strife.  The pattern is not limited to the meaning of national holidays, either.  Institutions created for international unity and consensus can be turned into machines in the service of Empire.

In Europe right now, Greece, the poorest nation, is being blamed for a crisis brought on by the financial sector and its recklessness.  The situation is backed up by the threats of the EU and IMF.  Notice too how in America there has been a steady increase in racially fueled beliefs about how awful working conditions and wages--long-term functions of capitalist control--should be blamed on Latin American immigrants, the poorest, least powerful people in the system.  All the main agencies of power--political, corporate, national media--participate and help to spread the lies.  Here are two examples of extreme direct inversion of the realities: economic crisis brought on by capital turned into the "laziness" of the poor, and exploitation produced by capital transformed into the "threat" from illegal immigration.

 

3. Their Atrocities and Ours: 

Zinn compares the coverage given in the media to Serb atrocities, especially those against Kosovan Albanians, during the Serbian War following the breakup of Yugoslavia, to the far less extensive and less sensationalistic coverage given to the effects of NATO and US bombing.  Zinn runs through a number of ugly implications: our atrocities are better than their atrocities; our atrocities are more rational than their atrocities (just because we had a "larger purpose," which of course coincides with the purposes of Empire); and our atrocities were a necessity, while theirs were preventable.  The last argument is perhaps the most insidious and, as Zinn says, the least true.  Bombing civilians--always part of the murderous course of modern war--is also always preventable.

The implications for today hardly need to be drawn out.  The media coverage, what little there is, of Iraq and Afghanistan, speaks for itself.  Murder is turned into liberation, and our atrocities are always made to seem to pale in comparison to theirs.

 

4. A Diplomatic Solution, and Beyond Machiavellianism:

During his six decades of work and activism, Zinn reapplied many of his insights to other examples as they came along: the Vietnam War (1 and 3); the UN sanctions against Iraq following the '91 war in the Gulf (2 and 3); even the way in which World War I and World War II are seen by Hollywood (all three).  All the time he was cross-checking and readjusting his conclusions.  Zinn may have been an activist-scholar, but was no less meticulous as a scholar due to his political beliefs.  In one of his best later moments, he took on some of the dearest shibboleths of American foreign policy theory, comparing the officially sanctioned ideas to the often horrifying results in their application.  What he saw running through the picture that emerged was, in his understated words, "a distinct Machiavellian thread."

Zinn was suspicious of contemporary ideas about diplomacy.  Always a complex way for the various players to get what they want in any situation, diplomacy between nations in the twentieth century also became a way for some very narrow interests, corporate and class interests, to make sure they were represented at the table.  The argument will be made that this was no different than what had always been the situation.  However the narrowness of the interests represented, and the way in which they tended to squeeze out all other concerns, including even a vague reflection of the concerns of the vast mass of people, these were certainly unique and troubling developments.

To Zinn this trend doesn't merely refer back to the abstractions of contemporary political theory, and some deep problem within it, but rather to the lived realities of people who have to suffer daily under such an amoral and conniving system.  This strikes at two of political theory's most sacred, and most unremarked assumptions: egalitarianism and commonality of purpose within democracies.  Zinn writes:

"The notion that all our interests are the same (the political leaders and the citizens, the millionaire and the homeless person) deceives us.  It is a deception useful to those who run modern societies, where the support of the population is necessary for the smooth operation of the machinery of everyday life and the perpetuation of the present arrangements of wealth and power."

In other words, to cast the matter into Negri & Hardt's way of thinking, nationalism, quite paradoxically, is necessary for the maintenance of a free-floating, multi-mechanism, global Empire.  It is the gap that allows the deception of a "common" interest in.  If there really were a global government, with a single conspiratorial mechanism controlling everything, it would be open to attack from below.  It would be subject to the same questioning and the same rigors, the same political dialectic, as all previous systems of power that have experienced challenges, interruptions, ruptures and revolutions.  But if Empire is everywhere, it cannot be opposed.  Or at least it can only be opposed effectively if the opposition takes on one of the multiple forms of the multitude.  What this does not include are the traditional political formations held out by power, at least as they are given.  If one accepts this limited menu of options as the final word on permissable politics--as many of the pseudo-left and ex-left critics do--one remains trapped within the impotent confines of Machiavellian game theory.  This will always serve power in the end.

What we need to do is to change the rules on the system.  We need to interrogate and violate and undermine and mutate and improve on those rules.  They are, after all, our rules (the multitude's), and not theirs (the various agencies of Empire).  We are the origin of sovereignty, not anyone or anything else.

Here is where the break occurs between Zinn and the other traditional anti-imperialists on the one hand, and Negri & Hardt on the other.  Zinn was limited in what he felt were acceptable means of resistance.  And while Negri & Hardt share his disdain for violence, one must keep in mind that the system today increasingly defines violence as any act at all perpetuated against the growth and spread of Empire.  To accept such limitations is to accept one's own extinction, and in all probability the extinction of life.     

     

  

______________________

*Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Harvard UP, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

**Howard Zinn on War, Howard Zinn, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2001.

 

**

Michael Hardt talks about democracy, empire, and an even dirtier word than politics--Love.  To skip the goofy introduction, go to 2:20.

