geert on Wed, 30 Jan 2002 11:59:25 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Interview with Toni Negri about Porto Alegre

(fwd. from the generation-online and posted to nettime with the permission
of arianna)


 this is an interview that first appeared in Le Monde and then in La Stampa.
I have quickly translated it into English. See what you think. The original
french and the italian translation with links to the papers below.


Porto Alegre Sad Empire, Toni Negri philosopher
By Stephane Mandard

On the eve of the World Social Forum, which will take place from the 31st of
January till the 5th of February in Porto Alegre, we have interviewed the
Paduan philosopher Toni Negri, charged with armed insurrection and currently
under house arrest.

Numerous representatives of the liberal anti-globalisation movement have
turned Empire, the book you wrote with Michael Hardt, into their 'little red
book'. Do you agree with them?

"Porto Alegre is not the Paris Commune! However, the World Social Forum is
an important moment, a place where an extraordinary generosity and militant
abilities are about to meet. I am in agreement with the spirit and the
objectives of the movement: to construct, at a global level, an opposition
to liberalism and to develop a possible alternative, within the framework of
globalisation. It is a fundamental stage in the construction of a
counter-Empire. The anti-liberal movement, on the other hand, gives
expression to many different positions. And I don't agree with all of them."

Are you referring to the anti-Americanism that tempts some parts of the

"My impression is that these associations are made by the adversaries of the
movement. To be anti-American is completely idiotic. One needs to overcome
the false view that makes of the American government the sole enemy. The
American government is the most important amongst the powers to contest, but
it isn't the only one. It wouldn't exist if the ruling classes of world
capitalism didn't give it their complete support. The most important
struggle, for the anti-liberal movement, is to manage to mobilise American

What positions do you distance yourself from?

"From the fact that we really need to break with Third Worldism, and Porto
Alegre must do it. Third Worldism is a pernicious illusion: it hasn't
struggled against capitalism because it's never seen it as only one thing at
the global level. If we wanted to put together a world forum and a world
workers organisation we'd need to deal with this very precise awareness:
that there no longer is a North-South separation, because there are no more
geographical differences amongst Nation-States."

How do you explain then the presence of a trend that supports national
sovereignty, and its representation at Porto Alegre by Jean-Pierre

" I think that this is precisely the weak point of the movement. A weakness
that cultivates the illusion of going back to a pre-globalisation era. The
Nation-State is surpassed. Globalisation was not caused by the will of
American power. Moreover, the real anti-Americanism is that of the makers of
national sovereignty. Empire, globalisation, derives from the fact that
Nation-States can no longer control within their borders the movements of
capital and conflicts.
For three or four centuries the nation-state has been a formidable locus for
the development of capital and the regulation of society. This historical
situation is surpassed because not even the Americans manage to preserve the
nation-state form.
We find ourselves in the paradoxical situation where the US president is
elected with foreign investments: the capital of Saudi oil barons is so
completely integrated with the government of American affairs that we can
really no longer say that the nation-state still functions."

Does the war undertaken by the west against terrorism risk to criminalize
the anti-globalisation movement?

" I'm afraid it could. What's happening at this moment is neither a war nor
a police operation.  It could well be a new form to exercise imperial force.
It is a war that becomes less and less destructive and increasingly ordering
and constituent. It is obvious that there will be an extension of
liberticidal laws. Having said that, I am fairly optimistic, because there
is a resistance to organise, counter-powers to oppose to this phenomenon."

Does the struggle of the Porto Alegre opponents inaugurate what you call 'a
new phase in the struggle of the exploited against the power of capital'?

"I believe so, I hope so. But the problem isn't just a matter of fighting
capital; it is also one of organisation. I hope that Porto Alegre will allow
it. We must say that we don't want to live in a world like this, that we
want to get away from a power that tries to manipulate even our lives, our
affects, our desires. Today the exploited are not just the manual workers,
but also the social multitudes: workers, surely, but also students,
flexible-workers, unemployed, immigrants, women, black market workers,
interns. It is important to be well aware that we find ourselves faced with
new political subjects. The new left cannot but emerge from the anti-liberal


"In Italy, for example, the rebirth of the left will come from the movement:
more and more ex-militants of the Italian communist party are approaching

But there are groups, such as Attac, that refuse to become a political

" I think that the movement has no intention of limiting itself to
contestation: it is a movement of counter-power. It certainly isn't
fascinated by power, and the liberation from this flattery has been a
painful process. Nonetheless power must be subverted. How? Once we used to
distinguish between different stages: first a workers and unionist
resistance, then an insurrectional phase and finally the constituent one.
Today there is neither a distinction nor transition; there is simply the
movement. The new political subject that the movement embodies is
increasingly a constituent subject of resistance, a subject of struggle and
creation. It opposes whilst proposing alternatives. It chooses to flee from
power and it designs another world. That world is possible, but the
multitude needs to get organised."

The movement is almost co-substantial to the Internet. Is it its best

"Internet is a tool, certainly a precious one but it can fall under the
control of the capitalist system. On this terrain, today, the conflict is
evident. But it is not only a question of control, there is that of
property, in the case of Internet that of patents and intellectual
copyrights. Amongst the militants I know the problem is increasingly not
only that of private or public property, but also the definition of a new
common good. People start thinking that all services -education, health and
transports, social welfare - must be considered a collective good, including
those linked to intellectual labour. It is a question of defending the
Internet function as a tool of the movement, but it is also the material
problem of organising a new society.",6861,260198,00.html

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