In their international bestseller Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri presented a grand unified vision of a world in which the old forms of imperialism are no longer effective. But what of Empire in an age of “American empire”? Has fear become our permanent condition and democracy an impossible dream? Such pessimism is profoundly mistaken, the authors argue. Empire, by interconnecting more areas of life, is actually creating the possibility for a new kind of democracy, allowing different groups to form a multitude, with the power to forge a democratic alternative to the present world order. Exhilarating in its optimism and depth of insight, Multitude consolidates Hardt and Negri's stature as two of the most important political philosophers at work in the world today.
Empire (2000)-the surprise hit that made its term for U.S global hegemony stick and presciently set the agenda for post-9/11 political theory on the left-was written by this same somewhat unlikely duo: Hardt, an American political scientist at Duke University, and Negri, a former Italian parliament member and political exile, trained political scientist and sometime inmate of Rome's Rebibbia prison. This book follows up on Empire's promise of imagining a full-blown global democracy. Though the authors admit that they can't provide the final means for bringing that entity about (or the forms for maintaining it), the book is rich in ideas and agitational ends. The "multitude" is Hardt and Negri's term for the earth's six billion increasingly networked citizens, an enormous potential force for "the destruction of sovereignty in favor of democracy." The middle section on the nature of that multitude is bookended by two others. The first describes the situation in which the multitude finds itself: "permanent war." The last grounds demands for and historical precursors of global democracy. Written for activists to provide a solid goal (with digressions into history and theory) toward which protest actions might move, this timely book brings together myriad loose strands of far left thinking with clarity, measured reasoning and humor, major accomplishments in and of themselves. (On sale Aug. 9) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.