Toni Negri: “We want” is not the same as “We’d like”

Antonio Negri speaking at a conference
Antonio Negri
Photo: Fabio Goveia CC BY 2.0

Antonio Negri, writing in L’alfabeta2, on the power of “Vogliamo tutto” as an expression of political desire

I want is not the present tense of I’d like; it’s a different tense, a different power. But Toni, you’re playing the martyr, you’re repeating some melancholy refrain! That isn’t true. That difference between I want and “I’d like” is substantial. If you decline “I’d like”, “we’d like”, you don’t escape conditionality; but if you say I want, we want, a different sensation of power is born in you that allows you to desire without the fear – or rather the certainty – that you will do yourself harm. An old friend used to say: “Vogliamo tutto – we want everything”. Was he mad? He would have been if he had said: “We’d like everything.” In that case, everything was power and wealth: But you’re just jealous, the bosses would have replied. With “Vogliamo Tutto – we want everything”, though, we went damned close to those goals that we desired. And even if we didn’t win, we at least gave them heaps, those who pretend not to hold power, but who grasp it so close – and who incite us to desire it by expressing a series of “I’d likes” that are never realised.

– from Toni Negri, L’erba vorrei

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