(unedited, uncorrected, translated from Italianby vania dellorto)
Antonio Negri: Marx an again Marx
Interview with Rainer Ganahl
RG: Talkabout your experience – how did you learn about Marx? Where did you learnabout Marx?
AN: Ilearnt about him in my house. My dad, who I never met because he died when Iwas two, was a revolutionary socialist during the time of fascism. He foundedthe communist party.
AN: Yes,then my mom burnt all his books. She burnt all the so called “dissidentbooks” we had in the house
RG: Becauseof the fascist government, right?
AN: Yes,she was scared after my dad’s death
RG: Howdid he die?
AN: Hesuffered from an illness that spread during the war, the First World War, in1870, I believe, no, 1896. He fought in the First World War and died of anillness he caught during the war. But he was an anti-fascist, a communist, andhe did not live well. My dad died in 1936, I was born in 1933, so two years,two and a half years. So I learned about Marx in my house, his name was repeated over and over againwhen I was young. And then I went back to Marx years later. I became Communistbefore being Marxist. In fact I became Communist in Israel in a Kibbutz when I went in 1953, 1954 when Iwas thirty years old.
RG: Backto your father. Did he know Gramsci?
AN: No,well actually, he knew him, well my father, I know only what I was told of him.My dad was the secretary of the Young Socialist Federation in 1922, of Bologna.And that led to the foundation of the Communist party in 1921 in Livorno and sohe certainly knew Gramsci, but Gramsci was nothing I heard of in my house.Gramsci came afterward in the history of the Communist Party.
RG: Wewere talking about your father and the party. Was your mother involved as well?
AN: No, mymother was the opposite way. My mother was not interested in politics. Sheconsidered politics something that spoiled our family and that would… itwas really funny when I wanted to study philosophy, my mother was really upset.I was really good in math and my mother wanted me to take math or physics atany cost and actually we came to a kind of compromise and I took agriculturebecause it was a naturalistic subject matter, but could be liked to a morepoetic side. In fact I studied it for 6 months and I switched to philosophy and she wastotally against it because she said that philosophy would get me closer topolitics and that politics would ruin my life. Because she foresaw it already,she thought it was destiny, in my political and philosophical DNA, that would ruinme and she was partly right, I have to admit it, I can say it today. Itdidn’t ruin my life but it was difficult, I’ve had a difficult lifeand then…
AN: InIsrael I became communist, in anextreme-left-wing kibbutz.
AN: OfJewish communist immigrants who came from Egypt, France and are the generationof 1952, 1953—people coming after the Shoah, completely connected to it.And the Egyptians at the head of the camp spoke French. I mean, they spoke Arabic andFrench. Theyall went to French school and were connected to the Egyptian communist partyand the Arab communist tradition.
RG: ThisArab communist tradition is completely unknown .
AN: Yes,very nice people, and the kibbutz I lived in for one year belongs to the MAPAL,as it was then called, it was an extremist left-wing party, communist but notStalinist and the way of life in that camp was completely communist. There werenot even families, a very radical communism.
RG: Butalso very ideologist, based on ideologies?
AN: Ofcourse. The left-wing Zionism is based on this.
RG: Didyou sit down at night and have discussions?
AN: Atnight, in the morning, when we weren’t working we were talking. There youare forced to talk all the time. And they were all discussions about this,really extremist and wide. We need to remember that the idea of Israeloriginated from the Soviets. A hypothesis that Israel might break the Frenchand British imperialistic dominance in their colonies in the Middle East, on theoil. Israel would not have been founded without the direct investment ofIsraeli communism, well it is actually the MAPAL that is a non-Stalinistcommunist party, not related to the USSR – it’s a very extremistexperience of creating communities in an extreme way.
RG: Marxwas used as a basis, a text.
AN: No,the richness of communism is not only Marx, it is mainly these experiences andthe experience of Lotta Continua. So then I went back to Italy later on, and for some yearsI took care of my philosophical studies, my college studies and in 1958 Ibecame a professor and after they made that legal I started doing politics.Ispent .. after I got back from Israel, I graduated in 1956, in 1958 I was an independent teacher andthen I started doing politics. In a precise way in Italy.
RG: Howmany years in Israel?
AN: Oneyear in Israel
RG: Oneyear, did you speak Hebrew?
AN: No, Istudied it but I never spoke it.
AN: Frenchand English. By then I spoke English very well, better than now. Englishwas… well, I also studied in England in the ‘50s and I started going toEngland when I was young, during high school I would spend my summers inEngland and so I learnt English. We were kind of forced to study it.
RG: So,the war in 1933 in Italy. What was your experience of the war?
AN: Atragedy. An absolute tragedy because my brothers were good students in afascist school. The Risorgimentale nationalism was still very strong. Communismin families, socialism in families was something hidden, completely prohibited.The experience was tragic. My eldest brother died in the war, he was eighteen,he was called to fight in Yugoslavia, the former Yugoslavia.
AN: Togetheror against Germany?
AN: Together,with Italy. In 1943, before September 8 when the alliance was still in force.There were no partisans then. My sister was in a deep crisis. At that point wehad a partisan in the house who got married to my sister. He escaped at the endof 1943, here is a communist in my house, who is my brother-in-law, the man whomarried my sister, still living now, who was a partisan after September 8th,a soldier who became a partisan in the Trentino valleys.
RG: Youwere too young, right?
AN: I wasten, I started to understand. But there were constant US bombings, so that ishow I experienced history. A brother fallen in war, so a fascist hero, on theother side my sister as a big intellectual, she became very important in thescience world in Italy and abroad, who lived it…
AN: Physiology,psychology. She was linked to the European school, Wien, as it usually happensin Veneto, we were in Padua. And then we fled to the countryside around Padua. Mymom was a widow and a teacher. We lived in misery because with ateacher’s salary my mother paid for the education of 2 children and I wasyoung, and I went to college too, so we were extremely poor. We did not eat sooften. We ate cheese.
