Negri, Antonio

(1933– )
   Regarded by some as a cattivo maestro (corrupting teacher), by others as a hero of the struggle against globalization and the imperial ambitions of the United States, Antonio “Toni” Negri is one of the most influential intellectuals of the postwar Marxist left anywhere in the world. Born in Padua (Padova), where he also took his degree in philosophy, Negri hails from a tradition of progressive Catholicism, and as a student was actually a prominent member of the youth organization of Azione Cattolica/Catholic Action (ACI). In the 1960s and early 1970s, Negri was involved in a series of intellectual groups, the most important of which was Potere Operaio (Worker’s Power). In 1977, which in Italy was a replay of 1968, Negri’s articles and books were textbooks for would-be faculty revolutionaries. In April 1979, Negri, who by now was professor of political theory at Padua, was arrested and charged with being the mind behind the actions of Brigate Rosse/Red Brigades (BR). No proof was provided of his direct collusion in the BR’s murders, although his intellectual influence on the BR’s public statements was obvious. Negri nevertheless remained in jail under the “special laws” adopted to fight the terrorists.
   Negri’s case was taken up by the Partito Radicale/Radical Party (PR) in the early 1980s, and in 1983 Negri was elected to Parliament on the PR’s ticket. Rather than campaign for other prisoners, Negri, now out of prison and possessing parliamentary immunity, fled to Paris, to the rage of the PR’s leader, Marco Pannella, who was a personal friend. In 1984, Negri was condemned to a long sentence of imprisonment for subversion. The French government refused to extradite him, regarding him, in effect, as a political exile. Negri remained in Paris until 1997, when he returned to Italy and served six years in Rome’s Rebibbia jail until his release in the spring of 2003. While he was in prison Negri wrote, together with the American intellectual Michael Hardt, his most famous book to date, Empire, which was published in English in 2000 and then in Italian and more than 20 other languages. The argument of this very long, dense, and complex book is that the phenomenon of globalization is rapidly eroding the power of the nation-state, and that imperialism has not disappeared but has been transferred to the network of international institutions that have been created in recent decades. Empire has led to comparisons with Karl Marx and to Negri’s inclusion in a list of the 25 most influential living thinkers published by the Nouvel Observateur in January 2005.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Negri, Antonio — (1933– )    A writer and political activist, the Italian Antonio Negri published prolifically in the 1970s, although his most notable work is Empire written with Michael Hardt. His earlier publications include Crisi dello Stato piano (1974),… …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

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  • Antonio Negri — (* 1. August 1933 in Padua), auch kurz als Toni Negri bekannt, ist ein italienischer Politikwissenschaftler und ein bedeutender Vertreter der neomarxistischen Strömung des Operaismus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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