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大卫·哈维:哈特与奈格里《大同世界》(commonwealth)

大卫·哈维:哈特与奈格里《大同世界》(commonwealth)

原与哈特和奈格里对书评的回应一起发表于Artforum 48: 3 (Nov 2009): 210-221
大卫·哈维在《艺术论坛》(artforum)2009年11月的专题中就《大同世界》(2009年出版)与哈特和奈格里进行了争论。原文见:https://libcom.org/library/commonwealth-exchange. 译者:王行坤

译者:王行坤

一直以来,奈格里的作品中有两个根本性的主题。第一个就是对工人阶级或诸众(他将其定义为“穷人的政党”,在斯宾诺莎看来,诸众是唯一的“民主的真正主体”)能力的信心,认为他们可以利用内在性的劳动力量去构建一个不同于资本所塑造的世界。奈格里认为,通过自主的以及非等级化的自我组织,他们可以完成这个任务。第二个主题源自于这个一个坚定的信念,那就是斯宾诺莎的哲学作品为激进思想提供了框架,让其不仅能认识世界,而且也能认识到改造世界的可能。奈格里就这样将诸众的内在性力量与新斯宾诺莎主义的理论框架结合起来,构建出一种新的革命理论,从而重新定义了共产主义的内容。

毫不奇怪的是,这两个主题在《大同世界》中也得到了充分的发挥。这本书哈特和奈格里的第四次合作(之前有Labor of Dionysus,1994;Empire,2000;Multitude,2004,译按),意在进一步阐发他们的观念,并且为我们的时代提出另类全球化的观念,或者用他们的话说,是另类现代性(altermodernity)。在之前的作品中,他们在思想上和意识形态上都支持这样的左翼运动,这些运动努力以最为彻底的方式去改造世界,同时又不产生等级制的政党或者试图去(在两位作者看来)徒劳地夺取国家政权。其原因就在于他们想要提出关于共产主义的不同概念,这个概念乃是基于17、18世纪的哲学。这就与马克思之后的共产主义运动构成了断裂,但也并没有彻底抛弃马克思的某些重要洞见。随着现实存在的共产主义的崩溃解体或改弦更张,尤其是在1989年之后,不仅另外一个世界是可能的,另外一种共产主义也成为可能。在探索未来可能的道路上,除了哈特和奈格里,还有巴丢和朗西埃等重要哲学家。

今天,这种重新定义共产主义的尝试显得尤为紧迫,其原因不仅在于地球上的大多数都在苦苦挣扎的悲惨境况,也在于资本主义体系内不可逆转的环境恶化和日益频繁的自我毁灭性的短期危机。但另一方面,诉诸17、18世纪的思想家,跟随17世纪早期那个来自阿姆斯特丹的磨镜片的师傅(指斯宾诺莎,译按)去寻找答案,这有些匪夷所思。即便如此,哈特与奈格里这方面努力的一个意外收获就是在激进学生群体那里,斯宾诺莎研究小组的欣欣向荣,以及对德勒兹等思想家的重燃热情,后者也是基于斯宾诺莎而发展出自己的思想。

在哈格和奈格里看来,革命思想必须找到对抗资本主义和“财产共和国”( republic of property)的途径。革命思想“不应该回避身份政治,相反,它必须经由身份政治并从中学习,”因为身份政治“是在财产共和国内,并反抗财产共和国的首要动力,其原因就在于,身份本身就是基于财产和主权之上的。”他们通过三个阶段来论述这个问题。“揭示出作为财产的身份(性别,种族,阶级等)的臣服,这意味着在某种程度上夺回身份”,然后将其作为所有物和财产进行保护。大概的意思是:这就是我,这些是我受苦和拥有自己存在的条件。“身份政治的第二个任务是从义愤(indignation,这也来着斯宾诺莎的重要概念)出发,在追求自由的道路上将臣服的身份作为武器,走向反抗宰制结构的道路”。但是就其将身份视为某种财产形式来说,第二个任务“总可能与财产共和国的统治结构相适应。”危险就在于,身份可能成为目的(某种所有权形式,人们拥有它就拥有某种既得利益)而非手段。其结果是释放(emancipation),即“你有成为你所是的自由”,但却阻碍了解放(liberation),即“自决和自我转变的自由,去决定你能成为什么的自由。”因此,第三个任务就是消灭身份的一切形式。这种“身份的自我消灭是理解革命政治只能始于身份,而非终于身份的根本原因所在。”例如,对工人来谁,“共产主义命题的目标就不是消灭工人本身,而是消灭将他们定义为工人的身份。也就是说,阶级斗争的首要目标不是杀死资本家,而是打碎维持资本家特权和权力的社会结构和制度,同时也消灭无产阶级臣服的条件。”于是,拒绝工作,或者两位作者在本书和其他地方所提及的“出走”(exodus,出埃及记对应的也是这个词,指伴随生命政治生产日益占据主导地位,诸众在劳动空间日益取得自主性,劳动本身日益取得政治性,不再需要资本的主导,因此他们的出走可以对资本造成致命打击,译按)就成为主要的斗争武器。这就是释放的意思。革命追求的不只是释放,而是解放。

革命的女性主义、酷儿理论和种族理论有着类似的筹划:它们都试图去消灭在现存结构中束缚人的身份。革命“不是为精神虚弱的人准备的,它是为怪物(monsters)而准备的。”哈特和奈格里借用了卡利班这个怪物形象。“你得失去你所是,才能发现你所将是。”不同身份的斗争之间所存在的平行论(这里他们直接诉诸斯宾诺莎杂多性和平行论的概念)并不是同质性的——这些斗争之间的“接合与平行论”“并不是自动产生,而是需要争取的。”一旦围绕一种身份形式而进行的斗争阻碍了另一种身份形式的斗争,就得做出相应调整。另外,“没有一种领域或社会对抗能够处于首要地位。”革命应该像“蜈蚣或者诸众”那样前进。两位作者总结道:“只有在生命政治斗争的领域内,并且由平行论和杂多性所构成,争取共同性(the common, 也可翻译为公共事务或共同资源,译按)的革命斗争才能取得胜利。”

这种革命模式在很多方面都非常具有启发性,但同时也问题重重。首先,哈特和奈格里否定齐泽克的观点——就与资本主义的延续来说,阶级比其他身份形式要更为根本,但我同意齐泽克的观点。无论种族、社会性别和生理性别身份在资本主义的历史中有多么重要,无论与这些身份相关的斗争有多么重要,我们可以想象出没有这些身份形式的资本主义,但我们却想象不出没有阶级的资本主义。其次,如果推翻财产的共和国意味着取消所有的身份,那么我们所提及的这些身份就远远不够了。例如,与地方和区域相关的地理认同以及本土认同(当地人口与土地的特殊关系)就没有被纳入考量(除了民族主义,但两位作者只是将其视为一种腐化形式)。第三,虽然革命要反对财产共和国相关的主导观念,但如果认为65亿人口可以在没有任何等级制的治理形式,没有货币化和市场的境况下满足衣食住行的需求,这是根本站不住脚的。这个任务对自主存在的扁平化自我组织来说太过艰巨。资本主义的等级制形式在为世界人口提供生活资料方面取得了可观的进步,虽然分配并不均衡,因此我们要谨慎,不能太过轻易就取消这些结构。没有能够为与阶级身份的革命转变相平行的日常生活的物质基础的革命转变提供具体的策略,这是他们论述的一个严重缺陷。

对斯宾诺莎的论述虽然有趣,但效果不大。就我所知,斯宾诺莎对世俗性的事物不会有多大兴趣,如组织世界市场让人人得以饱暖。某种意义上说,在不到十亿人口的世界上,在大多数地区还没有被殖民或者变成相互依赖的全球市场的历史境况下,我们所说的问题还不算是问题。但是到了亚当•斯密的时代,这些问题就逐渐凸显了,并且让康德(在这本书里也有重要客串)提出了全球性的解决方案,但只有当马克思和恩格斯的《共产党宣言》简洁明快地提出全球市场和全球化理论之后,这些问题才真正提上日程。

但我们怀疑——《大同世界》里也有很多证据来支持这种怀疑——正因为斯宾诺莎不关心这些世俗性的问题,所以他的论述才格外吸引人。这些论述可以让哈特和奈格里忽略对革命行动现实基础的考量,去关注抽象的甚至唯心主义的推论。这里我要立刻补充的是,这并不是说前马克思的共产主义思想都是不相干的,但这的确或多或少地让他们的思考染上了乌托邦色彩。我也认为在当下的时代我们需要乌托邦思想,但关键的是,我们得认清我们所处的时代。

