Publication of Commonwealth in 2009 (polish translation will be released by Corporation Ha!art Publishing House in the first quarter of 2012 under the title Rzecz-pospolita) marks the end of a particular period of collaboration of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. As presumably the last part of the trilogy, inaugurated 9 years ago with Empire, it “closes” the project of reviving communist politics, presented in terms of a radically grass-rooted and liberating process of the becoming-of-absolute-democracy.
We can undoubtedly find this conclusion in all contributions prepared in response to the call of the “Theoretical Practice” journal board, but it still tells us little about the meaning of the very book’s title. What then is the Commonwealth? What kind of hopes, desires, dilemmas or doubts does it hide in its not yet or always already actualized potency? How could we embody the project drafted by Hardt and Negri, avoiding almost inevitable correlates of political body – unity, similarity, inalterability and naturalization? How could we institutionalize what seems to appear in corrupted form in every hierarchical organization – affect, singularity and the common?
Differences in opinions, answers and views on questions raised by Commonwealth could effectively put our respondents in disagreement, division or induce them to share interpretations, which does not exclude conflict. The questionnaire, filed out by our invited critics – Sandro Chignola, Anna Curcio, Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, Sandro Mezzadra, Matteo Pasquinelli, Gerald Raunig, Alvaro Reyes and Gigi Roggero – is a superb example of this second option. It shows, like its avant-garde forerunners (think about Surrealist’s questionnaires), the possibility of transition from exclusive interpretive community (in Stanley Fish’s terms) to the much more inclusive multitude of interpretations.
It is obvious that the latter has its own outside. Gigi Roggero reminds us of this fact in the context of filled by fear, rightwing journalists’ opinions on Commonwealth. Most interestingly – they are very well-funded. From the perspective of the contemporary (dis)order, work of Hardt and Negri is by no means a gloomy and dangerous book. But what is the Commonwealth? Responses given in our questionnaire point that it is, by its very nature, an unfinished project defined by abhorrence of totality, identity or spatiotemporal closure.
So should be our (your) questionnaire. We warmly invite you to send responses because Commonwealth, as a responsible project, itself does so. The proof is before our eyes: recent texts by Hardt and Negri on the Indignados, the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street as a theoretical-practical reactions to tectonic movements of the multitude itself, as well as resonance of their book in Europe and in the Americas – inside the movement itself– are all good examples of this. The questionnaire presented to the readers is not only the exemplum of this resonance but also a sign of hope for comparable reception of this book in Poland.