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
The video is from 2005. It's a lecture at the European Graduate School, an open university. Negri & Hardt's latter two books together are Multitude and Commonwealth.
While Hardt considers Iraq and Afghanistan to have been failures by the standards of traditional imperialism, of which they were probably expressions like he suggests, they could also be seen as terrifyingly successful opening salvos in a coming new phase of Empire that is more militaristic and less reliant on economic power. The various agencies of Empire are jockeying, in this sense, for a more important role, and US institutions of militarism (the Pentagon, its extended network of contractors, and the State Department) are making a case for their continued significance, much like the Chinese military is rife to give up their role protecting the trade routes off that nation's coast and their control over all related decisions (with a lot of spread far beyond that). But again, these game theory analyses do little to suggest resistance. Hardt gets well beyond them in the video.
intereseting contrast. what the old anti-imperialists miss is that straightforward imperialism doesn't work in any sense anymore. it's a disaster. the same can be said for game theory, which we've discussed somewhere. tariq ali, zinn et al are smart but events rushed ahead of their ideas. still i have reservations about n&h. oh not the usual bougie fuckface ones of course, but really, will the informatization of society be enough? aren't we seeing the fallout of that way of thinking right now? who's the biggest bully, the bully or the bully of the other bullies (u.s. v. russia v. china for example). and does anyone really have a favorite in that match-up? awful "choice." we have to get beyond nationalism, and for that if not only that, n&h are important. yeah.
Hardt seems uncomfortable here, like he's not used to lecturing. I don't think he likes the format.

Zinn was a pip. Limited, in may ways, but bright. Not in N&H's class though, so not really a fair comparison for Howard.

N&H talk in Empire about the possibility of the "death dealing power of the Monarch" reemerging too, which might interrupt the unfolding of Empire and divert it into something even more cancerous. And if there's one thing I've come to rely on, it's that no matter how low and scurvy nations get, they can always go lower. 'Specially when they come together.
I've only read a little of Hardt and Negri, but they seem to pull things from everywhere. Marxism. Political science. Deleuze. Traditional Philosophy. Even chemistry and biology, to explain the multitude, a lot like Deleuze and Guattari do with multiplicities.

It seems like the project of Empire is only partially complete and that's why the multitude hasn't arrived yet. Or it's still in the act of arriving? Or does it always precede power, like they suggest in the later books, but power only becomes aware of it once it's too late?

Rated.
"...change the rules on the system."


That's what I've been saying all along.
=r=
I'm partial to the point of view that what is going on is more than the usual competition between Great Powers, or whatever the traditional theories hold. They're obviously wrong. I'm not sure that it's what Negri and Hardt believe in though. It seems to me that the financial elites are still in competition with the political elites, and the political elites have not yet been entirely devoured by the corporate elites...and so on. But it does all tend in that direction, and Hardt does make the statement in the video that that's what they intended to do, to draw a picture of the near future in politics and economics. In that sense, they fulfill the same function as Marx in his time. Complicated stuff. Good.
I think people fall back on patriotism when everything seems to be going wrong, when their leaders appear to be failures and fucked in the head, when the world has gone haywire, and when they can't be sure about where their next paycheck is going to come from or if it's going to come. I also think there's a lot of truth in what these guys have to say about the imperii in our own time. It's unmoored itself from the usual attachments to a single way of life or a single nation-state and it's all a matter of electronic money now. That's one reason why Iraq turned into such a hot mess of shit, and caused markets to go crazy all over the world. These geniuses in business and government have so wired themselves in with each other (taking us along for the ride) that they can't be sure, nobody can be sure, what will happen when you do a simple little thing like just go off half-cocked and invade a country in the friggin' Middle East! Two countries!! Holy shit, what were we thinking!?
Well, that's about it for me. I need a vacation. Maybe Malaysia...or maybe the Moon.
rate
Thanks for this. I was wondering when you were going to get to these two. I mean Empire, and A. Negri and M. Hardt. They're all the rage, at least they were with many of the more experienced OWSers I met.

The idea that these new mechanisms, working jointly but each independently controlled within their own spheres, are responsible for what we call power on the largest scale today, is a little hard to grasp. I don't know if it's abstract so much as it goes against a lot that people are taught to believe in--inviolable sovereignty of countries, what you call "false internationalism," which is a pretty good description most of the time, and obviously god and country.

For one thing, control is an issue. We're taught to believe that somebody, somewhere is in charge. All these "shibboleths" are about reinforcing that. While the truth of the matter is that it's all an unholy mess waiting to fall apart when someone sneezes and hits a Sell button in NY or Londong or Shanghai... Not an easy thing to accept. So people retreat behind the flag, and mom, and apple pie and Buy American etc.

It's a tall order to look the truth straight in the eye, absent any illusions, even conspiracy theories about absolute control (which are themselves oddly comforting on some perverted level). But then I'm six foot, six-three in heels. I will check out the books.

&R.
China, Russia, this fucking country the fucking UK, America, they're all FUCKING BULLSHIT! This is a bullshit form of society! Bring on the multitude!!!
Antonio Negri and the "Autonomous Multitude!"

HARHARHARHAR!!!

45 years of conferences and splinter groups and street-corner protests and and academic windbags, but...

No real-world influence ever anywhere.

So now we get the "Autonomous OWS," inarticulate mobs with so much commitment that the cops could haul the last 140 of them out of Zuccotti Park in three little buses.

Goodbye, O Great Multitude of 140 indescribable weirdos!

But of course the "Autonomous Multitude" don't need no stinking unions or parties , unlike for example...

Evo Morales, the unionist party leader who actually runs a country, instead of merely running off at the mouth.
This blog requires many healthy brain cells.
I've read Zinn. I enjoy anticipating doom?
I wish scholars who haven't sold-out teach.

