Ask an Interesting Question, Get an Interesting Answer. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Question: Who Wins and Who Loses Under Globalization?

Some globalism questions for the object or subject of your contemplation.

  • Of nature: How is this natural object or ecosystem affected by globalization?
  • Of art, literature, architecture, goods-for-sale, photography, advertising, or media: How is this object of human fashioning changed in the light of globalization? How are the subjects represented by it changed?
  • Of the individual: What is this individual in the light of globalization? Imagining globalization as a map or field, locate this individual as a hub or node in it. What does this person most obviously link to in the global system? How many degrees of separation are there between this person and, say, the President of the United States? If this individual wanted to, how might she or he separate from the global system, or at least resist it?
  • Of society: How is globalization impacting the aspect of society on which you are reflecting? How do revolutionaries and reactionaries respond to globalization as a phenomenon? Who are the global actors exercising power today, and what are the structures supporting and resisting them?

In 2000, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri published Empire, an early attempt at thinking through, from a contemporary Marxist perspective, the implications of globalization (the post-Cold War world of capitalist hegemony and rapid technological advance). Two targets for their reflections are postmodernists and postcolonialists, who Hardt and Negri take to be directing their animus at the wrong enemy: either Enlightenment-driven modernism or colonialism, both of which, Hardt and Negri argue, are old news. The new global order, dominated by corporate capitalists and international financiers, happily absorbs postmodern and postcolonial perspectives, and so they ironically write the following (from Part 2, Section 4 of Empire) : “The new enemy not only is resistant to the old weapons but actually thrives on them, and thus joins its would-be antagonists in applying them to the fullest. Long live difference! Down with essentialist binaries!” A concern for Hardt and Negri, in other words, is how to resist the current order of things without simply being co-opted by it. Globalism, as Shakespeare’s Othello might have put it, “is a subtle whore.”

Resources:

  • Empire (2000)
  • The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (Second Edition, 2010)

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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