[OPE-L:5074] Re: Antonio Negri

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 19 May 1997 06:19:56 -0700 (PDT)

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Seongjin asked in [OPE-L:5070]:

> Was there any serious discussion on Negri's interpretation of
> 'Grundrisse' in OPE-L or in other context?

No, we haven't yet discussed Negri's interpretation of the _Grundrisse_
[in _Marx before Marx_] or his other writings.

> I will really appreciate if you could let me know your reflections
> on Negri's interpretation of Marx or, more broadly, 'autonomous Marxism.
> I will also appreciate if you could let me know related literatures or
> information, especially critical ones.

1) Negri's writings

Although best known in English for _Marx before Marx_, Toni Negri has
written on many subjects and his position on some of these subjects have
evolved over the years (btw, he is still alive). For some of his early
writings, see _Revolution Retrieved: Selected Writings on Marx, Keynes,
Capitalist Crisis & New Social Subjects, 1967-83_ (London, Red Notes,
1988). A more recent work, co-authored by Michael Hardt, is _Labor of
Dionysus: A critique of the State-Form_ (Minneapolis, University of
Minnesota Press, 1994). Many of his writings have yet to be published in

2) Autonomist Marxism

Although one of the leading figures of autonomist Marxism, this tradition
is quite heterogeneous and can not be simply reduced to Toni's writings.
If you are really interested in the historical sources, they are
available in a special archives at the University of Texas created by
Harry Cleever and others. Additionally, many original sources are now
on-line, thanks to Steve Wright and others. On that last point, I should
add that there is a Net mailing list called aut-op-sy, moderated by Steve
W, which is composed of autonomist Marxists and class struggle anarchists.

For perspectives on "Open Marxism" by "Open Marxists", see Werner
Bonefeld, Richard Gunn, and Kosmas Psychopedis ed. _Open Marxism_ (2 --or
3 -- volumes, London. Pluto Press, 1992).

For debates among "open Marxists" and others, see (among other sources):

Simon Clarke ed. _The State Debate_ (NY, St. Martin's Press, 1991); and

Werner Bonefeld and John Holloway ed. _Post-Fordism & Social Form: A
Marxist Debate on the Post-Fordist State_ (London, Macmillan, 1991).

[both of the above sources are part of an excellent series of books edited
by members of the Conference of Socialist Economists (CSE), who also
publish _Capital and Class_].

One of our own, Massimo, is an Open Marxist. You might also want to
check-out the journal _Vis-a-Vis_, which Massimo is a co-editor of.

3) Comments

There are many different issues that we could (and should) discuss. I
won't attempt here to offer a critique of Open Marxism, but I will suggest a
few possible topics worthy of discussion:

a) the _Grundrisse_ and _Capital_

It seems to me that Toni Negri and Mike L share a similar
(but NOT the same) perspective on the "one-sided" nature of _Capital_ and
the importance of the _Grundrisse_. On the other hand, I think there is
quite a sharp difference in terms of Negri's reading of _Capital_ and that
of fellow Open Marxist, Harry Cleever (in _Reading Capital_, Austin,
University of Texas Press, 1979). I understand that a discussion between
Mike L and Harry was taped and I think it might prove to be an interesting
source of discussion if it were reproduced here.

b) Keynes

Negri's writings on Keynes would make for an interesting discussion, IMO.
I should say here that I view these writings as some of the most
problematic of Toni's writings.

c) the state-form

A subject of much discussion, particularly in Europe, since the 1970's.
Well worth *a lot* of discussion.

I think that discussion between Massimo and Mike W (and Geert) on civil
society and the state-form might help to flush out a lot of differences in

d) capitalist crisis

Last summer there was a brief exchange between Fred and Massimo on the
causes of the falling rate of profit and capitalist crisis. I would like
to see us discuss that subject at greater length. Perhaps we could discuss
that subject more concretely with an evaluation of "Neo-Liberalism".

e) "New Social Subjects"

What are "new social subjects"? Has the site of struggle shifted away
from the traditional conflict between capitalists and proletarians to
other arenas? How are these different struggles related to each other?

Relatedly, a critical discussion of the writings of Maria Rosa Dalla Costa
and Leopoldina Fortunati would be worthwhile. [btw, Fortunati's book
_The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labour and Capital_
(NY, Autonomedia, 1995) is, in part, an autonomist-feminist critique of
the _Grundrisse_).

f) What is communism?

Autonomist Marxists have a different interpretation on the meaning of
communism (a topic recently discussed on aut-op-sy) than most other

Much of the above discussion might prove to be _initially_ frustrating
since Negri, Cleever, and other "open Marxists" frequently use a somewhat
different vocabulary from other Marxists. This is, of course, recognized
by the Open Marxists themselves (e.g. see Harry C's introduction to Toni's
_Marx before Marx_).

Anyway, Massimo is in a better position to more fully answer your
questions. Massimo ...?

In solidarity, Jerry