Astonishingly, given the ruin associated with his name, Karl Marx is back in fashion. The global economic downturn has spurred sales of "Das Kapital" to an all-time high; Michael Moore with his latest movie rivals the Original Communist in denouncing the evils of capitalism; and for the past year the news media seem to have delighted in running obituaries for the owners of the means of production. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, then, are nicely positioned to take advantage of Marx's revival with the publication of "Commonwealth," which re-imagines Marxism for the 21st century.If you mistakenly think this comes straight from the World Socialist Web Site you just lost a Tenner that should go to the charity of your choice.
No, nobody less than the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) book reviewer Brian C. Anderson sub-headlines truly revolutionary
Down with capitalists, nations, bosses, families, etc.in his review of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's book
"Commonwealth," which re-imagines Marxism for the 21st century.According to Anderson's review titled"Brothers in Marx"
"Mr. Hardt teaches literature at Duke University and is a postmodernism-steeped radical—that is to say, he is an American college professor. Mr. Negri, a political theorist, has a more unusual background. Three decades ago, the Italian government believed that he was the secret intellectual leader of the leftist terrorists called the Red Brigades and that he was the architect of the group's 1978 kidnapping and murder of Christian Democratic Party leader Aldo Moro.Book ordered, although the WSJ wishes Marx back to hell:
Unable to build a sufficient case to try Mr. Negri for murder—he has always denied the allegation—Italian authorities convicted him of "armed insurrection against the state." Facing 30 years in the slammer, Mr. Negri scooted to France, where he remained, a philosopher in exile, until 1997, when he returned to Italy to serve the remainder of a reduced sentence. He is a left-wing guru whose field work has occurred far from the faculty lounge.
"Commonwealth" completes a trilogy that began in 2000 with "Empire" and continued with "Multitude" in 2004.
The book is a witch's brew of contemporary radicalism. Capitalism deserves to die, Messrs. Hardt and Negri believe, for it has abused and corrupted "the common." The common isn't just "the fruits of the soil, and all nature's bounty," they tell us; it is the universe of things necessary for social life—"knowledges, languages, codes, information, affects." Under capitalism, nature is ravaged, society brutalized.
Yet the conditions for people's emancipation are budding within capitalism, the authors believe (just as Marx believed in the mid-19th century). Unlike the factory laborer of yesterday, today's knowledge worker has less and less need for a boss. Companies extract the most value from the worker, we're told, when he is left alone to create, connect and collaborate as he sees fit. This is also true of "affective labor" that offers services to the public, "even in the most constrained and exploited circumstances, such as call centers."
Messrs. Hardt and Negri propose getting rid of bosses, of course, but they also target another bugaboo of the hard left, private property. The possession of property supports unjust power structures—why not agree that the "common wealth" of the human and natural worlds should be everyone's responsibility, everyone's resource? Welcome to The Communist Manifesto 2.0.
"Commonwealth" is a dark, evil book, and it is troubling that it appears under the prestigious imprimatur of Harvard University Press. Countless millions were slaughtered by adherents of Karl Marx in the 20th century. God help us if the scourge returns in the 21st.Marx must be a strong fear factor if the WSJ sees time already fit to warn of the devilish ideas and changes socialism could bring to its owner Rupert Murdoch.