RG: Andthis happened in Padua, right?
AN: InPadua, in the surroundings.
RG: Werethere any Jews?
AN: No,there were no Jews there and then we lived very poorly. Going back to myadulthood. I learnt about Marxism after 1958, when I was a professor I became amember of the Italian Socialist party which is an alley of the communist party in Padua. It has the majorityin the electorate. The Socialist party was an extreme left wing party, nonreformist. It was called conformist, liked to the cominform –cominformist. I joined the party as coninformist, which was a socialist party.It does not accept the discipline of the International hymn. So we can have theadvantage of being radical like the communists but without being Stalinist. We have a quite definite insidemethod. I joined with all my high school mates, it’s a generation trend.Everybody does it. In my class we were fourteen, fifteen very selected studentsand we were all college students, ¾ of those became left extremists.Some of them became ministers, they all made careers.
RG: Couldn’tthey help you with your new ideas?
AN: Well,there was a clash. Things were not that easy. There were clashes with them too.
RG: Athing that me and my generation never considered was joining a political party.How was it in your time?
AN: Joininga party was something quite natural. We, my schoolmates and I, all joinedCatholic groups, even if our families were mainly non-religious. We joined theCatholic group when we were still students, at the end of the 40s. Because weneed to keep in mind that there was a refusal for any party dogmatism - the idea of socialism and communismwere not clear ideas then. We need to remember the confusion of life outsidethe big cities. This is something linked to the local. Not only is the languageconfused, but also the experiences expressed in the language are extremelyconfusing. I needed to throw myself into a totally Communist experience inIsrael to find a logical coherence, a coherence of thought. There are manythings that I was able to theorize about only later on, thirty, forty yearslater, the relationship between brain and body, passion and rationalism. I hadto go through Spinoza and the experience of my adulthood. In fact it was verydifficult then to find the proper words to express my feelings. For example, in1951, I believe, or at the beginning of 1952, me and four, five friends ofPadua went and worked with Danilo Dolci in Sicily, who was a peculiar man. Heorganized peasants in Sicily against Mafia. And we were completely unaware ofthe issues he would cause. The Mafia was stopping the building of a dyke thatwould modify the river path into a valley, making it available for cultivation.But these people wanted to be paid for the water, and the peasants could notpay and they did not get water so we went and tried to build the dykeourselves. At that point the police came to send us away. That was my firstclash with state authority, in Sicily in 1951, when we had this strange experience in Trappeto, close to Partinico, betweenPalermo and Trapani, in Mafia reigned territory.
RG: Sothe mafia worked together with the police.
AN: Yes,the same people. And it was fun. These things are very difficult to explain, agroup of intellectuals from the countryside who chose to join a party. Myfriends were very clever, I was not as much, but they were and I became thesecretary of the federation. It was in 1958, 1959, and I was the secretary ofthe Federation of the Italian Socialist party, so I was twenty five. I couldhave become a member of parliament, but I didn’t. We went with Quadernirossi (red notebooks), it was a magazine from Turin, it made surveys. It wascalled Inchiesta Operaia (survey for workers) and we went and saw what was really going on in thefactories. On the other side we had the Communist party, the unions and thesocialist party which told us what the workers did, but we were suspicious, wedid not understand the situation well, especially after 1956. In 1953 theunions were beaten, a very bad loss for them and we started to build workerpower in the factories.
RG: Inthe 1950s?
AN: Thisprocess starts in 1956 with the big crisis of the 20th congress ofthe Soviet communist party, with Krushow, when people started to realize that Stalinwas devious and that his Communism was a very burocratic one. We still remainedcommunist but we didn’t want to have anything to do with it, we wanted torebuild. So that’s when I learnt about Marxism, I had to learn Marx. Onone side I woke up at 5:00 AM, 5:30 AM and went in front of the factories andtalked to the workers.
RG: Didyou go inside the factories or only in front of them?
AN: Wewere in front of them. And I studied Marx at the same time. I started studyingit at the end of the 1950s. I was already a communist, I was active in theparty and only then I started studying Marx.
RG: Didyou take notes during your polls?
AN: No,no notes. We used to talk and then we prepared leaflets. We wrote theseleaflets and distributed them and told these workers: look, this is yoursituation. And the workers would sign them, we were only writing what theworkers said and that’s what we did. It was the beginning of a very niceperiod. I was lucky enough to be hired as a professor. In 1963 I was a fulltimecollege professor, which meant a lot of power then, before 1968. So in 1963 Iwas a professor of philosophy of public law in Padua, in this big university,one of the biggest universities in Italy. So I was hired fulltime as aprofessor and was very young, I was thirty and had a lot of power. But I kepton waking up at 5:00 AM in the morning and I would leave at 8:30 Porto Marghera, these bigchemical factories where I read Marx with the workers. Then I would leave, wearmy tie and go to the university to be an ordinary professor.
RG: Let’stalk about this experience
AN: Itwas a fabulous experience, also because I got married at that time. I had kidsand I also had a very bourgeois life, because I had a big social life, but deepinside my real passion was to learn, because it was a matter of knowledge. Ibelieve I never did these things for love of others. I believe knowing thepassions of other men is right and just, rationally adequate, especially thosepassions which bring men together as a community. It doesn’t have to dowith abstract equity or justice, it’s about allowing these people toexpress these passions, these feelings, the passion for justice, the fact that justicebecomes something real. So we went in front of the factories in the morning andtalked to these comrades. There was a group of these comrades who became veryserious, very important. They were representatives of the factories, they wereelected in factories with six to ten thousand workers. If you go to Venice yousee this line of factories on one side. Right there we were at ease.
RG: Howdid these workers react?
