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

Vogliamo Tutto: An old rallying cry for a new century

“More and more the automation of production, and also the possibility in general of trusting almost every type of work and activity to machines and computers, requires a laughably small quantity of human labour power. Therefore why shouldnt everyone profit from the wealth produced by machines and from the time freed from labour? Today, absurdly, work that is no longer necessary continues to be imposed because only through this is it possible to conceive of the distribution of money, allowing the continuation of the cycle of production and consumption and the accumulation of capital. Continue reading