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Imperialism as we knew it may be more, but empire is alive and well. It is, as the authors demonstrate in this work the new political order of globalization. It is easy to recognise the contemporary ecomic, cultural, and legal transformations taking place across the globe but difficult to understand them. Hardt and Negri contend that they should be seen in line with our historical understanding of empire as a universal order that accepts boundaries or limits. Their book shows how this emerging empire is fundamentally different from the imperialism of European dominance and capitalist expansion in previous eras. Rather, today's empire draws on elements of US constitutionalism, with its tradition of hybrid identities and expanding frontiers. This book identifies a radical shift in concepts that form the philosophical basis of modern politics, concepts such as sovereignty, nation, and people. Hardt and Negri link this philosophical transformation to cultural and ecomic changes in post-modern society - to new forms of racism, new conceptions of identity and difference, new networks of communications and control, and new paths of migration. They also show how the power of transnational corporations and the increasing predominance of post-industrial forms of labour and production help to define the new imperial global order. More than analysis, Empire is also an utopian work of political philosophy, a new Communist Manifesto. Looking beyond the regimes of exploitation and control that characterise today's world order, it seeks an alternative political paradigm - the basis for a truly democratic global society.
Michael Hardt is Professor of Literature and Italian at Duke University. Antonio Negri is an independent researcher and writer. He has been a Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Paris and a Professor of Political Science at the University of Padua.