Abonné·e de Mediapart

637 Billets

1 Éditions

Billet de blog 28 nov. 2016

Abonné·e de Mediapart

Alain Badiou: Reflections on the Recent Election

Alain Badiou, Université de Californie, Los Angeles, 9 novembre 2016, débat sur l'élection présidentielle aux Etats-Unis et la situation actuelle du monde.

Abonné·e de Mediapart

Ce blog est personnel, la rédaction n’est pas à l’origine de ses contenus.

By Alain Badiou / 15 November 2016

On November 9th, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. Alain Badiou responded in a talk at the University of California, Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the pro­gram in Exper­i­ment­al Crit­ic­al The­ory and the Center for European and Rus­si­an Stud­ies. Below we share the transcript of his response, originally published at Mariborchan — an eloquent reflection not only on the specific events that unfolded last week, but on the situation of the world today.

Alain Badiou: Reflections on the Recent Election | 9th November 2016 | UCLA © Simon Gros

I was think­ing about French poetry, which is in a play of Racine, in fact. It’s a beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful sen­tence. In French: “C’était pendant l’horreur d’une pro­fonde nuit.” In Eng­lish: “It was dur­ing the hor­ror of a pro­found night.” May­be Racine was think­ing of the elec­tion of Trump. It was dur­ing the hor­ror of a pro­found night. And so, it was like an oblig­a­tion for me to speak, to dis­cuss, that sort of event, in a neg­at­ive sense, because it’s impossible for me to be here in front of you and to speak of some­thing very inter­est­ing in aca­dem­ic terms. I think it’s a neces­sity to think, to dis­cuss, what hap­pens dur­ing the hor­ror of the pro­found night, just yes­ter­day. You know, for me, but I think for many people, it has been, in some sense, a sort of sur­prise. And we are often, in that sort of sur­prise, under the law of affects: fear, depres­sion, anger, pan­ic, and so on. But we know that philo­soph­ic­ally, all these affects are not really a good reac­tion, because in some sense, it’s too much affect in front of the enemy. And so, I think it’s a neces­sity to think bey­ond the affect, bey­ond fear, depres­sion , and so on — to think the situ­ation of today, the situ­ation of the world today, where some­thing like that is pos­sible, that some­body like Trump becomes the pres­id­ent of the United States. And so, my goal this even­ing is to present, not exactly an explan­a­tion, but some­thing like a cla­ri­fic­a­tion of the pos­sib­il­ity of some­thing like that, and also some indic­a­tions, sub­mit­ted to dis­cus­sion, con­cern­ing what we must do after that; what we must do, which is not pre­cisely to be under the law of affect, of neg­at­ive affect, but at the level of think­ing, action, polit­ic­al determ­in­a­tion, and so on.
So, I begin by a very gen­er­al vis­ion, not of the situ­ation of the United States today, but the situ­ation of the world today. What is the world of today, where that sort of fact is pos­sible? And I think that the most import­ant point to begin is the his­tor­ic­al vic­tory of glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism. We must be in front of that fact. In some sense, from the 80s of the last cen­tury of the last cen­tury to today, that is for forty years, so almost half a cen­tury, we have the his­tor­ic­al vic­tory of glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism, for many reas­ons. First, nat­ur­ally, the com­plete fail­ure of social­ist states — Rus­sia, China — and more gen­er­ally the fail­ure of the col­lect­iv­ist vis­ion of eco­nomy and social laws of coun­tries. And, this point, is not a small point. This point is really a change not only in the object­ive situ­ation of the world today, but may­be at the level of