About two millennia before the Galactic Civil War , a rogue Jedi Knight turned away from the order and begun a new Sith cult. He believed that the real power of the ‘force’ came from the dark side. Other members of the order who shared this belief soon joined the fallen Jedi. More were recruited, and the Sith Order eventually grew to over fifty in numbers. They existed only to dominate and control
George Lucas, Star Wars.
In this paper we will consider what Hardt and Negri identify as ‘Empire.’ We will look at their theory that ‘Empire’ adopts the role of an antagonist opponent within the next generation of battles, brewing on the planet. Comparing Empire to Capitalism and the multitude to the Proletariat they, metaphorically speaking deliver; in spirit of Martin Luther , their thesis to the proverbial door of the world; nailing it there and awaiting the response that befalls them. The power behind these dual opponents exists as something which is beyond our own current subjective perspective of it. They claim it operates like ‘the force’ in Star Wars; through the institutional organisation of Empire, controlling, manipulating the multitude through crisis and conflict. This conflict exists through the creation of subjects and therefore subjectivities, separation and division of the subjects. The creation of subjects suggests a structure or institution which enables subjectivity to exist. I will argue against their theory; that we are witnessing a new ‘power’ which they call ‘Empire.’ I aim to convince the reader that this ‘power’ has always existed; it is not a new entity. Their theory of ‘Empire’ is an artificially constructed symbiotic antagonist; which is essential to facilitate the illusion of a created form of reality .We will discuss this by focussing on the first moment of the general apparatus of Empire; ‘inclusivity.’
We will look at historical evidence of artificially created institutions and separations by considering Machiavelli and Marx. I will identify where we can witness the artificially created separations of power and challenge the assertion that ‘Empire’ exists despite the differences within it. We will challenge the assumption that anything can be ‘sucked into’ ‘Empire.’ I will attack their argument of a separate ‘machine-like’ entity and argue instead for a natural and paradoxical entity that cannot be named or identified. We will look closely at artificial ‘subjectivity’ and discuss this by examining the structure of artificially created institutions. I will conclude that what we are witnessing is a change in our human subjective perspective of reality. A new script is being drafted. Hardt and Negri’s ‘Empire’ is a guise for a necessary phenomenon which is essential to our fabrication of a mythological type illusion of reality; subject to the subjective relationship with reality. In reference to my opening quote from the Science fiction trilogy Star Wars; this theme was based on Joseph Campbell’s work The Hero with a thousand faces an ideology which claims “that which is beyond even the concept of reality, that which transcends all thought. The myth puts you there all the time, gives you a line to connect with that mystery which you are.”
Creation of the Alpha; Subjectivity
We will undertake the project of considering the magnanimous inclusivity of the first moment; by firstly addressing an essential ingredient; subjectivity. We consider how subjectivity is created, how it exists and is used and how it is essential in the theory of the existence of ‘Empire’ and the creation of the narrative of conflict. “Subjectivity is not pre-given and original but at least to some degree formed in the field of social forces” For anything to become a subject, with a subjective perception there must first be a totality or whole. This whole can have no subjectivity, as it is not a subject of any institution. If the whole splits and separates into groups, then each of these groups or separations becomes an institution. Each part of the institution becomes a subject of the institution and is bestowed with ‘subjectivity.’ ‘Subjectivity’ is dependant on a crucial element in this hypothesis, which is separation, for without separation no subjectivity could exist.
Traditionally it was accepted that ‘subjectivity’ was bestowed only by institutions such as prisons, schools and the family, yet modern thinkers contemplate the realisation that subjectivity is being generated outside of the formal setting of these institutions and can now be seen everywhere. ‘Subjectivity’ is dependant on a crucial element in this hypothesise; separation. What has this got to do with ‘Empire’ one might ask? Hardt and Negri suggest that the conflict we see within institutions, which renders them ‘in crisis’ is a part of ‘Empires’ methodology of control. I disagree. They claim that “The Imperial society of control is tendentially everywhere the order of the day” Yes, if you look at all of life we see conflict but what makes this; the agenda of an Empire?
