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A Video Conversation with Antonio Negri, Florian

Schneider and Thomas Atzert (October 2002).
Transcript and Translation by Arianna Bove
To have the ability to understand that you cant make politics
without a space, and there is this space that cannot be closed
and egoistic but must really be a space where development is
determined, which is the space of the common. Today we can no
longer imagine production if not in terms of the common, which
is neither the private nor the public, but rather these spaces of
the external economies. The common is knowledge, it is the
capacity for social mobility, for labour, it is the ability of
integration and the reabsorbtion of what is the new energy that
this whole mass of immigrants brings to our countries. These are
the really important issues, and they can allow not only Europe
but also the American multitudes and surely the Chinese ones
and the Brazilian ones, to give meaning back to globalisation.
Globalisation in itself is a passage that was imposed by struggles
but organised by capital: at this point the question is that of
giving it a new push that goes beyond the conservativism and the
liberalism of Thatcher and Reagan and Bush or even Brasvin that
has been put in place.
The problem is to be able to shake up the dimensions of the
general reproduction of the system, it is not sufficient to
destabilise them, we need to be able to destructure them and
this is a problem of resistance and exodus, of resistance and
refusal, of resistance and alternative proposals that must be
developed through movements that involve populations, that
touch upon and go through the nation states and constitute the
practices of the great areas of the metropolis. Naturally, in
Lenin's reasoning on civil war and on the transformation of
imperialist war into civil war there was also a different and very
strong element, which was the moment of the event, of the
ability to decide: the moment of the Party; but this is also
something that as far as we are concerned is a long way from
being actual or from being possible: now it is rather a question of
understanding how mobility is capable of proliferating, how
networks are capable of getting into motion, how the decisions
are capable of communicating through these processes. It is only
by starting from these material conditions that organising
moments can be invented.
Obviously when we talk about Europe we do so only in so far as
we believe that at the European level it is possible somehow to
give voice to poverty. The question is not to assist the poor but to

involve them as the fundamental basis of an absolute democracy,

this is evidently the passage with respect to which we call a
European politics eventual, [that is] a European politics that
would make of the government of the economy, of the economy
of migrations and of internal finance and of monetary
government an opportunity for rupture and a break of the
capitalist neoliberal block that spreads on the world. It is
possible to do this.
Generally we talk of imperial war as an ordering rather than a
constituent war. In the concept of constituent power there is
always a production of life that war, and imperial war in
particular, does not involve. Imperial war is primarily a war of
destruction, but this does not mean that imperial war is not so to
speak also ordering. It is a bit like a matrioska, a Russian doll,
there is this power of war that is posited by empire as an
ordering capacity, hence as one of the characteristics of imperial
soveregnty. In our book, Empire, we had specified the passage,
taking it from Foucault, from discipline to control, from the
discipline of individual behaviours to the control of populations,
of masses. Sovereignty was presented there as an array of
governmental techniques that increasingly extended from
individuals to the whole context whithin which life was
reproduced, and biopower increasingly intervened on vital/life
relations by construing them, articulating them and dominating
them not only in their beginning, birth, generation and
geneaology, but in their whole development, in all the forms that
were constituted. Now war is inserted in this schema, war is a
biopolitical machine that sets out from the destruction of the
enemys weapons and develops in the attempt to completely
organise the life of the masses, of the populations and of the
multitudes that it relates to.
We always have to remember when speaking of empire that
empire is a process that is absolutely not actualised, definitively
actualised. Empire is the response to a series of processes that
are profoundly contradictory, the process of those struggles
which, whilst in countries with high levels of working class
struggle, the capitalist countries, the central countries, has
developed the impossibility of regulating the market in the
national space; in colonial states it has developed the
impossibility of maintaining that economic-political regime of
subjection; and in the second world countries, the real socialist
countries it has created the impossibility of imposing elements of
development starting from a lack of freedom. The level of
construction of wealth in particular around material goods needs
freedom. In the call for a social wage there is not just a request
to correspond / respond to what are the external difficulties of
the factory, let's call them that, but there is also the necessity of
being freer, there isnt just the fact of being guaranteed in the
passage of mobility from full time to part time, from part time to
unemployement, or of using the RDC (Reddito di
Cittadinanza/Citizenship guaranteed income, tr.) in the periods

