At this lecture, organised by Fundación de los Comunes and MACBA, Michael Hardt puts the concept of the common at the centre of a renewed contemporary political project. The idea of the common, which has its roots in the collective material wealth privatised during the modern age (such as water, forests, farmland), is now used to refer to a dense creative and affective web capable of supporting a social movement with constituent power.
Along with Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt is the author of Empire (2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009), a trilogy that offers a diagnosis of the changing conditions of the latest stage of capitalism and also outlines the critical horizons of a possible resistance. While Empire discussed globalisation in relation to the diffusion of an incontestable and absolute power, Multitude presented, with a debt to Spinoza, the new subject of a democracy yet to be attained. In Commonwealth, Negri and Hardt try to define an alternative modernity, situated in the realm of institutional and affective transformation, which surpasses the dialectics that have burdened a large part of the 20th century. Asking themselves how the uprisings that took place in the first decade of the 21st century can inspire social and political experiments that serve as a radical alternative to the neoliberal subject, the two thinkers propose, following the path of Michel Foucault, that loss of self is essential in achieving the transformation of self.
Negri and Hardt focus on the ways in which a true constitution process can take shape, using three key concepts to dispel the common dialectics from the 20th century. More specifically: the insufficiency of modern republican constitutions; the inequity of private property as the only global system and the crisis plaguing the systems of representation found in contemporary democracies.
Continuing with these reflections, Michael Hardt explores how to turn the common into an operational project, based on collective and democratic management of the commonwealth. The common is thus opposed to both the rule of private property and neoliberalism, on the one hand, and to the rule of public property and state control, on the other. Such an aim is connected to the series of social movements that began in 2011, including the numerous protest camps, occupations and rebellions in places such as Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece and the United States. The uprisings in 2013 will also be analyzed in relation of those of 2011.
Michael Hardt is a literary theorist and political philosopher. He just published, with Antonio Negri, Declaration (2012). His other works include Empire (2000), Multitude: war and democracy in the age of Empire (2004) and Commonwealth (2009). He is currently professor of literature at Duke University.