Place 9 The Irrepressible Lightness and Joy of Being Green: Empire and Environmentalism
Pages 18

Empire has an odd concluding sentence. At the end of their 413 page reframing of the political, Hardt and Negri announce, “This is the irrepressible lightness and joy of being communist.” Perhaps this ending plays well in Europe. In the United States, however, it falls flat, not least because of the pronounced antileft sentiment that has only increased over the past decade. But what if we read this concluding sentence for its surprising “irrepressible lightness and joy” rather than for its communism? The phrase suggests that politics be thought as it has so often been acted, with a buoyant sense of possibility, a delight in intellectual speculation over openings. Such a joyful reading would displace the odd commitment to the dismal that Marxism imposed on radicals, including greens, for a century and a half. Indeed, this displacement, this redirection of left politics, is arguably Empire’s most significant contribution.