File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 26

Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 07:00:45 -0500
Subject: Re: What is Empire about?

hbone wrote:
> Eric, Steve/ All
> The short answer is: 496 pages.
> A lot of you probably pick books, as I often do, by roaming the
> stacks, opening the back of the book, searching for conclusions, for
> names of authors you trust among the 150 plus references that seem
> mandatory for scholarship.  Also searching for sections, headings,
> text, of interest.
> Since Derrida did not meet these requirements, I never read him.  But
> a lot of his contemporaries did meet them.
Hugh -

Your intellectual cynicism kills me at times, but you have persistence
and I admire you for that. Keep hanging in there. The world needs more
persistent cynics like you! (remember the first cynics were also
philosophers making their own political statement about the imposed
hegemony of their times.) 

I need to go through the excerpts you selected and will respond later,
but let me give my own "in medias res" interpretation of "What is Empire
about?" (I am only half-way through the Empire.)

First of all, there is Antonio Negri himself, who is definitely one of
the most important Marxist intellectuals alive today, even though he is
of the unconventional kind. An interesting essay (which I like because
of the way it positions the ethical in ways similar to what I see
Lyotard doing) also provides a little contextual background for Negri's
development as a thinker.

Second, as you mention, Michael Hardt is also interesting as well. As
Steve pointed out, Michael Hardt wroted a book on Deleuze. It is
entitled "Gilles Deleuze - An Apprenticeship in Philosophy."  It is a
discussion of Deleuze's early books on Bergson, Nietzsche and Spinoza.
When I read this book I liked it very much for its ability to
contextualize Deleuze in a way that made his later writing more
accessible.  Hardt was also the translator of Negri's "The Savage
Anomaly" and collaborated with him on "Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of
the State-Form" a book which also included some of Negri's earlier

Third, one over-the-top blurb has said that "Empire" gives us the
Communist Manifesto for the current era. While that seems a little much,
I do think "Empire" is important because of the way it integrates Marx
with Deleuze and Foucault in political ways to provide a radical new
critique. Up until now, the two camps have been opposed to one another
to a certain extent. Negri and Hardt make the radical suggestion that
the insights be combined in new ways to see what happens.

Fourth, it provides a countermodel to the current prevailing one of
corporate hegemony aided and abetted by the militaristic U.S. regime,
(with the 'pi in the sky' promise of the missile defense shield allowing
America to become the world's first truly global gated community).  In
the context of our time, it gives me hope. It also gives expression to
my own intuition that right now no one really owns the tiger.


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