AN: Keepin mind that we would go back to Marghera at night and have meetings with theworkers. In the morning we would make a proposal, at night we would get an answer.So we decided the inside controversies every day. In a way we replaced theunions and the party itself. I was the secretary of the provincial Federationof the Socialist Party, in Padua, so I could have become a deputy, could havechosen to make a political career at that time. But I dropt it, in 1961, 1962,I joined this group, Quaderni Rossi, which was a magazine which analyzed life in thefactories right there. They operated in Turin, there was another group inMilan, one in Rome and we were in Venice, Marghera. Our group was reallyimportant and it still exists like the group in Seattle. Well, in Europe peoplewho came from that experience are from Veneto. They are everywhere. The otherday the head of the security service who escorted Marcos in the City of Mexicowas a comrade from Padua, one of the leaders. This is wonderful, this endlesscontinuity. We did a lot of work in Veneto molding very interesting andpeculiar characters, very smart people, from university professors to a lot ofpeople who got involved in strange activities. That’s when I startedwriting books too. One is on German historicism, Dittei, Meineke. My first bookwas published by Feltrinelli. My first thesis was on German historicism,Dittei, Trotch, Weber and Meineke. I published my first thesis in 1958 and thenI worked on my second thesis in Paris as well because I started working in a schoolin Paris, Ulm. I did my second thesis on the young Hegel. After that I workedon this big project which allowed me to become a fulltime professor and I wrote about the Kantian jurors between 1789and 1802. Then I translated Hegel’s first writings on the philosophy oflaw of 1802 and the system of ethics of 1802, 1803, that means the writingsbefore Jenen. Thanks to all these writings I was hired fulltime as a professor. After that Ididn’t write anything else except some articles until 1967, 1968.
RG: Wereyou mainly working on Marx?
AN: Yes,I worked on Marx and I became Marxist
RG: Andthe university did not know that, right?
AN: No, theydidn’t.
RG: Howdid the university react to this change?
AN: Well,the academy was peculiar, it was probably the most revolutionary in Italy. AndI was on the law faculty, not philosophy, so it was even worse. So I rememberthey still liked me because, nonetheless, I was anti-soviet, and there was thisAnti-Stalinist game, but it did not really matter. If Stalin had been abourgeois, as he really was, they would have been happy. They were taking acold war position and you can’t imagine on what a scale. I had to passthrough a corridor to leave the faculty of Philosophy of law, and at 12:30, 1:00 pm I would leave and havelunch. There would normally be a group of old professors gathered. One was ProfessorCarraro who was one of the founders of the Christian Democratic party, animportant man, who was also the president of the Anti-Mafia committee. He wasthe one who denied the existence of the Mafia through a committee for three, four years in Parliament.
RG: Washe involved in it?
RG: How didhe do it then?
AN: Well,just like the CIA and the USA denied the existence of the Mafia in Italy,saying it only existed in the States, because the mafia is a political forcewhich belongs to the power system. Then there was the biggest Italian ministerwho gave the verdicts at the State court. Well, I don’t remember hisname. There was a big expert in penal law, Trabucchi and I had to pass throughthem all. It was a sacrifice for me. They would get quiet and one of them wouldask me “Negri, what do you thing about what happened yesterday?”And I had to be very ironic to avoid making myself look ridiculous. And I wasable to do it, and I am proud of it, I did it for almost two years. Then Ichose to work on Saturdays, Sundays, because I liked it better, nobody wasaround. At that point a bomb was put in the institute.
AN: Areal one?
RG: Yes,the Police put a bomb. It was at the beginning of 1969 and it was the sameperson who put it in Piazza Fontana, Milan. He was a Paduan Fascist. Luckilynobody died in Padua, but in Milan there were sixteen, seventeen casualties.
RG: Howdid your students react after you presented a Marxist thesis. Did they expectsomething else from you?
AN: Studentsdidn’t expect anything else. My students would grow with me. I was luckyto be part of a development towards the movement of 1968, a movement that Ididn’t create, I was experiencing it, I was in it. Don’t forgetCuba in 1968, and in Veneto we had the creation of the first Marxist-Leninistgroup of European young communists who lived in Prague and experienced themovement of international young communists. They knew the Chinese tradition andbrought in 1966, 1967 the so-called Cultural Revolution, an endless revolution,and so on. Moreover we were in touch with factory workers. We were not onlyuniversity students and intellectuals, we were in touch with that reality. Sowith the 1968 revolution throughout Europe we had no problem dealing with allof these thesis and theories. We were there, and not only did we want to be intouch with the workers, we were them, in a way. There were thousands of workerswho already agreed with us, and when they saw other students going to them,they accepted them, that was really exciting.
RG: Anotherphenomenon than in France, right?
AN: Ofcourse, different than France and Germany. In fact, the movement of 1968 inItaly lasted for ten years, until 1979, until April 7th, 1979.
RG: Whathappened then?
AN: Meand fifty other people were arrested.
AN: They organizedthis arrest and left the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigade) alone, we were movers ofthe masses, while the Brigate Rosse were a terrorist group and they accused usof being brain of a class action in the universities, in the factories and thearmed organization. In other words, theyaccused us of being the intellectual unit in the middle, the interface of the 2groups, the armed organization and the mass action in university and factories.This was the accusation and we were arrested.
RG: Andthese people from Brigate Rosse who planted bombs.
AN: Theynever used bombs. They always shot at people, fascist are the ones who usedbombs in Italy. Every time there was a bomb attack, it was the fascists,sometimes the anarchists, but we had nothing to do with Anarchism. There werecomrades like people from the Brigate Rosse with radical ideals who need to becondemned, but it was never about terrorist attacks.
RG: Didyou know anybody from school or university who joined the Brigate Rosse?