The self-referential paradoxical nature of reality is witnessed within all systems of organisations. There is firstly ‘inner’ conflict which operates within each individual being and this filters outward into collective self-referential paradox according to Michel Foucault when he describes ‘the foundations of discourse in ubiquitous power-constellations”. This can be seen in morals and ethics as the personal striving for a methodology of moral and ethical reasoning; how to make the ‘right’ decision .When considering if one is a ‘good’ person or a ‘bad’ person. The separation of the self from the self exists in the mystery which challenges humans to attribute a human being with a mysterious ‘soul’, a thing that cannot be ascribed to the living flesh of a body. This conflict operates independent of any external influence and yet the existence of this ‘conflict’ can have positive benefits. It perpetually challenges a person to challenge ones own identities as either a ‘separate’ human being or part of a collective or multitude known as the human race; containing the commonality of humanity . This paradox of conflicting subjectivities appears everywhere and can be useful according to Foucault. We can only perceive anything if we have ‘subjectivity’; therefore it is only with the creation of institutions within life which bestow subjectivity on us as subjects of that institution; that we could gain a ‘subjective’ insight into anything. The institutions themselves are artificially created according to Hardt and Negri and can only be created within and from something which was once ‘whole’.
This act of dividing can be seen everywhere. For example if we imagine a flange of baboons. Let us say for argument sake that there are 10,000 baboons all the same. Some of the baboons naturally divide into a group of family members. They form groups of organic hierarchal structure; parents, children, and siblings. The ‘whole’ is split into separate institutions. The baboons perceive themselves as separate from the other baboons, yet paradoxically they are still the totality of the flange of baboons.
Let us continue with this analogy but instead consider humans. If there are 6.67 Billion Human beings alive on this planet at the time of writing this paper (and we call them collectively the totality) and the perception of separation occurs then these humans separate into groups; the family, the community, the nation etc. Within each nation they split again into communities and within communities they split into other intuitions. They are still a part of the ‘totality’ or ‘Empire’ as termed by Hardt and Negri and yet they adopt the ‘subjectivity’ of the institutions to which they divide.
From this we can deduce that the act of separation creates institutions; which bestows ‘subjectivity’ on the subjects. ‘Subjectivity’ creates the perspective of conflicting opposites of perception for example; good and bad, legal and illegal, right and wrong and enemy and foe. Without separation there would be no perception of anything because everything would appear the same. Reality is perceived because of the separation and the creation of ‘subjectivity’. Reality is a constructed illusion or myth.
Hardt and Negri attempt, by using examples of Machiavelli, Spinoza and Marx to convince the reader that each of these philosophers were attempting to create a utopian civil order, one which would attempt to promote ‘order’ and not ‘chaos’, within the inside compartmentalisation of life. This was an attempt at altering the perception of the ‘totality’ by the components of the ‘totality.’ They suggest the project of achieving these utopias failed as they searched for new ideal constructions of reality, outside of the internal world. They succumb to the first falsification; the illusion of separation and the existence of an internal and external divide. There was no separation; only the perception of separation.
In order that we address the question of ‘how Empire utilises the apparatus’ I aim to consider the very existence of ‘Empire’ I will argue that ‘Empire’ is a constructed counterpart which is essential to the perception of reality. The creation of ‘Empire’ is inevitable as it is a dependant character; the bad guy, spectre, devil or terrorist necessary to support the realisation of the subjectivity which forms its counterpart. What then of the ‘Power’ behind Empire? My argument is that there is nothing new behind ‘Empire’. The ‘Empire’ they speak of has always existed; in the guise of ‘The Devil versus God, Capitalism versus Communism, Darth Varder versus Luke Skywalker and so on and so forth. The ‘power’ behind all of these characters is defined by some as divine, mystical, money and by some as ‘The Force’. This power has always existed and paradoxically can be both defined and not defined. Once the characters have been cast and the scene set, the battle commences with each party striving to take control over the ‘energy’ or ‘power.’ Logically the subjectivity of each of these is dependant on the separation of a whole which bestows the very existence of the subjectivity on its subjects. The ideology they suggest in the creation of ‘Empire’ mirrors these symbiotic relationships perfectly. Some argue that the energy behind Hardt and Negri’s ‘Empire’ has always been there, behind every aspect of our perception of reality. Some liken the theory to a “Theology of Power” or “city of God.”
