In this column from Le Monde, philosopher Alain Badiou argues that voting only reinforces conservatism. He instead advocates "reinventing communism." Translated by David Broder.
20 March French presidential debate.
A lot of the electorate is still undecided about the presidential vote. I myself can understand. It is not so much that the programmes of the candidates considered eligible are somehow in the dark, or confused. It is not so much — to pick up on a turn of phrase I once applied to Sarkozy, which enjoyed a certain success — that we have to ask ourselves "what they are the name of." Rather, all this is only too clear.
Marine Le Pen is the modernized — and thus feminized — version of what the French far Right has always been. A tireless Pétainism.
François Fillon is a Pétainist in a three-piece suit. His (personal or budgetary) philosophy can be reduced to "saving every penny." He is not all that attentive to where his own pennies come from, but he is filthy miserly, intransigent, when it comes to fiscal spending and in particularly the money meant for the poor.
Benoît Hamon is the timid, rather limited representative of "left-wing socialism"; something that has always existed, though it is harder to identify or to uncover even than one of those characters we never see.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon — certainly the least disagreeable — is nonetheless the parliamentary expression of what we today call the "radical" Left, on the precarious boundary between the old ruined socialism and a spectral communism. He masks his programme’s lack of boldness or clarity with an eloquence worthy of Jean Jaurès.
Emmanuel Macron, for his part, is a creature brought out of nothing by our true masters, the latest capitalists, those who have bought up all the papers as a precaution. If he believes and says that Guiana is an island or that Piraeus is a man, it is because he knows that no one in his camp has ever been committed by what they said.
Razmig Keucheyan's The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Theory Today has recently appeared in its first Greek edition, published by Angelus Novus. Earlier this month, Keucheyan spoke with Tasos Tsakiroglou of Efimerida ton Syntakton about the book and contemporary critical theory — in the context of climate change, and in relation to recent European electoral contests, including the 2017 French presidential election.
In the panorama of the different critical theories that you analyze in your new book The Left Hemisphere, and despite their diversity, do you discern a common thread that unites them? and what is it?
Pessimism certainly is a common thread. None of these thinkers believes that overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with another, relatively better, system is an obvious possibility. Some of them believe it is not possible, and think “resistance” to power and “micropolitics” is our only option. This pessimism is a consequence of the tragic experiences of the 20th century, especially Stalinism.
Philippe Douroux's report from Alain Badiou's final seminar was first published in Libération. Translated by David Broder.
His audience was there. 280 people in front of him, and thirty others in the hall before a screen, on the lookout for others leaving so that they too could enter the "cave" and face the master. An equal mix of men and women, the old and the young — mainly older, it should be said. None of them are dressed eccentrically, though there are sometimes some flashes of colour like orange or yellow trousers, or a bright yellow scarf with Indian motifs, doubtless a hangover of the 1970s. At the moment that everyone was about to go their separate ways, soon before midnight that evening, he even earned a standing ovation. That tells us how fervent his audience is.
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.