I haven't read those other authors. I will?
I enjoy Tom Tomorrow and his exposures.
I got 2- `Gold Star memberships @ Salon.
I got a "free" book - Tom Tomorrow's great.
Kerry deleted the $45.00 X's 2- memberships.
I may reread:
`
The Future Is So Bright I cannot Look - T.T.
Respectfully, my brain fizzles with good reads.
Some "eggheads" debate issues and do divide.
I am not calling you a Egghead. We need Good.
Character and Backbone can quell a unruly mob.
I use to think Troubles will Break forth post-croak.
I mean? If I'd read ancient literature I saw Troubles.
Post 9-11 Those TROUBLES sure spread rapidly. Sad.
I have a book titled:`
The Force Of Character.
I have books I browse.
I wish we'd be simple.
I mean? Be honest.
`
There is two simple solutions?
Every Problem has a solution?
Each simple solution is wrong?
`
I will reread You slowly. Thanks.
Ay politicos graveside eulogy say:
`
Lies. Lies. He/She just told Lies.
I yodel that when I attend burials.
Politicos in our day are Cowards.
I will wander the Internet. News?
I like 'Alter/Net, Consortium News,
Democracy Now, and the funny pages.
Smile.
We need critiques. We need wisdom.
I like to take pre-sunrise slow walks.
Homer mention`Dawn whisper news.
She spreads her pink fingers upon us.
I get more and more - 'Come what may'
I anticipate great struggle and sorrows.
stu pot - Nationalism is a disease, for certain. It's a problem beyond the usual suspects too. Wistful progressives who say that what we need to do is to bring back Glass-Steagal to control the banks seem unaware that the law was written to cover a banking system that no longer exists. Today one would need to outlaw hedge funds, and control massive new areas of investment that have developed during the period of "deregulation." The distinction is not one between predatory and socially useful economic structures, either (we'll call that the Oliver Stone approach). It is about fundamentals, as I'm sure you're aware living under the savagery of the Cameron government. And then, what about the global movement of capital? Without a global taxing authority--that is, an authority with teeth--finance will never be under any kind of effective social control. Soft neo-Keynesian measures will not only fail to produce radical enough results to make any significant difference in the lives of people, it will symbolically wound the power of the agencies of Empire. And a wounded predator is worse. What we require is a more totalizing strategy--and once again, paradoxically, that can be provided through the multiplicity so long as it goes far enough.
Davey Marx - I'm concerned by that possibility too, and like you point out N&H entertain it, but then what is one supposed to say? Agamben goes much further here by tracing the potentia that is always held within sovereignty. That's also part of what I meant in my comment above about seeing Iraq and Afghanistan as the beginning of a new, more terrifying stage of Empire. In that sense they were a success in their display of the willingness of America, the war machine of Empire, to engage in babarity, openly and without apology. They were demonstrations to the world of what happens to countries or anyone who opposes Empire. And isn't that how the political supporters of those wars come across today? Doesn't it seem like they regard them as successes because that's how they really thought about them all along? A significant proportion of the American public seems to agree with them, too.
Sam - The multitude is everywhere all at once, just like Empire, only without the monadic madness of Empire. The multitude is a floating reality in a sense, too, and it's fruitless to try and decide which came first because they arose together. Empire and the Multitude have been struggling, pulling against each other, encircling, sizing up, re-engaging, since history began. This is a more plastic way to describe the basic dialectic of history, much of it, but not all, centered around the same material transformations of economy described by Marx. The present confrontation is a consummation of that relationship, but only one, of their winding and unwinding with each other since this began long ago. Not knowing the contemporary forms they each take, however, is a danger, since one can become trapped in false projections of the multitude and go down a dead-end.
TracyJack - I think you and I have different concepts of "changing the rules." Although that may come into it before the dust settles again.

skinnydave - Agreed, what they are engaged in is an attempt to picture the near-future. In this sense their work is a kind of counter-prolepsis to the system's tendency to project its own favored future(s). With N&H, however, there is a far more rigorous attempt to get close to the facts of the present, and the future-as-present...
themanhattankid:

There seems to be some confusion about the concept of Empire, so I think I should quote N&H at length about it. In the following passage from "Empire" they take on the ideologues of Fukuyama's brand, the philosophical touchstone for much of today's neoliberal mess:

"It should come as no surprise that the ideologies of the end of history, which are as evolutionary as they are postmodern [not so much, they mean to imply], should appear to complete this ideological mess. The American Empire will bring an end to History.

"We know, however that this idea of American Empire as the redemption of utopia is completely illusory. ...the coming Empire is not American and the United States is not its center...its power has no actual localizable terrain or center. Imperial power is distributed in networks, through mobile and articulated mechanisms of control. This is not to say that the U.S. government and the U.S. territory are no different from any other: the United States certainly occupies a privileged position in the global segmentations and hierarchies of Empire. As the powers and boundaries of nation-states decline, however, differences between national territories become increasingly relative. They are now not differences of nature...but differences of degree."
Jacob: The opposition you present, between N&H, pictured as some kind of sequestered academics of the North, and the revolutions of the South, is false. If any situation demonstrates N&H's theories about Empire and the Multitude, it's the successful overthrowing of the former right-wing regimes of Latin America by political forces backed up with large social movements, and the subsequent troubles they've each faced trying to free themselves from the tentacles of global capital and Empire. Morales in particular was brought to power after many years of rightwing repression in Bolivia, organized and supported by neoliberal control, and culminating in the Water Wars. Morales may also be the first of the new leaders of the South to be removed by the same social movements that brought him to power, if his recent actions on lithium exploitation and other issues is any indication. He has strayed, and he better beware the Multitude.

By the way, if you look back you'll see that I've written about Latin America and the revolutionary projects there. But, once again, that was in the context of new political formations that arose in each of those countries as a result of massive social movements from below, and not from the point-of-view so popular in Washington which attempts to fixate on the leaders. They only understand the monad inside the Beltway.

And I'm sure that leaders like Morales, the Kirchners, Lula, Chavez, Correa, and Lugo are perfectly aware of the work of N&H, since it describes so closely what has been going on in their countries for some time. Istvan Meszaros is another thinker who is connected in many ways to the movements there, he's a favorite of Chavez. And it would be plain idiotic to consider Negri some kind of ivory-tower thinker. Hardt, too, has his past, not as dramatic, but interesting.
Art James - " 'Come what may'/I anticipate great struggle and sorrows." Ditto.
the relationship between negri and hardt and paranoia is also worth looking at, evidently. in a way their ideas about multiple, synchronized but semi-autonomous structures is exactly what paranoia, power porn, "false knowledge," etc. gets in the way of people being able to perceive. the misguided philosophies of the localists and nOo-anarchists for example, are placeholders for a new form of adaptation: re-utilitization, or loose structures, combines etc. in this context, and not only this, one can position negri and hardt and say THIS is what is REAL, now go ahead and ACT. this is what we KNOW, now GO. negri and hardt act as a bridge then to a structured critique, or a whole series of them. yeah.
Rated - highly! - by a silent reader.....
.
In Mr. Boko's mush-minded universe, it's perfectly okay to ascribe the success of a union-leader and political party boss like Evo Morales to the anti-union and anti-party theoretician like Antonio Negri.

