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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #96, February 2001. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.

Blows against Empire

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Harvard University Press), 512 pp., $36.95. [hardcover], $18.95 [paperback].

We hear a lot about "globalization" these days, but its meaning is often taken to be self-evident - as is its value (good if you're orthodox, bad if you're a rebel). That's neither intellectually nor politically satisfying. Now, with Empire, we have an attempt to think freshly about the world we live in, and the possibilities for making it better. There's a lot wrong with the book, but it's an excellent starting place.

Michael Hardt teaches in the literature program at Duke. Antonio Negri is described on the book jacket as "an independent researcher and writer and an inmate at Rebibbia Prison, Rome." Negri's crime was armed insurrection against the Italian state; the state had fingered him as the secret leader of the Red Brigades in the 1970s, an implausible charge he has always denied. He is the leading thinker of autonomist Marxism, an approa