在考察任何乌托邦规划时,指认出现实存在的物质条件与观念性回应之间的关系总是很有趣的。例如,摩尔的《乌托邦》反映了16世纪早期的世界状况,而哈特和奈格里的作品关于当代资本主义的正面和反面,都有很多内容要说。但是也有很多令人吃惊的缺席。

例如,长久以来哈特和奈格里都认为,当代资本主义与之前的时代产生了根本性的区别。资本主义转向了非物质生产,而不再是物质性生产。这种非物质性表现在两个方面。首先是与商品的有形特征相对的象征的、审美的以及社会的价值。其次,如果说马克思描述了资本和劳动通过物的生产(即劳动者的工资品以及资本家的奢侈品和新的生产资料)而得到中介的社会关系的再生产,那么哈特和奈格里则认为,当代资本主义因为“图像、信息、知识、感受、符码和社会关系”,而主要是关于主体性的直接生产。“生产的客体”不再是物,而是主体,这个主体由“社会关系或生命形式”而得到定义。主体的政治主体性成为生产的客体。例如,如果我们现在都是新自由主义者,那是因为我们的主体性就是如此生产出来的。于是,批判的领域以及阶级斗争的领域,就从物的生产(工厂)转向了主体性的生产。

虽然在我看来这是一个进步且富有启发意义的推论,但这也产生了一个问题:马克思的分析还有多少相关性?在《资本论》第一卷第一章,马克思将价值定义为社会关系。他说,价值是非物质性的,同时也是客观的。之所以如此是因为我们不可能直接去计量社会关系。社会关系的力量和意义只能通过其客观效果而得到评判。马克思非常关注社会关系如何得到再生产。在《资本论》的“简单再生产”一章中,他略过了资本主义物质再生产所必须的所有物质和技术条件,而是聚焦以资本家为一方和以工人为另一方的阶级关系的再生产。因此,马克思既关注商品的生产,也同样关注政治主体的生产。

所有的商品都是社会劳动的象征,而正如马克思所反复强调的,货币商品会呈现出多种象征形式。因此,商品中包含的价值既是物质性的,同时也是象征的、审美的和社会性的,这个事实一点也不新鲜。非物质性所呈现出的这第一种形式在我看来不足为奇。第二种形式倒更为有趣。虽然哈特和奈格里也认识到,马克思将资本定义为一种社会关系,但从他们的论述来看,这对他们来说是一个迟到的发现,而非先在的基本前提。当然,马克思主义传统并不总是承认价值非物质同时又客观的特性,有人来特别提醒我们,这当然非常重要。但我更希望,哈特和奈格里能够更加认真地对待马克思“非物质但却客观”的论述,并且更多讨论“客观的”这一方面。对马克思来说,这种客观化(对象化)尤其通过货币形式的生产,会引起物化、拜物教和异化。马克思理论中的这些关键概念在哈特和奈格里那里却被忽视了。

如果不是因为这个事实——马克思将价值定义为非物质和客观的为他的虚拟-资本理论奠定了基础——我是不会提出之前的问题的。这在金融化的过程中起到了关键的作用。虽然哈特和奈格里偶尔提及金融化并且承认其重要性,但他们完全没有虚拟资本的理论,也不可能解释如下境况的意义:凌驾在价值只有56万亿美元的全球经济(商品和服务)之上的是价值600万亿美元的各种各样的衍生品(金融资本家可以从这些衍生品中攫取巨额个人财富,如索罗斯在2007年所攫取的30亿美元)。如果不是因为虚拟资本繁衍——从信用卡文化到住房价值收益的投机——的影响,可以与受福柯式的生命权力(也就是施加在生命上的国家权力)影响等量齐观,那么这种疏漏倒是可以原谅的。来说说非物质性!直到最近,不只是在曼哈顿同时还有弗罗里达以及美国西南,人们谈论最多的是因为财产价格的飞涨而导致的个人不平等问题。但是看着这个虚拟的客观结果(止赎的房屋,失业,破产的消费主义,破产的银行等)。

哈特和奈格里忽略虚拟资本这个范畴,在我看来部分是因为这个范畴与他们偏爱且过度关注的生命权力和生命政治(生命进行反抗的能力)概念不相兼容,他们将这两个概念视为政治主体性得以形成的唯一领域。问题不是判定他们错了,而是说,他们的分析太过偏颇,无法形成令人满意的理论框架,去理解当下的危机及其政治困境,其中就包括生产解放性的政治主体性问题。

当然,批判他们的疏漏太过容易,但我认为重要的是强调哈特与奈格里思想的极限,从而更好地理解他们所作出的贡献。这本书的目的不是去理解当下的经济危机,它有着更为深刻和长远的目标。例如,两位作者坚持认为,如果我们想要理解革命可能性的话,关注主体和主体性如何生产这个问题是根本性的。他们毫无疑问是正确的,这也是经典马克思主义的弱点所在。在这个方面,哈特和奈格里以赞同的态度引用福柯:我不同意那些人,他们将人生产人的方式,等同于价值生产、财富生产或者有经济用途的物品生产的方式;人生产人的是对我们所是的彻底破坏,是某种全新他者的创造,一种完全的创新。他们建设性地采纳了福柯的“装置”概念,将其理解为“主体性生产中,起动积极作用的物质的、社会的、情感的以及认知的机制。”哈特和奈格里说,这么方式“可以让我们将共同性的集体生产视为一种介入,为了颠覆主导权力并且以确定的方向引导力量,介入到当下的力量关系中。在这个意义上,知识的策略性生产就直接意味着另类主体性的生产。”这就是他们革命理论的来源。

这个推论是非常关键的,因为正如他们之前的思考所表明,反抗现代性的斗争往往会习惯性地衍生出现代性本身已有的问题,这是很可怕的。为了寻找另类现代性——这是现代性和反现代性的辩证对立之外的一种形式——他们需要逃逸的手段。他们指出,社会主义还是资本主义这个选择原本就错了。我们需要提出完全不同的共产主义观念——在完全不同的维度里进行思考。福柯为他们提供了这个手段。当然,这里并没有什么特别新颖的内容。资产阶级秩序很早就努力尝试去直接塑造政治主体。福柯关于治理术的理论以及生命权力转向,甚至回溯至16世纪的欧洲。统治阶级如何生产占统治地位的思想,马克思当然更有发言权。正如哈特和奈格里所指明的,长久以来,生产占统治地位的思想一直就是根本性的,所以在《大同世界》的末尾,他们详细讨论了葛兰西的相关思想。

为什么偏偏要关注非物质性和生命权力?到底发生了什么样的转变?正如哈拉维曾经指出的,身体是“一种积累策略”,因此我们需要解释资本到底如何作用并且穿透身体。但是,我们不能忽略物质性的一面,即“可变资本”(工资)进行流通的方式。有趣的是,在过去的半个世纪,消费主义在资本主义经济中起到了更大的作用。在当下的美国,大约70%的经济行为都是由消费者所驱动的,而在马克思的时代,则大约只有20%。可变资本的流通急遽膨胀。消费者的情绪极为关键,因此,引导、激发并维持他们的消费情绪对资本积累来说就成为关键任务。身体应该充满永远也无法满足的欲望。虽然曾经有段时期,自然欲望占据主导,但是对发达资本主义国家的绝大部分来说,这种欲望很早就被超越了,今天我们身处过度性(excess)的消费主义政治中。

为了支持这个过程,需要动员生命权力,但这并不是我们需要考虑的唯一力量。虚拟资本和信用卡也会通过信用和货币市场而影响政治主体性。我在其他地方曾详细论述过,二战之后的美国的政治主体性在很大程度上受到郊区化(suburbanization,西美尔在其1903年的文章“大都市与精神生活”就分析过类似的现象)物质实践的影响。

但毫无疑问的是,随着物的市场的日渐饱和,资本主义转向了生产的非物质形式——因为在一个需要3%的复合增长率才能生存下去的体系中,这些产品对空间没有要求。如果资本主义只生产物质性的产品,我们的房屋将无法容纳。因此就有了如下转向:感受、景观、信息、图像或体验性的时刻等,所有这些产品都要商品化。过去很多直接生产主体性的国家机构和非资本主义机构(如学校和教堂)也要进行商品化和私有化。施行生命权力的主要场域,如教育,医疗甚至教育等,成为资本积累的关键场所。

