File spoon-archives/aut-op-sy.archive/aut-op-sy_2004/aut-op-sy.0409, message 232

Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 20:58:35 +1000
Subject: AUT: RE: Negri in the Independent

I was asked to forward this to the list ...

In response to Johann Hari's interview in the Independent 17/08/04
Matteo Mandarini and Alberto Toscano wrote the letter below - the
Independent didn't publish it:

While Johann Hari's acknowledgment of his own ignorance in matters of
social theory ('The Nostalgic Revolutionary', 17.08.04) is commendable
for its honesty, it raises the question as to why The Independent should
choose to publish such a lengthy feature article on a political
philosopher that is so openly hostile to minimal standards of
intellectual probity and historical accuracy. Hari seems to take pride
in his bafflement at a book which many undergraduate students in
sociology find engaging and not entirely mysterious. If anything, Empire
has been criticised for over-simplification. Perhaps before indulging in
dubious fantasies about his dictionary of sociology ('I feel like I have
been raped by [it]'), Hari should have consulted it.
It is depressing to see The Independent air views regarding Negri's
political past that in Italy, today, are only held by the fringes of the
right. The reference to (relatives of) Negri's 'victims' is quite
peculiar, as no one to our knowledge has yet come forward to claim that
status. It is ludicrous to insinuate that Negri is a fellow traveller of
Al Qaida, just as it is dangerous to associate his support for diffuse
forms of illegality such as workplace sabotage and wildcat strikes with
'terrorism'. To endorse such facile equations today is to consolidate
the ideological (and legal) climate in which protesting at arms fairs
and planning chemical attacks in metropolitan areas can be brought under
the same banner. 
Hari's article is symptomatic of the fact that today philistinism about
theory and dogmatism about history go hand in hand. To treat Negri's
observations regarding the creativity of Soviet society (Eisenstein,
Bakhtin, Malevich...) as an apologia for mass murder and state terror is
a case in point. The bÍte noire of Negri's political thought (and
action), for better or worse, is the state. It is the unthinking
acceptance of the dogma that communism equals state socialism and that
the only Marxism is a Soviet one that allows Hari to misrepresent Negri
as a 'nostalgic revolutionary'.

Dr. Matteo Mandarini
Translator of Negri's Time for Revolution

Dr. Alberto Toscano
Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths College

As a footnote: I was the so-called 'publicist' mentioned in the
article(I work for Continuum, the publishers of 'Time for Revolution',
and was innvolved in organising the ICA event). A few minor, but
incorrectly reported, details that I have personal knowledge of (eg,
there was no taxi called, I didn't say the things ascribed to me, Negri
wasn't behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation
with ICA staff, etc) casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything
that Hari says.

Rowan Wilson

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