This man is old and obviously very ill…perhaps not only mentally actually. I just caught an amazing diatribe he uttered on France Culture’s morning program, Monday May 28th, 2007, in which he actually said “Those who criticize Staline and say he is only a butcher are facists”. The silence (a long silence in terms of radio, maybe 15 seconds) was eloquent.
This radio program was dealing with Negri’s last book, Goodbye Socialisme, Ed. Le Seuil, Paris (2007).
In a way, this was the “live” death of an intellectual who cannot see the end of his reasoning. I pay respect to his work which I always found challenging despite my total opposition to his strange dialectics.
Please find below and example of such a dialectic in Hardt, Michael, and Thomas Dumm. 2000. Sovereignty, Multitudes, Absolute Democracy: A discussion between Michael Hardt and Thomas Dumm about Hardt and Negri’s Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
This is an abstract of this discussion and where Michael Hardt is being asked whether he and Negri both recognize the power of Giorgio Agamben’s argument in Homo Sacer concerning the extraordinary violence of sovereignty at the end of modernity and yet they seek to overcome what may (not too injustly) be thought of as a terrifying passivity that his position could result in. I let you read his answer:
Our argument in Empire does not share some central concerns with Agamben’s Homo Sacer, particularly surrounding the notions of sovereignty and biopower. Agamben brilliantly elaborates a conception of modern sovereignty based on Carl Schmitt’s notion of the decision on the exception and the state of emergency, in which the modern functionning of rule becomes a permanent state of exception. He then links this conception to the figure of the banned or excluded person back as far as ancient Roman law with his usual spectacural eruditin. The pinnacle and full realization of modern sovereignty and grounds the rule of law. My hesitation with this view is that by posing the extreme case of the concentration camp as the heart of sovereignty it tends to obscure the daily violence of modern sovereignty in all its forms. It implies, in other words, that if we could do away with the camps then all the violence of sovereignty would also disappear.
The most significant difference between our projects, though, is that Agamben dwells on modern sovereignty whereas we claim that modern sovereignty. Imperial sovereignty has nothing to do with the concentration camp. It no longer takes the form of a dialectic between Self and Other and dows not function thought any such absolute exclusion, but rules rather through mechanisms of differential inclusion, making hierarchies of hybrid identities. This description may not immediately give you the same sense of horror that you get from Auschwitz and the Nazi Lager, but imperial sovereignty is certainly just as brutal as modern sovereignty was, and it has its own subtle and not so subtle horrors.
You can find the french interview of Negri at the page:
Personnally, I’m utterly sorry that no limit can exist anymore and that Negri just made that step forward towards his own burrial….Read his texts though, he used to be quite a wit. Goodbye indeed Mr. Toni Negri.