哈特和奈格里强调这些转变的重要性无疑是正确的,虽然他们并没有很好地考察这些转变的政治经济学或物质性层面。两位作者主要有两条考察路径。首先,他们认识到,生命权力直接作用于身体之上。他们接受福柯的观点(我不完全确定为什么),这种生产的形式与物的生产完全不同,因为它的运作遵守非常不同的规矩和原则。就其生产政治主体来说,生命权力也确立了斗争的领域,哈特和奈格里(跟随福柯)将其称为生命政治,这是基于身体的反抗和他异性的场域。他们论述说:“生命政治生产的终极核心不是为主体生产客体——如我们一般所理解的商品生产那样,而是生产主体性本身。”这是他们的“伦理和政治筹划得以开启”的领域。他们特别的(在我看来是太过狭隘的)关注是“主体性生产的掌控或自主性。”生命政治领域关乎的是“新的主体性的生产,这既是反抗,也是去主体化”(即拒绝,出走)。福柯对生命权力的分析“不仅从经验角度描述了权力如何为主体并且经由主体而运作,而且旨在指出生产另类主体性的潜能,因此区别出了两种在本质上截然不同的权力形式。”或者正如福柯所说,“在权力关系的中心并且时刻挑战权力的,是意志的不服从和自由的不妥协。”他们总结说,另类现代性应该构成“生产主体性”且追求自由的装置。

以上论述构成了他们关于生命权力和生命政治在政治主体性生产方面所扮演角色的引人入胜的复述和阐发。正如他们所正确指出的,这个原创性的贡献必须直接纳入如下任务:探索革命可能性,重新定义能够重焕活力的共产主义筹划——真正的另类现代性。

但是,他们从何处得到这些根本性的洞见?这里我有一些迷惑,因为他们就生命政治而展开的关键(虽然是偏颇的)论述所指向的世界对我来说难以理解。无疑,我不了解斯宾诺莎,这是一个严重的问题,但就这个问题来说,我肯定不是唯一一个。在我看来,政治宣传册要求人们对斯宾诺莎有深入了解,这无疑要失败,因为它只能对一小部分人发言。而且我们这些不懂斯宾诺莎的人为什么要相信,斯宾诺莎有万能钥匙?无论如何,《大同世界》没有能够说服我去参加斯宾诺莎阅读小组,去寻求更深刻的答案。当然,这些分析也有很多意外亮点,虽然他们提出的问题要远多于答案。现在让我提及哈格和奈格里论述中另外两个重要贡献——一个没有说服我,另一个在我看来则富有建设性,至少就其提出的问题来说。

他们说,我们都非常熟悉的个体概念是不能令人满意的,因为个体的概念奠定了财产共和国,因而对资本主义的内容来说也是根本性的。因此他们更偏爱构成诸众的奇异性(singularities)。奇异性(这我知道)是一个数学术语(在数学和物理学上翻译为奇点或奇异点,译按),在物理学和相对论中也有所应用。(但我不知道斯宾诺莎是否使用了这个概念。)这是函数中的一个点,可能变成无限性,因而在某种意义上是无法表征的(作为“宇宙学的奇点”,大多科学家认为它是宇宙产生之初,由爆炸而形成宇宙的那一点。它具有所有物质的势能,而这种势能----正是由大爆炸而转化为宇宙物质的质量和能量,我们可以想象,奇点是一种没有固定形状的、没有体积的不可思议的存在。数学上,奇点是没有大小的“几何点”,就是不实际存在。令人难于理解的还有,没有大小的奇点物质竟然是能级无限大的物质。这些是同我们现有的理论和观念不相合的。——百度百科)。至于为何个体、个人、人类或者无论是什么要被重新定义为诸众中的奇异性,这我并不清楚,但看起来奇异性的行为并不是由构成社会秩序的“事件场域”所给定或决定的。也许我理解错了,但很明显,哈格和奈格里用这个术语想要表达的是很重要的思想,因此如果能知道这个术语到底是什么意思以及他们为何使用这个术语(恐怕再写一篇关于斯宾诺莎的论文也是不够的),那就好了。根据他们的语境,个体、个人等在面对社会压力或卡里斯马型领袖时,可能会,偶尔也的确会臣服于主权权力,甚至有时会为了国家或宗教的信念而牺牲自我,而他们所说的诸众是不可能(或不应该)这么做的。奇异性永远不可能完全臣服于任何一种生命权力,并且可以随时扩展至“无限性”。因此他们在这里提到的是一种人类“类本质”,它有着尚不为人所知的能力,也许更为重要的是,在人类历史中,无法得到表征。这种不可表征的奇异性是诸众奠基性的要素。我猜测,正是这个不可表征性让这个概念如此重要和迷人。想象自己是不可表征且有能力进入无限性,这的确很让人鼓舞!但这种不可表征性让整个讨论都非常含糊、抽象。就这种不可表征性来说,很难进行富有成果的讨论。

奇异性的概念将这种思想带进革命观念中:我们事实上可以取消所有的身份符号,如种族的、阶级的、生理和社会性别的、族裔的、宗教的和区域的,并且让自己摆脱一切,进入纯粹存在的境地,这样我们就可以根据完全不同的原则来构建自我。也就是说,我们可以忘记自己是谁,在哪儿出生,社会性如何通过地理所影响的生活经验而得以形成。但这是我们的身份问题——生产者、消费者以及来自特定区域的存在——真正出场的地方。问题不是,我们放弃基于阶级、种族、性别等之上的身份,比我们抛弃ipod、手机或者放弃与我们的居住地和生活方式相关的身份要更为容易,毋宁说,我们不可能不生产和消费,我们也不可能不居于某个地方。这些身份不可能轻易放弃,就像我们在原则上可以抛弃阶级身份一样(当然,这也不等于说,我们无法改变消费习惯无或是居住地)。

如果哈特和奈格里回到马克思的思想——价值是非物质性的因而也是不可表征的,但同时也是客观的,可以用货币形式表征出来,他们本可以学到更多。当他们说革命主体的行为是诸众内部的奇异性时,他们好像是表达了类似的意思。例如,他们以肯定的态度提及了暴动(jacqueries,主要指法国历史上的农民暴动,译按)的历史。这是他们为奇异性可能会产生客观的、集体性的政治出场,所提供的例证吗?但这个例子令人堪忧:那些张牙舞爪想要阻挠美国医改的右翼分子,他们是暴动运动中的奇异性的吗?他们当然是在发泄无穷的愤怒,反抗资本主义国家在他们的世界中施行新形式的生命权力的行为。

我不知道哈特和奈格里会怎样回应这个例子?有一条出路,而这条出路也很成问题。一旦有可能性出现,而他们不喜欢,他们就将其斥为“腐化。”因此如果是他们不喜欢的暴动,可能他们就将其斥为腐化形式。这就是他们处理爱的哲学概念的方式。他们引入这个观念,然后立刻避而远之,努力与爱的腐化形式如自爱或爱国保持距离。这些腐化甚至被定义为恶!他们写道:

我们的政治人类学观点是,将恶视为爱与共同性的衍生和变形。恶是爱的腐化,从而成为阻挡爱的东西,或者从另一个角度说,恶是共同性的腐化,从而成为阻碍生产和生产力的东西。恶并没有原初的或最初的存在,与爱相比,只是次生的东西。之前我们谈及爱在种族主义、民族主义、民粹主义和法西斯主义中的腐化;我们也不仅分析了共同性因为资本主义占有和私有化而遭受的破坏,同时也指出,共同性在家庭、企业和国家中的腐化都被制度化了。恶既是腐化也是障碍,这种双重位置为我们的研究提供了最初的标准。

或者如迪克•切尼的著名说法:我们不和恶讨价还价,我们只打败它。

现在让我来考察本书另外一个更为积极的贡献:对共同性作为斗争的政治焦点的强调。近年来很多领域都出现了对这个政治主题的讨论,而本书对这个讨论有着实质性的贡献。

对共同性的圈占和私有化是资本主义发展的核心,这个主题由来已久,但不幸的是,对这一问题的考察还笼罩在对逝去的世界的怀旧情绪中——例如,缅怀17世纪英国的掘地派和平等派。当代的理论更关注新自由主义境况下共同性的进一步流失,如水和其他自然资源被私有化,同时越来越多的资源环境也被商品化,甚至从文化历史、生态奇观和音乐发明到基因材料的专利都成为新兴产业。

但是人们越来越认识到——哈特和奈格里对此有着重要的见解——共同性会不断被生产出来。在哈特和奈格里看来,向非物质劳动的转向自然而然地导致了一种过度性的生产,这种过度性就是共同性。如果仅仅因为人们居住在那里,共同性就是诸众使用的场域。但事实上,资本主义已经失去对共同性生产的控制,反而得依靠诸众去进行生产以便资本本身能够存活下去。由此诸众获得了前所未有的力量。因此,哈特和奈格里赞同朗西埃的观点:“政治就是共同性活动的领域,这个领域永远处于斗争之中。”