sub­jectiv­ity too. Dur­ing more than two cen­tur­ies, there exis­ted in pub­lic opin­ion, always two ways con­cern­ing the des­tiny of human beings. We can say that, before approx­im­ately the 80s of the last cen­tury, we have always at the very gen­er­al level, the sub­ject­ive gen­er­al level, two pos­sib­il­it­ies con­cern­ing the his­tor­ic­al des­tiny of human beings. First, the way of lib­er­al­ism, in its clas­sic­al sense. Here, lib­er­al has many sig­ni­fic­a­tions, but I take lib­er­al in its prim­it­ive sense, that is, fun­da­ment­ally that private prop­er­ty is the key of social organ­iz­a­tion, at the price of enorm­ous inequal­it­ies, but the price is the price. At the end, for lib­er­al­ism, private prop­er­ty must be the key of social organ­iz­a­tion. And on the oth­er side, we have the social­ist way, the com­mun­ist way — there are dif­fer­ent words — in their abstract sense, that is, the end of inequal­it­ies must be the most fun­da­ment­al goal of human polit­ic­al activ­ity. The end of inequal­it­ies even at the price of viol­ent revolu­tion. So on one side, peace­ful vis­ion of his­tory as the con­tinu­ation of some­thing which is very old, that is, private prop­er­ty as the key of social organ­iz­a­tion, and on the oth­er side, some­thing new, some­thing which prob­ably begins with the French Revolu­tion, which is the pro­pos­i­tion that there is another way, that in some sense, the con­tinu­ity of the his­tor­ic­al exist­ence of human beings must accept a rup­ture between a very long sequence where inequal­it­ies, private prop­er­ty, and so on are the law of col­lect­ive exist­ence, and another vis­ion of what is that sort of des­tiny, and the most import­ant being in fact the ques­tion of equal­ity and inequal­ity, and this con­flict between lib­er­al­ism in its clas­sic­al sense, and the new idea under many dif­fer­ent names – anarchy, com­mun­ism, social­ism and so on — is prob­ably the great sig­ni­fic­a­tion of the 19th cen­tury and of a big part of the next cen­tury too.
So, dur­ing approx­im­ately near two cen­tur­ies, we have some­thing like a stra­tegic choice, con­cern­ing not only the loc­al events of polit­ics, the nation­al oblig­a­tions, the wars and so on, but con­cern­ing what is really the his­tor­ic­al des­tiny of human beings as such, the his­tor­ic­al des­tiny of the con­struc­tion of human­ity as such. In some sense, our time, from the 80s to today, is the time of the appar­ent end of this choice. The pro­gress­ive dis­par­i­tion of that sort of choice. We have today in fact the dom­in­ant idea that there exists no glob­al choice, that there is no oth­er solu­tion. It was the word of Thatch­er: no oth­er solu­tion. No oth­er solu­tion except, nat­ur­ally, lib­er­al­ism, or today gen­er­ally we speak of neo­lib­er­al­ism. No oth­er solu­tion. And this point is very import­ant because Thatch­er her­self is not say­ing that this solu­tion is a very good one. It’s not the prob­lem for her. The prob­lem is that it’s the only solu­tion. And so you know in the con­tem­por­ary pro­pa­ganda, the point is not to say that glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism is excel­lent, because it’s clear that it’s not. Every­body knows that. Every­body knows that mon­strous inequal­it­ies can­not be a solu­tion of the his­tor­ic­al des­tiny of human beings — every­body knows that. But the argu­ment is, “Okay, it’s not so good, but it’s the only real pos­sib­il­ity.” And so, in my opin­ion, the defin­i­tion of our time is the attempt to impose on human­ity at the scale of the world itself, the con­vic­tion that there is only one way for the his­tory of human beings. And without say­ing that this way is excel­lent, that this way is a very good one, but by say­ing that there is no oth­er solu­tion, no oth­er way. 

