Hardt, Michael 1960-
HARDT, Michael 1960-
PERSONAL: Born January 19, 1960, in Rockville, MD; son of a Sovietologist. Education: Swarthmore College, B.S., 1983; University of Washington, M.A., 1986, Ph.D., 1990.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—01A Art Museum, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Involved in making solar panels in Italy, early 1980s; worked for Christian Sanctuary Movement in El Salvador and Guatemala, c. 1980s; University of Southern California, Los Angeles,instructor in Italian, early 1990s; Duke University, Durham, NC, associate professor and director of graduate studies, 1994—. Has also worked as an English-as-a-Second-Language instructor at California prisons.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named Innovator to Watch, Time magazine, 2001.
(Translator) Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly, [Minnesota], 1991.
Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1993.
(With Antonio Negri) Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.
(Editor, with Paolo Virno) Radical Thought in Italy: APotential Politics, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.
(With Antonio Negri) Empire, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.
(Editor, with Kathi Weeks) Fredric Jameson, TheJameson Reader, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2000.
(With Antonio Negri) Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, Penguin Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to journals, including the Yale Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Together with scholar and former political prisoner Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt is best known as the co-author of two popular, controversial, and politically charged books about the future of the world order: Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. Although the authors have denied the label, these books have been called a new Communist Manifesto by some. In them, the authors have sought to explain how the power structure in the world has traded hands from a group of nation states to a global network of companies and organizations, and how the economic and military powers of the world will eventually collapse in an evolutionary process in which everyone, regardless of nationality or economic status, will be a participant in running the planet.
Though he studied comparative literature and philosophy as a graduate student at the University of Washington, Hardt originally graduated with a degree in engineering from Swarthmore College. Interested in alternative energy sources, his first job was based in Italy, where he helped build solar panels at a factory during his summers off from school. Because Hardt had a desire to become even more active in being part of the solution to the world's problems, he also worked in El Salvador and Guatemala for the Sanctuary Movement, an organization that provides assistance to refugees. Deciding to abandon engineering for comparative literature, he went back to school and earned his Ph.D. As he related in an interview for the Minnesota Review, "I had a desire to find some way to be political, and I had a disgust with the kind of politics that seemed to be available." He had studied engineering initially in order to help third world countries. Switching to literature, he admits, might have been an odd decision: "I mean, who would go into literature thinking it's the way you can effectively do politics?"
While at graduate school, he read the works of Antonio Negri, an activist who was jailed in Italy for his association with the Red Brigade terrorist group. While translating the writings of philosopher Benedict Spinoza, Hardt arranged to meet with Negri in Paris, the Italian was in exile at the time. After graduating and taking a job as an instructor in Italian at the University of Southern California, Hardt met Negri again, and they began to do collaborative work. Together, they published Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form in 1994.
The fact that their next collaboration, Empire, became a huge sensation in academic settings around the world came as a surprise to the authors. Hardt has said that in the work he mainly readdresses viewpoints from past philosophers and applies these ideas to the current evolution in economics and politics. He told Caleb Smith in the Minnesota Review that he and Negri "thought that a variety of related and quite productive and rich theoretical traditions weren't speaking to each other. We thought that this heterodox Marxist tradition, [Gilles] Deleuze-style poststructuralism, and subaltern studies all had, in a way, a common mode of procedure and of recognizing elements of the contemporary world." Hardt and Negri do not find Marxism and poststructuralism to be opposing philosophies; they believe the two could be integrated.
What Empire proposes is that the power structure of the world has evolved beyond the old model in which nation states control and dominate politics and economies. Instead, an "imperial postmodernism,"—also commonly referred to as globalization—has taken over, with power resting largely in the hands of international corporations and organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The power these organizations wield can be oppressive, but they also establish new opportunities for social change that will eventually put true power into the hands of the general world populace. While in Marxism the oppressive force is considered to be capitalism, in Hardt and Negri's book the real problem is sovereignty, "a repressive solution for the centuries-long crisis of modernity," as Frank Ninkovich explained in a Political Science Quarterly review of Empire.
While Empire discusses how this current political situation developed, Multitude explains how a new type of democracy will rise and overthrow the "biopower"—that is, the power of international organizations to control the masses—to establish an international society in which the multitude—the authors' term which might be seen as replacing Marx's "proletariat"—will, at last, be empowered. Increasingly, the world will be connected by network systems, such as the Internet, and this will afford them ways to exert their influence more directly and democratically.
Both Empire and Multitude created a huge stir, as well as considerable debate, in the academic world. Some have praised the works as offering an innovative perspective on changes in international politics and economies, while others have criticized the authors' ideas as unrealistic, utopian reworkings of communist ideology. For example, in his review of Empire, Modern Age contributor Carl Guldager attested that "the suspicion is irresistible that beyond the scholarly scaffolding, the heavy academic prose, the strained effort to come up with something timely and new, and the shock value of the various sermonettes, there lurks the same old tired view of the world as a struggle between capital (bad) and labor (good)."
Other reviewers simply felt that the authors do not make their case logically. Critical Inquiry writer Timothy Brennan, in particular, remarked that Hardt and Negri provide no evidence for their central notion in Empire that the globalization movement was co-opted from the social revolutionaries of the 1960s and 1970s. Also stating that the authors' premise that "the United States has lost its hegemony" is "demonstrably false," Brennan wrote, "This astounding thesis [that globalization was initiated by the masses] is stated with insistent clarity. . . . How the unemployed, the deskilled, the reified, the politically disenfranchised, and the mercilessly propagandized accomplished this or, more to the point, why they did so is a problem Empire never pretends to work out. Only the blanket equation of the state with oppression could prompt the authors to confuse, as they routinely do, deregulation with emancipation."
