Writing In the Wall Street Journal, Brian Anderson reviews the concluding volume of the Marxist trilogy by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Hardt and Negri are the authors of Empire (2000), Multitutude (2004) and now Commonwealth. The books are published by Harvard University Press, supported with the surplus value extracted by capitalists from the back of the proletariat.
Hardt is a professor of literature and Italian at Duke University. From the Press’s Web page on Commonwealth (linked above), we learn that Negri is also a distinguished academic. The Press is sparing in its description of Negri’s credentials to advance the cause of Marx for moderns. Anderson adds this context to Negri’s academic record:
Three decades ago, the Italian government believed that he was the secret intellectual leader of the leftist terrorists called the Red Brigades and that he was the architect of the group’s 1978 kidnapping and murder of Christian Democratic Party leader Aldo Moro. Unable to build a sufficient case to try Mr. Negri for murder–he has always denied the allegation–Italian authorities convicted him of “armed insurrection against the state.” Facing 30 years in the slammer, Mr. Negri scooted to France, where he remained, a philosopher in exile, until 1997, when he returned to Italy to serve the remainder of a reduced sentence. He is a left-wing guru whose field work has occurred far from the faculty lounge.
Anderson is the editor of the Manhattan Institute’s outstanding quarterly City Journal as well as the author of books including Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents and, most recently, A Manifesto for Media Freedom (with Adam Thierer).
Anderson is thus well qualified to assess the merits of Commonwealth as he does. He concludes his review on this fitting note: “Commonwealth is a dark, evil book, and it is troubling that it appears under the prestigious imprimatur of Harvard University Press. Countless millions were slaughtered by adherents of Karl Marx in the 20th century. God help us if the scourge returns in the 21st.”