So, we can define our moment as the moment of the prim­it­ive con­vic­tion of lib­er­al­ism as dom­in­ant in the form that private prop­er­ty and free mar­ket com­pose the unique pos­sible des­tiny of human beings. And it’s also a defin­i­tion of a human sub­ject. What is, in this vis­ion, a human sub­ject? A human sub­ject is a beg­gar, a con­sumer, an own­er, or noth­ing at all. That is the strict defin­i­tion today of what is a human being. So that is the gen­er­al vis­ion, the gen­er­al prob­lem, and the gen­er­al law of the con­tem­por­ary world. 

Now, what are the polit­ic­al effects of all that, at the level of polit­ic­al life? What are the con­sequences of this dom­in­ant vis­ion of a world in which we can find only one way? All gov­ern­ments must accept that it is the case; in the world today we can­not be at the dir­ec­tion of the state without accept­a­tion of the vis­ion of the uni­city of the way. We have no gov­ern­ment in the world which is say­ing some­thing else. And why? Why, finally, if we exam­ine the pos­i­tion of the “social­ist” French gov­ern­ment, of the dic­tature [dic­tat­or­ship] of the Com­mun­ist Party in China, or the gov­ern­ment of United States, or the gov­ern­ment of Japan, of India, every­body says the same thing — that glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism is the unique way for the exist­ence of human beings. I think that all polit­ic­al decision, at the level of the state, today, is in strict depend­ency of what I name a ‘mon­ster’: glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism and its inequal­it­ies. In some sense, it’s not true that a gov­ern­ment today is some­thing free. It is not free at all. It is inside the glob­al determ­in­a­tion, and it must affirm that what it is doing is in depend­ency of this inter­i­or­ity of the glob­al determ­in­a­tion. And the mon­ster is more and more a mon­ster. We must know the real situ­ation con­cern­ing inequal­it­ies. We have the fun­da­ment­al phe­nom­ena of con­cen­tra­tion of cap­it­al; the con­cen­tra­tion of cap­it­al is some­thing extraordin­ary today. We must know that today 264 per­sons have as their prop­er­ty the equi­val­ent of 3 bil­lion oth­er people. It’s much more than in the prim­it­ive exist­ence of mon­archy and so on. Inequal­ity today is much more import­ant than in every oth­er situ­ation in the his­tory of human beings. And so that sort of his­tor­ic­al mon­ster which is also the unique way for the exist­ence of human­ity is really in the dynam­ic of more and more inequal­it­ies, and not at all of more and more freedom. 

And the pos­i­tion of the state today is the same every­where. It’s accep­ted law by the French gov­ern­ment, by the Chinese Com­mun­ist Party, by the power of Putin in Rus­sia, by the Islam­ic State in Syr­ia, and nat­ur­ally it’s also a law of the pres­id­ent of the United States. So, pro­gress­ively — and that is the most import­ant con­sequence con­cern­ing the elec­tion of Trump — pro­gress­ively, all the polit­ic­al olig­archy, all the polit­ic­al class, becomes the same group, at the level of the world itself. A group of people which is only abstractly divided: Repub­lic­ans and Demo­crats, Social­ists and Lib­er­als, Left and Right, and so on. All that sort of divi­sion today is purely abstract and not real, because all that lies in the same eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al back­ground. This polit­ic­al olig­archy today in the West­ern world, is pro­gress­ively los­ing con­trol of the cap­it­al­ist machinery — that is the real­ity. Across crises, false solu­tions, all clas­sic­al polit­ic­al gov­ern­ments cre­ate, on a big scale, in their people, frus­tra­tion, mis­un­der­stand­ing, anger, and obscure revolt. All that again­st what is the unique way pro­posed by all mem­bers of the polit­ic­al class today, with some dif­fer­ences, but some small dif­fer­ences. The exer­cise of polit­ics today is the exer­cise of very small dif­fer­ences inside the same glob­al way. But all that has many effects on people in gen­er­al; effects of dis­or­i­ent­a­tion, total absence of ori­ent­a­tion or dir­ec­tion of life, no stra­tegic vis­ion of the future of human­ity, and in that sort of situ­ation a big part of the people search in obscur­ity on the side of false nov­el­ties, irra­tion­al vis­ions, and return to dead tra­di­tions, and so on. So, in front of polit­ic­al olig­archy, we have the appar­i­tion of new sort of act­iv­ists, new sup­ports of viol­ent and vul­gar dem­agogy, and these guys are much more on the side of gang­sters and mafia than on the side of edu­cated politi­cians. And so the choice here has been the choice between that sort of guy and the rest of the edu­cated politi­cians, and the res­ult has been the leg­al choice of the new form of polit­ic­al vul­gar­ity and some­thing sub­ject­ively viol­ent in the polit­ic­al pro­pos­i­tion.

