Communication 13 The Networked Empire: Communicative Capitalism and the Hope for Politics
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Global telecommunications networks are crucial to Michael Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s theory of Empire. “Empire takes form,” they write, “when language and communication, or really when immaterial labor and cooperation, become the dominant force” (385). Indeed, “communicative production and the construction of imperial legitimation march hand in hand and can no longer be separated” (34). How should we understand this merging of communication with domination and the seemingly inescapable autopoietic self-justification of imperial control? For clearly, Hardt and Negri are offering more than a theory of ideology and more than a description of a discursive formation of power/ knowledge called Empire. Rather, their account is a political ontology, and communications networks are global technoculture’s rhizomatically interlinked fibers of being.