There have been two foundational themes in Antonio Negri's work over the years. The first is an abiding faith in the capacities of the working class or the multitude (redefined as "the party of the poor" and therefore, according to Spinoza, the only "true subject of democracy") to use their immanent powers of laboring to construct an alternative to the world given by capital. They can do so, Negri believes, by way of autonomous and nonhierarchically organized self-management. The second theme arises out of a deeply held belief that Spinoza's philosophical works provide a framework of radical thought capable of illuminating not only how the world is but also how it ought to be and can be. Wedding the immanent powers of the multitude with a neo-Spinozan theoretical armature, Negri grounds a theory of revolution and a redefinition of what real communism might be about.
There seems to be a general consensus, left and right, that we are in the midst of a new energy crisis. Either, “Peak Oil” is to blame, based on the argument that oil resources are about to peak bringing about serious constraints on uture use of energy. Or, climate change is highlighted, warning that the sustained use of fossil fuel is heating up the planet and bringing about catastrophic changes in climate patterns.
This is chapter 7 of my 2007 book The Beginning of History. Its title is Enclosures and Disciplinary Integration and it discusses capitalist crises as “disequilibrium” crises or “social stability” crises. It might be useful to provide a general framework to understand the current crisis in terms of the latter. It also maps out crises as mechanisms for capitalist reproduction and discusses the role of shifting capitalist governance to deal with these crises as well as the possible cracks in this governance
The discourse on precarization that has emerged in the past decade, primarily in Europe, rests on an extremely complex understanding of social insecurity and its productivity. The various strands of this discourse have been brought together again and again in the context of the European precarious movement organized under EuroMayDay.1 This transnational movement, in existence since the early 2000s, thematizes precarious working and living conditions as the starting point for political struggles and seeks possibilities for political action in neoliberal conditions. What is unusual about this social movement is not only the way in which under its auspices new forms of political struggles are tested and new perspectives on precarization developed; rather—and this is striking in relation to other social movements—it is how it has queered the seemingly disparate fields of the cultural and the political again and again. In the past decade, conversations concerning both the (partly subversive) knowledge of the precarious, and a search for commons (in order to constitute the political), has conspicuously taken place more often in art institutions than in social, political, or even academic contexts.
Many if not most of the open spaces - commons, woods, greens - of any size that remain today in South London, or London as a whole, exist because they were preserved from development by collective action. Whether by rioting, tearing down fences & re-opening up enclosed land, or by legal agitation, much of the commons & parks that make life in the Smoke just about bearable wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t been actively defended.
Changes within the energy sector are speeding up dramatically. A combination of ecological, political, economic and financial factors are converging to ensure that energy production and consumption are set to become central to global political, economic and financial dynamics.
This paper builds on the author's previous theoretical work on the role of processes such as enclosures, market discipline and governance. It discusses the middle class in terms of a stratified field of subjectivity within the planetary wage hierarchy produced by these processes. It discusses the thesis that the middle class, qua middle class, will never be able to contribute to bring about a fundamental change in the capitalist system of livelihood reproduction. The production in common centered on middle class values—however historically and culturally specific they are—is always production in common within the system. Our common action as middle class action, whether as consumers, workers, or citizens, reproduces the system of value and value hierarchy that is the benchmark, the referent point for our cooperation. The paper then discusses some of the implications of the conundrum faced by those who seek alternatives: there will be no “beginning of history” without the middle class, nor there will be one with the middle class.
In the last decade the concept of the commons has increasingly become the basis of anticapitalist thinking in the antiglobalization (or, as some now have it, "the global justice") movement. It has been politically useful both as an alternative model of social organization against the onslaught of "there is no alternative" neoliberal thinking and as a link between diverse struggles ranging from those of agricultural workers demanding land, to environmentalists calling for a reduction of the emission of "hot house gases" into the atmosphere, to writers, artists, musicians and software designers rejecting the totalitarian regime of intellectual property rights. But, like any concept in a class society, it can have many and often antagonistic uses. Our paper will show that there is a use of the concept of the commons that can be functional to capitalist accumulation and it offers an explanation as to why this capitalist use developed, especially since the early 1990s. The conclusion of this paper will assess the political problem that this capitalist use of "the commons" (both strategically and ideologically) poses for the anticapitalist movement.
Aufheben's review and critique of The beginning of history: Value struggles and global capital by Massimo De Angelis, Pluto Press, London, 2007.
I see the students’ mobilization that has been mounting on the North American campuses, especially in California, as part of a long cycle of struggle against the neo-liberal restructuring of the global economy and the dismantling of public education that began in the mid-1980s in Africa and Latin America, and is now spreading to Europe—as the recent student revolt in London demonstrated. At stake, in each case, has been more than resistance to the “enclosure of knowledge.” The struggles of African students in the 1980s and 1990s were particularly intense because students realized that the drastic university budget cuts the World Bank demanded signaled the end of the “social contract” that had shaped their relation with the state in the post-independence period, making education the key to social advancement and participatory citizenship. They also realized, especially on hearing World Bankers argue that “Africa has no need for universities,” that behind the cuts a new international division of work was rearticulated that re-colonized African economies and devalued African workers’ labor.