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Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire Reprint Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0143035596
ISBN-10: 0143035592
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Complex, ambitious, disquieting, and ultimately hopeful, Multitude is the work of a couple of writers and thinkers who dare to address the great issues of our time from a truly alternative perspective. The sequel to 2001's equally bold and demanding Empire continues in the vein of the earlier tome. Where Empire's central premise was that the time of nation-state power grabs was passing as a new global order made up of "a new form of sovereignty" consisting of corporations, global-wide institutions, and other command centers is in ascendancy, Multitude focuses on the masses within the empire, except that, where academics Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri are concerned, this body is defined by its diversity rather than its commonalities. The challenge for the multitude in this new era is "for the social multiplicity to manage to communicate and act in common while remaining internally different." One may already be rereading that last sentence. Indeed, Empire isn't breezy reading. But for those aren't afraid of wadding into a knotty philosophical and political discourse of uncommon breadth, Multitude offers many rewards. --Steven Stolder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143035592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143035596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Malvin VINE VOICE on October 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Multitude" by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri is a follow-up to the author's widely-acclaimed "Empire". In "Multitude", Hardt and Negri discuss change and the possibility of global democracy, which they define as "the rule of everyone by everyone". The book offers a unique vision of how such a future might be developing around us and futher rewards its readers with numerous insights and top-notch analysis in a highly readable text.

"Multitude" appears to have been written in part as a response to the criticisms of "Empire" as presented in the excellent book, "Empire's New Clothes: Reading Hardt and Negri" edited by Passavant and Dean. For example, "Multitude" takes a slightly different approach to the themes of U.S. exceptionalism, network power structures, violence and the politics of identity; all of these topics were critiqued at length in "Empire's New Clothes". Consequently, it appears that Hardt and Negri may have profited from this dialogue and it may also explain why "Multitude" is a more substantive and less theoretical book than "Empire".

Section One of "Multitude" is entitled "War". Hardt and Negri discuss the perpetual state of war as a means to maintain the capitalist world order and social hierarchy. Interestingly, the authors show how insurgencies and counterinsurgencies have both taken on the characteristics of flexible, postmodern production networks. Importantly, the anti-globalization movement is lauded as an example of how such decentralized and distributed networks can support an "absolutely democratic organization" whose emerging strength might yet constitute the "most powerful weapon against the ruling power structure."

Section Two is about "Multitude".
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Format: Hardcover
Almost all the reviews that I read of the book "Empire" failed to recognize it as a philosophical text (e.g. they wanted charts and graphs or they wanted an easy read). But this point is important because a philosophical text is there to introduce you to a concept -- a new way of seeing and apprehending the world -- and to a new way of thinking. Fortunately this time around they say so immediately.

Multitude like Empire is a very rich and complex book interweaving different types of narratives in order to present a new way of thinking about our present. What has changed is the coherence and cohesion of the text. It is much more solid. It doesn't try to cover every single thing at the cost of the readers attention. But it is every bit as audacious as the first. It is quite daring and innovative, and for all that still completely analytically solid.

The major protesters are generally those who disagree that the world has changed. This is not necessarily a philosophical matter but an empirical one. Those people who disagree need to take issue with the thousands of economic, sociological and historical analyses that have charted these very changes. From there it is merely a matter of interpreting it all.

The second group of protestors to these books belong to this camp, who disagree with their interpretations of the events and their significance. What does the postmodernisation and globalisation of the global economy (for example) have to do with political struggle, for the labor movement etc.? It is here that this book shines above all its peers (and I do not hesitate in using such strong language). Whereas Empire gave cursory and rather abstract presentations of the present conditions political significance, Multitude is entirely invested with this presentation.
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Format: Hardcover
Negri and Hardt fail to deliver a new strategy for the Left in MULTITUDE, the follow-up to EMPIRE, their improbable sensation of 2000 on Harvard University Press. The idea of a decentered, heterogeneous "actor" replacing the old idea of a unified working class continues in the same vein Negri has been developing for some time, from the "social worker" or "immaterial worker" of previous writings.

I can't be too harsh when the authors are so clearly filled with desire and optimism about changing the world in the direction of our hopes and dreams. I must say, though, that I preferred Negri's writing before he teamed up with Hardt. His earlier works, including MARX BEYOND MARX and THE POLITICS OF SUBVERSION, were more exciting to read than the EMPIRE/MULTITUDE/COMMONWEALTH trilogy with Michael Hardt.

A philosophical footnote -- Negri is not part of the German idealist tradition, he is not "thinking in German neoplatonism" (as another reviewer asserted) and he is most emphatically not a Hegelian dialectician. His influences include Spinoza (see his THE SAVAGE ANOMALY: The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics), Machiavelli, of course Marx, and more recently, Foucault. The Foucault influence began in his joint writing with the late Felix Guattari, and continues in the project with Michael Hardt.
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