"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, this book asks, that labour, with all its life-affirming potential, has become the means of capitalist discipline, exploitation, and domination in modern society? The authors pursue this paradox through a systematic analysis of the role of labour in the processes of capitalist production and in the establishment of capitalist legal and social institutions. Critiquing liberal and socialist notions of labour and institutional reform from a radical democratic perspective, Hardt and Negri offer insight into the power and limitations of the Soviet experience at a time when the collapse of the state in the socialist world has stumped most political theorists. In the 20th century, labour has become central to the material and formal constitution of the State, as a complex nexus of value and right.
And yet, in living labour and social co-operation, which cut across the divisions of workdays and wage relations, the authors identify a total critique of capitalist practice as well, presenting not only the negation of the present social order but also the affirmation of an alternative system of value, norms, and desires. The forms in which this potential is expressed, from the social movements of the 1960s to those of the 1990s, are the "prerequisites of communism" already existing in contemporary society. Michael Hardt is the author of "Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy". Antonio Negri has also published "The Savage Anomaly", also published by Minnesota.