Compléments de Multitudes 11

The Order of War

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First appeared in the Italian “Global Magazine” in November, 2002
Translated by Arianna Bove and Thomas Seay
Iran, Iraq, North Korea.  Within the new world order, roles and pecking
orders are being redefined through conflict with “rogues states”.  This is
the game in progress between the United States, China, Europe and Russia.

The imperial war is underway, developing and expanding with continuity and
inner consistency.  American initiative, the driving force behind the war,
yields little by little to the conditions set by other rulers of the earth. 
The very role of the United Nations is being transformed into that of
Imperial Senate(1).  War, as a global basis of legitimacy and as pre-eminent
display of imperial rule, is manifesting itself in all its forms, and as it
expands, so too does imperial power.  The new military doctrine, made public
by the American administration on September 20, 2002, completes the
strategic design that the Bush group declared when it first acceded to
power, well before the collapse of the Twin Towers:  the achievement of
superior military power by the United States, the consequent denunciation of
the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), and the start of the unilateral
construction of the Missile Defense System (“Son of Star Wars”).  After
September 11, 2001, the campaign in Afghanistan, which initiated on a global
level the first phase of the war on terrorism, put together conventional and
unconventional means of warfare, as well as high and low intensity police
actions.  Today the new military doctrine couches in terms of common sense
and elementary self-defense Empire’s right to intervene against potential
enemies before such threats materialize.  This is the theory of preventative
Preventative war is not only a military doctrine; it is a constituent
strategy of Empire.  The American administration’s September 20th document
explicitly states so: preventative war is a just and necessary means to
defend liberty, justice, democracy and economic growth against terrorists
and tyrants.  It adds that preventative war should be considered immediately
relevant concerning three “rogue states”:  Iraq, Iran and North Korea.  To
certain sectors of public opinion as well as to diplomats of some countries
it seemed as though the statement about the “Axis of Evil”, along with a
succession of angry unilateralist declarations on the part of White House
representatives and their watchdogs indicated the suspension or definitive
interruption of the nexus between military doctrine and the constituent
strategy of Empire.  In reality such was not the case.  On the contrary,
these statements represented items on the agenda [ordine del giorno around
which constituent discussions between the global powers emerged.  No
sensible person could have ever really thought that Iraq, Iran and North
Korea posed substantial problems for a power like the USA, which could claim
inordinate military power after its victory against international communism.
Now American military power, which is absolutely asymmetric, must also
become intransitive; it must remain an absolute superpower not so much with
respect to the three ‘powers of Evil’ but rather in respect to the other
world powers: the Axis of evil is a metaphor for the great problems the
monarchic power of the United States of America faces in three strategic
areas at the end of the cold war.  Europe, Russia and China represent the
problematic poles of the new global order. Now, Iraq is a further indication
of the European problem (and subordinately, of the Japanese one) presented
under the guise of energy supplies: without securing them the European
economy cannot exist and whoever controls energy supplies has his hands on
the whole range of biopolitical functions of power in the old continent. On
the other hand, Iran (the area around the Caspian sea) represents the soft
underbelly of Russian development. North Korea is in the middle of the China
Sea. How is Empire organized in these three fundamental zones? What is its
material constitution to become, today, in the presence of an American
military superpower? How is the military supremacy of the monarchic power
over the new imperial order to be preventatively secured?
It is well known that in Empire the sole exercise of military power-or
rather, of the monarchical function- is far from being sufficient to secure
centrality and stability for the exercise of global power. Moreover, S11 has
shown  (and with what dreadful evidence!) that the United States is in no
respects an island. The ensuing economic crisis -not only at the level of
production but also and especially at the financial and monetary level- has
demonstrated that in Empire monarchy cannot survive unless it is in
agreement with the global aristocracy. Therefore, the war that’s brewing
contains within its core a discussion on the imperial constitution, and
particularly, as far as Europe is concerned, the dimensions and roles of the
European aristocracies in it. Chirac and Schroder are neither pacifists nor
warmongers: they are debating with Bush on the place of European capitalism
in the imperial constitution. The major decisions are not being made on the
war on terrorism or on the conventional war against tyrants, but rather on
the forms of hegemony and the relative degrees of power that American and/or
European capitalist elites will have in the organization of the new world
order. Preventative decisions are not simply to do with war but more with
market predominance in the sub regions of the imperial organization.
What should be the multitudes reaction to such a situation?  How to oppose
this imperial game, which has become totalitarian and warlike, with the
force and desire of democracy?  How to avoid war or, in any case, fight
against it, whilst struggling at the same time for democracy, the real
democracy of the multitudes, on a global scale?
Two possible suggestions for now.  The first is the choice of field of
struggle.  There is no possibility of struggling against the constitution of
Empire without acting on a global scale.  Imperial power extends over the
globality of relations between nation-states and regional systems of
capitalist power.  These subjects take part in – in a way more or less
contradictory, but always, eventually coherent and in agreement- the system
of capitalist exploitation.  Now resistance to imperial war is possible only
by going beyond the narrow confines of nation and region; it is possible
only on the level of global networks of resistance.  Nationalisms, even and
especially those advocated by the Left (found frequently amongst ex-colonial
countries or ones that are extremely dependent as in Latin America)
represent a great danger, giving rise to the illusion that imperial rule
based on capitalist exploitation can be influenced or even beaten at the
nation-state level.  In reality, all forces that act on a global scale will
be effective only if they act, in a post-modern manner, transversally and
For instance, take the way the two major fundamentalist forces -the Zionist
and the Islamic- operate: they are networks, certainly present on specific
territories, but especially active in public opinion and in the electoral
bodies of key major capitalist countries, in the networks of information and
finance and so on. These are not the fields we are interested in, we are not
But once we’ve established that the only adequate field of struggle and
organization is the global terrain, we have a second line of action: the
anti-capitalist one. Here, social democracy presents itself as the obstacle
and mystification to be resisted. However, resistance must accompany exodus,
thus, with the view not of participating in the new imperial constitution
(either as subjugated peoples or as corporatist masses), but rather to
oppose the global constitution of capital and the imperial constitution
founded on preventative war with the democracy of the multitude (that is
based on the surplus of intellectual and ethical production of the
proletariat). But what is the democracy of the multitude? What is the force
of the new organized subjectivity? What is the ‘council with computers’ of
our new productive generations?
(1) Translators’ note.  For a definition of the terms monarchy, aristocracy
and democracy as “tripartite divisions of functions and elements” within
Imperial government see Hardt and Negri’s discussion of “Polybius and
Imperial Government” in “Empire” pp. 314-316:  “The Empire we find ourselves
faced with today is also-mutatis mutandis-constituted by a functional
equilibrium among these three forms of power: the monarchic unity of power
and its global monopoly of force; aristocratic articulations through
transnational corporations and nation-states; and
democratic-representational comitita, presented again in the form of
nation-states along with the various kinds of NGO’s, media organizations,
and other “popular organisms.”