While Empire has become one of the darling texts of the so-called alter-globalization movement, it was also subject to critique from the Left for its starry-eyed optimism and, as Gopal Balakrishnan put it in the New Left Review, for “recasting some of the mythologies of American liberalism.” I take this as a critique of Hardt and Negri’s faith in a benevolent form of world sovereignty brought to heel by the multitude, a sovereignty that could guarantee the list of universal human rights that they present in Empire, one which would derive its legitimacy from all-inclusive global democratic processes.

Betty Wang