AN: No,out of a total of two hundred, two hundred fifty Brigate Rosse members, nonewere in my class. If I think about my acquaintances or groups I had politicaldiscussions with, there might be ten. It was a mass movement and there were nodirect consequences. There’s a big process, a social process withdifferent ideas. What happened was you would go in the street and strike andwhen you found yourself in front of the police, they would fire at you. So thereaction to this all was, as the movement was really strong, that next timethey would shoot first because if one comrade was killed by the Police the lasttime, the next time it is a policeman who dies before one comrade. This was thelogic at that time and it was a mass movement. In Italy, since about 1975, there were shootings at every strike. Afterwards, the police started following people who had been seenshooting at strikes and they had to go into hiding. They would unite and startedthinking that they could achieve power only through secret revolutionary struggles and so on. This is how thephenomenon of Brigate Rosse started. Well, actually they started operation in1972, 1973, but it was only afterwards that they became important, right at thetime when they began to shelter whoeverfought in a radical way against the system in the streets. But this phenomenonis not like the Roter Arme Fraktion. The Roter Arme Fraktion has always beena minority group and they are peoplewho get together and do that and recruit radical people here and there. TheGerman situation was strange,there was a border involved, there was always East-Germany, so you could runaway. The situation in Italy was completely different. The Brigate Rosse is anatural phenomenon and for that reason …and what is really strange is that nobody, no one wasable to connect the Brigate Rosse to the East, the soviet service, not evenPalestinians.
RG: Noteven to the Germans?
AN: Well,yes, very casual contacts. The fact is that it is a phenomenon completelylinked to the class struggle, to workers movements, to the link betweenstudents and workers created at that time., an insurrection movement in ourcountry on the wave of a long term resistance in Italy.
RG: Akind of resistance against the Police?
AN: Yes,against the Police and the politics of the Communist Party. Since the beginningof the 1970s the communist party decided to betray the ideals of the 1968revolution in favor of gaining entrance into the government, the so-calledhistorical compromise. The Communists had to enter into the government so theyhad to take a different line, a more central one. So they anticipated whathappened after 1989.
RG: Whenthey changed the name of the party, right?
AN: Yes,they changed their name afterwards too, but that’s what happened at that time.There was a strong reaction. You know, the question behind it is verydifficult. In reality the fact that the Communist party tried to gain political power was very typical, what else can a politicalparty do to enter into the government? They don’t do anything? Of coursenot. They wanted to gain power. What they did not understand was that the classsituation changed, they were not in touch with it anymore. They had no realrelationship with the working classanymore because we took it awayfrom them, we created this big link in the factories, in society, andeverything new and innovative passed through us. They could not understand whatwas going on so they thought that this society was fixed, stable, theydidn’t understand that, for example, there was a capitalistic revolutionthat started to change work in the factories from manual to automatic, tointroduce robots, machines, material works. These factories were producing thesame amount of cars but with less and less workers, and we were able to mediate,to put together the old working class with the new intellectual force. That ishow the big conflict started.
RG: If wego back to Marghera, what part of Marx’s writings did you read?
AN: InMarghera we would read the first volume, as usual, the exploitation of theworking class, the work, the direct exploitation. In Marghera we would mainlyread the first volume. Afterwards, especially after the 1970s and theinvolvement of the students and intellectuals, because these students were students only for a short time andthen they became professors, they joined scientific or service fields and soon. So these students became immediately labor force becoming themselves rawmaterial, and so we started immediately working on big projects. The first studieswere on the technicians in thefactories. For example, already in1968, 1967, we published the first essays on what was then called the classtechnicians. And these were studies on the big laboratories of factories, for example,ENI, a big study on this factory close to Milan, in San Donato. ENI is anItalian oil company, one of the biggest oil companies at the internationallevel. And there were these enormous research companies. Then we startedworking with the National researchcenter, then on medicine and the relationship between medical technicians andtoxicity in the factories. That’s when the Grundgrisse process startedand it was very decisive at that time, not only that. In Italian we say“it rains where it’s already wet”. The Grundgrisse peoplewere actually like that, we were ready to accept their ideas. In fact wetranslated them, the first translation of Grundgrisse was done by QuaderniRossi, the chapter on the machine. And then Potere Operaio translated the restof the book. Enzo Grillo, a comrade of Potere Operaio, did this hugetranslation.
RG: Ihave it here.
AN: Grillo’stranslation of Bocan’s? Yes, it’s published by Nova Italia, this isthe one translated by of Enzo Grillo.
RG:Let’s talk about Grundgrisse. We can say that the other philosophicalwritings were not as important as the German philosophy
RG:When I read with my students we usually do some German ideologies to introducethe concept of Materialism and some aspects of Historiography, there is lessenthusiasm when we discuss Marx.Also, This “Marx being allMarx,” this book fromGrundgrisse, isn’t it true that Marx was beyond his analysis of thethought, that he was considered less a philosopher?
AN: I wasnever able to distinguish Marx the philosopher from Marx and the critics ofpolitical economy. One thing was intertwined in the other. Well, when Iwas a sociologist, because I hadto earn money somehow, especially when I was in exile and I spent fiteen yearsin France, I was earning money working as a sociologist. And I have to say thatI made good money, I still live partly on it now. Well, I was a sociologist fordifferent institutions and I have never been able to distinguish myphilosophical self from my sociologist self. For example if I made an analysisof the service company, a classic analysis that could be requested of a researcher 20 years ago “What isa service?” we were in a period when society was becoming mainlyindustrial, from a welfare (?) system to a society with private services, theautomatic process or decentralization of the factory, so the fabric would bemore divided and the services less and less linked to the well-fare When youdid an analysis of this kind you were in front of a definition of a new compositionof the income, a definition of a new composition of the society, a new role ofthe antagonists, a new idea of the relationships, it was no longer a matter ofdiscipline, it was a matter of control, that was adequate. All this becamereally important, so behind the change from a discipline to a control societywe had Delouse and Foucal, a whole philosophy. Behind the analysis of Materialand non-material work there was a development of a very critical interpretationof Marx, from Marx to the Frankfurt school, to our experience, the analysis ofthe technological work, of the scientific work, behind the fact that the workbecame more cooperative the service infrastructure, there was an Americanpragmatism, as the linguistic analysis, so the ability to link it to theanalytical philosophy. So knowledge, especially now, is something that needs tobe deconstructed in its discipline structure. If we needed to break someconventions then it was this structure, Streit der fachenden Fakultäten,the old enlightenment thematic
RG: TheGerman one?
