Michael Hardt

Last updated
Michael Hardt
Michael Hardt speaking at the Seminário Internacional Mundo. 2008
Born1960 (age 6263)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Main interests
Political philosophy
Literary theory
Notable ideas
Theory of Empire, altermodernity
Michael Hardt speaking at Subversive Festival Michael Hardt on Subversive Festival.jpg
Michael Hardt speaking at Subversive Festival

Michael Hardt (born 1960) is an American political philosopher and literary theorist. Hardt is best known for his book Empire , which was co-written with Antonio Negri.


Hardt and Negri suggest that several forces which they see as dominating contemporary life, such as class oppression, globalization and the commodification of services (or production of affects), have the potential to spark social change of unprecedented dimensions. A sequel, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire was published in August 2004. It outlines an idea first propounded in Empire, which is that of the multitude as possible locus of a democratic movement of global proportions. The third and final part of the trilogy, Commonwealth, was published in 2009.

Early life and education

Hardt attended Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. He studied engineering at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1983. In college during the 1970s energy crisis, he began to take an interest in alternative energy sources. [3] Talking about his college politics, he said, "I thought that doing alternative energy engineering for third world countries would be a way of doing politics that would get out of all this campus political posing that I hated. It seemed that way, but I was quickly disabused." [4]

During college, he worked for various solar energy companies. Hardt also participated, after college, in the Sanctuary Movement and later helped establish a project to bring donated computers from the United States and put them together for the University of El Salvador. Yet, he says that this political activity did more for him than it did for the Salvadorans. [5]

In 1983, he moved to Seattle to study comparative literature at the University of Washington. [6] While working on his PhD, Hardt began to translate Antonio Negri's book on Baruch Spinoza, The Savage Anomaly, in order to come into contact with him. [7] He first met Negri in Paris in the summer of 1986 to discuss translation difficulties. After their meeting, Hardt decided to complete his graduate exams and move to Paris the following summer. [8] He received an M.A. in 1986 and completed his dissertation on Gilles Deleuze in 1990, with which he earned his PhD. [9]

After briefly teaching at the University of Southern California, Hardt began teaching in the Literature Program at Duke University in 1994. [10] He is currently professor of Literature and Italian at Duke.


Hardt is concerned with the joy of political life, and has stated, "One has to expand the concept of love beyond the limits of the couple." [11] The politics of the multitude is not solely about controlling the means of productivity or liberating one's own subjectivity. These two are also linked to love and joy of political life and realizing political goals. [12]

Hardt does not consider teaching a revolutionary occupation, nor does he think the college is a particularly political institution. "But thinking of politics now as a project of social transformation on a large scale, I'm not at all convinced that political activity can come from the university." [13]

Hardt says visions of a public education and equal and open access to the university are gradually disappearing: the "war on terror" has promoted only limited military and technological knowledges, while the required skills of the biopolitical economy, "the creation of ideas, images, code, affects, and other immaterial goods" are not yet recognized as the primary key to economic innovation. Many of Hardt's works have been co-written with Antonio Negri.

Occupation movements of 2011–2012

In May 2012 Hardt and Negri self-published an electronic pamphlet on the occupation and encampment movements of 2011-2012 called Declaration that argues the movement explores new forms of democracy.[ citation needed ]


Selected Articles

Film appearances

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American imperialism</span> Expansion of American political, economic, media, and cultural influence

American imperialism refers to the expansion of American political, economic, cultural, and media influence beyond the boundaries of the United States. Depending on the commentator, it may include imperialism through outright military conquest; gunboat diplomacy; unequal treaties; subsidization of preferred factions; regime change; or economic penetration through private companies, potentially followed by diplomatic or forceful intervention when those interests are threatened.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antonio Negri</span> Italian sociologist and political philosopher

