“Workers of the world unite" and other impossible propositions
Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 5, (2), . (doi:10.1080/1369801031000113003).
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This article examines Hardt and Negri's claim in Empire (2002) that the horizontal articulation of local social movements is anachronistic and therefore untenable. Starting with a discussion of what Hardt and Negri mean by the multitude, the article proceeds to examine how the vocabularies of proletarian internationalism are rethought as missed opportunities in the work of Slavoj Zizek and Robert Young.
In response to this rethinking, the article considers whether Hardt and Negri's tendency to valorize mobile migrant labour as having a particularly powerful potential for political resistance in the smoothed spaces of global capitalism effectively (although perhaps not intentionally) constitutes the spectre of migrant labour as a coherent political subject in the multitude's struggle against 'Empire'. Focusing on David Riker's portrayal of the struggles of Latin immigrant workers in New York City in the film La Ciudad (1999), and the limitations of the anti-sweatshop movement, the article finally argues that the future potential of the multitude lies in the strategy of repeating and re-articulating the missed opportunities of proletarian internationalism.
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