AN: TheGerman, the French, it’s the European themes. What is this Streit derFakultäten? It is a break from the old Absolutist institutionalization ofknowledge. The knowledge of law, philosophy, autology, theology and so on. Nowwe should completely break this fix structure of knowledge.
RG: Weren’tthey doing it already in America?
AN: InAmerica they were doing it very badly. They did it as a consequence of the postcolonialism, or post ??. and then the analytical philosophy is different. Itwas then a battle to fight. And in a way your efforts go right that way, andyour work is really nice. I don’t know if I can define your work artisticor philosophical, tout-court
AN: The inter-disciplineis too limitative. It keeps the difference, for example in international law,the difference between states and nations is still the same, even in the newimperialistic state-form. When you talk about inter-discipline, it is veryclassic, in France, for example, and it is so boring, if you talk to aneconomist and you present an objection you will get the following answer“but my conceptions are different”. My conceptions, well, this isuseless, the big problem is to solve these ideas, in order to understand thatthe bodies of the multitude of the bi-political life are completely different.It is really a matter of destroying inter-discipline. I have fought forinter-discipline for 30 years, but now I don’t think there is anything leftto do in this field. The problem is to go a step further, to start from thisunity and then, eventually, to rebuild. It is obvious that a single man cannotknow everything. In Italian there is a dialectal expression that goes “weare Tuttologi –Allknowers” , but we need to go beyond this and be able to recover thisnew fountain of knowledge.
RG: I wastalking about an inter-discipline at the level of humanistic studies, you canchose a lot of combinations in the US, at Columbia University for example youcan study Economy, but also Pedagogy, Languages and so on.
AN: Butthey remain these fixed subject matters. Do you understand? The biggest problemis to reorganize completely the knowledge. Today the Streit derFakultäten needs to be totallyrecovered, since the beginning. Today the clash of different facultiesbecomes… we need to rebuild the choice, the completely different devises.
RG: Howdo you image this reorganization? In his last book I was really surprised tosee that he proposed the exact divisions of the faculties.
AN: Yes,I am against it also.
RG: Inhis book I don’t understand his philosophy of the vertical display of thefaculties. How would you reorganize it otherwise?
AN: Idon’t know. We’ll talk about it another time. It would take a long timeto explain it. Well, I have only one idea, the bio-political idea. What I meanis that human and life sciences need somehow to be linked together. And insidesome political choices of values made in this new network… it’sclear, for example that the political economy changes drastically if, throughthe biological engineering we create men who live free and live longer thannow, or if we create working monkeys. So, in this case, you see how politicaleconomy can be transformed completely and the labor quantities modifiedcompletely from a scheme to the other. And because of the fact that the laborquantities modify completely the final schemes of political economy, you cansee how, in this case, there is no difference between political economy andbiological engineering. We can practically find all the different sciences inthe political economy, from political sciences to the critics of the politicaleconomy. We can make many other examples, also in the arts it is reallydifficult to pinpoint a specific discipline economy. Where is thediscipline-autonomy of the arts, what is it, I ask you.
RG: Thearts are really important because there are different levels of art:production, distribution, critics and the broadcast. I am out of this, we cantalk about it later. We can discuss the issue of automatic work, less workersand more work, this is an inevitable technical development. I remember in the1970s in Germany there were strikes against the introduction of machines in thefactories – What is your opinion about this?
AN: Thetechnological progress is something positive. The big problem lies in makingthese machines a central element in people’s life. The capital uses thetechnological transformation and it is a choice, because automatic machines inthe ‘70s could have been introduced in the factories thirty yearsearlier, they chose to do it then to fight against a working force which wasdecreasing the profit levels. The capital was not making enough margins. Theowners in the 1970s, as a consequence of an increase in the income of theworking families, used new technologies to increase their margins. If youreplace ten workers with an automatic machine, you invest your money in themachine, but it will be always less expensive than paying ten workers. Theworkers too wanted the automatic machine, because they wanted to earn moremoney, they wanted to meet their needs with more money, they loved that, theydidn’t like to work, they were forced to do it, working is a sacrifice.So the factory owners invest their money in machines and the workers agree withit: the problem was that with the introduction of machine workers expected thereduction of the working hours, but what happened was that they reduced thenumber of workers and the working hours increased. Between the ‘60s andthe ‘70s there have been working class clashes which reduced to theminimum the margins of the capitalists. For this reason there has been acapitalist reaction that modified production, the work organization e the introductionof automatic machines. Workers reacted as they could but they were betrayed bythe unions and the party. That’s when the historical vocation ofsocialism finished. Right then people found out that the real historicalvocation of socialism was different than freedom, it had a dark side, and thiswas the capitalistic production. Socialism never pictured any alternative wayof production than the one of capitalism. The same Soviet Union, all respect tothe heroism of generations of fighters and workers, and the Leninism orNapoleon himself, all these big events caused a lot of casualties, but couldhave been more victims of it hadn’t existed. Leninism had a mistakebehind it, it wanted to beat the US and it did not make sense, because youcan’t live that way, you have to find a different way of living,something away from America, from capitalism.
RG: Inthe Soviet Union it was common to find the word Cord for Ford in the 1930s or 1940s. There was a Fordism
AN: Well,you find this kind of Fordism in Gramsci as well. He was a man of greatknowledge and I believe it was wrong, on his side, to play that card.
AN: Yes,he had the same opinion.
RG: Todaythe word revolution has a new meaning in the new technologies. If there is arevolution on a technological level, could it bring a different workingconditions?
AN: Well,we should experiment it. We should experiment a new production system.
RG: I’mtalking about the alternative you mentioned.