In some sense, this new polit­ic­al fig­ure — Trump, but many oth­ers today — are near the fas­cist of the 30s. There is some­thing sim­il­ar. But first without alas their strong enemies of the 30s, which were the com­mun­ist parties. It’s a sort of demo­crat­ic fas­cism — a para­dox­ic­al determ­in­a­tion — a sort of demo­crat­ic fas­cism, that is, they are inside the demo­crat­ic plane, inside the demo­crat­ic appar­at­us, but they play some­thing dif­fer­ent, another music, in that sort of con­text. And, I think it’s not only the case here, with Don­ald Trump — racist, machiste [macho], viol­ent, and also, which is a fas­cist char­ac­ter­ist­ic, without any con­sid­er­a­tion for logic or ration­al­ity; because the dis­course, the mode of speak­ing of that sort of demo­crat­ic fas­cism is pre­cisely a sort of dis­lo­ca­tion of lan­guage, a sort of pos­sib­il­ity to say any­thing, and the con­trary of any­thing — there is no prob­lem, the lan­guage is not the lan­guage of explan­a­tion, but a lan­guage to cre­ate some affects; it’s an affect­ive lan­guage which cre­ates a false unity but a prac­tic­al unity. And so, we have that with Don­ald Trump, but it has been the case before in Ita­ly with Ber­lusconi. Ber­lusconi may be, I think, the first fig­ure of that sort of new demo­crat­ic fas­cism, with exactly the same char­ac­ter­ist­ics: vul­gar­ity, a sort of patho­lo­gic­al rela­tion­ship to women, and the pos­sib­il­ity to say and to do, pub­licly, some things which are unac­cept­able for the big part of human beings today. But that was the case also with Orbán in Hun­gary today, and in my sense, in France, it has been the case with Sarkozy. And it’s also the case pro­gress­ively in India or the Phil­lipines, and even in Poland or in Tur­key. So it’s really, at the scale of the world, the appar­i­tion of a new fig­ure of polit­ic­al determ­in­a­tion which is a fig­ure which is very often inside the demo­crat­ic con­sti­tu­tion but which is in some sense also out­side. And I think that we can name fas­cists — because it was the case in the thirties; after all, Hitler was also vic­tori­ous in elec­tions — so I name fas­cist that sort of guy who is inside the demo­crat­ic play, but in some sense also out­side: inside and out­side. And inside to finally be out­side. So it’s really a nov­elty but a nov­elty which is inscribed inside the gen­er­al fig­ure of the world today because it’s also some­thing for many people, not of a solu­tion but a new man­ner to be in the demo­crat­ic play, where, on the side of clas­sic­al olig­archy, there is no dif­fer­ence at all. In some sense, the prin­ciple effect of Trump is an effect of some­thing new. In fact, in the details, there is noth­ing new, because it’s impossible to think that it’s new to be racist, machiste [macho], and so on — very old things, very old things. But in the con­text of the clas­sic­al olig­archy today, this very old thing seems to be some­thing new. And so, Trump is in the pos­i­tion to say that the nov­elty is ‘Trump’, in the moment when he’s say­ing things which are abso­lutely prim­it­ive and abso­lutely old, old-fash­ioned. And so, we are also in the time where some­thing like a return to the old exist­ence of some­thing can appear as some­thing new. And this con­ver­sion of the new in the old is also a char­ac­ter­ist­ic of that sort of new fas­cism. 

All that describes, I think, our present situ­ation at the level of polit­ics. We must con­sider that we are in a fatal dia­lectics of four terms. 

First, the com­plete bru­tal­ity and blind viol­ence of the cap­it­al­ism of today. Okay, in the West­ern world, we are not see­ing com­pletely this bru­tal­ity or viol­ence, but if you are in Africa, we see that, really, and if you are in the Middle East too, and finally if you are in Asia too. And so it’s a term, a fun­da­ment­al term, of our world today. It is the return to cap­it­al­ism to what is in fact it’s very sense, that is, sav­age con­quer­ing, sav­age fight of every­body again­st every­body, for dom­in­a­tion. So, com­plete bru­tal­ity and blood viol­ence of the sav­age cap­it­al­ism of today: the first term. 

Second term: the decom­pos­i­tion of the clas­sic­al polit­ic­al olig­archy. The clas­sic­al parties — Demo­crat, Repub­lic­an, Social­ist, et al. — decom­pos­i­tion in the dir­ec­tion, finally, of the appar­i­tion of a sort of new fas­cism. We don’t know the future of that sort of appar­i­tion: what is the future of Trump? In some sense, we don’t know, really, and may­be Trump doesn’t know his prop­er des­tiny. It was vis­ible in the night. You have the Trump before the power and the Trump in the power, who is in some sense afraid; not com­pletely sat­is­fied, because he knows that he can­not speak as freely as before. And to speak freely was exactly the potency of Trump, but now with the gov­ern­ment, the admin­is­tra­tion, the army, eco­nom­ists, bankers and so on, it’s another story. And so, we have seen in the night Trump passing from one play to another play, from one theatre to another theatre; and in the second theatre it was not so good, not so good as before. But we don’t know, really, we don’t know what is the real pos­sib­il­ity of that sort of guy when he becomes pres­id­ent of the United States. In any case, we have really a sym­bol of the decom­pos­i­tion of the clas­sic­al polit­ic­al olig­archy, and the birth of the new fig­ure of a new fas­cism, with a future that we don’t know, but I think is cer­tainly not a very inter­est­ing future for people in gen­er­al. 