因此,共同性在这个世界上成为核心概念。“只有当我们共享并参与进共同性,诸众的民主才是可以想象并可能实现的。”他们说,我们需要“这样一个关于爱的政治概念,它能够认识到民主必须奠基于共同性和社会生命的生产之上。”但这意味着“爱需要力量去征服统治权力并且在其能够创造出共同财富的新世界之前,砸碎统治权力的腐化机构。”创造共同财富的新世界(大同世界)就是本书政治的核心。

这里共同性有两个内涵,对哈特和奈格里来说,第二个内涵最为关键。第一个内涵关涉的的是“物质世界的共同财富——水、土地的果实以及整个自然界——一在古典的欧洲政治文本看来,这些都是人类的遗产,理应共享。”对这些共同性进行圈占并攫取私人利益的漫长历史,以及关于共同性在财产共和国内如何才能得到最好的管理的复杂讨论,所有这些已广为人知。随之而至的政治困境——这种困境因为哈丁在1968年对共同性悲剧(一般翻译为公地悲剧,译按)的重提而引起纷繁的争论——也已广为人知。(事实上我非常奇怪,他们居然没有提及相关讨论,而正如我们将看到的,这些讨论非常关键。)与之相伴随的是“对共同性的剥夺成为剥削的方式”,其中包括在新自由主义下强势出现的(我将其称为)“剥夺性积累”(如房屋止赎)。我们大都同意,这导致了(马克思所命名的)原始积累逻辑的继续,但其范围更加广泛和复杂。这包括私有化的浪潮,从国有企业到公共设施、社会保险、医疗、教育、交通系统、社会和有形的基础设施,甚至于战争(哈里伯顿公司万岁!)(世界上最大的为能源行业提供产品及服务的供应商之一,承包了美国在伊拉克的战争,译按),也将私有财产体制最大程度地植入进了我们称之为自然的共同性之中,从而攫取地租。

哈特和奈格里写道:“共同性的第二个概念是动态的,既包括劳动的产品,也包括将来的生产资料。这种共同性不仅是我们所共享的地球,也是我们所创造的语言,我们所创造的社会习俗,定义我们关系的社会性模式等。这种共同性不像前一种共同性那样受制于稀缺性的逻辑。”但他的确会受制于贬值和平庸化(banalization)的逻辑,这个逻辑对当下生活来说与稀缺性一样关键。他们接着论述说:“对第二种形式的占有——人工共同性或者模糊了文化与自然界限的共同性——是理解生命政治劳动剥削新形式的关键所在。”

本书有很多探讨这种共同性的地方,这也确实需要我们更多的关注——这里我的概述显然是不够的。但是作为总结,我还有一些问题需要提及。我尤其赞同哈特和奈格里的如下观点:他们将大都市视为“生产共同性的工厂”,并且坚持认为,城市化为资本所带来的收益在很大程度上以地租(这是很多马克思主义理论都忽视的一个范畴)的形式表现出来。虽然我认为他们对这个论述有过渡发挥之嫌——他们期待出现一个生命政治城市——但他们对共同性如何在城市中得到生产的论述,却是富有启发性并且也极为重要的。他们甚至提出,“大都市之于诸众,正如工厂之于产业工人阶级。”在某种程度上,他们转而依赖这样的观念,共同性在很大程度上由经济学家所命名的外部性效果(这种效果不需要市场的作用)所生产,而外部性又可分为正外部性和负外部性(前者如有益的社会相遇,后者如污染和拥堵)。但在更宽泛的意义上我们可以说,人们在日常行为中创造出城市的社会世界,并由此而创造出所有人都可以共享的共同事物。这种与共同性相关的共同性向所有人开放,而我们必须防止圈占这种创造性的行为(这让哈特和奈格里的如下做法显得有些令人费解:就所谓的创造性阶级在促进资本主义发展或提高地租方面所扮演的角色,他们赞同Richard Florida的观点)。争夺都市的共同性以及生产新的都市政治主体性因此就走到了政治的前台。

我赞同这种论述。许多年以来,我和很多作者都一直在强调,马克思主义的政治理论只关注工厂中工人阶级是毫无道理的。这在理论上是错误的,因为它忽视了城市化的生产,空间的生产以及这些行为中的所有工人。这在历史上也是不准确的,因为在资本主义历史中有很多革命行动和工厂中的工人关注日常生活的质量那样,也关注都市令人不满的生活(如巴黎公社,西雅图总罢工【发生于1919年为期5天的罢工,虽然罢工是非暴力性质的,且为期很短,但很多人认为此次罢工具有颠覆美国体制的潜能,译按】,1969年图库曼起义,1967年上海公社等),甚至就在工厂中有关键运动的时候(如上世纪30年代的密歇根联合汽车工人罢工,上世纪20年代的都灵工厂委员会),结果总是会有相近的有组织的支持,在政治行动中起到关键但却被忽略的作用。对工厂的过度强调在内容上也是无效的,因为为争取勒弗菲尔所称之为的“进入城市的权利”而进行的斗争,可以为都市社会运动和基于工作的政治之间的革命性结合,提供更为广阔的基础。当下,进入城市的权利这个口号在全世界“既是呐喊也是要求”——从柏林到(克罗地亚的)萨格勒布,从圣保罗到纽约洛杉矶,我很吃惊《大同世界》没有提及这些抗争(也没有明确提到勒弗菲尔关于进入城市的权利和城市革命的著作)。但是我欢迎哈特和奈格里加入到我们这些左派的阵营内,将都市也视为当下斗争的重要场所,我完全同意他们的如下观点:新的都市共同性的生产对革命共产主义的都市主义目标来说,是根本性的。

他们说:“共同性的积累与其说意味着我们拥有更多的观念、更多的图像、更多的感受等,不如说更为重要的是,我们的力量和感官得到了强化:我们去思考、去感受、去观察去与彼此建立关系、去相爱的能力。用更接近经济学的术语来说,这种强化既意味着社会中可用的共同性越来越多,也意味着基于共同性,我们的生产能力得到了强化。”这是我们都能真正期待的大同世界。

但这里有一个严重的问题。虽然共同性的这种形式不会受制于稀缺性逻辑,但却可能贬值或被圈占。我们很难搞清楚,构成诸众的奇异性如何或者为何就能支持而不是破坏或腐化以感受、图像、信息和符码的世界表现出来的共同性?(哈丁的共同性悲剧不可能轻易就得到解决)毕竟,对当下表征最严厉的批判就在于信息质量的腐化,以及感受、图像和符码的腐化,而奇异性可能要为此负责。

就此来说,资本主义通过实践而非命令所创造出的绝大部分共同性与如下事物有着令人不安的相似性:货币。正如马克思所说,货币是客观的特殊性,可以代表价值所包含的普遍共同性。货币是客观的使用价值,可以衡量非物质性的交换价值,一旦进入流通过程,就无法退出。正是基于这些原因,它是为私人所占有的非物质性的社会力量的客观形式。货币并非由国家所生产(虽然国家会试图进行调节),而是因为私人的商品交换和个体间的信用关系而产生的。因此货币总是倾向于过度性的政治(全世界的中央银行都毫无节制的印钱),并且永远面对着贬值的风险(早先是铸币现在则是因为通货膨胀)。他们并没有提及由奇异性所构成的诸众究竟应该如何面对这种共同性,尽管它深刻影响了都市共同性因为政治的、经济的和社会的实践而得以形成的方式以及与地租占有相关的虚拟资本的运作方式。

这也表明了哈特和奈格里理论探讨中的一个普遍问题。《大同世界》中的很多抽象看起来很好,但却没有具体的提议措施。事实上,本书有很多的措施,有些彼此间还相互冲突。看到革命性和煽动性的命令(“打倒统治权力,摧毁旧制度,砸碎国家机器——甚至推翻资本、家长制和白人至上主义——这些还不够”)和具体的诉求——要求世界政府“向所有公民提供有保障的收入”,向所有人提供基本教育,让所有人都接受培训以获取“基本的社会和技术的知识和技能”,以及让“所有人都有能力参与到社会的构成之中”——并列在一起,这着实令人吃惊。我当然明白他们为何会同时采纳这两种立场。事实上一直以来我也如此——人们希望我这样的革命者有时能够认识到改良主义立场在战略和战术上的重要性;但他们对哈特和奈格里没有这样的期望。他们要砸碎的是像北欧国家、法国、德国和英国那样能够提供全民医保的国家吗?他们和反对美国医改方案的暴动站在一边吗?他们也许是两边下注。我们要再次欢迎他们加入我们的阵营,将改良主义看做革命的前奏。

哈特和奈格里有太多的提议都陷在非物质抽象的领域中,从没有取得具体的形式。例如,两位作者呼吁“基于今天已成为诸众欲望表达的政治、经济和社会创新的力量”提出新的价值理论。他们进一步解释说:

新的价值理论应该基于经济、政治和社会创新的力量,而这些力量在今天已经成为诸众欲望的表达。当反抗成为创造性的和无边无际的溢出时,并且当人类行动逾越并且决定权力的平衡中的断裂时,价值就创造出来了。于是,当生命政治过程的构成性要素和生命权力结构之间的关系失去平衡时,价值就创造出来了。当加诸于发展的控制——资本的国家和集体机构就是用发展来确立自身合法性的——不再能够抵挡诸众、劳动力和社会奇异性的整体组合的反抗时,只有在那时,才会有价值。

我完全同意。但问题是,这种新的价值如何在日常生活中得到表征并被客观化?如果衡量价值的唯一方式就是货币,那么这些高贵的感情(如生态主义者的内在—价值理论和艺术家的美学价值)就很容易通过货币计算而再度被吸纳进资本主义经济的主导实践中去。无论你的艺术是多么的伟大或富有革命性,如果你无法卖钱,那你就身处麻烦之中(别跟我说全球交易已经可行了)。

《大同世界》有很多这种不完全的情感——这意味着还有很多工作有待完成。我们期待哈特和奈格里的下一部作品。我个人希望,作品中要少一点斯宾诺莎,多一点马克思,少一点关联性(relationalities)和非物质性(虽然论述的非常美丽诗意),多一点关对表征、客观化(对象化)和物化的物质方面的论述。关联性和非物质性够多了!来点具体的提议,现实的政治组织和真正的行动可好?

David Harvey in an exchange with Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri on their new book Commonwealth featured in the November 2009 issue of artforum.

There have been two foundational themes in Antonio Negri’s work over the years. The first is an abiding faith in the capacities of the working class or the multitude (redefined as “the party of the poor” and therefore, according to Spinoza, the only “true subject of democracy”) to use their immanent powers of laboring to construct an alternative to the world given by capital. They can do so, Negri believes, by way of autonomous and nonhierarchically organized self-management. The second theme arises out of a deeply held belief that Spinoza’s philosophical works provide a framework of radical thought capable of illuminating not only how the world is but also how it ought to be and can be. Wedding the immanent powers of the multitude with a neo-Spinozan theoretical armature, Negri grounds a theory of revolution and a redefinition of what real communism might be about.

Unsurprisingly, these two themes are heavily on display in Commonwealth, the new joint effort of Michael Hardt and Negri to flesh out their ideas and to define an alternative globalization – or, as they prefer to put it, an “altermodernity” – for our times. In their previous works, they went a long way to support, both intellectually and ideologically, those leftist movements that sought to change the world in radical ways without forming hierarchical political parties or engaging with what the authors saw as the futile quest to take state power. But they did so in a way that sought to define a different kind of communism, one that was grounded in seventeenthand eighteenthcentury philosophy. This constituted a rupture with the post-Marx history of the communist movement but not, however, a wholesale abandonment of Marx’s crucial insights. With the collapse or modification of actually existing communisms, particularly after 1989, not only was a different kind of world possible but a different kind of communism was also possible. In the effort to define what this might be, Hardt and Negri have been joined by several other key philosophical figures, such as Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière.

This attempt to educe a different form of communism takes on renewed urgency today, given not only the appalling conditions under which most of the people on planet Earth struggle to survive but also the gathering storms of irreversible environmental degradation and increasingly frequent short-term crises of self-destruction within the capitalist system. On the other hand, there is something odd about appealing to seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury thinkers, with an early-seventeenth-century lens grinder from Amsterdam in the lead, in the search for answers. Be that as it may, one side result of Hardt and Negri’s efforts has been a boom in Spinoza study groups in radical student circles and an increasing fascination with all those thinkers, such as Gilles Deleuze, who also appeal to Spinoza to ground their arguments.

Revolutionary thought, Hardt and Negri argue, must find a way to contest capitalism and “the republic of property.” It “should not shun identity politics but instead must work through it and learn from it,” because it is the “primary vehicle for struggle within and against the republic of property since identity itself is based on property andsovereignty.” They work through the problem in three stages. “Making visible the subordinations” (gender, race, class, and so forth) “of identity as property implies, in a certain sense, reappropriating identity” and defending it as a possession and property. It is about saying, This is who I am, and these are the conditions under which I suffer and have my being. The “second task of identity politics … is to proceed from indignation” (a key concept from Spinoza) “to rebellion against the structures of domination using the subordinated identity as a weapon in the quest for freedom.” But this second task, insofar as it still treats identity as a form of property, “can always be accommodated within the ruling structures of the republic of property.” The danger is that identity can become an end (a form of ownership that one has a vested interest in perpetuating) rather than a means. It permits emancipation, “the freedom to be who you really are,” but hinders liberation, “the freedom of self-determination and self-transformation, the freedom to determine what you can become.” The third task is, therefore, to strive for the abolition of all forms of identity. This “self -abolition of identity is the key to understanding how revolutionary politics can begin with identity but not end up there.” The “communist proposition” is that workers, for example, “aim to destroy not themselves but the identity that defines them as workers. The primary object of class struggle, in other words, is not to kill capitalists but to demolish the social structures and institutions that maintain their privilege and authority, abolishing too, thereby, the conditions of proletarian subordination.” In this, the refusal of work, or what the authors elsewhere refer to as the strategy of “exodus,” becomes the primary weapon. This is what liberation is all about. And revolution is about liberation, not emancipation.

Revolutionary feminism, queer theory, and race theory have analogous projects: All of them seek to abolish the identity that imprisons one in an existing structure. Revolution “is not for the faint of heart. It is for monsters, ” Hardt and Negri write, making much of the figure of Caliban. “You have to lose who you are to discover what you can become.” The parallelism between the struggles over different forms of identity (and here they appeal directly to Spinoza’s concept of multiplicity and parallelism) is not, however, homologous – “articulation and parallelism” between these struggles “are not automatic but have to be achieved.” Whenever struggles around one form of identity block those around another, adjustments have to be made. Furthermore, “no one domain or social antagonism is prior to the others.” The revolution has to move forward “like a centipede or, really, as a multitude. Only on the field of biopolitical struggles,” the authors conclude, “composed by parallelism and multiplicity, can a revolutionary struggle for the common be successfully pursued.”

Inspiring though this model of revolution may be in many ways, there are a host of problems with it. To begin with, Hardt and Negri dismiss Slavoj Zizek’s contention that there is something far more foundational about class than there is about all the other forms of identity in relation to the perpetuation of capitalism, and in this I think Zizek is right. No matter how important race, gender, and sexual identity may have been in the history of capitalism’s development, and no matter how important the struggles waged in their name, it is possible to envisage the perpetuation of capitalism without them – something that is impossible in the case of class. Second, if all identities have to be abolished for the republic of property to be demolished, then the range of identities under consideration is far too conventionally defined. As usual, for example, geographic identifications with places and regions, as well as local loyalties (the special relation to the land claimed by indigenous populations), are left out of the picture (except in the case of nationalism, which is simply dismissed as corruption). Third, while revolution is quite properly opposed to prevailing notions of the republic of property, the presumption that the world’s six and a half billion people can be fed, warmed, clothed, housed, and cleaned without any hierarchical form of governance and outside the reach of monetization and markets is dubious in the extreme. This question is far too huge to be left to the horizontal self-organization of autonomous beings. Capitalism, with its hierarchical forms, has made serious progress in feeding the world, albeit unevenly, so one must be careful not to demolish those structures too readily. The lack of specification of any revolutionary transformation in the material foundations of daily life to parallel the revolutionary transformation in class identities is a serious lacuna in the argument.

The turn to Spinoza, however interesting, does not help. Spinoza, as far as I know, was little concerned with such mundane things as how to organize the world market so that everyone could eat. In a way, with a global population of less than one billion and much of the world not yet colonized or turned into a global marketplace full of interdependencies, the historical geographic circumstances of the times would have rendered such problems moot. These issues began to take a stronger form with Adam Smith and led Kant (who puts in several important cameo appearances in Commonwealth) to propose cosmopolitan solutions, but it was really the theory of the global market and of globalization so succinctly laid out by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto that put these problems firmly on the map.

The suspicion lurks, and there is a lot of evidence in Commonwealth to support the point, that it is precisely because Spinoza did not have to be concerned with such mundane things that his formulations are so attractive. They permit Hardt and Negri to bypass consideration of the material basis of revolutionary endeavors in favor of abstract and, at the end of the day, somewhat idealist formulations. I hasten to add that this does not in any way render the present surge of interest in pre-Marxian communism irrelevant, but it does impose a somewhat Utopian quality on the thinking. I happen to believe we cannot do without such utopism in these times, but it is veryimportant in reading such exercises to understand that this is what we are looking at.

