Alain Badiou on Our Recent Elections


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…

—Alain Badiou

Badiou’s view of the Left’s Bankruptcy and where we might go from here. After reading his speech I ask myself if we are enacting pre-Weimer Germany but on a vast untold scale across the planet’s surface, if the vacuum in world leadership, the global captilist prison system, the dark insidiousness of the economic devastation, climatic change, and rampant devastation of crops, disease, famine, war, etc. are a prelude to an even darker and more troubling world arising from the ashes of history in some parody of retroactive emergence and parody? Are we preparing the way for a future tyranny from the hinterlands of our unknowing world?

I think both Badiou and Zizek seek to spur change on the global Left to action and thought, to renewed diliberation rather than this continued mourning of its failures… so do I. This sense of a subjective crisis, rather than political and economic is in a sense at the forefront of this global crisis. As he says:

“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. “

As he states, the true contradiction at the heart of this election was not Trump vs. Hilary – because they both represented the same neoliberal world from different economic blocs. No. The true contradiction was Trump vs. Bernie Sanders:

“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.

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.”

His four points and principles (not programs): “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.”

His final statement on the side of Bernie:

“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.”

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

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