Michael Hardt

  • Black Land and Liberation Initiative event, East Oakland, CA, June 19, 2017. Photo: Roselyn Berry/Twitter.


    “TAKE POWER, but differently.” This exhortation—one of a series of resonant proposals at the core of political theorists’ Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s new book, Assembly—could hardly be more timely. As an emboldened Far Right threatens all-too-familiar methods of violence, and a fractious Left debates strategies of opposition, Assembly investigates the vital question of how the energies of protest and resistance can be transformed into durable democratic change. Acknowledging that recent movements on the left have been criticized for a perceived lack of organization and coherence, Hardt and Negri, in their first book since the completion of their Empire trilogy (2000–2009), argue that a return to more centralized institutions is no way forward, but neither, crucially, is the rejection of leadership tout court. What’s needed, instead, is a radical rethinking of the relationship between movements and their leaders. Here, Hardt talks to Artforum about activism, anti-fascism, and change.

    SINCE TRUMP’S ELECTION, and even more so since the tragic events in Charlottesville, it should be clear that protest is necessary. A dangerous complex of political forces, evoking some of the darkest moments of the past, circulates among right-wing groups and institutions as well as in segments of the government. Our indignation and outrage must translate into action against demonstrations of fascist and racist violence and ideologies of racial purity as a condition of national belonging, and we must also mobilize against policies producing environmental disaster; acts of mass detention and

  • Joseph Wright, Arkwright’s Cotton Mills by Night, ca. 1782, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 49 1/2".

    Jonathan Crary’s 24/7

    24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, by Jonathan Crary. Verso, 2013. 144 pages.

    JONATHAN CRARY’S dark, brilliant book 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep analyzes the nonstop demands of the contemporary global capitalist system and laments the damage we suffer from being caught up in the fascination and relentless rhythms of its technological production and consumption. This brief volume’s central claim is not that we are always awake—although Crary notes the growing prevalence of insomnia and use of neuropharmaceutical sleep suppressants and alertness aids—but rather



    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




    The financial crisis of fall 2008 is one symptom of a transition in the nature and form of global order. The most important question this transition raises is what new possibilities it is opening up; but before asking that, one has to understand also what the transition is closing down. Two of the best books I have read in the past year, Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century (Verso) and Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Picador),

  • Antiwar protesters demonstrate near UN headquarters, New York, February 15, 2003. Photo: AP/Shawn Baldwin.

    Michael Hardt on Afflicted Powers

    AFFLICTED POWERS is a venomous and poetic book. Indignation, hatred, spleen, and disgust for the powers that dominate the globe today spill forth from its pages. And yet all this is expressed in a cultured, measured, and often exquisite prose, reminiscent of the great polemicists of the past, from Thomas Paine to Rosa Luxemburg. The depth of this antagonism is intensified by a prevailing sense of defeat that runs through the book—the defeat of the Left generally and, more specifically, the defeat of the multitude that had attempted to contest the ruling powers and their permanent state of war