Where is Hardt and Negri’s Multitude?: Real Networks in Open Spaces
AbstractNegri’s political direction—from workerism in the 1960s, through Autonomia in the 1970s, to the notion of “Empire” with Hardt in the 1990s—is an important path in Italian Marxism. Since the 1960s, the search for a critical Marxism, beyond Leninism and outside the communist party structure, has led a generation of Italian scholars to new conceptualizations. These have followed from several seasons of struggle by the Italian antagonistic movements. Over the past twenty years, new actors have stepped on stage within the composite Italian antineoliberal movement, including Social Centres, grassroots union organizations (COBAS), Disobbedienti (Dissenters), environmentalists and anarchists. The individual members of these groups propose different interpretations of Negri’s work or, specifically, his notion of “multitude”. Many of them reject Negri’s approach, while others have directly adopted his language and suggestions. This paper provides a short analysis of Negri’s political action and main writings, focusing on the potential and limits of the concept of multitude when applied to the situation in Italy. The multitude, described by Hardt and Negri as an open network, is embedded in an open spatiality. How can we analyze and link a real network to a deterritorialised space? Hardt and Negri’s proposal remains problematically undertheorized and significantly removed from the real practices of Italian movements, when considering, for example, the Genoa 2001 demonstrations.
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