“Against the common wisdom that the U.S. proletariat is weak because of its low party and union representation with respect to Europe and elsewhere, perhaps we should see it as strong for precisely those reasons.” (Hardt and Negri, Empire p.269)

No unions and no political power! It's a sign of strength!

But while Hardt and Negri preached this nonsense, Evo Morales was busy unionizing every kind of rural worker in Bolivia, including coca-cocaine producers, into the Unified Syndical Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia, and getting himself elected President of Bolivia by an alphabet-soup of political parties including at various stages the ASP, IPSP, MIP, and CSUTCB.

But it's all sorta kinda the same as the anti-party anti-union bullshit of nitwits like Hardt and Negri... in the mush-minded world of Mr. Boko.
Jacob - Comparing large, stagnant, and sometimes reactionary establishment union organizations like the AFL-CIO to rural workers organizing in Bolivia shows how ridiculous your own thinking has become. Of course there are indeed serious problems with unions in the U.S. and Europe, many of them have been absorbed, the national leaders often identify with the bourgeois classes, and they usually cave when it comes time for confrontation. The days of the miners war against Thatcherism are over, and my father's generation was the last in America to see militant industrial unions. Two-tier wage systems, labor market segmentation, "workfare," and other strategies of the ruling class have devastated them. There is some hope in services sector unions, they are still largely young, locally controlled, and can be surprisingly militant. However the SEIU's slavish support for Obama in '08 did not help the situation--much of the energy was sucked up and wasted.

And again, the opposition you propose is false.
stu - N&H do provide a bridge, from self-interest to social-interest. yeah. They should probably be at the beginning of this whole series of investigations.
stu - To continue with the quotation above, N&H give some indication as to the ontological orientation of their philosophy as well...again, from "Empire":

"They are now not differences of nature...but differences of degree. ...Furthermore, the United States cannot rectify or redeem the crisis and decline of Empire. The United States is not the place where the European or even the modern subject can flee to resolve its uneasiness and unhappiness; there was no such place. The means to get beyond the crisis is the ontological displacement of the subject. The most important change therefore takes place inside humanity, since with the end of modernity also ends the hope of finding something that can identify the self outside the community, outside cooperation, and outside the criticial and contradictory relationships that each person finds in a non-place, that is, in the world and the multitude. This is where the idea of Empire reappears, not as a territory, not in the determinate dimensions of its time and space, and not from the standpoint of a people and its history [including the American people and its special 'history'], but rather simply as the fabric of an ontological human dimension that tends to become universal."

This goes well with Zizek's interpretation that there is no world today; although he would caution against the abandonment of large-scale projects like the ideological rupturing of a mainstream party and its takeover--say, the Democrats in America, or one of the decrepit social-democratic hulks in Europe--or the re-purposing of institutions from below, which you describe as adaptations. There's no reason NOT do this, furthermore, I agree with Zizek about not abandoning politics. For that matter, so do N&H.
...& thanks for the encrypto-gram, although it took a little rearranging.
boko - yes the crisis clears the way to some extent, the crisis of Empire, and the economic crisis which is an extended, complex expression of the former (a description that can be added without contradiction to the one outlined by Harman, in economics, or Zizek and Meszaros, in ideology). but this clearing-of-the-way is incomplete. look at the situation in egypt--there's massive revolutionary ferment, work stoppages, wildcat strikes, free associations, spontaneous demonstrations springing up everywhere. the military rulers' hopes that the "successful" election would calm things down have faded into the dust, and they're busily trying to deal with one eruption after another. this is a good thing of course. it shows that the entire culture is in revolutionary mode. THIS is a revolution--and not some kind of John Reed-version stupidity--it's a transformation of society right down to the level of the everyday-ideological, and it's ongoing. But it's also in stark contrast to the moment of universality--described by Zizek as such while it was happening--of the removal of Mubarak. New schisms appear, and new subjectivities, and whether or not they can replace the old, decrepit ones still being pedalled by the state remains to be seen.

...& you're welcome. and i meant it.
Oo, cryptography! Fun! O-O-T-O, G-O!
BOKO. You handle kooks good.
I Bet's you cook fish beet soups.
I am too dazed and sleepy now.
I will read and learn something.
Tomorrow after some shut-eye.

I refuse to leer here if no legs?
I mean a see no gorgeous legs.
I all 9-11 and ask for hot date?
I gaze. My lust no trump guilt.
Sweet dreams. We do behave.
Fools full other vainer fools.
stu pot - I just finished watching "Nada," a Chabrol film from the seventies and it tracks what we're saying about multiplicity, well really subjectivities within subjectivities. At the end, the Diaz character and the intellectual Marxist switch positionalities so to speak. Diaz is the romantic revolutionary set on taking the state with him. The intellectual withdraws from the group's (Nada) plan to kidnap the US ambassador. Later when the cop assigned to track down and eliminate Nada sets a trap for Diaz by floating the false information that the intellectual was his source on Nada all along, and Diaz shows supposedly to kill his ex-comrade for betrayal, the cop is killed instead, and Diaz frees his friend. Then the other calls a reporter and starts to give him the "brief, but full history of the Nada group," and then the film ends. In other words, he starts the process all over again, he has become Diaz, or rather, he's taken his position. We're left with a sort of "and the revolution will go on" feeling, a romantic trace certainly, but that's not Chabrol's focus. He stays with the process. I think N&H do the same thing, most of the time. I'm just not convinced that they dig deep enough in this receding picture of subjectivities (not endless, but complex), and sometimes they seem to come up short. We talked elsewhere about their problematic understanding of Wittgenstein. They use the ontological, they don't always participate in it effectively. And while I appreciate your "careless" throwing together of Zizek, Meszaros, N&H into one pot, all for the purpose of the catalytic reaction, I'm unconvinced. There remain insoluble differences in this case.
A. - May you be stranded in the World of Goo!

