Continuous Crisis – Historical action and passion in Antonio Negri’s Insurgencies

Judicial hermeneutics
The truism that history is written by (or rather, on behalf of) conquerors is more respectable now than ever before among Sunday supplement intellectuals.  The reason  (where it goes beyond a simple, resentful wish to damn historical analysis per se as ‘irrelevant’) seems to be that victors’ history is easily opposed to that of victims, that ill-defined class in whose name a towering moral authority can always be claimed.  If it does nothing else, Antonio Negri’s book on constituent power, recently published in English as Insurgencies, wrecks this convenient opposition.  Its Italian title translates as “constituent power: essay on the alternatives within modernity”: in the shadow of this concept, Negri outlines a modern social and political  counter-tradition which, though defeated again and again, never attains the saintly glow of victimhood, for it has never acknowledged its project to be finished with.  From Machiavelli’s citizen millitia to the LA rioters of 1992 [1.], these historical agents refuse to become patients represented by the politics of empathy. [Read more →]