Alain Badiou in Greece recently gave three talks in which he described his notions of a coming Universalism of creative identity as against the purified vision of all forms of fascist capitalisms:
- The ‘world’ of untrammelled capitalism and the rich democracies is a false world. Recognising the unity only of monetary products and signs, it rejects the majority of humanity, pushed out into another, devalued ‘world’, from which it separates itself through walls and warfare. In this sense, there is today no world. There are but walls, drownings, hatred, wars, pillaged and abandoned areas, areas that are protected from everything else, others left in total poverty, and the criminal ideologies that prosper on the back of all this chaos.
- Thus to assert that ‘there is a single world’ is a principle for action, a political imperative. This principle also entails the equality of existence in each and every part of this single world.
- The principle that there is a single world does not contradict the infinite play of identities and differences. It entails only that identities subordinate their negative dimension (their opposition to the Other) to their affirmative dimension (the development of the Self).
- As concerns the existence of millions of foreigners in our countries, we have three objectives: to oppose persecutory integration; to block the road to reactive purification; and to develop creative identities. The concrete articulation of these three objectives defines that which is most important in politics today.
And on this intimate link between politics and the question of foreigners, which is today absolutely central, we can look to an astonishing text by Plato, with which I would like to conclude. It is at the end of book 9 of his Republic. Socrates’s young interlocutors say: ‘What you tell us about politics is all well and good, but it is impossible. You cannot put it into practice’. And Socrates replies: ‘Yes, in the city where we are born it is perhaps impossible. But perhaps it will be possible in another city’. As if every true politics presupposed expatriation, exile, foreignness. Let us remember this when we go amicably to do politics with foreign students and workers, young people in the suburbs and the poor of all backgrounds and beliefs: Socrates was right, the fact that they are foreign, or that their culture is different, is not an obstacle. On the contrary! It is an opportunity, the possibility of creating new forms of internationalism right here and now. And remember what Marx said: the most fundamental characteristic of the communist, is to be an internationalist. Because the realisation of a true politics in any one part of this single world we now proclaim absolutely needs – to be even possible – those who come from somewhere else in this same world.