Art James - We are all full of fools, I'd say, fools and wise men too.
One of the things that Scahill and other critics of privatized warfare bring up is how Blackwater and other security companies in Iraq were cutting deals with the insurgents on the side and selling out the troops. They arranged for arms, gave them logistics tools, even passed on information. Well, you can't trust mercenaries, can you? Later, obviously, the U.S. government itself, which was just fine with this behavior, and which made the troops second-in-charge after the mercenaries, cut their own grand deal with the same people who'd been killing the troops. All this to get out of the country with their asses in less than one piece. The mercenaries stayed, only now as "consultants" to the embassy staff.

What this reinforces is how nationalism has become a joke to these blokes up top. They manipulate it any way they see fit, but any glimmer of real belief amongst their own kind is seen as a sign of weakness. Sentimental drivel, they feel. And it is to some extent. Why else use it to push the pieces around on their giant game board. . .Only the game isn't going so well for them now, is it? They're having to throw over the middle classes to make up for some of their losses in the market, and the poor, as always, get what's left over. Lesson: ruling classes have a long history of destroying their own countries. And when the ruling classes of a lot of countries around the world get together, like Hardt and Negri describe, watch out. It's even worse. And the process of decay and self-destruction is accelerated...

Kinda makes you want to kick back and just watch them do it.
Davey - "Sitting back...," not my favored approach. Not yours either, I know.
boko -

"The State fears terrorism...but it prefers it to revolution." - Beneventura Diaz, "Nada"

zinn and chomsky seem to me to play a limiting role in the american academy, much like the "ex-left" do here. only the americans have always played that role. it goes back to the foucault/chomsky debate...

where chomsky insists that 'social justice' is still a primary category goal, and where foucault distinguishes between 'bourgeois justice' and 'proletarian justice' and he tells chomsky that the category only has meaning in a class society where one group can make a claim for 'justice' against another.

for the capitalist establishment this means 'hard work'--implying that what's wrong with the left is some kind of moral failing, an argument backed up by the paranoia and accusations, all the various projections, of the state. for the rest this means the various claims of class groupings or sub-class groups, the identitarians the localists etc., are absolute and somehow exist independently of the systemic. yeah.
stu - You highlight the limitations of Chomsky's and Zinn's point of view, especially in a situation that has gone beyond the usual class provincialism, like our own time when young people are once again thinking about the fundamental structures of society. Again, one can't use a single criteria, even justice, to judge these structures--and Foucault is right, justice is infected with class prejudice. To make yourself too reliant on such familiar categories is very dangerous. They're largely under the control of large disciplinary apparatuses which as Foucault tells Chomsky in their meeting one has to understand or risk recapitulating the power system, or never really getting very far from it to begin with.
stu - A similar confrontation appears at the end of the video on the post above. The silly nonsense about robots and AI offered by the moderator is familiar capitalist-utopia crap. What Hardt knows--and you can see his agitation although his response wasn't posted online--is that this derives from a familiar mistake of capitalist political economy: machines will save us from work. That's not what Marx said; rather, he pointed out that the tendency to see machines as without origin, as objects that appear magically on the factory floor (or, we can add, in the office, in our homes) is one of the primary objectifications of labor in the system. As a matter of fact, it does the important job for capital of concealing the real origin of the means of production itself--making it appear as if the capitalist somehow produced it by purchasing it, when the capitalist produces nothing. Labor produces machines as well as tending to them.
boko - in the context of hardt's presentation on democracy, the moderator's goofiness takes on a much more sinister air...aren't the intelligent "robots" of his future a proleptic projection of the system's own drive to produce docile subjects? Aren't the "robots" of globalization in effect what is usually referred to in more critical, anti-capitalist critiques as the "walking dead," the abused, exploited workers of the so called economic development zones? the moderator's take is VERY familiar stuff. it could come straight from an IMF position paper, or from one of its insidious corporate control arms like the water council. "We have the technology, and we will bring clean water to the world, saving everyone from this tedious, unnecessary work." at a price, of course. at a steep price: our lives.
I'm not sure what you and stu mean by ontology. I know it's about being, but you seem to use it in different ways in different contexts. I was wondering if there was any consistency here? I mean (to put it more scientifically), what are the invariant properties of the term?

?:{
All I know to add here Boko, is this is a buffet of food for deep thought..
For that, I add thanks.
Mission - Thanks. Dive right in.

Sam - Ontology is the study of Being. What is unclear in many ontologies however is what is the ontological status of ontology? How does matter come to be conscious of itself, and of the basis for its own consciousness? Evolution is one answer, physics is another, and then there's economy--these are the modern ontologies. Perhaps micro-biological studies and the brain sciences should be considered separately from the evolutionary and cultural-anthropological entries as well.

