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Democracy and the Multitude

Spinoza against Negri

Sandra Field

Negri celebrates a conception of democracy in which the concrete powers of individual humans are not alienated away, but rather are added together: this is a democracy of the multitude. But how can the multitude act without alienating anyone's power? To answer this difficulty, Negri explicitly appeals to Spinoza. Nonetheless, in this paper, I argue that Spinoza's philosophy does not support Negri's project. I argue that the Spinozist multitude avoids internal hierarchy through the mediation of political institutions and not in spite of them; nor do these institutions merely emanate from the multitude as it is, but rather they structure, restrain and channel its passions. In particular, the required institutions are not those of a simple direct democracy. There may be other non-Spinozist arguments on which Negri can ground his theory, but he cannot legitimately defend his conception of the democratic multitude by appeal to Spinoza.

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Empire/Multitude—State/Civil Society

Rethinking Topographies of Power Through Transnational Connectivity in Ecuador and Beyond

Suzana Sawyer

This article uses a lawsuit against Chevron as a means to examine the complex, compromised, and incomplete practices that form what can be described as Empire/Multitude and state/civil society. The class-action suit, filed on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian citizens, encapsulates processes of globalization and their attendant consequences. I argue that the binaries Empire/Multitude and state/civil society assume a physiology of coherence and topography of power that obscure their deeply transnational nature. Systematically exploring the networks of connectivity that produce and transform these dyads allows for a refiguring of indigenous peoples within the political realm. Rather than outside or below, subaltern subjects (indigenous and non-indigenous alike) are co-existing political embodiments that can shape the sphere of authority and legitimacy that make up the state and the practices of Empire.

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Maria Antonietta Perna

The present paper aims to explore the Spinozean notion ‘multitude’ as it is used in texts by Antonio Negri and Paolo Virno, although I shall only touch upon the latter’s work to the extent that it appears to agree with Negri’s theses. Doing so will bring up an issue which, in my view, impinges on the articulation of the praxis of liberation envisioned by the above philosophers. In particular, although their analyses adopt ontology as a point of departure, and this is a core methodological tenet in their thought, they fall short of offering an account of the ontological structures of agency which would be adequate to ground the motivation for the appointed ethico-political task.

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Tendayi Sithole and Paolo Cossarini

Violence in/and the Great Lakes: The Thought of V-Y Mudimbe and Beyond by Grant Farred, Kasereka Kavwahirehi and Leonhard Praeg (eds.) Tendayi Sithole

Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today: The Biopolitics of the Multitude versus the Hegemony of the People by Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgos Katsambekis (eds.) Paolo Cossarini

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Seeking what?

Subversion, situation, and transvaluation

John Kelly

Hardt and Negri's transvaluation of violence into the sign of emergent revolutionary subjectivity begins in a philosophical dream, not any actual historical anthropology. Negri's politics of subversion attempt to articulate the ongoing constitution of a new multitude but actually constitute the alter ego to Pax Americana's vision of nation-state sovereignty and finance-dominated capitalism. Thorstein Veblen's critique of the finance-dominated, postmodern new order, first rendered in 1919, draws similar conclusions about fictions in sovereignty by nation-state and contradictions between vested interests and the global commons. But Veblen correctly warns against romanticizing violent tactics. An anthropology of situations will better help scholars clarify contemporary predicaments and potentials than will search for an insurgent global multitude. The issue is urgent in the situation of globalized counterinsurgency. Anthropology can and should mount a better critique of actual global politics than it can find within the values of any philosophy, even one committed to the Spinozan celebration and amplification of immanence.

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Nikos Sotirakopulos

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2012) Declaration, Argo Navis Author Services, PP. 111, ISBN: 9780786752904.

Declaration is the 5th book by the influential intellectual duo of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri and the first after their trilogy of Empire (2001), Multitude (2005) and Commonwealth (2011). It is a ‘just on time’ intervention of the two intellectuals on the present moment and the cycle of struggles springing up around the world in 2011. Thus, its size and style resembles more a pamphlet, rather than the wider and more theoretical analysis taking place in their trilogy.

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In a World of Migration

Rethinking Literacy, Language, and Learning Texts

Elizabeth P. Quintero

This article has evolved from teaching future teachers about literacy and language in multilingual contexts. The examples are taken from contexts in the United States with learners from around the world. Professionals in the classrooms, in the teacher development programs, and in schools and colleges of education have been doing responsible research for many years, and have learned much regarding the learning of multilingual people who represent a multitude of histories. In this article the focus is on rethinking literacy, languages (home languages and target languages of host countries), the connections between personal and communal history and learning texts, and how all of the above relate to the curriculum in various learning arenas.

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Hannah Arendt

Radical Evil, Radical Hope

Jeffrey Newman

The world is facing a multitude of interconnected issues, leading to avoidable starvation, poverty and death for hundreds of millions. Is Arendt's concept of the 'banality of evil', which she adopted in preference to Kant's 'radical evil', applicable here? Are we bystanders, addicted to 'growth'? The paper considers the central role of thinking and, with the help of Greek myth and Nietzsche, the relationship between evil and hope. Finally, there is an emerging concept of 'radical hope'. What is this, could it be of help and how would it connect with Judaism's teachings of the Messiah?

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Kenneth Bo Nielsen

Abstract

The large-scale transfer of land from rural communities to private corporations has become a defining feature of India’s development trajectory. These land transfers have given rise to a multitude of new “land wars” as dispossessed groups have struggled to retain their land. Yet while much has been written about the political economy of development that underpins this new form of dispossession, the ways in which those threatened with dispossession have sought to mobilize have to a lesser extent been subject to close ethnographic scrutiny. This article argues that an “everyday politics” perspective can enhance our understanding of India’s new land wars, using a case from Singur as the starting point. The agenda is twofold. I show how everyday life domains and sociopolitical relations pertaining to caste, class, gender, and party political loyalty were crucial to the making of the Singur movement and its politics. Second, by analyzing the movement in processual terms, I show how struggles over land can be home to a multitude of political meanings and aspirations as participants seek to use new political forums to resculpt everyday sociopolitical relations.

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"The lonely cows"

An outcome of the EUropeanization in rural Lithuania?

Ida Harboe Knudsen

This article focuses on small-scale farming in Lithuania in light of the country's European Union (EU) entrance in 2004. Although the EU, together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, had encouraged a rapid privatization of the former collective farms, the result was not an economically viable farming sector, but a multitude of unspecialized farms run by ageing farmers with but a single cow. These farmers are now viewed as the main obstacle to further development and are encouraged to retire. However, the farmers have proven reluctant to do so. Looking at different attempts to reduce the number of small farms, the article analyzes how the outcomes of the EU programs often are quite different from what was originally intended. Such processes are coined as EUropeanization: a term that embraces how the EU is interpreted and implemented in daily life by the farmers.