Labor of Dionysus. A Critique of the State-Form
"Labor is the living, form-giving fire," Marx wrote. "It is the transitoriness of things, their temporality, as their transformation by living time." How is it, then, that labor, with all its life-affirming potential, has become the means of capitalist discipline, exploitation, and domination in modern society? The authors expose and pursue this paradox through a systematic analysis of the role of labor in the processes of capitalist production, and in the establishment of capitalist legal and social institutions. Critiquing liberal and socialist notions of labor and institutional reform from a radical democratic perspective, Hardt and Negri challenge the state-form itself. In the twentieth century, labor has become central to the material and formal constitution of the State, as a complex nexus of value and right. And yet, in living labor and social cooperation, which cut across the divisions of workdays and wage relations, the authors identify a total critique of capitalist practice as well, presenting not only the negation of the present social order, but also the affirmation of an alternative system of value, norms, and desires. The forms in which this potential is expressed, from the social movements of the 1960s to those of the 1990s, are the "prerequisites of communism" already existing in contemporary society.