Nettime — Rebuttal by Negri

Topic(s): Negri/Hardt | Comments Off on Nettime — Rebuttal by Negri

[editorial note: we continue our sojourn through italy, this is off the nettime list from Geert. There is a link to the original article, which may be worth looking at, because this is not the first time that this line of attack has been waged on Negri and hopefully his rebuttal will serve as clarification of what is clearly an obfuscation of the facts]
(fwd. on request of the conference organizers to nettime-l. more on
this case can be found on the www.fibreculture.org list. /geert)
The following is a statement written by Toni Negri in refutation of the
allegations made against him by Keith Windschuttle in _The Australian_
(16 March 2005):
Negri isolates nine points in Windschuttle’s article that he claims are
totally false. He is angered by the need to rebut a series of scandalous
accusations that contradict the truths established by Italian judges who
convicted him of some crimes but found him totally innocent–and
therefore definitively absolved–of another series of charges.
The nine points are as follows:
1. I never had anything to do with the Red Brigades, neither as leader,
member, nor sympathiser. These charges were dropped after some months
(in late 1979/early 1980). Even Cossiga, who put me in jail at the
time, has now repeatedly rejected these allegations. I have been
totally absolved of these charges. As a matter of fact, when I was in
prison the Red Brigades even condemned me to death for disassociating
myself from ‘armed struggle,’ along with many other friends in Rebibbia
2. I never had anything to do with the kidnapping and murder of the Hon.
Moro by the Red Brigades. The court records hold me completely innocent
of this accusation.
3. The murders for which I was initially accused were all revealed to be
false accusations. I was absolved of all 17! I was convicted for ‘crimes
of association’ and never for ‘crimes of blood.’
4. I was initially accused of being the person who telephoned the Moro
family. The first expert declared my voice to be 80% compatible with the
voice of the caller. Another expert demonstrated the contrary, since the
voice of the caller had an accent from Marche. Subsequent trials–and
the role of the penitents from the Red Brigades–revealed the truth; it
was Mario Moretti who made the call (he is in fact from Marche). I was
completely absolved because I had nothing to do with this. When Espresso
published the disk about which _The Australian_ article speaks (with my
voice from a lesson, and the voice of the caller during the days of the
kidnapping-a way of inviting public opinion to judge by itself), I
should have taken them to court for defamation. Unfortunately I was in a
high security prison. But I was absolved nonetheless.
5. I was elected a member of parliament of the Radical Party of Marco
Pannella, which, contrary to what _The Australian_ article says, is not
a an extremist neo-marxist party but a party that has become ever more
liberal. It was already liberal in those days (although more in the
‘libertarian’ mode) and today tends almost to the position of Bush. In
any case, the party fought for civil liberties and due process in an era
of emergency laws, which is nothing to be ashamed about either yesterday
or today.
6. I did not use my liberty as a member of parliament to escape to
France. I escaped only when they decided to remove my parliamentary
immunity (by a majority of only 4 votes in the lower house … the votes
of the Radical Party). I had already served four and a half years in a
maximum security prison. My conviction of 30 years (1983) was reduced by
appeal to 13.5 years (1986), only for ‘crimes of association.’ The
judges removed the charge of insurrection against the state, contrary to
what The Australian article affirms. When I returned to Italy in 1997, I
did in no way bargain for a reduction of the sentence. In fact, after my
return to Rebibbia, a sentence of 3 years and 4 months was added for
‘fatti di piazza’ (protests in Milan during the 1970s). The total
sentence was 17 years and I served it all.
7. The publication of _Empire_ in the USA does not seem to me a
phenomenon of ‘radical glamour’ and the mention of my imprisonment in
Rebibbia on the book cover was simply the truth. _Empire_ was published
by Harvard University Press and cited among the seven ‘next big ideas’
by _Time_. Neither Harvard nor _Time_ seem to me suspects of ‘radical
glamour’ or to have sympathies for political extremism.
8. I am not in my sixties. I am 71-almost 72-years old. I was 64 when I
returned to prison in 1997. I was not put under house arrest. I did one
year of full imprisonment (with common inmates), two years of ‘external
work’ (permission to exit only for work, with interdictions against
change of plans and not respecting the required hours, constant
surveillance, and return to jail after work); two years of semi-liberty
(nights in jail, days at home for studying with interdictions against
leaving the vicinity of the house and constant surveillance); and one
year of ‘guarded liberty’ (days and nights at home with interdictions
against leaving the vicinity and going out between 10pm and 7am, with
regular surveillance). I was definitively released-after having served
all of my sentence-on 25 April 2003. I am free to travel and to hold
courses, conferences, and seminars throughout the world. This is
precisely what I have done for the past two years in major world
universities (Cambridge, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Barcelona,
Beijing, Shanghai, Buenos Aries, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Paris,
where I teach now).
9. I do not need an entry visa for Australia since the process has been
simplified to require the issue of an electronic travel authority at the
time of purchase of the ticket. If a visa was necessary I don’t see why
I should not obtain one, given that I have never been convicted of
Conclusion: the article is false from beginning to end. It is a
scandalous and vulgar act of historical revisionism.
Toni Negri