Third, we have the pop­ular frus­tra­tion, the feel­ing of an obscure dis­order, in the pub­lic opin­ion of many people, and prin­cip­ally the poor people, the people of pro­vin­cial states, the peas­ants of many coun­tries, and also the work­ers without a job, and so on — all that pop­u­la­tion, which pro­gress­ively is reduced by the bru­tal­ity of con­tem­por­ary cap­it­al­ism, to noth­ing at all, which has no pos­sible exist­ence, and which stays, in some places, without jobs, without money, without ori­ent­a­tion, without exist­en­tial ori­ent­a­tion. And this point is the third very import­ant term of the glob­al situ­ation today. The lack of ori­ent­a­tion, of sta­bil­ity, the feel­ing of the destruc­tion of their world, without the con­struc­tion of another world; so a sort of void destruc­tion. 

And the last term, the fourth term, is the lack, the com­plete lack, of another stra­tegic way; the absence, today, of another stra­tegic way. There exist many polit­ic­al exper­i­ences — I don’t say that there is noth­ing at all on this side. We know new riots, new occu­pa­tion of places, new mobil­isa­tion, new eco­lo­gic­al determ­in­a­tion and so on. So, it’s not the absence of all forms of res­ist­ance, prot­est­a­tion — no, I don’t say that. But the lack of another stra­tegic way, that is, some­thing which is at the same level as the con­tem­por­ary con­vic­tion that cap­it­al­ism is the only way pos­sible. The lack of the strength of the affirm­a­tion of another way. And the lack of what I name an Idea, a great Idea. A great Idea which is the pos­sib­il­ity of uni­fic­a­tion, glob­al uni­fic­a­tion, stra­tegic uni­fic­a­tion of all forms of res­ist­ance and inven­tion. An Idea is a sort of medi­ation between the indi­vidu­al sub­ject and the col­lect­ive his­tor­ic­al and polit­ic­al task, and it’s the pos­sib­il­ity of action across and with very dif­fer­ent sub­jectiv­it­ies, but under the same Idea in some sense. 

These four points — the gen­er­al and stra­tegic dom­in­a­tion of glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism, the decom­pos­i­tion of clas­sic­al polit­ic­al olig­archy, the pop­ular dis­or­i­ent­a­tion and frus­tra­tion, and the lack of another stra­tegic way — com­pose in my opin­ion the crisis of today. We can define the con­tem­por­ary world in the term of a glob­al crisis which is not redu­cible to the eco­nom­ic crisis of the last years, which is much more, I think, a sub­ject­ive crisis, because of the des­tiny of human beings is more and more unclear for them­selves. 