I'm convinced that the grounding of consciousness is no more genetics, or simply brain activity, than Being can be predicated on knowledge of self. The grounding of consciousness, and of the self, is social and complex. It does not have an undifferentiated source, either in an hypostatized unconscious, or in the pre-conscious biology of a species. All these things rest instead upon the social. And that implies (without tipping over into language theory) an overwhelming role for economy. The social-organic reproduction of a system for transforming the material into something both familiar and humanly useful is the basis, the generative layer, of human activity, just as the familiar and the human are not absolutely limiting categories in the search after understanding of the material universe (think 3-dimensional perceptive space versus spacetime). Quite strictly speaking, the universe is monstrous, inhuman, terrifying, and Being itself must share in these qualities. Economy, on the other hand, which is a product of human beings and our activity in concert with the material basis for production, can be anything we want it to be. Conscious economy is not beyond human skill and endeavor. I'm not sure about stu, but that's my take on ontology. I hope it helps to clear things up a bit.
i am more or less in agreement, with a touch of peter coffey on the aristotelian-thomistic stuff....
stu - And I counter with Gadamer! To head off that stuff. You see, there is a place for everything, you just have to move the pieces around sometimes.
What mission says...Cheers and thanks for the work put into this and your unique POV.
you know i think we have to start to consider how austerity itself is being used as a distraction. it gives an alternate explanation to the rise in social disorder during the crisis, and draws attention away from the deeper faults in the system. it also gets people, large numbers of people, mobilised around the wrong things, around defending certain parts of the system, specifically public services patronage networks, rather than pushing for total structural retooling. certainly public spending is important, but it can hardly explain everything, and it is unrevealing when it comes to the structural flaws of capital itself--the real cause of the crisis. yeah.
algis - thank you.

stu pot - This really is an unconscious economic system. Even many people who are in "command and control" positions believe in the grossest objectifications. You're right, we cannot take our cue from capital. Austerity is a phase in the crisis, one that suggests itw own resolution: "hard" Keynesian measures, which will no doubt be quite limited. What happens when we reach the later stages, including the realization that such measures are not going to work, and that there is NO way out from the perspective of capital--that's what will determine when the system catches up with where many people are at already. That's what we should be thinking about now.
stu - We should talk about the future of the dollar at some point, too. The weakness of its position against the yuan and euro as the petrodollar system comes to a close is just one aspect. Here's an article from last August that explains why the downgrade of the US credit rating during the debt ceiling debate was a GOOD thing for the dollar because it put pressure on China's central bank to let the yuan rise, which they did not:

http://www.szdaily.com/content/2011-08/02/content_5897030.htm

The reasoning here isn't faulty, it's just that it didn't work as a strategy, and besides, the political situation had more to do with Wall Street's display of power over Washington--although, as a not-so-minor side concern, a stronger dollar is good for the biggest investors. It was a potential double payday for them...

It does however show the contortions the various blocs of power vying for position within the framework of Empire are willing to use. The dollar may be one of the victims soon.

Here's an assessment of the likelihood of it being replaced as the global reserve currency, although I think the handicapping is heavily tipped against by the source; things have gotten considerably less clear since this was posted last April:

http://blogs.marketwatch.com/fundmastery/2011/04/25/can-china-really-dump-the-dollar/

We could now be faced with a near-future where the dollar weakens or even crashes and neither the yuan nor the troubled euro can replace it adequately, what some commentators--speaking with heavy preference for the dollar--call a "basket of monkeys" solution. Maybe we're already there.
I just purchased Empire. I finished the intro and am reading the first chapter. I am also reading the first chapter of Zizek's "The Coming of the End Times."
I read some Negri & Hardt, but didn't get too far into it. I think you're on the right track, though. From my perspective, globalization and financialization have produced a Death Star economy. Its interconnected parts are just about invulnerable. But its hidden weaknesses ultimately make it more fragile and more prone to catastrophic failure.

Government, at least in Europe, North America, and Japan only follows the dictates of the economic system. And this has produced more and deeper governmental crises that ultimately make it less and less legitimate to its citizens. In that sense, Greece and America are in the same boat.

The problem with this is that environmental endgame is getting closer and closer. It's been said that if mankind wants to avoid that 95% dieoff, it will ultimately take a World War II style mobilization that crosses national boundaries. In the meantime, Exxon needs to extract that last drop of oil from the ground, and government has to be ever more repressive (tolerant or otherwise) to make its national systems work.

Yes, it would be nice to have a transnational workers and citizens movement. But what fights the total information awareness society, religious fundamentalism, jingoistic patriotism, and Fox News?

As one of my professors once said, "If I knew the answer to that, I'd be living on my paradise isle."
Rw - The N&H trilogy has become pretty much standard reading on the left today; their work especially informs the perspective of activists and protesters. It's not too much to say it's the favorite reading of the OWS crowd. Here's a good extended interview and biopic on Antonio Negri, the better known of the pair, called "A Revolt that Never Ends"--it's very revealing about what really went on in the late 60s/early 70s as capital began to clamp down:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04LtQu1prF8

Never read that particular Zizek. His best, and magnum opus, is probably "The Parallax View," which smashes together Hegel, Lacan, and of course a lot of pop culture. Here's the London Review of Book article on it by Fredric Jameson:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n17/fredric-jameson/first-impressions

I'm not sure that I buy his thesis that what we need is to revisit the dialectic, transformed.
old new lefty - We already have a global citizens movement, it began with opposition to the WTO, before that even. The Empire thesis by N&H is intriguing, but I'm more interested in combining it with anti-imperialist thinking of the Zinn/Tariq Ali kind. The various eco movements seem scattered and too many of them are tied to capital and the ridiculous dream of a "green economy." Green for whom? And at what cost?
Your discussion of nationalism is interesting. You are basically saying that the supranational Empire can't survive without a nationalism from below, which buttresses and legitimizes Empire. That said, without this support from the nation-state system, the Empire would lose legitimacy.

Some thoughts:

1. It seems that nations which try to harness nationalism to fight against the Hardt and Negri conception of Empire are easily isolated by Empire and vilified as pariah states, or worse, as members of an "Axis of Evil." Their chauvinism and nationalistic rhetoric, that attacks Empire, is manipulated by global media into being seen by the multitude as something "hostile to the multitude," and hence Empire gains the support of the multitude in smashing these isolated, anti-Empire pariah states. As such, to oppose Empire, one can't go the route of North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Cuba, etc...because, by utilizing nationalism or religion to oppose Empire, they thereby fall into the trap of "playing empire's game." Its sort of like using lobbyists to lobby congress to pass a bill to outlaw lobbyists, no? Is this a fair observation?