It is always interesting when considering any Utopian schema to identify the connection between the actually existing material circumstances and the idealistic response. In the same way that More’s Utopia reflected the state of the world in the early sixteenth century, so Hardt and Negri’s writings have a lot to say, both positive and negative, about the state of contemporary capitalism. There are also some startling absences.

It has been Hardt and Negri’s view for some time, for example, that contemporary capitalism differs radically from its past incarnations. It has turned toward immaterial rather than material production. The immateriality appears in two guises. First, the symbolic, aesthetic, and social values of commodities come to the fore relative to material qualities. Second, if Marx generally depicted the reproduction of the social relation between capital and labor as mediated through the production of things (e.g., wage goods for the laborer, luxuries and new means of production for the capitalist), Hardt and Negri claim that much of contemporary capitalism is taken up instead with the direct production of subjectivities by way of “images, information, knowledge, affects, codes, and social relationships.” “The object of production” is no longer a world of things but of subjects, defined, for example, “by a social relationship or a form of life.” The political subjectivity of the subject becomes the object of production. If, for instance, we are all neoliberals now, that is because this is how our subjectivity has been produced. The terrain of critique, as well as of class struggle, therefore shifts from the mere production of things (the factory) to the production of subjectivity.

While I find this a progressive and illuminating move, it does raise the question of how relevant Marx’s analysis might be in relation to it. In the first chapter of Capital (1867), Marx defines value as a social relation. As such, he says, value is immaterial but objective. This is so because it is impossible to measure a social relation directly. The power and significance of the social relation can be judged only in terms of its objective consequences. Marx is deeply concerned with how this social relation is reproduced. In the chapter of Capital titled “Simple Reproduction,” for example, he breezes past all the material and technical circumstances necessary for the physical reproduction of capitalism to concentrate on the reproduction of the class relation the capitalist on one side and the worker on the other. Marx was, therefore, as deeply concerned with the production of political subjects as he was with the production of commodities.

All commodities are symbols of social labor, and the money commodity takes on many symbolic guises, as Marx repeatedly asserts. So the fact that the value congealed in commodities is symbolic, aesthetic, and social, as well as material, is not new at all. I find nothing particularly compelling about this first guise in which immateriality appears. The second guise is much more interesting. But here, too, while Hardt and Negri recognize Marx’s definition of capital as a social relation, they make it seem like a belated discovery rather than a foundational proposition. To be sure, the Marxist tradition has not always acknowledged the immaterial but objective nature of value, and it is therefore vital to be reminded. But I would have preferred that Hardt and Negri take Marx’s formulation of “immaterial but objective” at its word and spend rather more time than they do on the “objective” moment. For Marx this objectification entails, among other things, reification, fetishism, and alienation, particularly through the production of the money form. But these key elements in Marxian theory unfortunately get short shrift in Hardt and Negri’s presentation.

I would not pursue this seemingly nitpicking point were it not for the fact that Marx’s conceptualization of value as immaterial but objective underpins his theory of fictitious-capital formation. This plays a vital role in processes of financialization. While Hardt and Negri occasionally mention financialization and concede its general importance in recent times, they have absolutely no theory of fictitious capital, no conjecture as to what it means for a market circulating six hundred trillion dollars’ worth of derivatives of various kinds (and from which finance capitalists can extract vast personal wealth, like the three billion dollars George Soros gained in 2007) to be superimposed on a global economy that produces only fifty-six trillion dollars’ worth of actual goods and services. This omission could be forgiven were it not for the brute fact that political subjectivities have been as deeply affected by fictitious-capital proliferation – everything from the credit-card culture to speculating on gains in housing value – as they have by any Foucauldian exercise of biopower (i.e., state power over life). Talk about immateriality! Until recently, the talk of the town not only in Manhattan but in Florida and the US Southwest was the magic rise in personal equity as property prices skyrocketed. But now look at the objective consequences of this fiction (foreclosed homes, unemployment, collapsing consumerism, failed banks, and so on).

Hardt and Negri ignore the category of fictitious capital in part, one suspects, because it does not fit with their preferred and ultimately exclusionary focus on biopower and biopolitics (“the power of life to resist”) as the only interesting terrain on which political subjectivity forms. The point here is not to say that they are wrong, rather that their analysis is far too partial to bear the burden of a satisfactory framework for understanding the current crisis and its underlying political dilemmas, including the problem of producing liberated political subjectivities.

Criticism that focuses on omissions is all too easy, of course, but I think it important to emphasize the limits of Hardt and Negri’s thinking in order to better appreciate what they do contribute. This is not a book that sets out to understand the present economic crisis, but one that has a deeper and longer-term purpose. Its authors are unquestionably right, for instance, to insist that critical engagement with how subjects and subjectivities are produced is essential if we are to understand revolutionary possibilities and that this is something classical Marxism was not adept enough at doing. In this respect, Hardt and Negri approvingly cite Foucault, who wrote: “I do not agree with those who would understand this production of man by man as being accomplished like the production of value, the production of wealth, or of an object of economic use; it is, on the contrary, destruction of what we are and the creation of something completely other, a total innovation.” And they constructively take up Foucault’s notion of dispositifs as “the material, social, affective, and cognitive mechanisms active in the production of subjectivity.” Doing so, Hardt and Negri say, “allows us to conceive the collective production of the common as an intervention in the current relations of force aimed at subverting the dominant powers and reorienting forces in a determinate direction. The strategic production of knowledge in this sense implies immediately an alternative production of subjectivity.” And this is where their theory of revolution comes from.

This move is crucial because, as their earlier considerations have shown, struggles against modernity have had the terrible habit of replicating the problems of that modernity. In the search for an altermodernity – something that is outside the dialectical opposition between modernity and antimodernity-they need a means of escape. The choice between capitalism and socialism is, they suggest, all wrong. We need to identify something entirely differentcommunism – working within a different set of dimensions. Foucault offers them that means. Subjectivity is shaped though the direct exercise of biopower. There is, of course, nothing particularly new about this. The bourgeois order has long been desperately concerned to shape political subjects directly. Foucault’s theories of governmentality and of the turn to biopower, for example, refer even as far back as sixteenth-century Europe. And Marx certainly had much to say about how the ruling class produced ruling ideas. Struggles over the production of these ruling ideas have long been recognized as fundamental, as Hardt and Negri acknowledge when, toward the end of Commonwealth, they take up Antonio Gramsci’s contributions in some detail.

So why this exclusive focus on immateriality and biopower? What has really changed? There is no question that the body is, as Donna Haraway once put it, “an accumulation strategy” and that, as such, we need to elucidate how capital works on it and through it. We cannot, however, afford to ignore the material side, the way in which “variable capital” (i.e., wages) circulates. Interestingly, consumerism has come to play a much larger role in capitalist economies over the past half century. About 70 percent of economic activity in the United States is now driven by consumers, compared with what was probably closer to 20 percent in Marx’s time. The circulation of variable capital has swollen to a flood. Consumer sentiment is now, therefore, crucial, and finding ways to stimulate it, titillate it, and sustain it has become central to sustained capital accumulation. Bodies have to be filled with desires that can never be satisfied. While once upon a time what might be called natural desires predominated, for much of the advanced capitalist world such desires have long been exceeded, and we find ourselves ensnared today in a consumerist politics of excess.

Biopower has to be mobilized as one of the means to fuel that process, but it is not the only force that needs to be considered. Fictitious capital and credit cards affect political subjectivities via the credit and money markets. I have also elsewhere argued strongly that political subjectivities in the United States after World War II were hugely impacted by the material practices of suburbanization (an interesting variant on the phenomena analyzed by Georg Simmel in his 1903 essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life”).

What is certainly true, however, is that, as the mar- ket for things becomes saturated, capitalism switches to immaterial forms of production – because they are physically less limiting in a world that requires a compound rate of growth of 3 percent for the system to survive. If capitalism only made material things, our houses would not be able to hold them. Hence the turn to the commodification of affects, spectacle, information, images, experiential moments, and the like. Many state functions and noncapitalist institutions that used to operate to produce subjectivities directly (like the schoolroom and the church) have also been supplanted, commodified, and privatized. Premier zones for the exercise of biopower, such as education, health care, and even prison, have become vital fields for capital accumulation.

