cover image Assembly


Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Oxford Univ., $27.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-19-067796-1

Political theorists Hardt and Negri (Declaration) return with their latest installment in a series reimagining Marxism for the present. In this hopeful study, they extend their concept of the multitude (a nonhegemonic group of people) in order to develop a dynamic concept of assembly—defined as “the power of coming together and acting politically in concert.” The book is nominally organized as a “call-and-response” in which Hardt and Negri reappropriate concepts familiar from neoliberalism, such as those concerning production, leadership, and entrepreneurship, to instead describe features of a radically democratic, noncapitalist society. For example, in their analysis, the concept of a leader is transformed from the “one who decides” to a person holding a temporary office beholden to the multitude’s needs. In order to arrive at these reappropriated and subverted concepts, the authors unpack principles and practices central to capitalism, such as private property and political sovereignty. The “commons” becomes an idealized space in which freedom and equality can be achieved. The book is a smart and in-depth examination of Marxist politics for a new century, but will definitely have its critics, even from the left, for its break with tradition and far-reaching claims. This work is a fascinating, challenging theoretical journey into a future beyond capitalism. [em](Sept.) [/em]