The fundamental flaw in Hardt and Negri’s ideology is that it presupposes separation. They draw a narrative of a conflict between the ‘Empire’ versus the multitude. Just as in the Marxist ideology the narrative depicts the Bourgeoisie versus the Proletariat; Communism versus Capitalism the symbiotic relationships continue thorough out all of the facets of the reality we perceive. With the creation of the institutions of each of these parties (as we have already discussed) a separate subjectivity is bestowed on each party and the conflict becomes self-referential. Hardt and Negri’s Neo-Marxist ideology fails to convince me that it is a new form of energy. They perceive ‘Empire’ subjectively as a ‘bad’ thing in comparison to their perception of the multitude as a good thing. They cannot view Empire or multitude from any other viewpoint other than the subjectivity of the subjective perception they hold as members of the artificially created division that they call the multitude. They could perceive ‘Empire’ from the perspective of the whole if they disallowed the notion of difference and separation, annihilating both subjectivity and difference.
Within all of these institutions we can see antagonistic states of conflict which have become perceived as crisis. The crisis’s operating within the institutions such as prison have traditionally caused fear and alarm yet this antagonistic dichotomy itself causes the artificially constructed barriers to disintegrate, leaving a whole. One has only to imagine the destruction of the Berlin wall as an example of the barrier which separates the whole being de constructed and allowing Berlin to become the totality of itself once more. Institutions can be witnessed everywhere; the family unit, the local community, the government. If each institution bestows a form of ‘subjectivity’ on the subjects of the institution then we must question; what happened before the first institution was founded? Subjectivity could not exist without the institution .The institution can only exist if separation occurs, an action which determines the formation of a cluster of beings, grouping together like a flange of baboons. Subjectivity therefore is the product of separation. Subjectivity only exists in a state of separation and difference. If there was no separation; subjectivity would not exist. Nothing would be good or bad, legal or illegal. Everything within the totality would just ‘be.’
As with anything that has been constructed, it can be de constructed . Living as separate beings brings with it the notion of ‘preciousness’ as each of the separate beings fight for supremacy of their own subjectivity; formally legitimised within the fabric of the created reality by the epistemic system of law as ‘rights.’ The shift in the perception of reality is evident in the breakdown of the perception of separation even between species. The ‘right’ bestowed upon a human being, as an artificially created hierarchical supreme subjectivity separates the human race form other species… This artificial supremacy is now challenged; in light of the decision of the Anthony Bland case where the sanctity of life argument was critiqued and it was controversially held that; what defines life is consciousness. The manipulation and domination of bees as workers producing honey now posits fundamental questions.
Adopting a traditional stance Hardt and Negri perceive global counter-hegemonic insurgences as an indicator of a ‘them’ and ‘us’ divide. Not amongst species but within species. This artificially created mythology is embedded within the structures of our perspective of reality and Hardt and Negri fail to transcend it. They continue to adopt the traditional subjective perspective of separation. Seeking to identify the opposing antagonist they place the US at the top of the hierarchical structure of ‘Empire’, and place the multitude (which includes individual persons, groups, communities and nations) as its direct opponent or nemesis. The subjectivity of each of these fragments of the ‘totality’ organically generates a perceived enemy or opposite. This dualism is both enigmatic and symbiotic by nature of its properties. Each is juxtaposed on the other for its own legitimacy, for without the counter part the other ceases to exist, there could be no empire without the multitude. I emphasise ‘perceived’ to demonstrate that if the perception of the separation, in reality the myth of separation, is accepted and each separate ‘institution’ acts as an ‘archipelago of factories of subjectivity’ creating individual subjectivism s on their own subjects, then the creation of battles will be perpetual.
With a reflective consideration of political conflict and subjective participation in counter hegemonic activities which range from Che Guevara to the struggles of Italian workers, Hardt and Negri consider that changes in world politics and economics have contributed to the project of globalisation which moves increasing towards completion and a decline in sovereignty. This quite simply is a shift from perceptions of separation to perceptions of totality. The new paradigm, according to Hardt and Negri “is both system and hierarchy, centralized construction of norms and far-reaching production of legitimacy, spread out over world’s space.” Professor of Sociology Stanley Aronowitz speaks of the use of human rights as part of the effort of ‘Empire’ objective of creating a new world order through the project of globalisation.” The new world order is the deconstruction of separation and reconstruction of the totality.
“The innovation of human rights is not merely a fig leaf for the Imperium; it is part of an effort to create enforceable international law in which the institutions of ‘Empire’ take precedence over formerly sovereign states—in short, assume the role of world court as well as policeman. The interest of ‘Empire’ are also invoked in the economic arena, where it may be noted that the US President has been largely fashioned as a high-level trade representative for the transnational’s.”