Hardt and Negri are right to emphasize the importance of these changes, though they do not probe very far into the political economy or materiality of it all. Two lines of inquiry then emerge. First, the authors observe, biopower operates on bodies directly. They accept (I am not entirely sure why) Foucault’s view that this form of production is radically different from the production of things, that it operates according to quite different rules and principles. Insofar as it produces political subjects, biopower also sets up a terrain of struggle that Hardt and Negri (following Foucault) call biopolitics, a field of resistance and alterity located in bodies. “The ultimate core of biopolitical production,” they argue, “is not the production of objects for subjects, as commodity production is often understood, but the production of subjectivity itself.” This is the terrain from which their own “ethical and political project must set out.” Their exclusive (and in my view far too limited) focus is on the “struggle over the control or autonomy of the production of subjectivity.” The field of biopolitics is about “the creation of new subjectivities that are presented at once as resistance and de-subjectification” (refusal, exodus). Foucault’s analyses of biopower “are aimed not merely at an empirical description of how power works for and through subjects but also at the potential for the production of alternative subjectivities, thus designating a distinction between qualitatively different forms of power.” Or, as Foucault puts it, “at the very heart of the power relationship, and constantly provoking it, are the recalcitrance of the will and the intransigence of freedom.” Altermodernity, they conclude, has to constitute “a dispositif for the production of subjectivity” and the pursuit of freedom.

This constitutes a compelling restatement and elaboration of their earlier theory of the role of biopower and biopolitics in the production of political subjectivities. It is an original contribution that must now be incorporated directly, as they correctly argue, into the production of revolutionary possibilities and into the redefinition of what a revitalized communist project – a true altermodernity – might be about.

But where, then, do they take these fundamental insights? Here I find myself somewhat perplexed, because the nature of the world into which they project this crucial (though partial) argument on biopolitics is unrecognizable to me. Undoubtedly, my ignorance of Spinoza is here a serious problem, but then I am surely not alone in my unpreparedness in this regard. A political tract that demands a deep knowledge of Spinoza before anyone can understand it is doomed, it seems to me, to preach to a very small choir. And why should the rest of us presume that Spinoza has all the answers? In any case, Commonwealth did not send me running to join one of those Spinoza reading groups to search for deeper answers. Yet there are moments when brilliant flashes of unexpected relevance light up the analysis, even as they pose more questions than they answer. Let me take up two further features of Hardt and Negri’s argument – one that fails to convince me and one that I find constructive, at least in the questions it poses.

The concept of the individual with which we are all deeply familiar is unsatisfactory, they say, because it founds the republic of property and is therefore foundational to what capitalism is about. They therefore prefer to speak of the singularities that constitute the multitude. Singularity (and this I do know) is a mathematical term that has applications in physics and relativity theory. (I have no idea whether Spinoza uses it.) It is a point in a function that is not well behaved, that can blow up to infinity, and that is in some sense unrepresentable. Exactly why individuals, persons, human beings, or whatever have to be reconceptualized as singularities within the multitude is unclear to me, except that, it would seem, the behavior of singularities is presumably not given or covered by the “event field” that constitutes the social order. I may have this all wrong, but obviously Hardt and Negri mean something significant by this term, and it would be good to know exactly what it is and on what grounds they find the term appropriate (and yet another lecture on Spinoza will not suffice, I’m afraid). The context suggests that while individuals, persons, etc. can and occasionally do surrender their sovereign powers in the face of social pressures or charismatic leadership, and even on occasion sacrifice themselves to the cause of nation or religion or whatever, this is something that singularities by definition cannot (or should not) ever do. Singularities can never be totally submissive to any amount of biopower and can expand to “infinity” at any moment. So what is being proposed here is a kind of human “species being” that has capacities so far unrecognized and, perhaps even more important, unrepresentable in human history. This unrepresentable singularity is the founding element within the multitude. My guess is that it is precisely this unrepresentability that makes the notion so important and attractive. There is something empowering about thinking of myself as unrepresentable and capable of erupting to infinity! But this unrepresentability renders the whole discussion vague, opaque, and frustratingly abstract. It is hard to have a sensible conversation about that which is unrepresentable.

This notion of singularity carries over into the revolutionary view that we can in fact strip ourselves of any and all signs of identity – racial, class-related, gender-based, sexual, ethnic, religious, and territorial – and somehow strip ourselves down to a state of pure being from which we can reconstruct ourselves according to entirely different principles. We literally have to forget who we are, where we were born, and how our sociality has been formed through geographically grounded life experiences. But this is where the problem of our identity as, for example, producers and consumers and as grounded geographic beings enters the picture. The problem is not that we may indeed give up our social identities based on class, race, gender, etc. more easily than we will give up our iPods and cell phones and identities associated with where and how we live, but that there is no way we can live without producing and consuming and there is no way we can live outside geography. These identities can never be given up in the way I can in principle give up my class identity (which is, of course, entirely different from saying that our consumption habits cannot change or that we cannot change locations).

Hardt and Negri could here have learned much by going back to Marx’s theory of value as immaterial and therefore unrepresentable but also objective and, as such, representable in the money form. They seem to be proposing something of this sort when they reflect on the behavior of revolutionary subjects as singularities within the multitude. They appeal positively, for example, to the history of jacqueries. Is this meant as an example of howsingularities might have an objective collective political presence? But this example is, then, worrying: Are all those screaming right-wingers interrupting the health-care reformers in the United States an instance of singularities in motion as a jacquerie? They are certainly erupting in a seemingly infinite rage against the capitalist state’s attempt to impose a new form of biopower on their world.

I have no idea how Hardt and Negri might respond to this particular example, but there is one way out that is deeply problematic. Whenever something appears on the horizon that is a possibility they do not like, they dismiss it as a “corruption.” So the jacqueries they do not like could presumably be excluded as corrupt forms. This is how they handle the philosophical concept of love. They introduce the idea but then immediately distance themselves from any embrace of corrupt forms such as self-love and love of country. These corruptions even define something called evil! They write:

Our proposition for political anthropology is to conceive of evil as a derivative and distortion of love and the common. Evil is the corruption of love that creates an obstacle to love, or to say the same thing with a different focus, evil is the corruption of the common that blocks its production and productivity. Evil thus has no originary or primary existence but stands only in a secondary position to love. We spoke earlier of corruptions of love in racisms, nationalisms, populisms, and fascisms; and we similarly analyzed not only the destruction of the common through capitalist expropriation and privatization but also institutionalized corruptions of the common in the family, the corporation, and the nation. This double position of evil as corruption and obstacle presents us with some initial criteria for our investigation.

Or as Dick Cheney famously put it, “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”

Let me now turn to what I consider one of the more positive contributions of this book: Its emphasis on the importance of the commons as a political focus of struggle. This is a political theme that is emerging these days from many perspectives, and this book will add substantively to the discussion.

The theme of enclosure and privatization of the commons as essential to the development of capitalism has been around for a long time, but consideration of it has, unfortunately, all too often been enveloped in a fog of nostalgia for a world that has been lost – for the struggles of the Diggers and the Levellers in seventeenth-century Britain, for example. Contemporary theorization has by extension tended to concentrate on further losses of the commons under neoliberalism, as water and other natural resources have been privatized, as more and more of the natural environment has been commodified, and as everything from cultural histories, ecological wonders, and musical inventiveness to patents on genetic materials has become big business.

But there has also been a growing recognition – and this is where Hardt and Negri have something important to say – that the commons is perpetually being produced. In Hardt and Negri’s version, the turn to immaterial labor has radically increased the inadvertent but inevitable creation of an excess that is the commons. This commons is a field that the multitude is in a position to exploit, if only because it is impossible to exclude people from dwelling there. Capital has, in effect, lost control over the production of the common and has to rely on the multitude to produce it in order for capital itself to survive. The multitude is empowered in a way it has never been before. Hardt and Negri agree, therefore, with Rancière that “politics is the sphere of activity of a common that can only ever be contentious.”

The concept of the common moves to the center of their world. “A democracy of the multitude is imaginable and possible only because we all share and participate in the common.” We need, they say, a “political concept of love that recognizes it as centered on the production of the common and the production of social life.” But this means that “love needs force to conquer the ruling powers and dismantle their corrupt institutions before it can create a new world of common wealth.” It is the creation of this new world of common wealth that centers the politics of this book.

There are two notions of the common at work here, and for Hardt and Negri the second is by far the most important. The first concerns “the common wealth of the material world – the air, the water, the fruits of the soil, and all nature’s bounty – which in classic European political texts is often claimed to be the inheritance of humanity as a whole, to be shared together.” The long history of the enclosure of these commons and their appropriation for private benefit, along with all manner of complicated discussions on how these commons can best be managed within the republic of property, is well known. The political dilemmas that arise, signaled in the long debate that followed Garrett Hardin’s restatement of the so-called tragedy of the commons in 1968, are also well known. (Indeed, I was surprised this debate got no mention here – which may be significant, as we shall see.) Along with this go all the ways in which “exploitation takes the form of expropriation of the common,” including those predatory practices I have dubbed accumulation by dispossession (e.g., housing foreclosures) that have emerged so strongly under neoliberalism. This amounts, most of us agree, to the continuation of the logic of primitive accumulation (as Marx called it) but on a far broader and more intricate scale. It includes the wave of privatization of everything from hitherto nationalized industries to public utilities, social security, health care, education, transport systems, social and physical infrastructures, and even warfare (hail to Halliburton). It also includes bringing within the regime of private-property rights as much as possible of that grand common we call nature in order to extract rents.

