from guerra sociale [social war] 2002/3 :
Why take the trouble to criticize the theses of Empire, when reality has so generously seen to it? Certainly not because it is a successful book, talked about in universities and on television. The discussions of opinion don’t interest us. We criticize the ideas of Negri (and Hardt) because they are a practical force, since they represent the most lucid version of the program of the left-wing of capital today and influence a movement – the “disobbedienti” – capable of supporting such a program. “Disobedient” politics, in fact, represents an excellent terrain of experimentation for the democracy to come. Let’s see in outline why…
A Biographical Note on Antonio Negri
(provided by the authors of Barbari for those unfamiliar with him)
Antonio Negri was born on August 1, 1933 in Padua, Italy, the cultural capital of the traditionally bigoted, petty bourgeois Veneto region. A fervent believer, the young Toni Negri discovered militance when he became a part of the religious youth organization “Catholic Action”.
The ‘50’s in Italy were the years of the re-launching of the country’s economy, a prodigious capitalistic phenomenon that remained forever in the eyes and the heart of Negri, who, after having replaced God with Marx, began to frequent the environments of the New Left. In the ‘60’s, Toni Negri actively participated in the elaboration of workerism, as editor of Quaderni rossi (“Red study books”) first and later of Classe operaia (“Working Class”).
What is workerism? It is the ideology according to which the factory is the center of class struggle and the workers are the only builders of revolution, because, with their struggle, they push capital to develop in the liberatory direction. The workerists take aim at parties and unions, but these latter are not so much criticized as rebuked for not carrying out what is supposed to be their duty effectively. As for all the forms of struggle that are outside of the factory environment, they are either condemned or snubbed.
No need to say that none of the various intellectuals who gave life to workerism, usually escapees from the Socialist and Communist Party, have ever worked a single day in a factory. Negri, for example, preferred by a long shot to teach “Doctrine of the State” at the university of Padua and leave the dubious pleasure of the assembly line to the proletarians.
The workerist strategy, beyond a phraseology that is at times extremist, consisted in the desire to “place back in motion a positive mechanism of capitalistic development” within which “to put into play the demands of a heavier workers’ power” through “the revolutionary use of reformism”…
Antifascist Prisoner Requires Support
Letters of support and reading matter should be sent to:
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