They suggest that that there is evidence of a digression away from the traditional method of viewing life; they coin the phrase as a ‘paradigmatic place of modernity.’ I agree that we are witnessing a paradigm shift but question if; just because we no longer accept traditional methods of ideology or ontology of life, how it operates, how and why we live it; it does not logically follow that an independent, sinister and power thirsty monster exists; in the guise of some form of ‘Empire’. To perceive ‘Empire’ as a controlling monster suggests it is being viewed from the subjectivity of something other than itself. From the view point of something separate from itself. Just as Marx viewed capitalism as a ‘spectre’, Hardt and Negri demonise the phenomena; which is juxtaposed with their own identity as a part of the multitude.
In contrast to ‘Empire’ and acknowledging a paradigmatic shift in the perception of reality, a very different perspective is being offered to us by Michel Foucault ( post structuralism), Jurgen Habermas (critical theory) and Niklas Luhmann ( theory of Autopoiesis),each attempting to “replace the autonomous individual, not with supra-individual entities, but with communicative processes.” Foucault radically takes this argument even further and suggests “…the human individual is nothing but an ephemeral construction of an historically contingent power/discourse constellation, which dictates the episteme of a historical epoch” Luhmann on the other hand according to Gunther Teubner, “the human individual in society as a communicative artefact” Each of these theories if we accept them suggests that Hardt and Negri’s ‘Empire ’is ill-founded.
Insightfully, they suggest that this paradigm shift witnessed in society in the perspective of reality is post-modern by nature of its properties, “post-modernisms is what you have when the modern theory of social constructivism is taken to its extreme and all subjectivity is recognized as artificial.” The key word in this statement is ‘recognised’. To recognise something is to see it, acknowledge it and see something of oneself in it, denying any separation at all. Hardt and Negri use this recognition statement as a method of explaining the way in which humans have teleologically advanced in consciousness; an advancement which sees the illusion of the myth of separation, a form of awakening to the awareness that we now recognise the artificial construction of systems of artificial subjectivication. This subjectivity was artificially created by humans through the apparatus of organised institutions which began by the formation of groups and developed into families, communities and Nations. By separating from the totality and creating institutions we created separation and subordination. The creation of the prison created the subjectivity of the prisoner. The creation of the school created the subjectivity of the pupil. The separation and diving of the whole to separates creates subjectivity. A pupil can perceive their relationship to the school as a pupil. A prisoner can only view the prison from the eyes of a prisoner. These states of subjectivity are artificially created only by the creation of the institution. These subjectivities are artificial. A pupil will adopt another form of subjectivity when she returns home to the family institution. She will no longer see interaction in the life world as a ‘subjective’ or ‘pupil’ instead she will adopt the ‘subjectivity’ of a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother or member of the human race. These too are created subjectivities. At all times she is not a pupil, prisoner or family member. She is part of the ‘totality’ adopting the artificially created persona of a ‘subject’.
Where I disagree with Hardt and Negri is that their suggestion that society is changing to a system of imperial rule by the acknowledgement of the indistinguishably of the differentiation between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. This has always been the case. There has never been an ‘inside’ or ‘outside’; only an artificially constructed narrative of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. All that has changed is our own Human ‘subjective’ perception of this. Our human subjectivism originates in our hierarchical institution in which we humans perceive ourselves within an organised structured institution. The mythology is evident in the creation of society and religion. We placed our self at the top of an organisational structure; thus demoting animals, insects, plants, trees, minerals to the ranks of the workers. Here is the locus of class division and class struggles. Our own ‘subjectivity’ was artificially created by the perception of separation from the totality, which is unnameable. Hardt and Negri seem to refer to this as residing at the ‘core’ of ‘Empire’. I argue it also resides at the ‘core’ of the multitude. The traditional ideal of sovereignty rests on the artificial creation of a civil order, a distinct opposite of chaos. In Sovereignty what is indistinguishable is the space between ‘order’ and ‘chaos’ and the distinct divide between the two artificially created states. Early social theorists “from Hobbes to Rousseau, understand the civil order as a limited and interior space that is opposed or contrasted to the external order of nature” Hardt and Negri use examples of similar paradoxical contradictions in areas of modern academic study such as psychology and anthropology where contrasting drives, passions and instincts conflict with one another in a separate space than that of ‘nature’. If we are to accept that because these conflicts exist in our own subjective perception then must we accept that our own perception is tainted by the ‘Way in which we view our world? ’ Just because we perceive a distinction between the state of nature and the state of human consciousness does it logically follow that there is a distinction at all. I argue that it is only our perception which is influenced by our subjectivity which creates this distinction. When our perception changes and our subjectivity changes by the creation of a new institution then ‘we perceive things differently.’ Traditionally if one wanted to voice an opinion about society, in the political world; one would have to use the institutions created for the purpose of political discourse. Political unrest now takes place naturally in informal settings.
