Academic journal article Taboo

The Devils in Curriculum Studies: Multitude and Multiplicity

Academic journal article Taboo

The Devils in Curriculum Studies: Multitude and Multiplicity

Article excerpt

Political action aimed at transformation and liberation today can only be conducted on the basis of the multitude. (Hardt & Negri, 2004, p. 99)

The threat to political order is perhaps even more clear: political thought since the time of the ancients has been based on the distinctions among the one, the few and the many. The indefinite number of the multitude threatens all these principles or order. Such trickery is the devil's work. (Hardt & Negri, 2004, p. 139)

How do we face the persistent movement in the present historical moment toward Empire and the curriculum of Empire? Hardt and Negri discuss the definition of Empire.

   Empire is materializing before our very eyes. Over the past several
   decades, as colonial regimes were overthrown and then precipitously
   after the Soviet barriers to the capitalist world market finally
   collapsed, we have witnessed an irresistible and irreversible
   globalization of economic and cultural exchanges. Along with the
   global market and global circuits of production has emerged a
   global order, a new logic and structure of rule-in short, a new form
   of sovereignty. Empire is the political subject that effectively
   regulates these global exchanges, the sovereign power that governs
   the world. (Hardt & Negri, 2000)

As Empire develops out goes national sovereignty, in comes supranational governance, controlled by a network of economic (IMF), political (the United Nations), and military (American) interests, whose decisions affect all of the Earth's billions. This investigation will discuss the possibility of instances of freedom in the time of Empire. It will do so by considering the concepts of multitude and multiplicity. These two terms are not to be treated as synonymous. Multitude refers to the larger global political matter of resistance to Empire and multiplicity refers to one context within that larger framework. So, the multitude can act with multiplicities and the manner in which they do demonstrate that it may be still possible to work toward the reconstruction of schools and society within this postmodern era.


The text, Multitude (2004), might be described as a hand book for those who view democracy as a yet unfinished project, one that might still be pursued in ways that work through institutions to create a mode of social organization that is based neither on imperial sovereignty nor on anarchy. The concept of the "multitude" is Hardt and Negri's way of identifying the possibility of such a project, and their way of not falling on either side of the unity/plurality binary. Rather, the multitude is an "irreducible multiplicity" not merely caught in postmodern fragmentation nor automatically enlisted as members of a cohesive proletariat, but bearing a "subjectivity that emerges from this dynamic of singularity and commonality." This singularity and commonality is addressed with many examples within their text one analogy is the description of the multitude as devils in the novel Devils by Dostoevsky. The analysis of Dostoevsky's novel variously translated as either Devils or The Possessed (1871) assists in the understanding of the many and the one, the commonality and the singularity. Hardt and Negri refer to this novel in one section of the text as a technique for understanding multitude. It is rather ironic I suppose that they would choose a novel that has been classified as reactionary--against radicals in a society, but Dostoevsky cautions against radicals and their foibles in many of his works and most times these radicals do not fare well. At the center of all Dostoevsky's writing is the problem of freedom. What is permitted and what is not permitted is a question that he dramatizes again and again, and we can regard the development of his work as a dramatic testing of the limits of freedom and a progressive refinement of what he meant by the concept of freedom. Revolutionaries, however, do not always end up with freedom; they may end up dead as in the case of The Devils. …

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