of continuous training during ones working life. There is another

fundamental concept that is the idea of taking this time. This is
very important I think especially when we look at the problem
from the point of view of women, of womens life, where
effectively the problem of taking time for the education of
children or in general the participation to what are fluxes and
relations, in a situation of inferiority for women becomes
extremely important.
We are then in a phase where the rules of legitimacy are
established on the basis of an overall relation that concerns the
mondialisation of economic relations, i.e. the world market, the
subordination of nation states to this rational order of commerce
and of capitalist organisation of the world market. Legitimacy is
that of the great powers, or rather of the great bodies that
sustain empire. The world order is the political sovereign order
of empire. Today the internal crisis, but I believe above all the
accumulation of contradictions at the global level, has opened up
the possibility for fundamental change of the political
development. We'd better be very careful about this: the
political cycle of neoliberalism, the one that started in the 70's
with Thatcher and Reagan, was a moment of resistence, of
extreme resistence of capitalism, of capitalist interest, a
resistance to the attack levelled against it, and this was a
resistance but to me it seems one of the paganism of some late
Roman emperors such as Giuliano lApostata who opposed
christianity and the christian social revolution when it was
already affirmed. There is a kind of renewal of resistance, of
repression and of persecution that has been deeply helped by the
phase of internal crisis of the soviet system. Theres been this
perverse alliance of the neoliberal will with the internal crisis
and stagnation of the soviet system of real socialism. Today this
resistance is wearing off. The problem is not one that it is linked
to the will of the ruling classes, but that it is linked to the new
structuration of development, not just capitalist development
but the development of desires, of general behaviours of the
A sovereign structure that is in no place, even though obviously
the most similar places to this non place are the military power
of Washington, the financial power of New York, the power of
production of the imaginary and of communications of Los
Angeles. But the condition is that of the imperial non place, i.e.
of a general restructuring of powers. This restructuring needs at
least for the monarchic and aristocratic powers to coincide, and
this coincidence would have to be, as it's always been every time
a monarchic and aristocratic power confronted one another, a
complex moment, of difficult mediations, of mediations that
then always have to involve the other aspect, that of democratic
struggles, of the opening of these moments of confrontation and
of rupture onto the historical field.

We really need a capacity to mobilise poverty. The real
subjectivation of the multitude does not make one think of
organisational forms that have more or less democratic
centralism, more or less centripetal webs towards organisation.
The problem is all in the content not in the form. What we must
managed to develop is the feeling that poverty is a subject, a
power, a capacity to renew the world. It is only when we manage
to put into motion this concept of poverty as power that we can
also understand what organisasion is. Poverty is indignation
against wealth but also the enormous capacity to produce
wealth. Poverty is something that is put to the margin of this
world of capitalist production but it's also something that runs
through it internally and thoroughly. Poverty is not simply the
poor miserable polulations who are at the bottom of the third
world, poverty is something that is at the centre of our
metropolis. Poverty is not something that is outside of the
working class or of the normal structure of production. It is
something that is inside, that has become more internal to it
through the precariat, through the exclusion from the productive
function. Rather than strike we should use the word exodus.
Strike is the moment of rupture, but here (exodus) it is the
moment of rupture but it is also that of a social construction of
community. This is what is now in present in consciousness at a
very advanced level. We have to interpret this because this strike
in the common becomes a fact of a different civilisation. Here
there is a whole other issue regarding the anthropology of
struggles and behaviours today, of seeing how far for instance in
relation to the traditional Fordist worker today the mode of
feeling and seeing both work and communal activity has changed,
and how it is on this new terrain of anthropological modification
and transformation that a new mode of struggle must be
conceived. It is a great problem that obviously can only be
resolved by practice. The privileged places for this practice are
fundamentally the metropolises. It is there that we must try to
verify, experiment, take the initiative but especially represent
and present things, it would be very interesting on this terrain
for instance to make documentaries and movies, to create a
physical image of the development of these struggles. In a
theatre too