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Labor of Dionysus

Labor of Dionysus: A Critique of the State-Form

Michael Hardt
Antonio Negri
Volume: 4
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Labor of Dionysus
    Book Description:

    “Labor is the living, form-giving fire,” Marx wrote. “It is the transitoriness of things, their temporality, as their transformation by living time.” How is it, then, that labor, with all its life-affirming potential, has become the means of capitalist discipline, exploitation, and domination in modern society? The authors expose and pursue this paradox through a systematic analysis of the role of labor in the processes of capitalist production and in the establishment of capitalist legal and social institutions. Critiquing liberal and socialist notions of labor and institutional reform from a radical democratic perspective, Hardt and Negri challenge the state-form itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8439-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface: Dionysus
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Part I

    • Communism as Critique
      (pp. 3-22)

      IN THE following pages—perhaps to the surprise or dismay of some of our readers—we will speak not only of labor, exploitation, and capitalism, but also of class conflict, proletarian struggles, and even communist futures. Do dinosaurs still walk the earth?! We cast our discussions in these terms not from obstinacy or any obscure orthodoxy, but simply because we believe that, when submitted to a continual process of reconsideration so as to be in line with our desires and our interpretation of the contemporary world, these are the most useful categories for political and social analysis.

      These terminological problems...

    • Keynes and the Capitalist Theory of the State
      (pp. 23-52)

      FIFTY YEARS have passed since the events of Red October 1917. Those events were the climax of a historical movement that began with the June 1848 insurrection on the streets of Paris, when the modern industrial proletariat first discovered its class autonomy, its independent antagonism to the capitalist system. A further decisive turning point came again in Paris, with the Commune of 1871, the defeat of which led to the generalization of the slogan of the party and the awareness of the need to organize class autonomy politically.

      The years 1848 to 1871 and 1871 to 1917: this periodization seems...

    • Labor in the Constitution
      (pp. 53-136)

      THIS STUDY addresses several problems of constitutional law and the general theory of right, problems connected to the redefinition of the contemporary State as a “social State,” a “planned State,” and a “State of labor.” It seeks to account for several transformations that have taken place in the juridical system of sources, the structure of the State, and the connected conceptions of juridical norm and authority. The fundamental thesis is that these institutional changes, produced by underlying political changes, do not alter the class nature of the bourgeois State, but rather perfect it, making it adequate to the new needs...

  6. Part II

    • Communist State Theory
      (pp. 139-178)

      “STATEMONOPOLYcapitalism consists in the subordination of the State apparatus to the capitalist monopolies.” Ever since Stalin posed this definition for the Third International in the 1930s, the official current of the workers' movement has taken few steps forward in developing the theory of the State, and has thus neglected the analytical tasks necessary to adjust the political course of international communism in light of the changes at work in the capitalist State in response to the great economic crises. (See chapter 2.) The mechanical and instrumental conception of the relationship between monopoly capital and the structure of the State has...

    • The State and Public Spending
      (pp. 179-214)

      IN THE major capitalist countries, public expenditures (by the State and the public sector) approach or surpass half of the gross national income. The increasing rate of growth of public spending with respect to the growth of national income is an irreversible trend. “Yet despite this, there have been only isolated studies by Marxists which systematically examine the causes and consequences of this unprecedented growth” (Ian Gough, “State Expenditure in Advanced Capitalism,” p. 53). When such studies do appear, in fact, they only rarely grasp the new specificity of the situation in general; instead they recast the explanation of the...

  7. Part III

    • Postmodern Law and the Withering of Civil Society
      (pp. 217-262)

      WITH THE end of the 1970s, there also ended particular conceptions of worker subjectivity, class struggle, and leftist politics in general. The 1980s seemed in many respects one long celebration of the definitive victory of capital over labor, from the neoliberal economic revolutions of Reagan and Thatcher in the early eighties to the “death of communism” dramatized by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Labor seemed to disappear from the scene while capital assumed the role of the primary productive force. The master had finally put an end to that annoying struggle and simply done away with the...

    • Potentialities of a Constituent Power
      (pp. 263-314)

      “REAL SOCIALISM”— that is, the socialism that actually existed in the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe—did not constitute a form of government substantially different from the form invented by capitalism in the course of its development. Or more precisely, its form was different only insofar as it was applied to a phase of capitalist development different than that governed by the capitalist democracies. It was a form of government not very different from that known to many Third World countries, even though they were protected by the large Western democracies—a form typical of a...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 315-332)
  9. Works Cited
    (pp. 333-346)
  10. Index
    (pp. 347-350)
  11. BackMatter
    (pp. 351-351)