Political discourse occurs everywhere, from the kitchen table via the World Wide Web. The de-actualisation of politics is; according to Hardt and Negri evidence that society is now post-modern and within the clutches of imperial control. Whilst I agree that we are witnessing the beginning of a new form of political discourse, I again rest this on the perception we now have of life, our place within it and the way we interact with it. As we now perceive the narrative of politics as existing in the virtual space, the place somewhere between public and private then Hardt and Negri place politics within the grasp of the ‘core’ of ‘Empire’. I cannot see how they can argue this without justification.
If we were to assume the role of director and producer of a new film; which depicts conflict and bloody battle, we might choose to relocate our set from a private studio in London, to a studio viewed from the Archimedean Point looking down on the planet as our set. In this theory Law adopts the role of ‘the narrator’.
Hardt and Negri insist that the project of ‘Empire’ is to create a ‘totality’ or whole system of regulation. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union they attribute the global counter hegemonic insurgences as evidence of the existence of an organised institution ‘Empire’. These insurgences are found in conflicts over post-war labour struggles and national liberation movements together with the de-legitimisation of individual nation states and the formation of a supra-state. What they appear to be witnessing is counter hegemonic resistance; but resistance to what? This resistance, according to their theory is resistance to the ‘Empire’ and its project of annihilation.
Ironically Hardt and Negri also apportion qualities to the ‘Empire’ as antithesis of their own as artificially created members of the ‘multitude’. They claim that the entity has gained strength and has given rise to dominating, manipulating and controlling all aspects of life. This suggests that the multitude has no strength, is weak and is being dominated. These qualities are exact opposite from the qualities Hardt and Negri attribute to Empire. It controls, according to their theory; by using a complex structure of organisation; referred to by them as an apparatus. They claim that ‘Empire’ possesses multiple changing faces and topologies. One of these faces, they claim; is a liberal face. Does this sound Familiar? The original quote of an imperial order based upon the manipulation of ‘the force’ comes form the deconstruction of mythological interpretation of reality which led Campbell to write of The Hero with a thousand faces. Post-modern film-makers have used the formula devised by Campbell to create films such as Star Wars and The Matrix, each of them containing a narrative of conflicting parties struggling to dominate a type of ‘power.’ Hardt and Negri have cast the ‘multitude’ as the ‘goodies’ and the ‘US and Capitalism’ as the ‘darkness’, they strive for dominance over the ‘core’ of ‘Empire’
The illusionary nature of the perception of ‘Empire’ is that it possesses the illusion of the face of an institution offering freedom to the oppressed multitudes. This illusion rests on the first premise that the multitude lacks freedom. The perception within the multitude that there is a lack of freedom is created by the subjectivity of the subjects of the multitude. It was historical, created by the implementation of artificially created systems of organisation and institutions such as Rousseau’s Social Contract ; where a mass was divided into two opposing parties each contractually connected by a system of obligations and responsibilities to one another. The birth of two completing political subjectivities occurred. The separation and the separate subjectivities creating a form of conflict which would dominate the life world as it does in this post modern realisation of the perception of reality and thereafter, until the recognition of the artificial separation becomes apparent. I suggest that the paradigm shift is that perception of the artificial created separateness. This fits nicely with the notion of post-modernism as described by Hardt and Negri, “In a post modern world all phenomena and forces are artificial…”
They claim ‘Empire’ has an external boundary, yet insist that everything is contained within the boundary. “The boundary of the ‘Empire’ encompasses everything within it, with no exceptions.” They claim it is blind to differences and yet chooses to ignore differences. To be blind to differences suggests that it has no subjectivity .If Empire is a created subject of an institution it would have subjectivity and thus could not be blind to difference. Empire according to Hardt and Negri contains a space at its centre, which they term the ‘core.’ We have discussed this already and I have provided examples of other notions of this core as energy, force or divine power. Yet, radically Hardt and Negri ambitiously take their project even further by claiming that within the ‘core’ there is an absolute universal notion of what is ‘right.’ Let us consider then the subjectivity of ‘right’. Something can only be ‘right’ if it is viewed subjectively, in comparison to its opposite. For the ‘core’ to have a ‘subjective’ view it must be a ‘subject’ artificially created by an institutional organisation which bestows subjectivity on it. For an institution to exist there must be some greater ‘totality’ from which it is separated from; becoming an institution. Therefore either there can be no subjectivity within the ‘core’ and no possible notion of absolute right, or there must be an even higher ‘totality’ which separated and formed many ‘core’, each with their own subjectivities. If that is the case then the core would have a subjective view and could possess a form of absolute ‘right’. This is the absolute conundrum and enigma; there is no answer
They compare the ‘Empire’ to a black hole which sucks in everything within its vortex yet paradoxically they also compare it to the Statue of liberty “give me your poor…..” This dichotomy does not assist their argument. If the ‘Empire’ sees ‘no differences’ then ‘poor’ would not exist at all and the subjective description of anything would be of no interest to ‘Empire’. How can someone describe something as ‘poor’ without having experience of ‘rich’? One person’s poverty is another’s riches. These are subjective views which can only be held by the subjectivity bestowed on them by created institutions.
