Interview with Toni Negri in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks in Le Monde newspaper, 03 October 2001.
"Do you think that after the attacks of September 11th, it is necessary to make more clearly the distinction between anti-imperialism and anti-americanism?
- I hope that anti-americanism is finished. I have never been so. Likewise I have never been anti-russian. I have always opposed the policy of american capitalism like that of russian socialism. When we ask someone if they are anti-american or anti-russian, that means to say that we are asking if they are against a nation. For me, nations are divided between those who command and those who suffer. I am at the side of the American and Russian exploited, and against the American policy in Vietnam or the Soviet in Poland or Czechoslovakia. I would have been a lot more pleased if, on 11th September, the Pentagon had been razed and they had not missed the White House, instead of seeing the Twin Towers collapse, filled with thousands of American workers, amongst whom, it would appear, there were nearly a thousand 'illegals' (clandestinos). My enemies are the 'imperials' (who were once called capitalists) whatever their nationality.
In Empire (ed.Exils, 'Le Monde des Livres', 23 March 2001) written with the American Michael Hardt, you describe the present world as a global system of domination. Is islamic terror not outside of this "empire"?
- One of the important and astonishing lessons of this September 11th is that the Americans also found themselves inside the empire. The strategic insularity of the United States is over! I disagree with Daniel Bensaid who thinks that capitalism still expresses itself through the nation-state. This horrible story which happened in New York, it's a sort of Shakespearean tragedy, is it not? It's the family, royal, or imperial rather, which has torn itself, even if the characters like little Bush and his friends aren't really up to the script. We are seeing the struggle between the dollar-taliban and the oil-taliban They have been built one with the other, one on the other and now, it is hate which reigns. It's not about war, but vengeance! Do you not find it horrible to be immersed once again in this old reality of shakespearean violence, in this climate of primitive accumulation, as Marx would have had it?
How do you interpret the return to favour, after the attacks, of the nation-state, which is asked now to be national and international regulator?
The funiest thing to note about the last thirty years has been the reign of the Lex Mercatoria (the law of the market). The law has removed all legitimacy from the state. And that's why the law of the market is done for. Because the other configurations have fallen, the state must intervene. My friend Francois Ewald should make his self-criticism, he who like all the right foucauldians considered that the law of the market could function without the guarantee of the state. Today it is the true Foucault who is winning, he who follows Marx in the analysis of control, The free market has never existed, it has always been a mystification. As Foucault said so well, it is not war that is a continuation of politics but politics which is a continuation of war. War is the foundation of the politics!
Can one compare this situation to that of the latent revolution in which you particpated as a leader of the extreme left movement Workers Autonomy, in Italy in the 1970s (sentenced to thirteen years in prison, he has been given a regime of semi liberty)?
The seventies constituted athe beginning of the exit from modernity. Today, we are in postmodernity. I have never been a terrorist but I could refer to myself so. After all, I paid dearly! But that was a question of a mass extremism. We placed ourselves in the dialectic of the state of law, in the dialectic between socialism and fascism, in the struggle between socialism and communism. Today there is no more sovereignty. The very foundation of sovereignty has completely altered itself in aid of the war machine - that of global capitalism. And now that we have plunged into this great upheaval we are asking ourselves: who controls all this? That's the question! The Americans try to be the boss. What must be done? "Exodus", withdraw from the debate, desert, desert to the end: work, war, knowledge. That means building up another life which is not that of these 'messieurs', the talibans of the dollar and the talibans of oil."