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Antonio Negri « SEMIOTEXT(E)

The Porcelain Workshop
For a New Grammar of Politics

Antonio Negri

Translated by Noura Wedell

In 2004 and 2005, Antonio Negri held ten workshops at the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris to formulate a new political grammar of the postmodern. Biopolitics, biopowers, control, the multitude, people, war, borders, dependency and interdependency, state, nation, the common, difference, resistance, subjective rights, revolution, freedom, democracy: these are just a few of the themes Negri addressed in these experimental laboratories.

Postmodernity, Negri suggests, can be described as a “porcelain workshop”: a delicate and fragile construction that could be destroyed through one clumsy act. Looking across twentieth century history, Negri warns that our inability to anticipate future developments has already placed coming generations in serious jeopardy. Describing the years 1917-1968 as the “short century,” Negri suggests that by the end of it, all of the familiar markers of modernity (including that of socialism) had lost their relevance.

Confronted with an intolerable reality, indignation and the revolutionary will to transform the world have both taken new forms and must be understood anew, free of modernist assumptions. In the impassioned debates recounted in this book, Antonio Negri attempts to describe the formation of an alternative political horizon and looks for a way to define the practices and modes of expression that democracy could take.

Antonio Negri is a philosopher and essay writer. A political and social activist in the 1960s and 1970s in Italy, he taught political sciences for many years and has written numerous books on political philosophy including Marx beyond Marx (1979), The Savage Anomaly (1983), Insurgencies (1997); and in collaboration with Michael Hardt, Empire (2000) and Multitude (2004).

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