Theory in Crisis – Michael Hardt, The End of Mediation
Theory in Crisis is an online series of talks which began in 2020 by exploring questions of temporality and periodization in contemporary theoretical work on capitalist crisis. It continues to offer a platform for dynamic new work in contemporary theory. The schedule of talks for the 2023-24 academic year, along with the recordings of previous talks, can be found in the Research Seminar Series: Theory in Crisis.
For the first talk of the year, we are pleased to welcome Michael Hardt who will discuss work related to his new book The Subversive Seventies.
In the mid-1970s several intellectuals close to the social movements conceived of a core element of the political and social crisis of the time in terms of the end of mediation. Social institutions such as the official labour union and the state itself, which had previously operated as agents of mediation, engaging protest and social contestation with negotiation and reform, now tended to address antagonisms only with force and repression.
I consider this theoretical development as an early attempt to understand what we now call neoliberalism and thus it provides a novel lens for understanding what remains our current crisis. One advantage of these theorizations from the 1970s is that they posed clearly the strategic alternatives for responding to this social and political crisis, and I will explore the extent to which these strategic alternatives can relate to our current political context.
Michael Hardt teaches political theory in the Literature Program at Duke University. He is co-author of several books with Antonio Negri, including Empire. His most recent book is The Subversive Seventies. Together with Sandro Mezzadra he hosts The Social Movements Lab.