Article Title

Empire's Law


Most serious studies of "globalization" quickly derail into simple analyses of the immediately identifiable global institutions and actors, with little inquiry into the deeper interrelationships animating them. We associate globalization with increased trade, or broader cross-cultural contact, or perhaps with "Americanization," but none of these fits precisely. What we lack is an analysis of globalization that inquires into the deeper currents transforming the contemporary world.

In a provocative answer to that lack, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire constructs a sweeping, theoretically rich account of the nature of globalization. Hardt and Negri argue that we live in a new global hegemony, which they call "Empire," a system of governing principles without bounds, neoliberalism ascendant. In calling the emerging global order "Empire," they seek to evoke the world of ancient Rome rather than the European imperialist projects of recent centuries. Unlike those nation-based empires, our current world order more closely resembles the ancient empires, understood as moral and legal frameworks operative over an expansive, fluctuating territory. Similarly, Empire has no demarcated territory: it is characterized by a denial of limits, territorial or otherwise, to its expansion.