“The second notion of the common,” Hardt and Negri write, “is dynamic, involving both the product of labor and the means of future production. This common is not only the earth we share but also the languages we create, the social practices we establish, the modes of sociality that define our relationships, and so forth. This form of the common does not lend itself to a logic of scarcity as does the first.” But it does suffer from a logic of debasement and banalization, which, as I shall argue, is just as significant to contemporary life as scarcity. “The expropriation of this second form of the common – the artificial common or, really, the common that blurs the division between nature and culture – is,” they go on to say, “the key to understanding the new forms of exploitation of biopolitical labor.”

There is a great deal about the common in this text, and it deserves much attention – far more, indeed, than I am able to give it here. But there are a few points I want to touch on in conclusion. I was particularly gratified with Hardt and Negri’s view of the metropolis as a “factory for the production of the common,” for instance, and with their insistence that urbanization’s benefits to capital are largely realized in the form of rent (a much-neglected category in Marxian theory). And while I think they take their argument too far when they anticipate the emergence of an exclusively biopolitical city, their excursus into how the common is being produced in the city is sug- gestive and profoundly important. They even go so far as to suggest that “the metropolis is to the multi- tude what the factory was to the industrial working class.” To some degree, they fall back on recognizing that this common is largely produced by what econo- mists refer to as externality effects (effects not costed through the market), which can have both negative and positive consequences (pollution and congestion being typical negatives and felicitous social encoun- ters being a positive). But more broadly, there is no question that people through their daily activities cre- ate the social world of the city and in so doing create something common that all can enjoy. This creativity around the common has to be held open for all, and the attempts to enclose on this creativity have to be warded off (which makes it a little surprising that Hardt and Negri endorse the theories of Richard Florida with respect to the role of the so-called creative classes in fostering capitalist development and rising land rents). Struggles over the urban commons and the production of new urban political subjectivities therefore move to the forefront of their politics.

I welcome this move. For many years now, I and others have been arguing that the exclusive focus in Marxian political theory on the working classes in the factories made no sense. It was theoretically wrong because it ignored the production of urbanization, the production of space, and all the workers employed in such activities. It was historically inaccurate, given how many of the revolutionary movements in the history of capitalism have been focused as much on urban discontentment with the quality of daily life as on factory-based grievances (the Paris Commune, the Seattle general strike, the Tucumán uprising of 1969, the Shanghai Commune, and so on), and even when there were key movements in the factories (e.g., the United Auto Workers strike in Flint, Michigan, in the 1930s and the Turin factory councils of the 1920s), it always turned out that organized support in the neighborhoods (the women’s support groups in Flint and the communal “houses of the people” in Turin) played a critical but uncelebrated role in the political action. The emphasis on the factory was also programmatically inept because struggles over what Henri Lefebvre dubbed “the right to the city” could have provided a far broader basis for a revolutionary conjoining of urban social movements and work-based politics. With the slogan of the right to the city now playing an important role as both “a cry and a demand” everywhere from Berlin to Zagreb, Säo Paulo to New York and Los Angeles, I was surprised to find no mention of such struggles in Commonwealth (and that Lefebvre’s work on the right to the city and urban revolution was not explicitly invoked). But I welcome Hardt and Negri to the club of we leftists who view the urban as one of the critical sites for contemporary struggle, and I accept wholeheartedly their insistence on the importance of the production of a new urban commons as fundamental to the aims of a revolutionary communist urbanism.

“Accumulation of the common,” they say, “means not so much that we have more ideas, more images, more affects, and so forth but, much more important, that our powers and senses increase: our powers to think, to feel, to see, to relate to one another, to love. In terms closer to those of economics, then, this growth involves both an increasing stock of the common accessible in society and also an increased productive capacity based on the common.” This is truly the shining city on a hill that we can all aspire to.

But there is one serious problem with all this. While this form of the common is not subject to the logic of scarcity, it is subject to a logic of debasement and enclosure. And it is hard to see how or why it is that the singularities that compose the multitude would by definition support rather than degrade, corrupt, and debase the common that is the city, the common that is the world of affects, signs, information, and codes. (Hardin’s tragedy of the commons will not go away so easily.) After all, one of the most serious critiques of contemporary representations lies in the corruption of affects, signs, and codes, as well as of the qualities of information – and singularities, somewhere, are presumably responsible for this.

In this, there is a disturbing similarity to the greatest of all the commons that capitalism creates not by fiat but through practices: money. Money, as Marx showed, is the objective particular that stands in for the universal common of value; it is the objective use value that is the measure of immaterial exchange value, and once it enters into circulation it never leaves it. Precisely for all these reasons, it is an objective form of immaterial social power objectively appropriable by private persons. It is also produced not by the state (though the state seeks to regulate it) but out of private commodity exchanges and credit relations between individuals. It is therefore always prone to the politics of excess (witness the world’s central bankers printing money without restraint) and perpetually faces the danger of debasement (earlier on, of the coinage; now, through inflation). How the multitude made up of singularities will relate to this common remains unconsidered, even though it crucially affects the way the urban commons is shaped by political, economic, and social practices and the way fictitious capital works in relation to rental appropriations.

And this signals a general problem with Hardt and Negri’s theorizations. Commonwealth’s many abstractions sound fine, but concrete proposals are nowhere laid out. In fact, innumerable proposals lurk within Commonwealth, some of which run afoul of one another. It is somewhat surprising to find the revolutionary and incendiary imperatives (“defeating the ruling powers, destroying the ancien régime, smashing the state machine – even overthrowing capital, patriarchy, and white supremacy – is not enough”) interwoven with specific demands on the world’s governments to provide “a guaranteed income to all citizens,” basic education for all, and training for everyone in “basic social and technical knowledges and skills,” as well as to allow “everyone to become capable of participating in the constitution of society.” I certainly understand why they might want to take both positions. Indeed, I take both all the time-but then people expect it of revolutionaries like me who recognize the tactical and strategic importance of taking reformist positions at times; they don’t expect it of Hardt and Negri. Is the state they wish to smash the one that provides universal health care in Scandinavia, France, Germany, and Britain? Do they side with the jacqueries against health-care reform in the United States? Perhaps they, too, are hedging their bets. Again, welcome to the club that sees reformism as a prelude to revolution.

Far too many of Hardt and Negri’s proposals remain locked, however, in the realm of immaterial abstraction and, unfortunately, never acquire concrete form. The authors call, for example, for a new theory of value “based on the powers of economic, political, and social innovation that today are expressions of the multitude’s desire.” They further explain:

Value is created when resistance becomes overflowing, creative, and boundless and thus when human activity exceeds and determines a rupture in the balance of power. Value is created, consequently, when the relations between the constituent elements of the biopolitical process and the structure of biopower are thrown out of balance. When control over development, which the state and the collective organisms of capital assume to define their own legitimacy, is no longer able to hold back the resistance of the multitude, labor-power, and the whole set of social singularities, only then will there be value.

I can easily agree. The problem is, How will this new value be represented and objectified in daily practice? If the only way to measure it is money, then all these noble sentiments (like the intrinsic-value theories of the ecologists and the aesthetic values of the artists) will all too easily be reabsorbed into the dominant practices of the capitalist economy through the application of the monetary calculus. No matter how brilliant or revolutionary your art, if you can’t sell it for money then you are in trouble (and don’t tell me global bartering is feasible).

There are far too many incomplete sentiments of this sort in Commonwealth-which means there is plenty of work still to be done. We await Hardt and Negri’s next volume with anticipation. I personally hope there will be less Spinoza and more Marx in it, less about relationalities and immaterialities (many of which are beautifully and sometime poetically evoked here) and more about the problems that arise around materialist issues of representation, objectification, and reification. Enough of relationalities and immaterialities! How about concrete proposals, actual political organization, and real actions?

No matter how important race, gender, and sexual identity may have been in the history of capitalism’s development, and no matter how important the struggles waged in their name, it is possible to envisage the perpetuation of capitalism without them – something that is impossible in the case of class.

Town hall meeting on health-care reform, Reston, VA, August 25, 2009. Are all those screaming right-wingers interrupting the health-care reformers in the United States an instance of singularities in motion as a jacquerie? They are certainly erupting in a seemingly infinite rage against the capitalist state’s attempt to impose a new form of biopower on their world.

There has also been a growing recognition – and this is where Hardt and Negri have something important to saythat the commons is perpetually being produced.

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