In response to Brennan's article, Hardt and Negri wrote in Critical Inquiry that their critic "raises a number of red herrings that only confuse the issues." For instance, Brennan said the authors do not provide facts to support their arguments, but the authors contend that the book "does not primarily use the tools of empirical analysis, statistics, or thick description" because it is a "theoretical project that proposes a broad framework for understanding the present global order." Other criticism were also countered by Hardt and Negri, who concluded, "We suspect that the prime motivation for Brennan's hostile approach to our book does not involve specific arguments or theoretical methods, but rather a difference of political position."
But a number of reviewers were also skeptical of the themes expressed in Multitude. Francis Fukuyama, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that Hardt and Negri's book deals with an "imaginary problem" about economic change, while it offers an "imaginary solution" to a real problem, globalization. The critic explained that the authors' adherence to Marxist notions of economics keeps them from considering that some economic changes are voluntary, not imposed on others by a "coercive political hierarchy." She went on to say that their solutions for the very real difficulties caused by globalization are unrealistic. "The authors dress up Marx's old utopia of the withering away of the state in the contemporary language of chaos theory and biological system," wrote Fukuyama, "suggesting that hierarchies should be replaced with networks that reflect the diversity and commonality of the 'multitude.'" But, she continued, the "solution is not to undermine sovereignty but to build stronger states in the developing world."
Despite all the criticisms Empire and Multitude received, the publication of these books inspired a great deal of debate and thought on the issues of globalization and the changing world power structure. Many reviewers especially liked the optimism Hardt and Negri share regarding the potential for a brighter future, an idealism expressed in the language they use. As Ed Vulliamy wrote in the London Observer, "The style is bold and iconoclastic; they write about the 'joy and lightness of being a communist' and posit 'against the misery of power, the joy of being.'" And, in a review of Empire, Frank Ninkovich asserted in the Political Science Quarterly, that, despite its flaws, "This sprawling book is filled with original ideas and analyses, including some well-aimed critiques of postmodernism, dependency theory, world systems theory, anti-imperialism, and localism—and there is much more besides to stimulate the reader."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Journal of Sociology, July, 2002, George Steinmetz, review of Empire, p. 207.
American Studies International, February, 2002, Laura Cook, review of Empire, p. 83.
Arena, December, 2000, Bruce Lindsay, "Toni Negri's Empire," p. 49.
Artforum International, April, 2003, "Making Difference: Homi K. Bhabha on the Legacy of the Culture Wars," p. 73.
Booklist, July, 2004, Brendan Driscoll, review of Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, p. 1804.
Critical Inquiry, winter, 2003, Timothy Brennan, "The Empire's New Clothes," p. 337, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, "The Rod of the Forest Warden: A Response to Timothy Brennan," p. 368, and Timothy Brennan, "Critical Response II: The Magician's Wand: A Rejoinder to Hardt and Negri," p. 374.
Ethics and International Affairs, April, 2001, Sanjay G. Reddy, review of Empire, p. 159.
Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, winter, 2003, Susan Marks, "Empire's Law," p. 449.
International Journal of Politics and Ethics, summer, 2001, Brian Richardson, review of Empire, p. 157.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Multitude, p. 483.
Minnesota Review, numbers 61-62, 2004, Caleb Smith and Enrico Minardi, "The Collaborator and the Multitude" (interview).
Modern Age, summer, 2003, Carl Guldager, "A Case in Point," review of Empire, p. 264.
Monthly Review, December, 2001, Joyn Bellamy Foster, "Imperialism and Empire," p. 1.
Nation, July 17, 2000, Stanley Aronowitz, "The New World Order (They Mean It)," review of Empire, p. 25.
New Criterion, September, 2004, Roger Kimball, review of Multitude, p. 76.
New York Times, August 7, 2004, Edward Rothstein, "For Radical Visionaries, the Evil Empire Is Us," review of Multitude, p. B11.
New York Times Book Review, July 25, 2004, Francis Fukuyama, "An Antidote to Empire," p. 12.
Observer (London, England), July 15, 2001, Ed Vulliamy, "Empire Hits Back," review of Empire.
Political Science Quarterly, fall, 2000, Frank Ninkovich, review of Empire, p. 488.
Polity, summer, 2002, Antonio Y. Vazquez-Arroyo, "Recasting the Left at the 'End of History,'" p. 553.
Publishers Weekly, July 12, 2004, review of Multitude, p. 57.
Radical Society, October-December, 2003, Stevphen Shukaitis, "Anticapitalism and Academics," p. 85.
Social Analysis, spring, 2002, Bruce Kapferer, "Foundation and Empire (with Apologies to Isaac Asimov): A Consideration of Hardt and Negri," p. 167.
Tikkun, January-February, 2005, Charlie Bertsch, "Philosophy for the Future?," review of Multitude, p. 68.
Time, July 23, 2001, Michael Elliott, "The Wrong Side of the Barricades," p. 39; December 17, 2001, Michael Elliott, "One World After All," p. 68; August 9, 2004, Lev Grossman, "The Multitude Strikes Back," p. 94.
Utopian Studies, spring, 2001, Phillip E. Wegner, review of The Jameson Reader, p. 316; winter, 2002, Carolyn Lesjak, review of Empire, p. 148.
Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2004, Gary Rosen, "They Say They Want a Revolution," review of Multitude, p. D8.
Washington Post, September 29, 2001, Lorraine Adams, "A Global Theory Spins on an Altered Axis; Empire Author Michael Hardt in Wake of Attacks," p. C1.
Dissident Voice Web site,http://www.dissidentvoice.org/ (April 20, 2004), Benjamin Dangl, interview with Hardt.