Antonio Negri  

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"... Antonio Negri have served the theoretical purposes of the Red Brigades, and Julius Evola — the source of Romualdi's diatribe — has been the guru of the extraparliamentary right. The intellectuals are, in Antonio Gramsci's words ..."--Political Violence and Terror: Motifs and Motivations (1986) by Peter Hans Merkl

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Antonio "Toni" Negri (1933 – 2023) was an Italian philosopher known as one of the most prominent theorists of autonomism, as well as for his co-authorship of Empire and his work on Spinoza.


Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded the Potere Operaio (Worker Power) group in 1969 and was a leading member of Autonomia Operaia, and published hugely influential books urging "revolutionary consciousness".

He was accused in the late 1970s of various charges including being the mastermind of the left-wing extremist organization Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse or BR), involved in the May 1978 kidnapping of Aldo Moro, two-time prime minister of Italy, and leader of the Christian-Democrat Party, among others. He was suspected of having made a threatening phone call on behalf of the BR, but the court was unable to conclusively prove his ties.

Nevertheless he was convicted in 1984 and sentenced (in absentia) to 30 years in prison. He was given an additional four years on the charge of being ‘morally responsible’ for the violence of political activists in the 1960s and 1970s.

The question of Negri's complicity with left-wing extremism is a controversial subject. He was indicted on a number of charges, including "association and insurrection against the state" (a charge which was later dropped), and sentenced for involvement in two murders.

Negri fled to France where, protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, he taught at the Paris VIII (Vincennes) and the Collège international de philosophie, along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. In 1997, after a plea-bargain that reduced his prison time from 30 to 13 years, he returned to Italy to serve the end of his sentence. Many of his most influential books were published while he was behind bars. He hence lived in Venice and Paris with his partner, the French philosopher Judith Revel. He was the father of film director Anna Negri.

Like Deleuze, Negri's preoccupation with Spinoza is well known in contemporary philosophy. Along with Althusser and Deleuze, he has been one of the central figures of a French-inspired Neo-Spinozism in continental philosophy of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Several notable figures of French (and Italian)-inspired post-structuralist Neo-Spinozism include Ferdinand Alquié, Louis Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Alain Billecoq, Francesco Cerrato, Paolo Cristofolini, Gilles Deleuze, Martial Gueroult, Chantal Jaquet, Frédéric Lordon, Pierre Macherey, Frédéric Manzini, Alexandre Matheron, Filippo Mignini, Pierre-François Moreau, Vittorio Morfino, Antonio Negri, Charles Ramond, Bernard Rousset, Pascal Sévérac, André Tosel, Lorenzo Vinciguerra, and Sylvain Zac.

It was the second remarkable Spinoza revival in history, after a well-known rediscovery of Spinoza by German thinkers (especially the German Romantics and Idealists) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

See also

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