After that, what is to be done? The ques­tion of Len­in. I think, con­cern­ing the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion here, the elec­tion of Trump, I think we must affirm that one reas­on for the suc­cess of Trump is that the true con­tra­dic­tion today, the real con­tra­dic­tion today, the most import­ant con­tra­dic­tion can­not be between two forms of the same world. The world of glob­al­ized cap­it­al­ism, of imper­i­al­ist wars, and of lack of any Idea con­cern­ing the des­tiny of human beings. I know that Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump are very dif­fer­ent — I am not say­ing we should identi­fy Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton, but this dif­fer­ence, which is import­ant… there exists a level where this dif­fer­ence, that is the dif­fer­ence between new fas­cism and old polit­ic­al olig­archy — and all polit­ic­al olig­archy is less hor­rible than new fas­cism, so I under­stand per­fectly that at the end we prefer Hil­lary Clin­ton — but we can­not for­get that in some sense this dif­fer­ence is inside the same world. It’s not the expres­sion of two dif­fer­ent stra­tegic vis­ions of the world. And I think the suc­cess of Trump is pos­sible only because the true con­tra­dic­tion of the world can­not be expressed, can­not be sym­bol­ized, by the oppos­i­tion between Hil­lary Clin­ton and Trump, because Hil­lary Clin­ton and Trump are in the same world — very dif­fer­ent, but very dif­fer­ent in the same world. And so, in fact, dur­ing all the pre­par­a­tion of the elec­tion, dur­ing the primar­ies, the true con­tra­dic­tion, in my opin­ion, has been between Trump and Bernie Sanders. It was a true con­tra­dic­tion. We can think what we want con­cern­ing the two terms of this con­tra­dic­tion. We can say that Trump is may­be some­thing excess­ive, on the side of a new fas­cism and so on, and we can say that Bernie Sanders is some­thing which is in some sense of social­ist nature, finally, Bernie Sanders is in the neces­sity to go on the side of Clin­ton and so on and so on, but I think at the level of sym­bol­iz­a­tion, which is so import­ant, the true con­tra­dic­tion of our world was sym­bol­ized by the oppos­i­tion of Trump and Bernie Sanders, and not by the oppos­i­tion of Trump and Hil­lary Clin­ton, because we have in Bernie Sanders, the pro­pos­i­tion of Bernie Sanders, some­thing, some points which are bey­ond the world as it is. And we do not have some­thing like that in the pro­pos­i­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton. And so, we have a les­son of dia­lectics; that is, the the­ory of con­tra­dic­tions. In some sense, the con­tra­dic­tion between Hil­lary Clin­ton and Trump was a rel­at­ive con­tra­dic­tion and not an abso­lute one; that is, a con­tra­dic­tion in the same para­met­ers, in the same con­struc­tion of the world. But the con­tra­dic­tion between Bernie Sanders and Trump was in fact the begin­ning of the pos­sib­il­ity of a true con­tra­dic­tion; that is, a con­tra­dic­tion with a world and some­thing which is bey­ond the world. In some sense, Trump was really on the side of react­ive and obscure pop­ular sub­jectiv­ity, inside the world as it is, but Bernie Sanders was on the side of ration­al, act­ive and clear pop­ular sub­jectiv­ity, ori­ented bey­ond the world as it is, even in some­thing which was unclear — unclear, but bey­ond the world as it is. 

So the res­ult of the elec­tion is of a con­ser­vat­ive nature, it’s purely con­ser­vat­ive, because it’s the res­ult of a false con­tra­dic­tion, in some sense, a con­tra­dic­tion which is not a true con­tra­dic­tion, and which is also, across this elec­tion, the con­tinu­ation of the crisis of today, the crisis of the four terms I explained before. Today, again­st Trump, we can­not desire Clin­ton, or some­body of the same fig­ure. We must cre­ate a return, if it is pos­sible, to the true con­tra­dic­tion; it’s the les­son of that sort of ter­rible event. That is, we must pro­pose a polit­ic­al ori­ent­a­tion which goes bey­ond the world as it is, even if it is, at the begin­ning, in a not com­pletely clear man­ner. When we begin some­thing, we have not the com­plete devel­op­ment of that thing. But we must begin. We must begin, which is the point. After Trump, we must begin. It’s not only to res­ist, to neg­ate and so on. We must begin some­thing, really, and this ques­tion of the begin­ning is the begin­ning of the return to the true con­tra­dic­tion, to a real choice, to a real stra­tegic choice con­cern­ing the ori­ent­a­tion of human beings. We must recon­struct the idea that again­st the mon­strous inequal­it­ies of the present cap­it­al­ism, again­st also the new gang­sters of clas­sic­al polit­ics, like Trump, it’s pos­sible to cre­ate, once more, a polit­ic­al field with two stra­tegic ori­ent­a­tions, and not only one. The return of some­thing which has been the occa­sion of the great polit­ic­al move­ment of 19th cen­tury and of the begin­ning of the last cen­tury. We must, if I can say some­thing in a philo­soph­ic­al man­ner, we must go bey­ond the One, in the dir­ec­tion of the Two. Not one ori­ent­a­tion, but two ori­ent­a­tions. The cre­ation of a new return to a new fun­da­ment­al choice as the very essence of polit­ics. In fact, if there is only one stra­tegic way, polit­ics pro­gress­ively dis­ap­pears, and in some sense, Trump is the sym­bol of that sort of dis­par­i­tion, because, what is the polit­ics of Trump? Nobody knows. It’s some­thing like a fig­ure and not a polit­ics. So the return to polit­ics is by neces­sity the return of the exist­ence of a real choice. So, finally, at the level of philo­soph­ic­al gen­er­al­it­ies, it’s the dia­lect­ic­al return to the real Two bey­ond the One, and we can pro­pose some names for that sort of return. 

