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0 votes
by (6.1k points)

2 Answers

+5 votes
You need to clarify what you mean by "relevant." From a purely intellectual standpoint, what is NOT relevant to anarchists? But if you're asking specifically about the content of "Empire" and the thesis that there nation-states are no longer the fundamental sovereign institution(s) they were 100 years ago, then sure it's relevant. If you're asking if the analytical and strategic conclusions the authors draw are relevant to anarchists, I'd have to say "not so much." They posit the maintenance of some kind of mass society still based on the usual technological divisions of labor. Their solutions to the challenges of global capitalist expansionism (Empire) is to have a smarter group of hierarchs in charge. It's pretty typical Continental Leftism, tarted up to make it appealing without needing to get into too much of a structural analysis of the interlocking hierarchies of transnational statecraft and globalized capital. If you care, "Multitude" is even worse.
by (570 points)
–2 votes
Like the previous response, I think the text (and H & N's work more broadly) is relevant for anarchism/anarchists. I take a somewhat different view on the multitude, finding this to be a concept full of possibilities for anarchist thought and not just "typical Continental Leftism," as lawrence suggests. Specifically, I do not read the text as offering any solutions as such, and the authors take pains to note that it is through the practice of the multitude that "what needs to be done" becomes clear. The analysis of Empire specifically examines the interlocking hierarchies of state/globalized capital, suggesting that it takes a pyramidal structure incorporating monarch (USA, G8, NATO, IMF), oligarchy (corporations, nation states), and the base/"the People". Multitude is juxtaposed with the People; it is a formulation of resistance, which to me is a move away from that typical trap to the left. I think there is lots to be learned from Continental writers like H and N, Paolo Virno, others working with Tiqqun, etc.

[Perhaps a question on the multitude might be interesting on this site as well?]
by (1.0k points)
i wish your answer had more information in it, dashe. the kernel that seems relevant is the "it is a formulation of resistance" but you don't argue for it (ie you don't say why it is that).
Thanks, dot. You should meet my supervisor. She's forever telling me the same thing ;)

Hardt and Negri put out a book after Empire called Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, which more fully elaborates the multitude as a formulation of resistance. The concept has provoked interesting responses, especially from English speakers more accustomed to analytic thinking, often lamenting that it is not clearly defined (which is precisely the point). Some snippets of quotes:

"the multitude, the living alternative that grows within empire ... As a first approach we should distinguish the multitude at a conceptual level from other notions ... such as the people, the masses, and the working class. The people has traditionally been a unitary conception. The population, of course, is characterized by all kinds of differences, but the people reduces that diversity to the unitary and makes of the population a single identity: "the people" is one. The multitude, in contrast, is many. The multitude is composed of innumerable internal differences that can never be reduced to a unity or a single identity--different cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations; different forms of labor; different ways of living; different views of the world; and different desires. ... Thus the challenge posed by the concept of multitude is for a social multiplicity to manage to communicate and act in common while remaining internally different."

To me, it sounds like the multitude is related to (and draws from) anarchy. For example, the recognition of various forms of labor (paid or unpaid, immigrants or locals, unionized or not) sounds much like the IWW modus. The notion of the multitude as a means rather than an end (i.e. it does not not need to form a monolith or legitimize its own existence; an already present starting point; a given) speaks to my understanding of anarchy.