Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire

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in Multitude, Hardt and Negri offer up an inspiring vision of how the people of the world can use the structures of empire against empire itself. With the enormous intellectual depth, historical perspective, and positive, enabling spirit that are the authors' hallmark, Multitude lays down in three parts a powerful case for hope.

Part I, "War," examines the darkest aspects of empire. We are at a crisis point in human affairs, when the new circuits of power have grown beyond the ability of existing circuits of political sovereignty and social justice to contain them. A mind-set of perpetual war predominates in which all wars are police actions and all police actions are wars-counterinsurgencies against the enemies of empire.

Part II explains how empire, by colonising and interconnecting more areas of human life ever more deeply, has actually created the possibility for democracy of a sort never before seen. Brought together in a multinoded commons of resistance, different groups combine and recombine in fluid new matrices of resistance. No longer the silent, oppressed "masses," they form a multitude. Hardt and Negri argue that the accelerating integration of economic, social, political, and cultural forces into a complex network they call the biopolitical is actually the most radical step in the liberation of humankind since the Industrial Revolution broke up the old feudal order. 

Publisher's Description

In their international bestseller Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri presented a grand unified vision of a world in which the old forms of imperialism are no longer effective. But what of Empire in an age of “American empire”? Has fear become our permanent condition and democracy an impossible dream? Such pessimism is profoundly mistaken, the authors argue. Empire, by interconnecting more areas of life, is actually creating the possibility for a new kind of democracy, allowing different groups to form a multitude, with the power to forge a democratic alternative to the present world order.Exhilarating in its optimism and depth of insight, Multitude consolidates Hardt and Negri’s stature as two of the most important political philosophers at work in the world today.

Complex, ambitious, disquieting, and ultimately hopeful, Multitude is the work of a couple of writers and thinkers who dare to address the great issues of our time from a truly alternative perspective. The sequel to 2001's equally bold and demanding Empire continues in the vein of the earlier tome. Where Empire's central premise was that the time of nation-state power grabs was passing as a new global order made up of "a new form of sovereignty" consisting of corporations, global-wide institutions, and other command centers is in ascendancy, Multitude focuses on the masses within the empire, except that, where academics Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri are concerned, this body is defined by its diversity rather than its commonalities. The challenge for the multitude in this new era is "for the social multiplicity to manage to communicate and act in common while remaining internally different." One may already be rereading that last sentence. Indeed, Empire isn't breezy reading. But for those aren't afraid of wadding into a knotty philosophical and political discourse of uncommon breadth, Multitude offers many rewards. --Steven Stolder

Product Information

Finally in Part II, "Democracy," the authors put forward their agenda for how the global multitude can form a robust biopolitical commons in which democracy can truly thrive on a global scale. Exhilarating in its ambition, range, and depth of interpretive insight, Multitude consolidates Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's stature as the most exciting and important political philosophers at work in the world today.

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