As you know, my vis­ion is to pro­pose the cor­rup­ted word of ‘Com­mun­ism’, cor­rup­ted you know by bloody exper­i­ences and so on. The name is only a name, so we are free to pro­pose oth­er names, not a prob­lem. But we have some­thing which is inter­est­ing in the prim­it­ive mean­ing of this old and cor­rup­ted word. And this mean­ing is in fact com­posed of four points, four prin­ciples, and these sort of prin­ciples can be a sup­port for the cre­ation of a new polit­ic­al field with two stra­tegic ori­ent­a­tions.

The first point is that it’s not a neces­sity that the key of social organ­iz­a­tion lies in private prop­er­ty and mon­strous inequal­it­ies. It’s not a neces­sity. We must affirm that it’s not a neces­sity. And we can organ­ize lim­ited exper­i­ences which demon­strate that it’s not a neces­sity, that it’s not true that forever private prop­er­ty and mon­strous inequal­it­ies must be the law of the becom­ing of human­ity. It’s the first point.

The second point is that it’s not a neces­sity that work­ers will be sep­ar­ated between noble work, like intel­lec­tu­al cre­ation, or dir­ec­tion, or gov­ern­ment, and, on the oth­er side, manu­al work and com­mon mater­i­al exist­ence. So the spe­cial­iz­a­tion of the label is not an etern­al law, and espe­cially the oppos­i­tion between intel­lec­tu­al work and manu­al work must be sup­pressed in the long term. It’s the second prin­ciple. 

The third is that it’s not a neces­sity for human beings to be sep­ar­ated by nation­al, racial, reli­gious or sexu­al bound­ar­ies. The equal­ity must exist across dif­fer­ences, and so dif­fer­ence is an obstacle to equal­ity. Equal­ity must be a dia­lectics of dif­fer­ence itself, and we must refuse that in the name of dif­fer­ences, equal­ity is impossible. So bound­ar­ies, refus­al of the Oth­er, in any form, all that must dis­ap­pear. It’s not a nat­ur­al law. 

And the last prin­ciple is that it’s not a neces­sity that there exists a state, in the form of a sep­ar­ated and armoured power. 

So these four points can be resumed: col­lect­iv­ism again­st private prop­er­ty,, poly­morph­ous work­er again­st spe­cial­iz­a­tion, con­crete uni­ver­sal­ism again­st closed iden­tit­ies, and free asso­ci­ation again­st the state. It’s only a prin­ciple, it’s not a pro­gram­me. But with this prin­ciple, we can judge all polit­ic­al pro­grammes, decisions, parties, ideas, from the point of view of these four prin­ciples. Take a decision: is this decision in the dir­ec­tion of the four prin­ciples or not. The prin­ciples are the pro­to­col of judge­ment con­cern­ing all decisions, ideas, pro­pos­i­tions. If a decision, a pro­pos­i­tion, is in the dir­ec­tion of the four prin­ciples, we can say it’s a good one, we can exam­ine if it is pos­sible and so on. If clearly it’s again­st the prin­ciples, it’s a bad decision, bad idea, bad pro­gram­me. So we have a prin­ciple of judge­ment in the polit­ic­al field and in the con­struc­tion of the new stra­tegic pro­ject. That is in some sense the pos­sib­il­ity to have a true vis­ion of what is really in the new dir­ec­tion, the new stra­tegic dir­ec­tion of human­ity as such. 

Bernie Sanders pro­poses to con­struct a new polit­ic­al group, under the title, ‘Our Revolu­tion’. The suc­cess of Trump must open a new chance for that sort of idea. We can trust him for the moment, we can judge if it’s really a pro­pos­i­tion which goes bey­ond the present world, we can judge if some­thing is pro­posed which is in con­form­ity with the four prin­ciples. We can do some­thing. And we must do, because if we do noth­ing at all, we are only in the fas­cin­a­tion, the stu­pid­ity of fas­cin­a­tion, by the depress­ive suc­cess of Trump. Our revolution—why not—against their reac­tion, our revolu­tion, it’s a good idea. In any case, I am on this side.

Traduction en italien du texte d'Alain Badiou à ce lien :

Ce blog est personnel, la rédaction n’est pas à l’origine de ses contenus.

Bienvenue dans Le Club de Mediapart

Tout·e abonné·e à Mediapart dispose d’un blog et peut exercer sa liberté d’expression dans le respect de notre charte de participation.

Les textes ne sont ni validés, ni modérés en amont de leur publication.

Voir notre charte