November 8, 2004
Because Antonio's out of the slammer and looking to make a little scratch this time . . .
by Dennis Johnson
Even before the publication of Empire in 2000, the book by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri was preceded by rumors that it would “provide a definitive analysis of the new world order. It would be the theoretical bridge between postmodernist academics and a mass movement that was making it ever harder for international financial institutions to meet in peace.” As Scott McLemee notes, “You can’t buy word of mouth like that. It did not hurt that Mr. Negri had spent much of the previous two decades in exile, convicted of having fomented civil disorder during the 1970s as the main theorist and éminence grise of a revolutionary group. (In 1997, he returned from France to serve out a prison sentence that he completed last year.) This is known as having street cred.” Now, reports McLemee in a Chronicle of Higher Education story, “there is a sequel,” Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire . However, this one has something different about it: as Hardt explains, “Empire was really written for a university audience, for graduate students, more or less.” With Multitude, “we tried to write differently, for a much broader audience, while also doing a balancing act to make it interesting to scholars.”
Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives