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Swarm Intelligence: Rethinking the Multitude from within the Transversal Commons

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Abstract:

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue that contemporary political and economic struggle entails reappropriating the monster as a potent image of multitudinous insurgency against Empire. This essay critically appraises the status of the monstrous in Hardt and Negri's work by bringing the field of critical animal studies into dialogue with Hardt and Negri in order to demonstrate how their conceptualisation of the monstrous nature of the multitude is not monstrous enough. While gesturing toward a posthumanist understanding of the multitude as a monstrous and unformed flesh of resistance and transformation, Hardt and Negri provide no clear discussion of the role of nonhuman animals within the multitude. Instead, nonhuman animals are reduced to mere allegories for the swarm intelligence of a decisively human multitude. The monstrous nature of the multitude remains mired within an anthropocentric speciesism that does not recognise the linguistic, cognitive and material resources that nonhuman animals may bring to the development of a swarm intelligence capable of overcoming the domination of nature inherent in Empire.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735784.2010.515399

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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