AN: In realitynobody can invent alternatives. Marx didn’t invent anything else than theexisting critics. Things are usually invented by groups of people, it is nevera matter of an invention by an individual. An invention is usually the fruit ofa multiplicity of initiatives, corrections, etc. the innovative process is along historical process that could not be invented by anyone. It was a resultand an eve-lasting thing that we do not always recognize as such. Even if wefeel we live in a very repetitive life, we always create, it’s a work inprogress. Even if we don’t notice it. Even now, in this desperate timesof our existence, there is a big amount of creativity building up and at acertain moment it will come out. In different ways, political and non-political,artistic, innovative and even religious forms from the technological point ofview.
RG: It isreally interesting to notice how in the last 3 years…
AN: Whythe last 3 years?
RG: inthe dot com companies we could see big capitals invested in creativity, inideas. It was something out of any schemes.
AN: Ofcourse. This will not finish, this will go on.
RG: Thisis very interesting. People who impose their prices, Music with Napster whichmade possible for no change an exchange of music and intellectuals documents.
AN: Theseare very interesting things but they do not modify the production system, it ismodified already. What is really interesting is the service aspect, thereceiver is as important as the producer.
RG: Wediscussed your life in the 1970s and now we can pass to the 1980s. You said youwere arrested with your comrades in 1979, April 1979 till 1983, and then youwent to France, you were invited to the Sorbonne.
AN: I wasinvited there in 1977, in 1972, and 1977 till 1979. When I was arrested I wasstill a professor at the College Superior. Previously I had been a studentthere a young boy, in 1972-73. In the year 1977 I was giving lesson on Marx andthen in 1979 I started a course on Gramsci. The Course was very well plannedand I was helped by Robert Paris, the French translator of Gramsci. Wepresented a critical aspect of Gramsci’s ideas. In 1983 I went back toFrance and I was almost a clandestine till 1985, 1986.
RG: Wereyou wanted by the state?
AN: TheItalian government wanted me to go back and the French state was helping me andhiding me. Mitterand himself stopped my extradition to Italy. The only problemwas that I didn’t have to be in public. At that time I worked a lot on mybook on Leopardi, a book I am fond of, and then I went on studying Spinoza andwrote other articles on him after the first book already published on him. ThenI worked on the constitutional power. All this process went on till 1987, 1988.At that time I started teaching at the Collège International dePhilosophie and founded the magazine “Future Anterior” so myexperience in a community of people started again. In the meantime I was alsohired in this university in Paris, Ouits, where I discussed about theorganization of a state and its critics, and I appeared in public again. Iworked on the faculty of Paris Ouits St Veni-Vincent and on the magazine“Future Anterior”. Moreover, I worked as sociologist, I already didin 1986, 1987 making research for the French ministers. I started analyzing changes in production, the passage fromthe Ford era to the Post-Ford era in the French Textile industry, especially inParis, the relationship between Textile factories and immigrations, the labourforce in advertisement, the intellectuals in the textile factories. I broughtin some Italian models from the North East, the Benetton model for example, andI introduced them to the French ministers. We have to keep in mind that Francewas a Jacobine state where the centralization of the state is very important,is all. Afterwards I united with other five friends and we made a research thatwent from this study on the non-materialization of the Textile industry tostudies on the non-materialism of work in different areas of Paris. Wepublished one book after another, and so we made this huge research on thematerial work in Paris, then another research on the social conditions of thepolitical decision over information. Our work was distinguished by very preciseresearches, inquiries on the distribution of work in particular neighborhoodsof Paris, and also on the transformation of the territory according to thelabour force involved in one area. It was a great experience. Next to this Iwould cooperate with some Paris communities on the development of territory and,for example in St Denis, the work was really important because we directlyfollowed the passage from a Ford-era to a Post-Ford era, a project that endedwith the building of a soccer stadium for the world cup in 1998. It was reallyinteresting to see these communists in a crisis, very smart people who areprobably the only ones left that could really renovate some communistexperiences. On one side I was working on the book of Spinoza and thedevelopment of the constitutional thought, a thought that can be developed inthe institutions and that can transform them from the inside. Spinoza with hisontological ability to create new forms of existence, till the communism forour modernity. We can still be communist, this is the big concept.
RG: Todayhow can we have the multiplication of production without exploitation, as Marxsays?
AN: It’sa very simple problem. You take away a ownership right. For example in the copyright, Imagine a society without copyright where any positive value is madecollective. You distribute you give a common salary to all and you work forfree.
RG: Youwork for the idea?
AN: Forthe pleasure of working. For the pleasure of reorganizing my idea. I’mnot doing it for the propaganda, and I don’t know for a fact thatyou’ll use my words for it. You have the fully ownership I don’task you money for it, and I don’t ask for money because it’s beyondmy idea. If you earned money, I wouldn’t ask you to give some back to mebecause I made you earn it – what would be the measurement means?I’d like to see people meeting as if they were lovers, because they likeeach other, to talk. And this is not utopic at all. The majority of socialrelationships are this way. That’s why it’s not easy to understandwhy the economical structure of the society is the negation of it all.It’s not an utopia.
RG: Ibelieve that, in big factories there should be a development where there is nomore capitalism and the workers become independent. This is something veryclear in Marx. Today in the post-industrial era the production is in the handsof the workers, meanwhile in the classic industrialization the capitalist wasthe owner and the boss of the company. There is still exploitation but thingsare changing.
AN: Yes,things are changing but we have to be careful. It is clear that there is achange in the production process. This means that there is a productivecooperation beyond any possibility of foreseeing it from the capital side. Forexample, imagine our work here was broadcast on CNN, and I hope for so, thatmeans, it becomes a capitalistic opportunity as a desire to express thesethemes we are discussing. This happens everywhere, the capitalist project isalways foreseen by a community desire. Once it was the capital which wouldprovide the instruments, like a machine was an instrument in the factory, themachine would move and produce merchandise. Now the machine is in your brain,you carry it in your pocket, like your video-camera., small and functional.It’s yours, it’s like a part of your brain. On my side, I play yourgame and say certain things. And when you broadcast your work, you put yourselfout there. It is not the capital which anticipated the production means. Howdid you get that video camera? Was it a present from your dad?
