Automation and information technology have transformed the organization of labor to such an extent that the processes of exploitation have moved beyond the labor class and now work upon society as a whole. If this displacement has destroyed the political primacy of the labor class, it has not, however, eliminated exploitation; rather, it has broadened it, implanting it within the given conditions of the most diverse spheres of society.
—from The Winter Is Over
In late 1995, in opposition to the conservative agenda of Jacques Chirac and his prime minister Alain Juppé and their proposed widespread welfare cuts, French students rose up against their government; public sector workers, together with all the major trade unions, went on strike. When railway workers and Paris Metro personnel joined in the protests, France’s public transportation system came to a halt. These extensive social upheavals, the likes of which had not been seen in France since 1968, found widespread public support and fuelled the creation of many political organizations. Chirac backed down from restructuring the public retirement system.
Antonio Negri’s The Winter is Over comes out of the glimmer of optimism created by the events of 1995, when the long, cold season of neoliberalism, Thatcherism, Reaganomics, reaction, and counterrevolution appeared to have run its course. Published in Italian in 1996, The Winter is Over brings together a series of articles, speeches, and other documents written by Negri between 1989 and 1995 at the threshold of this thaw. It offers a revealing and wide-reaching account of those years of change and brink-of-change, focusing on such topics as the networks of social production, the decline of “limp thought,” the end of applied socialism, the Gulf War, and, finally, Italy’s transition to its so-called “Second Republic,” as seen by an exile.
About the Author
Antonio Negri is a philosopher and essay writer. A political and social activist in the 1960s and 1970s in Italy, he taught political sciences for many years and has written numerous books on political philosophy including Marx beyond Marx (1979), The Savage Anomaly (1983), Insurgencies (1997); and in collaboration with Michael Hardt, Empire (2000) and Multitude (2004).