Antonio "Toni" Negri is an Italian Spinozistic-Marxist sociologist and political philosopher, best known for his co-authorship of Empire and secondarily for his work on Spinoza. Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded the Potere Operaio group in 1969 and was a leading member of Autonomia Operaia. As one of the most popular theorists of Autonomism, he has published hugely influential books urging "revolutionary consciousness".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Public sphere</span> Area in social life

The public sphere is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. A "Public" is "of or concerning the people as a whole." Public Sphere is a place common to all, where ideas and information can be exchanged. Such a discussion is called public debate and is defined as the expression of views on matters that are of concern to the public—often, but not always, with opposing or diverging views being expressed by participants in the discussion. Public debate takes place mostly through the mass media, but also at meetings or through social media, academic publications and government policy documents. The term was originally coined by German philosopher Jürgen Habermas who defined the public sphere as "made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state". Communication scholar Gerard A. Hauser defines it as "a discursive space in which individuals and groups associate to discuss matters of mutual interest and, where possible, to reach a common judgment about them". The public sphere can be seen as "a theater in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk" and "a realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernesto Laclau</span> Argentine philosopher and political theorist

Ernesto Laclau was an Argentine political theorist and philosopher. He is often described as an 'inventor' of post-Marxist political theory. He is well known for his collaborations with his long-term partner, Chantal Mouffe.

Multitudes is a French philosophical, political and artistic monthly journal founded in 2000 by Yann Moulier-Boutang. It is thematically situated in the theoretical framework of the seminal work Empire by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. The journal, like the book, focuses on the further elaboration of the philosophical and political thought of the Italian operaismo, but seems also to rest on Foucault, Althusser, and Deleuze's thought. It is a successor to the review Futur Antérieur edited by Jean-Marie Vincent (1934-2004) and Toni Negri, at the dep. of political science - University Vincennes Paris 8. It is a member of the Eurozine network.

<i>A Thousand Plateaus</i> 1980 book by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari

A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia is a 1980 book by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the French psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. It is the second and final volume of their collaborative work Capitalism and Schizophrenia. While the first volume, Anti-Oedipus (1972), was a critique of contemporary uses of psychoanalysis and Marxism, A Thousand Plateaus was developed as an experimental work of philosophy covering a far wider range of topics, serving as a "positive exercise" in what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as rhizomatic thought.

<i>Empire</i> (Hardt and Negri book)

Empire is a book by post-Marxist philosophers Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Written in the mid-1990s, it was published in 2000 and quickly sold beyond its expectations as an academic work.

Multitude is a term for a group of people who cannot be classed under any other distinct category, except for their shared fact of existence. Though its use dates back to antiquity, the term first entered into the lexicon of political philosophy when it was used by figures like Machiavelli, Hobbes, and most notably, Spinoza. The multitude is a concept of a population that has not entered into a social contract with a sovereign political body, such that individuals retain the capacity for political self-determination. A multitude typically is classified as a quantity exceeding 100. For Hobbes the multitude was a rabble that needed to enact a social contract with a monarch, thus turning them from a multitude into a people. For Machiavelli and Spinoza both, the role of the multitude vacillates between admiration and contempt. Recently the term has returned to prominence as a new model of resistance against global systems of power as described by political theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their international best-seller Empire (2000) and expanded upon in their Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004). Other theorists recently began to use the term include political thinkers associated with autonomist Marxism and its sequelae, including Sylvère Lotringer, Paolo Virno, and thinkers connected with the eponymous review Multitudes.

In critical theory, deterritorialization is the process by which a social relation, called a territory, has its current organization and context altered, mutated or destroyed. The components then constitute a new territory, which is the process of reterritorialization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Autonomism</span> Anti-authoritarian left-wing political and social movement and theory

Autonomism, also known as autonomist Marxism is an anti-capitalist left-wing political and social movement and theory. As a theoretical system, it first emerged in Italy in the 1960s from workerism. Later, post-Marxist and anarchist tendencies became significant after influence from the Situationists, the failure of Italian far-left movements in the 1970s, and the emergence of a number of important theorists including Antonio Negri, who had contributed to the 1969 founding of Potere Operaio as well as Mario Tronti, Paolo Virno and Franco "Bifo" Berardi.

