geert on Sun, 3 Feb 2002 01:08:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Interview with Michael Hardt in Porto Alegro)

(via lbo-talk)

>From Jornal do Brasil Online

Old New World

Philosopher Michael Hardt, , author of Empire, says that the USA changes
tactics to maintain hegemony

Alexandre Werneck

Little has changed. This is the opinion of American philosopher Michael
Hardt,  five months after the attacks of September 11. For him, the world
continues practically the same. ³It has become easier to say that everything
has changed², he warns. Hardt, professor of literature at Duke University in
North Carolina, is author, together with Italian philosopher and political
scientist Antonio Negri, of one of the most impotant books of 2001, Empire.
The work is a snapshot of globalization as a phenomenon which, if on the one
hand buried the old imperialism, has on the other created what the authors
call an imperial system, a network of global power more powerful than the
action of the United States and its armies. Hardt is in Brazil to
participated, from Wednesday, in the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, the
international meeting of members of the worldwide left intelligentsia.
Today, in Rio de Janeiro, he is awaited in the closing debate of the Vozes
do milenio [voices of the millennium] series, which aims to think
globalization through [*] and which is promoted by the School of
Communications of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and by the
Republicıs Museum. The meeting will take place at 3pm in the auditory of the
Science and Culture Forum of the UFRJ. At 43 years of age Hardt is
preoccupied with the creation of an ³old times² democracy, with equality and
collective participation and says that the left should be more utopian.
Next, his interview:

- - How do you explain that a book about globalization, with so clearly a
Marxist reading as Empire has become an editorial success?

I donıt know exactly, but I think that this might have happened because the
book is utopian. I do not mean utopian in the sense of something which
cannot be, but in the sense that we believe the world can be better. I think
that there is a lack of utopian thinking in the left today.

- - And people miss this utopia?

 And this is understandable. But I donıt think that the process is
understood in its full complexity. The American media had difficulties
understanding the book. People asked me if globalization was good or bad.
The answer is: neither and both. And this is also hard for people to
understand. Most people who liked the book are opposed to neoliberalism. But
there is not only an option between neoliberalism and the previous model.
Many aspects of globalization, the economic, the cultural and the political
are bad, are forms of exploitation. But at the same time, the same process
caries an intense potential for liberation.

- - What can be said today, sometime after the attacks of September 11

I think that there is much exaggeration regarding how much things have
changed after that day. Without doubt, something changed, itıs undeniable,
but it has become very easy for people to say that everything has changed,
that this is now another world. These same people, however, say the same
things they said before September 11. [Touché]

- - What has changed then?

After what happened, it seems that the United States has returned to an old
style of imperialist action, like the European imperialist powers of a
hundred years ago. This is true, but it is not central. The most important
aspects have not changed. In the last ten years, the military and diplomatic
ideology of the United States has had two dimensions. One is this
imperialist movement, with military actions in the Gulf , in Bosnia, etc.
But another is the imperial ideology. That is, it acts for global interests,
with a new logic of power which is not that of the nation-state.

- - And how does it work?

When we spoke in the debate about human rights in Kosovo, some said that the
American armyıs discourse of promotion of human rights is an ideological
mystification [* tense is present in the original]  and that, in reality,
they are only an imperialist power. I think  that there is an ambiguity,
even contradiction, in the ideology of the American army and diplomacy² the
two principles are acting at the same time. In what refers to the episodes
of September 11, the imperialist dimension is more apparent because the
United States is talking tough, with the voice of a Nation-State protecting
its own territory. But Antonio Negri and I believe that, in the long term,
the imperial logic will be more effective and the imperialist logic will no
longer succeed. The scenario of the old imperialism is ineffective to fight
against this new enemy which emerged with the (terrorist) attacks. It is for
this reason that the Americans are perplexed. There is much discussion in
the American armed forces about what is an enemy which operates through a
network and how to attack it. Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are
networks. The old form of military and political control is not able to
attack a structure like this. The imperial form is more effective.

- - But isnıt the American State increasingly more powerful than other

This is true. But when we say that the Nation-States, even the most powerful
such as the United States, are declining, this does not mean that they are
less important. It means that the kind of domination which they exert is
decomposing [literally unmaking itself; se desfazendo]. This power is
assuming new forms. Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen says that the ministers
in charge of the global economy exert local functions, but connected to a
global vision. She uses Davos S as example of a species of training camp,
where these ministers meet other economists and go home afterwards to
continue the old functions [perhaps: roles] related to their own countries.
But they do not do this in a national theatre. The functionaries of the
American government are in fact managing global capital.

- - Do you think that after September 11 the left has come to be victim of
revenge against anti-Americanism?

Soon after that event, the rightwing press in the USA begun to say that the
antiglobalization movements were as bad as terrorism. Four articles in
rightwing weekly magazines said that I, Antonio Negri and our book Empire
were responsible for September 11.

- - What were the arguments?

First there was the National Review, then the New Republic , New Criterium
and the Weekly Standard. This last one, by the way, does not mention only
us, but also says that Martin Heidegger is the intellectual mentor of the
left (in the articles The Imperial Left ­ Why American academics love Hardt
and Negriıs ³Empire² and Postmodern Jihad ­ What Osama bin Laden learned
from the left). Clearly Heidegger was never a left-wing intellectual. All
this was the product of a weak understanding of what we wrote and is
ideological in the worst sense. The ideological right saw an opportunity to
use all that patriotism to attack its enemies. But I think that we have
already overcome this problem.

[Translated by Thiago Oppermann. Any nonsense is probably my fault.]

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