WIAS hosted major book launch of Michael Hardt and Toni Negri’s “Assembly”

27th October 2017

Fyvie Hall was filled to maximum capacity on the evening of the 12th of October when people gathered to hear Michael Hardt give a talk on his and Antonio Negri’s new book Assembly. The sought-after and booked-out launch was hosted by Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies (WIAS) in collaboration with Oxford University Press and drew in guests from across Europe.
Assembly is the new follow-up book to the seminal Empire trilogy, consisting of Empire (2000), Multitude (2004) and Commonwealth (2009). It is an intervention into contemporary politics that argues for the convergence of social movements and political parties as well as of political leadership and grassroots politics. The book shows how politics and the economy have changed in the context of deep crisis and the increasing importance of the commons and immaterial labour in contemporary society. Hardt and Negri ask how today’s social movements should transform themselves so as to initiate social progress. The book also discusses aspects of financialisation, digitalisation, the rise of right-wing populism and nationalism, the alternative use of digital machines, and what the authors call the entrepreneurship of the multitude.

The book argues that an inversion of the roles of the multitude and leadership in political organisations is necessary: leaders should be confined to short-term, tactical action, while the multitude drives strategy. In other words, the formulation of long-term goals and objectives must come from an organisation’s grassroots rather than designated figureheads.

WIAS Director Christian Fuchs, who chaired the book launch, said: “Hardt and Negri’s Assembly is an important intervention into contemporary politics. The key strength of the book is the multitude of dimensions, ideas and provocations that the analysis advances, which makes it a book that will be read by many activists, citizens, scholars and other (im)material workers, who care about a better future and are looking for ways to transform society in progressive ways. Assembly is a brave and intelligent intervention that will influence our debates, struggles, theories, critiques, praxis, strategies and tactics in the coming years”.

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