Over the next few weeks, I shall be reading a book by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt called Commonwealth. If you don’t know who they are, I suggest you Wiki them and watch ‘A Revolt that Never Ends’, an entertaining documentary on Negri which can be found on Google Videos. The book has attracted many favourable reviews from the Left, ranging from Naomi Klein through to Fredric Jameson (a Marxist cultural theorist), so it seemed like a nice intersection between ‘activist’ politics and ‘theoretical’ politics.
After each section or chapter, I shall post a summary on The Night Shift. These summaries are designed so that no prior knowledge of theory or philosophy will be necessary to understand them; where philosophical terminology is used I shall do my best to explain it. That said, I chose this book for a reason. After Julia’s post on ‘The importance of being earnest’, I realised that I didn’t want to seem like a know-it-all. And about Negri and Hardt I know nothing at all. Nor do I know anything of the traditions from which their thinking and politics proceeds. In one sense, then, this will be the blind leading the blind – and you can choose to ignore these posts because of that. On the other hand, you could look at it positively: in ‘reading’ Commonwealth together, we’ll have to create a common of our own to understand it. The book itself is meant to lead to radical political action via theory; in the process, our theorising will have to generate a practice of sharing, patience, and discussion.
PS – A message from Paul Aitken, a friend of The Night Shift:
‘As you go through this Dan and others, please feel free to check out summaries posted by myself and my friend Alex Means. The complete set is located at http://criticalstew.org, while our individual contributions are located at http://jajuna.com and http://paulaitken.com.’
These are the guys you should go to for the real McCoy philosophical interpretations!