Antonio Negri



    THERE HAVE BEEN TWO FOUNDATIONAL THEMES in Antonio Negri’s work over the years. The first is an abiding faith in the capacities of the working class or the multitude (redefined as “the party of the poor” and therefore, according to Spinoza, the only “true subject of democracy”) to use their immanent powers of laboring to construct an alternative to the world given by capital. They can do so, Negri believes, by way of autonomous and nonhierarchically organized self-management. The second theme arises out of a deeply held belief that Spinoza’s philosophical works provide a

  • Thomas Hirschhorn, Flugplatz Welt/World Airport, 1999, mixed media. Installation view, Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2000.


    This month, Harvard University Press unveils Commonwealth, the latest book by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, whose Empire (2000) and Multitude (2004) have, arguably, been the dominant works of political philosophy of the new century. In its October issue, Artforum presents two extended excerpts from the much-anticipated final volume of the Empire trilogy in advance of its arrival in bookstores. Curator Okwui Enwezor sets the stage, with a discussion of Hardt and Negri’s profound if diffuse impact on artistic practice and on the art world more broadly. Enwezor’s introduction has been reproduced below. For excerpts from Commonwealth, pick up the October issue of Artforum.

    THE WORLD IS FULL OF ALL SORTS OF DICTATORSHIPS, sovereign entities accountable only to their own rules and united by extreme structures of political and social violence. The most formidable, however, is the one whose dimensions are no longer limited by the old boundaries of the nation-state, but which instead—since they are mainly organized by global capitalism, with globalization serving as their fountainhead—span and exceed such territorial limits in a way unparalleled in history. In 2000, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s book Empire offered the first thorough analysis of this


    SYLVÈRE LOTRINGER: In the years that preceded May 1968, the Situationists had an uprising in mind, but it had happened one century before. It was the Paris Commune of 1871, in which Marx saw the dawn of communism. The historical situations, of course, were widely different. The Paris Commune surged in reaction to the Prussian invasion and the betrayal of the Versailles government, which surrendered France to the enemy. The Versaillais surrounded the capital and starved the Communards to death, eventually gunning down those who survived. But it wasn’t this grim story that Henri Lefebvre heatedly