Hardt and Negri contradict their own argument here by claiming that the ‘Empire’ acknowledges the differences and chooses to ignore them. If everything is de facto, within ‘Empire’ and nothing can exist outside of ‘Empire’ why then would it see any differences at all and why would it be relevant to ‘Empire’; as everything just ‘is’ within ‘Empire’? There are several flaws to Hardt and Negri’s proposition. Firstly they argue that the Empire, has boundaries, “the Empire does not fortify its boundaries to push others away, but rather pulls them within its pacific order” then paradoxically they suggest that Empire encompasses everything. Where does it pull anything from? Logically therefore they must be arguing that ‘not everything’ is within the ‘Empire’ and some things can exist outside of its boundaries; if everything was already inside of the boundaries there would be nothing to pull inside. This is a dichotomy. Empire is therefore an artificially constructed symbiotic opponent necessary to legitimise the existence of the multitude.
Another flaw in their argument lies within the claim that ‘Empire’ is a “machine for universal integration, an open mouth with infinite appetite, inviting all to come peacefully within its domain” yet this statement again conflicts with itself. If ‘Empire’ is a machine, with the aim of integrating everything into a totality, then everything must not already be integrated. There must still exist the perception of an ‘outside’ and ‘inside’. If its purpose is to bring everything within it, then something must be outside of it. If its purpose is to integrate everything into a totality then it has to be able to subjectively differentiate between what exists within Empire and what exist outside of Empire. To be able to view differences one must perceive thing subjectively. To have subjectivity one must be a subject of an institutional organisation. Hardt and Negri do not argue that ‘Empire’ exists within a hierarchical organisation. They argue that it is the a priori organisation.
Hardt and Negri talk of the “passage to imperial society” suggesting that ‘Empire’ is just beginning to spread; like the underground vines or a computer virus which spreads throughout different computer systems. They claim that the source of ‘Empire’ adopts a consciousness which aims to complete the project of de-separatisation by global corruption or globalisation; and with it brings a quest for a new method of life, a new type of mythology. They compare this with Spinoza’s analogy of the separation of the sovereign from the subject or the head from the body, “if we cut off the tyrannical head off the social body, we will be left with the deformed corpse of society. What we need is to create a new social body” I agree that we need to create a new narrative, a script for the next generation, but reject Hardt and Negri’ s description of it.
Alternatively I offer as an argument that what we traditionally viewed as ‘political’ is a metamorphosis in our own perception, into something which now accessible to everyone, anywhere and at anytime. It is timeless, placeless and belongs to no-one. Foucault’s definition of discourse resembles these attributes as it is according to him, “anonymous, impersonal, intention-free chain of linguistic events.”
I agree with Habermas that the era of Liberal politics is at an end but I fail to accept Hardt and Negri’s argument that ‘Empire’ takes it place. In my opinion, what takes its place is a re-definition of politics. This re-definition is based on the re-evaluation of our own subjectivity and our place within the institutions we perceive ourselves as belonging to. If I see myself as a member of a club then I see my subjectivity in relation to the organisation of the club. If I perceive myself as a separate being from the members of another club then I cannot look upon matters subjectively. I would view any occurrences from an objective viewpoint only. What is required in this new post modern paradigm is a shift in the way we communicate through the systematic methodology of law, a self-reproductive social process which Teubner describes as an autopoietic system.
