|SINGULARITY AND SOLITUDE
|The passion to act is the passion of a subject who insists on changes and innovations. It often has to fight against the indifference and cynicism of disappointed and disinterested subjects who accuse it of being 'dreamy' or 'idealistic'. Negri emphasizes that action, rather than being the activity of an individual, can be a common search of singularities communally for what is common. "I regard action as something that creates something in common and a community, the substance of our dignity and our lives." The action of the multitude — the swarm of singularities — aims at pure living and its dignity. To act means to engage oneself as the subject of this dignity and this life. The dignity of the subject of action does not lie beyond its life as something which transcends this life. The subject is dignified as the subject of its life and this passion to act which brings forth something new, discovers hitherto unknown modalities of the coexistence of singularities. To act means already to coexist, to be together or in community. "When one acts, one leaves solitude."
The multitude defies the course of things. It declares itself to be not in agreement with this course. It resists what is over-hastily and unjustifiably called 'destiny'. It disengages itself. It is the community of those who resist, a community of singularities who refuse obedience to an authority, a kind of auto-erective collective. "It seems to us to be completely obvious that those who are exploited will resist and, under the appropriate conditions, will rebel." The multitude rises up against authorities; it organizes its desire, which is always the desire for happiness, against the forces which compromise this desire. It tries to generate counter-forces to protect its desire against internalization, i.e. against defusing, disciplining and channelling through the apparatuses and institutions of the dominant systems of authority. The multitude is the counter-community of all those who insist on the possibility of realizing their desire for freedom and happiness. Their opposition is therefore not reactive or passive. It is also not without violence in the sense in which one speaks of non-violent resistance. The multitude is the community of warriors. It pursues its aims, has its own visions; it knows what it is fighting for. It is essentially affirmative. The multitude rebels against exploitation and oppression. It rebels against alienation and domination. Nevertheless it "bears" what exploits, oppresses, alienates and dominates it. It bears, say Negri and Hardt, the empire: the limitless, globalized, decentralized power of capital. Because it bears what restricts it, it must be against this bearing, against this co-bearing, this co-supporting of the empire. It has to become active. It has to invent something new. It has the ability to do this. "In the creative capability of the multitude which bears the empire lies, so to speak, the ability to build up a counter-empire, to give the worldwide currents and exchange relations another political shape."
The multitude organizes or reorganizes itself in order to start something new. It tries to gain space for its desire against the pressure of its encoding by the empire. It struggles against what denies this desire, what limits, diminishes, defuses or prohibits it. It does not do this just anywhere, in temperate zones which have not been seized by the empire. There is no exterior to the empire. There is no transcendence at all. The multitude mobilizes its forces within the empire. For the multitude, it is a matter of "thinking and acting within the empire and against it". It is a matter of reinventing itself in relation to the world as a whole. To be against the empire is for the multitude the struggle "for a new way of living in the world". Being-against, i.e. opposition, is not just one form of existing among others. In the world-historical phase of 'post-modernity', it corresponds to the multitude's way of being to fight against the power of the empire and to constitute itself as a militant collective. "Today the multitude's generalized opposition has to recognize imperial sovereignty as the enemy and to find the appropriate means of undermining its power." The community of those who are against is the affirmative militant community of singularities who put their potentials at the service of realizing their desire against the decentralized, global power of the empire which in turn fights against this desire because it includes the desire for hitherto unknown forms of community, of love and life.
The multitude is the community of singular subjects of potency who join together in a collective search for hitherto unknown grounds of community, because the truth of each of these singularities is connected with the truth of the others. Nevertheless, this truth is not an overarching principle of community like the transcendental subjectivity of universal we-idealism. The we of the multitude is an arbitrary we, arbitrary in Agamben's sense: arbitrariness as the "figure of pure singularity". For the we of singularities, the multitude, is itself a singularity rather than being its contradiction. The community of acting singularities is an absolute void, total indeterminacy. It is the relation to this (implicit) exterior, "the relation to an empty and indeterminate totality," which for Deleuze is the "enormous and terrifying emptiness" of oceanic souls , the body of instinctual subjects without properties who colonize the hyperborean zone of becoming, the zone of action and change and invention. The community of active subjects is the active community of singular natures who define themselves in relation to the abyss of possibility. The active community of singularities is constituted as the community of subjects perpetrating change. Change means destabilization, putting into question, destruction. What Benjamin calls the "destructive character" is the subject of action in a pure form. "All action," says Artaud, "is cruelty". Action only exists as an act of violence, as a disturbance of the situation, as a compromising of the present state of affairs, as a redefinition of the present predicament. Action drives the subject to transgress realities as they manifest themselves at the moment. It brings forth new realities and changed subjects. Because every action is essentially blind, the results of action are unpredictable. But there are aims and hopes which make the sense of action more precise. The blindness of action can be guided to a certain degree. It is the precipitancy of a subject oriented toward new realities who accelerates into the unknown without losing sight of its objectives.
The aim of action is change, a new life. The community of acting subjects is the community of subjects whose lives gain a modified meaning. For the meaning of life, as it is called, is not anything uniform or once-only. It is becoming itself, the unfolding and development of the desire of a subject affirming itself as the subject of its passions. Self-affirmation is the condition of possibility of action. Action without self-affirmation is nothing but reaction. What distinguishes the active from the in-active subjects is that they refuse to the reactive. They refuse merely to respond to alien impulses. They refuse to be the objects of hetero-affects. Acting subjects are autonomous. They give themselves their own law. Acting subjects are subjects who affirm themselves as the subjects of a certain autonomy.