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Michael Hardt with Caleb Smith and Enrico Minardi The Collaborator and the Multitude: An Interview with Michael Hardt A major event in politicaland critical theory, MichaelHardtandAntonio Negri's Empire (Harvard, 2000) turned orthodox thinking about imperialism around, proposing a decentered global network and redescribing capital, in the poststructuralist terms ofDeleuze and Guattari, as a dynamic pattern ofbreaks andflows. The book is onefruit of the continuing collaboration ofHardt, a literature professor at Duke, and Negri, an Italian radical theorist; previously they co-authored Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State Form (Minnesota, 1994) and most recently they have written Multitude (Penguin, 2004), which develops a concept of cooperative resistance to the reimagined global order as an alternative to the idea of national liberation. Before joining the faculty at Duke, Michael Hardt did his graduate work at the University of Washington. He is also the author of Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy (Minnesota, 1993) and numerous pieces ofpolitical journalism and criticism. In addition, he has translated Negri's The Savage Anomaly (Minnesota, 1991) and coedited Radical Thought in Italy (with Paolo Virno; Minnesota, 1996) and The Jameson Reader (with Kathi Weeks; Blackwell, 2000). Relevant to this interview, see also Michael Hardt's essay "Prison Time" in the Yale Review 91 (1997): 64-79. This interview took place on 5 March 2004 in Hardt's office at Duke. It was conducted by Caleb Smith, a doctoral student in English at Duke, and Enrico Minardi, a lecturer in Romance Studies. Smith: Most people will know you as Antonio Negri's collaborator in the authorship of Empire. Your new project, again with Negri, grows out of that book and the promises made in its final chapters. Did you have the sense from the beginning that Empire was unfinished? Hardt: The project of writing Empire always seemed too large for us. We joked that the book was about everything. Obviously it couldn't do justice to all the topics it raised. What remained particularly pressing for us after finishing Empire was the proposition of an alternative. We felt reasonably satisfied with our description of the tendency of a new global order, but realized that the descriptions of the subject or form of an alternative remained at a poetic level. It's almost posed as hypothesis. That was the first thing we wanted to pursue. Smith: How does Multitude move toward the completion of that project? Hardt: Well, insofar as Empire is oriented toward the structures of power , Multitude tries to talk about the possibilities of resistance. It has two 64 the minnesota review general axes. One is a question about what democracy is today and whatdemocracy could be in a global world, a genealogy of what democracy could mean in a space beyond the national space. But we quickly realized—and this is quite normal—that all of this political theorizing about democracy remains wishful thinking unless there's a subject that can fill it. For us, economic analysis, class analysis, analysis of the forms of labor and new forms of cooperation—those are what give the possibility to new notions of democracy. Those are the two future-oriented lines of the book. What other political forms could democracy take in a global world? Why is it possible today that we can fulfill them? I like these kind of arguments, where it seems that democracy is no longer possible, but in fact democracy is today for the very first time possible. That's more or less the project. There had to be, unfortunately because of events, a long analysis of war, how war has changed, etc. One couldn't really deal with those other questions without dealing with war. But war is an obstacle, not an object, of the book. Smith: Multitude is your name for what you just called a new subject of democracy. To me, the connections between this idea of a mobile collectivity and your early work with Deleuze are striking. Do you feel, more than most theorists, that you've pursued a continuous line of inquiry? Or that a single set of concepts has proved especially durable? Hardt: It might be true. It would be ironic because I've thought...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 63-77
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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