RG: Iborrowed it.
AN: OK,You borrowed it. From an economic point of view it is completely irrelevant.You used two, three cassettes, but the expense is irrelevant in comparison towhat you get. The capital is parasite, it does not anticipate anything more forany works. Think about the Swiss capitalists who transported the textilemachines over the Voralber Pass, how high is it?
RG: Well,they sailed across the lake.
AN: Well,they had to carry their textile machines here and they were really heavy. Now youput your machine in your pocket. There is a modified conception of time andspace now. Marx understood all this a century and a half ago. He understoodthat capitalism was linked to the profit, that the profit was linked to thehuman passions, that human passions were instable, they end, he understood thatcapitalism was shit. He understood that capitalism would end up decomposingitself. Well, it is more likely that it would cause the death of the universebeforehand, it would cause atomic bombs to be thrown, it would do anythingnecessary. When you see an idiot like Bush Junior in charge of the empire, youget the chills, because he is capable of doing any kind of stupidity. And theleadership is even worse, it is weak and stupid. And that’s all, we haveto go on living because we know we have the strong production means, we are themighty. Meanwhile the others have the right on their size, some shitty lawyerwho follows and covers their little conspiracies.
RG: It isvery interesting to see the analysisof technology done by Marx
AN: Yes,there is a very precise theme here, Marx says that the machines solveconflicts, in a way. The technological development was made to reduce theworking quantity in relationship to the exploitation.
RG: Alsoin a war?
AN: Yes,also in a war.
RG: Iliked in the first Marx his definition of antagonist synthesis
AN: Well,that concept belongs to Feuerbach, not to Marx.
RG: Yes,but it is usually seen as a compromise, a synthesis. Thesis and anti-thesisfrom Hegel
AN: Thehistory of philosophy from Plato to Hegel, everybody tried, even fascists likeHeidegger, who tried to rebuild the ontology from the bottom. But the bighistory of ontology starts from the domain of the being on the top to thedialectic, the domain of being from the bottom. And this has always been thecase for many centuries. Probably there is a similar philosophy in China, but Idon’t really know it. In Europe we have this stupid dialectic whichstarted with the fascist Plato to the other fascist Heidegger, and Hegel in themiddle is just a turn over of dialectics from the bottom. And then there areSpendler, Heidegger, but they are minor.
RG: It isstrange that you, having lived in France, consider Heidegger a character on theside, like the school of Frankfurt and myself, but the French love him, likethe Americans
AN: Ithink that Heideger and Birkenstein are two important capitalisticphilosophers. Heideger was reactionary and Birkenstein progressist. If I had towrite the history of XX century I would talk about them. I would say that thatis where the philosophy ends, a new knowledge system starts with them.
RG: Heidegeris more important than Birkenstein
AN: It’snot true
RG: Hisinfluence is big but he did not bring so much novelty.
AN: Heideggermade a last attempt at metaphysics. He tried to detach Aristotelism from atheological aspect, to turn it with a negative connotation. The same thing wasdone by Plotino with Platonism, to take a long philosophical tension to anextreme conclusion. Keep in mind that classic philosophy—Plato andAristotele, who beat Socrates and the Atomists—is a Nazi autology- it isEugenics, the principle of being and of command are called the same: ARKE. Philosophy cannot distinguish between a being andhis hierarchical organization. There is no difference between being a good manand being commandant, the Arke isthe same. The way the Greek philosophy organizes the world is Nazi. Nazism isthe caricature of an important paradigm. We should say it. Heideger does notsay anything new, he tries to make ironic the problem of repression.
Butall the philosophy for 2000 years with the intervention of the church , and Iam not talking about Christbecause Christ is the ultimate tentative of redemption, also the Platonism…
RG: Now,let’s go back to the problems linked to the globalization
AN: Well,US won the Cold war, not the USA but the capital won this battle againstsocialism, against the Soviet Union, against the attempt which never took placebecause it was never different from the capitalistic development. But thecapitalists were scared, they felt deep fear.
AN: No,since the first World War they were really scared. I don’t know if yourfather is rich, but think about a rich man, he would be scared that people tookhim money away from him. The US considered the Soviets thieves. It is aboutmoney of people. It was about that. They don’t realize they are stealingand there must be something subconscious that they occupied something. Thenthey accused all these people asking for justice and called them thieves, as anattempt to steal what was the fruit of their work, that was command andexploitation. Sometimes I have a lot of doubts on the fact that theintellectual activity and the organizing work could be avoided so that it couldjustify capitalism. Then there was a development in production so that thelabor force produces value, richness, materials that were exported. At thatpoint I am convinced that directing job was not aiming at development. Forexample, you are directing me, you are my exploiter from a capitalistic pointof view, but you cannot really say it, so evidently we are just cooperating,which is so much more important than your exploitation of me. So now we shouldsimplify the capitalistic dynamic. We were talking about the postmodernisthegemony where we have a production in material where we have no longerdisciplinary types of commands, because you can use it only on the materialityof production. Now we have types of command which mainly act on the mind of theworking class. The problem is very simple, and the globalization lets thegovernments put pressure on the internal imbalances. The world means progress.Here in Rome we had a student strike organized by the Liceo Magnani, one of thebiggest bourgeois high schools in Rome, where all the students took off theirNike shoes. The principal wanted the school to be sponsored by Nike and theyorganized a visit by one of the biggest soccer player of the city team, Roma,his captain. Students refused that, they said we do not use Nike shoes and tookthem off. Those things make you think…, when students of a high schoollike that, and believe me when I say it is a bourgeois school, take their shoesoff and they refuse to see the most popular player of Rome, Totti, well…
RG: It’sstrange that a school needed money.
