Italian philosopher and political scientist Antonio Negri died in Paris at the age of 90.
16 December 2023 | ANF
Italian philosopher and political theorist Antonio Negri died at the age of 90. Negri’s death was announced by his daughter Anna Negri on her Instagram account.
“It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of philosopher Antonio (Toni) Negri in Paris, last night,” said the Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) in a message paying tribute to the Italian philosopher.
KNK offered their deepest and most sincere condolences to Antonio Negri’s family, saying: “Toni Negri was a close friend of the Kurdish people, always ready to do what was necessary to bring forward the cause of the Kurdistan Liberation Movement.”
One of the greatest philosophers of both last and this century, he was an avid reader of Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan’s books. He defined Öcalan the “Antonio Gramsci of his land. An example for everyone in the world.”
KNK pointed out that: “Toni Negri will be deeply missed by many around the world, including Kurds. Once again, we express our most profound sympathy to his family, comrades, and friends.”
About Antonio Negri
Negri, also known for his sensitivity to the Kurdish question, said about the imprisonment of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan: “Like Mandela in the 20th century, Öcalan is a legendary prisoner in the 21st century. In the 21st century, he puts forward a series of concepts that are gradually becoming the building blocks of the political construction of a new world” and reacted against the Turkish state’s genocidal war against the Kurdish people, especially in North and East Syria.
Negri was born on 1 August 1933 in Padua, Italy. He joined the Roman Catholic youth movement “Gioventú Italiana di Azione Cattolica” in the early 1950s. In 1956, Negri became a member of the Italian Socialist Party and studied Political Science at the University of Padua.
Until 1967, Negri was an assistant at the University of Padua, where he became professor of the Doctrines of the State. In 1969, he was one of the founders of ‘Potere Operaio’ (Workers’ Power), a political group that organised protests in factories representing the workers. After the dissolution of ‘Potere Operaio’ in 1973, Negri joined the political organisation ‘Autonomia Operai Organizzata’ (Autonomous Workers Organisation) and contributed many theoretical articles.
Antonio Negri was arrested in April 1979, along with many other members of the ‘Autonomia’ movement; he was charged with alleged links to the ‘Red Brigades’. Negri was also accused of planning the kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro, leader of the Christian Democratic Party of Italy, in 1978. Although he was absolved from the latter charge, he was convicted in the case and sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison in 1984. Negri was given a further 4-year sentence for allegedly being ‘morally responsible’ for the violence of political activists in the 1960s and 1970s.
Antonio Negri was imprisoned for four years, and he was released after being elected as an MP from the Radical Party list. However, Negri’s immunity was lifted by the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Negri did not return to prison in Italy, but travelled to France with the help of Amnesty International and Félix Guattari. In France, Antonio Negri started to work at the University of Paris VIII in Saint Denis, and among the names Antonio Negri worked with at that time were Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze. While living in Paris, Negri met a young student named Michael Hardt and they produced many works together in the following decades.
Negri voluntarily returned to Italy in 1997 to serve his prison sentence. His sentence was commuted and he was released in 2003. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt’s book ‘The Labour of Dionysus’ was published in 1994. Then, in 2000, the duo published the book ‘Empire’, which became an international bestseller. In their book, Negri and Hardt argued that a new form of sovereignty emerged after World War II and called it ‘Empire’. The two thinkers argued that this form of sovereignty is global in nature and is already more powerful than any nation-state. Negri and Hardt also expressed the idea that the new global processes of production, labour management and finance, i.e. globalisation, have changed the composition of capital and in doing so created a new class. According to them, this situation was also opening a new page in the history of class struggle.