<i>Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire</i> Book by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt

Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire is a book by autonomous Marxist philosophers Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt that was published in 2004. It is the second installment of a "trilogy", also comprising Empire (2000) and Commonwealth (2009).

Affective labor is work carried out that is intended to produce or modify emotional experiences in people. This is in contrast to emotional labor, which is intended to produce or modify one's own emotional experiences. Coming out of Autonomist feminist critiques of marginalized and so-called "invisible" labor, it has been the focus of critical discussions by, e.g., Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Juan Martin Prada, and Michael Betancourt.

Posthegemony or post-hegemony is a period or a situation in which hegemony is no longer said to function as the organizing principle of a national or post-national social order, or of the relationships between and amongst nation states within the global order. The concept has different meanings within the fields of political theory, cultural studies, and international relations.

Precarity is a precarious existence, lacking in predictability, job security, material or psychological welfare. The social class defined by this condition has been termed the precariat.

<i>Commonwealth</i> (book)

Commonwealth is a book by autonomous Marxist theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. It completes a trilogy which includes Empire and Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire.

The global citizens movement is a constellation of organized and overlapping citizens' groups seeking to foster global solidarity in policy and consciousness. The term is often used synonymously with the anti-globalization movement or the global justice movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Post-Marxism</span> Trend in political philosophy and social theory

Post-Marxism is a trend in political philosophy and social theory which deconstructs Karl Marx's writings and Marxism itself, bypassing orthodox Marxism. The term "post-Marxism" first appeared in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's theoretical work Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It can be said that post-Marxism as a political theory was conceived at the University of Essex by Laclau and Mouffe, and was further developed by Louis Althusser and Slavoj Žižek. Philosophically, post-Marxism counters derivationism and essentialism. Recent overviews of post-Marxism are provided by Ernesto Screpanti, Göran Therborn, and Gregory Meyerson.

Immaterial labor is a Marxist framework to describe how value is produced from affective and cognitive activities, which, in various ways, are commodified in capitalist economies. The concept of immaterial labor was coined by Italian sociologist and philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato in his 1996 essay "Immaterial Labor", published as a contribution to Radical Thought in Italy and edited by Virno and Hardt. It was re-published in 1997 as: Lavoro immateriale. Forme di vita e produzione di soggettività.. Lazzarato was a participant in the Years of Lead (Italy) group as a student in Padua in the 1970s, and is a member of the editorial group of the journal Multitudes. Post-Marxist scholars including Franco Berardi, Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Judith Revel, and Paolo Virno, among others have also employed the concept.

A multitude is a vague term for a large number of people, typically relating to an assembly.

Nick Dyer-Witheford is an author, and associate professor at the University of Western Ontario in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. His area of study primarily focuses on the rise of technology and the internet, as well as their continuous impact on modern society. He has written six books, along with seventeen other publications.


  1. Conversations with History (globetrotter.berkeley.edu) – Conversation with Michael Hardt
  2. Vulliamy, Ed (2001-07-15). "Empire hits back". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  3. Vulliamy, "Empire hits back"
  4. Hardt, Smith, Minardi, "The Collaborator," 65
  5. Vulliamy, "Empire hits back"
  6. Vulliamy, "Empire hits back"
  7. Hardt, Smith, Minardi, "The Collaborator," 66
  8. Hardt, "Hands," 175
  9. Hardt, “Hands,” 176
  10. Vulliamy, "Empire hits back"
  11. Michael Hardt. Identity and Difference. Lecture at European Graduate School. 2005
  12. Laurie, Timothy; Stark, Hannah (2017), "Love's Lessons: Intimacy, Pedagogy and Political Community", Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 22 (4): 69–79
  13. Hardt, Smith, Minardi, "The Collaborator," 71

Works Cited