‘EMPIRE’ AND FREEDOM: THE INSIDE AND THE OUTSIDE
A second text that is instructive here and which I suggest we might examine as a social representation and as an expression of the politics of knowledge, is the recent best-seller Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The surprising sales figures of this work indicate extensive popular consumption and a readership which must be prepared to invest money in search of enlightenment, even if many people claimed to find it ‘unreadable’ and even if they failed to find the answer therein. The proliferating and contradictory commentary on the book from both sides of the Atlantic, often violently pro or anti, also gives it a social relevance that goes well beyond its intrinsic qualities of thought or argument (Balakrishnan 2000). The particular claim of this piece of writing is that it sets out to provide a radically new theoretical perspective on the New World Order. Its (self-aggrandising) project is to set out a diagnosis of late extreme capitalism to match that of Marx for an earlier era.