As such, a transnational, trans-religious, trans-racial/ethnic grass-roots approach is the best way to create a new system, from within, rather than from without.

2. Your discussion of the role nationalism plays, in terms of supporting Empire, reminds me of the role a Student Government plays in a University setting, in that it gives the student body a false sense of freedom and self-determination, but in reality, its just a body whereby the Dean, Board of Trustees and Chancellor can co-opt student leaders, use them to find out what students are thinking, and use them to control student dissent and protest on campus. Students, through the Student Government, feel like there should be less reason to challenge the way they are charged $ or the way the school is run. "School Spirit" events help deflect attention from rising tuition and sketchy uses of student fees.

I am also reminded of how the Soviet Union utilized Polish, Hungarian and Czech nationalism during the Cold War. The governments of the Iron Curtain were fiercely nationalistic and acted like they were independent of Moscow, but only sided with them internationally, due to philosophical affinity. Moscow tried hard to not seem like it was stomping on Eastern Europe, when it could, because this would ruin the legitimacy of the system they had created, which was based on those regimes utilizing nationalism as a means of legitimizing their power.

For example, I have a friend from Poland. She told me that when Polish scientists fled to the West during the Cold War, they were shamed as being traitors to Poland, and the regime used nationalistic attacks on the scientists and such, not socialist rhetoric. The regime said if they were Patriots, they would stay, and work within the system to make a more workable "socialism." Of course, they controlled the instruments and avenues of power, such that this could never come about, thus making the Solidarity Movement inevitable.

That said, did Solidarity utilize nationalism or Reform Socialism more, in their ideology? How did the Iron Curtain throw off the shackles of Moscow? Was it more through transnational concepts of freedom, or through reliance on orthodox conceptions of nationalism that appealed to Anti-Russian sentiment, built up over 50 years?

r
And what's also interesting is that Francis Fukayama just wrote an essay for the 90th anniversary edition of Foreign Affairs. He says that the Left, to be successful, must embrace nationalism and religion and their failure to do so, in the past, is what has marginalized them.

What's your take on this?
Rw,

On your points about nationalism:

1. It's not only so called rogue or pariah states that face retaliation for bucking the interests of Empire--albeit in different forms, depending on where the individual states are in a certain pecking order within the network of forces comprising Empire. So the members of the eurozone that are deemed too "socialistic" by the central bank and financial interests are being disciplined, even to the point of having their governments replaced by technocratic fiat. Likewise the great powers are not let off the hook. The most powerful interests on Wall Street disciplined the US federal government when they even suggested not raising the debt ceiling. The threat included not only down-grading the future borrowing ability of government, but calling in their existing markers to cripple any real future spending increases. These things have very real effect, and while they can't compare on one level with what was done to Iraq or Afghanistan, or what the Pentagon boys seem set on doing to Iran and Syria, most of these military ventures fall rather into the category of old style imperialism than N&H emerging Empire. Remember, as they point out, we're in a transitional period.

This also isn't to say that Empire is a "kinder, gentler" version of power than its past configuration. Far from it. It may present itself mostly as a network of debt disciplining organizations and financial interests, but given time, and enough help from the great powers, it will develop into something quite terrifying. Already the US plays a military-enforcer role, best exemplified by "humanitarian missions" such as Libya and Bosnia. Hardly "soft power."
Rw,

2. The analogy to the collapse of the Soviet system and its halo of dependency states seems confused to me. It's not really comparable because Empire utilizes whole states on a GLOBAL scale in a way that neither of the cold war powers were ever able to do. Whenever they tried controlling nations outside their immediate spheres of influence, the results were disastrous for them. Think Angola, the ill fated attempt by the Soviets to place missiles in Cuba, and of course for the US, the twin disaster of Vietnam/Cambodia. You could even take the long view and say that the policies of neoliberal disciplining that the US held towards much of Latin America during the 70's and 80's led directly to the current revolutionary projects there, hardly a success story for Washington. Now we have to compete with China and Russia for trade there, and our history doesn't exactly recommend us.
Rw,

On Fukuyama:

He who takes the advice of a failure deserves what he gets.
I just cannot fathom how things got so screwed up!
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
☼•*¨`*•.¸.(ˆ◡ˆ).¸.•*
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
As usual, you are a riveting read. I have some comments and questions, but overall a deep thirst for more.

Firstly, is capital/ism out of anyone's control? Do we even have a human enemy to fight or is it purely a fight against the system and its puppets? What I mean is, are the people that function as tools of the empire just products of manipulation?

Regarding "repurposing by power" - in Australia we look primarily outward toward the fictitious invading hoard of heathens that is surely descending on us in the form of refugees from Asia/Africa/the Middle East. Those that do manage to escape the destruction we have created in their lands arrive in Australia to a climate of fear in which every resource allocated to their welfare is examined by an irresponsible (at best) mainstream media and its right wing puppeteers. Refugees and asylum seekers are blamed for every economical misfortune Australia and its citizens suffer. Housing shortages, job shortages and (paradoxically) an increase in the need for unemployment welfare - those lazy, good for nothing losers take all our doctor's jobs. You know?

Atrocities. They are justified cos "they started it." He hit me first. This excuse is used no matter its legitimacy - a good case in point is the current conflict in Palestine. From what I have read, Israel extrajudicially accused and assassinated someone who they deemed a potential(!) terrorist, but when Hamas inevitably retaliated, it was the latter who bore the brunt of the blame in coverage of the affair.


" one must keep in mind that the system today increasingly defines violence as any act at all perpetuated against the growth and spread of Empire. To accept such limitations is to accept one's own extinction, and in all probability the extinction of life."

Yes. More, more, more.
For israel to extrajudicially claim such privilege is unsurprising as its patron saint, america does the same.