Omega; the End of History
The final example offered to prove the existence of ‘Empire’ is according to Hardt and Negri, “the end of history”. They emphasise the separate subjectivities, which facilitate conflict and war; in the historical definition of history. Frances Fukuyama, cited by Hardt and Negri suggests “that the era of major conflicts has come to an end: sovereign power will no longer confront its other and no longer face its outside, but rather will progressively expand its boundaries to envelope the entire globe as its proper domain.” When the project of Globalisation is completed then there will be only one territory, one power and one set of laws. War will cease. Property ownership will cease; as all will become a part of the ‘totality’. If we follow this argument through logically, if subjectivity only exists in a state of separation and differentiation then a metamorphoses towards globalisation or ‘totality’ would render ‘subjectivism’ as we know it now to be annihilated; and a new form of subjectivism bestowed on the subjects of the new institution. If an institution can only exist if separation occurs then no institution can be created in a totality, and we are left with the ultimate paradox or symbiotic relationship. No separation means there can be no institution and no institution means there can be no subjectivity; and therefore no separation.
The crisis we see around us, once viewed as a crisis against an external antagonist will continue, this is what we have previously discussed as paradoxically results of the perception of separation, but with internal antagonists within the totality as ‘Omni-crisis.’ As we have previously discussed these paradoxes exist not because of something outside of them, but because they are juxtaposed in existence and are co-dependant on one another for subjectivity. War only exists because of peace, good only exists because of bad, legal only exist because of illegal. If everything was legal and there was nothing illegal, then nothing would be legal it would just be.
In conclusion Hardt and Negri suggest that there is no longer a divide between ‘outside’ and ‘inside’, I argue that there has never been a divide, only the perception of a divide. They suggest that even though we are becoming more ‘whole’ in the way we relate to one another economically, politically, and privately, the way in which we perceive one another demonstrates that we possess individual subjectivities bestowed on us by our institutions, which were artificially created by us. If this is an illusion then there is only one totality. Hardt and Negri suggest that ‘Empire’ manages the paradoxical conflicts within the ‘totality’. I suggest that the conflicts just exist in our own subjective fable, created by our own totality of consciousness and not managed by the ‘Empire ’at all. The conflicts themselves are pieces of the totality and therefore are the ‘whole’ or ‘totality.’ The multitudes (individual beings in our current perception of them) as described by Hardt and Negri are each, like the conflicts, pieces of the totality. The ‘totality’ is conflicted with itself. The ‘totality’ is corrupted.
I will conclude my paper by suggesting that our collective and individual perspective of what it is to be human is changing. Our ‘subjectivity’ bestowed on us by traditional artificially constructed institutions such as civil society, sovereignty, personal sovereignty and autonomy are deconstructing. Politics is deconstructing and re-constructing in another form. The way we de-construct our public and private laws is changing. Law is producing new legal communications which communicate about the perception of; what it is to live. Law is the narrator. What is not changing, and this is fundamental to my argument and reflects my choice of opening quote from the Science Fiction film Star Wars; is the existence of a new entity called ‘Empire.’ It is an old enemy; one which has a thousand faces. There will always be an ‘empire.’
Hardt and Negri describe a natural phenomenon, a space or void which words cannot fully explain; a ‘thing’ which has been described by many in many different forms of language. It is the ‘power’ which lies within the core of their ‘Empire.’ I struggle with a name to place on this ‘power’ and therefore I will refer it simply as the use of the yin /yang symbol, which epitomises the concept of everything within everything else;
Hardt and Negri’s ‘Empire’ operates as an institution and therefore bestows subjectivity on all of its subjects. Their argument defeats itself for; if there are no differences and no separations; then there can be no institution. If there is no institution there can be no ‘Empire’. Logically what exists is something which does not possess the hierarchical organisational structure of an institution. It is .
de-actualises ‘subjectivity’ all together. It sees no differences; for there are no differences. sees no separations; for there are no separations. Our Human perspective is not changing because of ‘Empire’, it is changing because we are acknowledging what we are by ‘nature’ which is .The narrative will continue and the characters will change but the battles will be fought infinitely, just as the sun rises and the sun sets.
Submitted to University of Glasgow
Law and Social Theory Honours paper 2009