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Commonwealth, by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri — First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, by Slavoj Zizek

November 20, 2009

by John Gray
from The Independent

One of history’s most discredited ideologies is having a comeback – not as a political force but as a commodity in the marketplace.

No longer confined to dingy meetings of ageing Trotskyites or the longueurs of the academic seminar, communism has been reinvented as a kind of intellectual cabaret act. The 20th century’s biggest mistake is being marketed as high-end entertainment, with a modish neo-Bolshevism promising the jaded consumer an exciting experience of forbidden ideas.

Commonwealth is the last in a trilogy of books co-authored by Michael Hardt, an American professor of literature, and Antonio Negri, an Italian academic and political activist arrested in 1979 for alleged involvement in the kidnap and murder of the former prime minister of Italy, Aldo Moro. Those charges were dropped but others led to Negri spending years in exile and in jail. The first volume, Empire (2000), was something of a publishing sensation, welcomed as a radical new version of Marxian theory. In fact the book owed more to the facile theories of globalisation in vogue at the time. more

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