AN: No,it is not strange at all. It is the same thing as in the US.
RG: Yes,but in Italy?
AN: Well,in Italy, with the Americanization we are transforming our universities inproduction centers, private school with sponsors. Europe is building itself onthat basis. My dear, what do you think? This is the daily reality. Do not besurprised, I am surprised there is such a resistance, it’s incredible, 16year olds who resisted to Nike. The problem was that Nike exploited children inthe third world. These people feel to belong to the world. Everybody does. Theproblem is not being against globalization, the problem is who is at the headof globalization. The paradox is when we say that we created the globalizationbecause these states were mean and cowards, fascists. They killed us in Europe,they started the Second World War causing millions of victims, they killed eachother, French against Germans, Italians against Germans, German against Slavs,and the anti-Semitism too. So much hatred created for this development.That’s enough. I don’t want to see certain faces, sometimes theyare also in the left-wing parties. There are some old communists who tell usstories as if we didn’t know that communism has always beeninternational.
RG: Thisis the idea of a state-nation, the restricted nationalism does not correspondto the demographic aspect of a state.
AN: Ofcourse. When you discuss anything, now, you have to talk on a world level, on alevel of mobility. Moreover, you have to deal with the ontological problemslinked to the race transformation. No more race. The revolution that we witnessnow which started in the 68 is the fact that there are no more politicalcategories. Once you used to say: Well, you are still German, no, I’m notGerman, I’m Italian, German, Polish, French, I am something else. I amAmerican, partly black, yellow, even if it’s more difficult, I’dlike to be yellow, we want a universal citizenship.
RG: Butthere are people who don’t get along with their neighbors…
AN: Theirneighbors? Well, but I believe that anytime a white woman has a child with ablack man, every black woman who has a child with a Chinese, all these childrenare Christs.
RG: Whatdo you mean?
AN: Theyrenew the human being.
RG: Christ,like Jesus Christ?
AN: Yes,the symbol of a new generation, of the resurrection. This is fundamental to me.Everything local must stay local. The thing I mostly enjoy is actually speakingVeneto. My woman who is French bought a Veneto-Italian vocabulary. Veneto is alanguage which has been around for ten centuries as a state language, and sothere are reports from the ambassadors all written in dialect, reports whichtell the history of Europe in a better way than the ambassadors from France andEngland. It was a German man, Ranke, who published the Venetian ambassadors,just to show you how important they are.
RG: Istudied him.
AN: Ihave the advantage of being from here, Veneto is a language and I keep onspeaking it, I want to defend it, because I have fun with it, I know all theinflections and I know that when I kiss a woman and speak Veneto it’sgoing to sound more romantic than in English, German, ecc. Do you understand?But I am a citizen of the world. There is no reason to kill each other to makethe national capitalists rich. They will always send you to die, not even to beexploited. Do you realize what’s going on in Europe in the XX century?Non sense.
RG: Doesyour wife speak French?
AN: No,she speaks Italian better than me. We speak French, Italian, sometimes evenGerman.
RG: Andyour daughter speaks better Italian or French?
AN: Well,I have 3 children. The eldest daughter talks English better than Italianbecause she lived in England for 20 years, from 15 to 35 years old. My sonspeaks Italian, my daughter had a French citizenship.
RG: Andyour son is in France.
AN:They are all in the vicinity. They go, they come back, they come back to base.
RG: Outof curiosity, how was it to work with Althouser, Deleuzee. I know them onlythrough their books. Althouser must have been very complicated.
AN:No, Althouser was something very simple. In the 70s Althouser, when I met him,was really interested in what was happening in Italy. We never hadphilosophical conversations, always political, we talked about politics withgreat intuitions. He came to my lessons and he would never intervene. He tookpart to a lot of classes and then he would call me again. He would send mestudents. My relationship with Deleuze was something different, we had a deepconfidence on a political level. When I did the interview, later published, itwas an interview for Pour Parle onpolitics, we did it together. It was the last part of his book called PourParle, it was the political sessionwhere he said: “I am not a Marxist, I am a communist,” which ispractically…
AN: No,not the contrary, I am communist and Marxist, but it is true that I lived atime when I was communist and not Marxist. And I found myself in this situationanother time.
RG: Idon’t know what Marxism and Communism are anymore. But I know thatstudying Marx has changed my life.
AN: Marxis the greatest philosopher of the XIX century.
RG: Butwe cannot say Marxist in the traditional way, because things have changed.
AN: Yes.Marx is an instrument, but you can use it in many ways. The problem is not onlyMarx, it is also the materialism in relationship to history. If you say mankindis the fundament of history, the one who transforms and creates it, well,it’s a Marxist term.
RG: Istudied Russian and lived one year in Russia at the beginning of the 90s, I sawmisery. I don’t consider communism what I saw.
AN: Theproblem with communism is very simple. If we think about the speculation andthe desire for richness, we don’t understand anything of what is goingon. The economic individualism is impossible, there is only the possibility todomain other people, to exploit other people. On the other side richness iscreated through cooperation between people.
RG: Iagree with you, but it works only in the intellectual and artistic fields. Whenit’s about a bigger social group, it gets really complicated.
AN: Well,if it is complicated, does it mean it is impossible? Complications sometimesare positive.
RG: Butthe fields I saw our idea of communism realized was the artistic field more thanother fields, in a society that defines itself as capitalistic.
AN: Well,we should really start from the beginning. The big problem is that peopleshould realize that the mighty, and not the possibility of being communist thatmeans of living as part of a community is given and must be experimented. Therest, all the ideologies, are meaningless. The important thing is to do, aconcept that myself and Michael Harter express widely, that means we can livethe world as St Francis of Assisi, but only in a mighty way, full of options. Aman who does not talk to the birds, but has the opportunity to do it, has thetechnical instruments for it.