Great post, Boko. Great comment, Natalie.

-R-
Natalie - "...are the people who function as tools of the empire just products of manipulation?"

One can argue agency v. contingency all day, but yes there ARE responsible parties for the situation we're in. The deregulators, the neoliberals, the investment strategists and CEO's who led the charge and formed a consensus for repealing good laws, the politicians who went along with them, and the intellectuals who provided cover, all deserve to be punished and removed from power. Instead they continue their reign and continue to terrorize people with the politics of austerity. What in the world did the people of Greece do to the global financial system? Or the people of Australia, or the American midwest? This is obscene.

That said, Negria and Hardt are attempting to anatomize the broader system and its development. They would agree, I'm sure, that the criminals who caused the crash in 2008 should be held responsible, but that process does not suggest an alternative to Empire. And the crash of 2008 and its aftermath, for that matter, are only incidents in a much longer history. We shouldn't forget what came before, just like we shouldn't submit to the amnesia of the post-9/11 supporters of the security state. "Everything has changed," they claimed, and then history re-exerted itself. Also I think there are limitations to the traditional progressive and anti-imperialist perspectives. Something else is growing up from within the system and making claims on the future. N&H provide a way of dealing with this...

But yes, I think there are plenty of people who can be held responsible for what happened in 2008 and subsequently.
natalie/markinjapan - The Palestinian crisis (and really this is what it is, one long, ongoing refugee and political crisis) is in a way a microcosm of the sort of politics that now faces all parts of the system. With the uneven, bizarre way in which globalization has been pursued--partially from the interests of Empire, partially as an expression of old-style imperialism emanating from the Euro-American core--there are refugee, immigration, and political/cultural crises springing up all over the world that mirror Palestine. There are many Palestinians today, in an even more grounded sense than what Genet meant when he said, "I am a Palestinian." And there will be more--millions more, if one adds into the future equation the many ecological refugees who will be displaced--until we come to grips with the problems of global capital and stop indulging the worthless fantasies of the neoliberals and neoconservatives.
My husband was asked to "stop teaching from Howard Zinn's book" by a conservative members of our community. When my husband proved that other Advanced Placement history teachers all over the country used the book, the administration allowed him to continue.

thanks for this ~
Heidi - Glad that saner heads prevailed. Zinn was one of the very few historians in the U.S. to join in the anti-Vietnam movement, it was a very conservative profession then. It's strange for people as old as myself to hear conservatives today rant about how radical academics were back then. Academics, then and now, have mostly walked lock-step with the establishment. Zinn's work may be an exception, since his name is one of those rare intellectual brands that garners instant recognition, like Chomsky or Cornel West. The numbers of those on the left in American academia, though, is quite small. It's one reason why they're so valued both here and abroad--it's tough to find American intellectual voices these days that have not been bought off by the neoliberal dollar. It's so much easier to just give in and go work at a think tank issuing reports on the "wonders" of globalization.
Heidi - My son teaches public school in California, but it's at the elementary level. Still he hasn't dodged controversy entirely; his school district recently retained a lawyer to fight a handful of parents who claim the school is "indoctrinating" their children into homosexuality. Evidently somebody mentioned the possibility of a family having two daddies or two mommies.
unbelievable. My husband's school is now set to contractually lable some teachers (science, math) "preferred" and other teachers (music, art, etc..) "non-preferred" and adjust pay accordingly. Try to have a union in that environment.
Boko:
Your analytical approach impresses me,and it is almost like a relief moving away from other marginalysed topics on OS.
You mentioned Gadamer.
I have heard him in perhaps his last interview.Are you familiar with his philosophy?
Zinn is new to me;the fact that he opposed the vietnam war ,makes him a sympathetic person to me.
You have made a statement about Günter Grass.
What is it that allows you to be able to think clearly in comparison to some OSers?
I'll be on my way to your other posts which you have mentioned.
~Rated~
o.k., now that the swing back to the left has really begun--Labor sweeping councils over here yesterday; the BNP losing almost everything; Hollande and Melanchon's alliance in France; the right-wing Dutch government collapsing; the Breivik blowback; Merkel's ticking controversy clock in Germany; the collapse of public confidence in the technocratic governments; the rise of the Stalinist unions dominating streets in Greece and Spain...etc etc--do you want to talk about the multitude now....?
...one could add the upcoming Mexican elections, which look good for the revolutionary left; the return of Zelaya to Honduras; the collapse of the "Americas' cooperative" in favor of non-alignment, or rather, South American intra-alignment; and what is beginning to look like the next big risk industries meltdown over at MetLife.....am i missing anyone??
Stu - Throw in the Maoist uprising in India and the fall of Murdoch and Co. and you have a party! Yes, capital is tilting back and forth right now, trying to find a new equilibrium. Of course I know that you realize this "left" on offer in the UK and France is about as genuine as the Obama option in America. The question is, will a more genuine left emerge? And yes, I think it's about time to talk multitude.
Agree on the stalinist-union remark too. Who knew they would reemerge, huh?

Am rereading Harman's "Anti-capitalism: Theory and Practice."
Sadly, the status quo continues in this country due to the complacency of the American people. In other countries, the populace would be rioting by now. Yet as bad ad things are half of the American Sheeple can't even be bothered to VOTE. Many are so wrapped up in their petty, day-to-day concerns that they don't know the first thing about who is running for office.

Good people who don't vote send bad politicians to Washington.
Thought-provoking article. Maybe a complete change is in order. Can it be accomplished peacefully?
People should do whatever they think is right. But ponder this: Walker, having won his little rematch in Wisconsin, is having his rightwing radio dogs put a hell of a lot of pressure on the police department in Milwaukee, the biggest city in the state, to get TOUGHER on "offenders." It's barely disguised as a trumped up scandal about reporting stats, but it's clear enough. You understand what I just said...I mean, you know what that implies?

So, people should do whatever they think is right.