Alain Badiou: From ‘Spring’ to Revolutions
Invited to speak by the Institut du monde arabe, the philosopher Alain Badiou developed a lively and accessible exposition of his reasoning on the ‘promise’ of the ‘uprisings’ in the Arab world, which have (still?) not turned into revolutions.
How ought we interpret the events that have played out in many Arab countries over the last couple of years? Popular uprisings, the overthrow of autocratic régimes, unsteady electoral processes, the return of Islamism to the political arena, and unexpected coups d’état, have posed the whole world questions as to the meaning of these movements and their likely outcome. Can we term them ‘revolutions’? Do they open the way to a new politics, or, on the contrary, are they a vehicle for old schemas?
Vince Carducci praised Jonathan Crary's 24/7 in Public Seminar, placing it in the conversation of the sixties that foresaw the future of modernity as the birth of endless free time. Rather, as Crary's book demonstrates, the advent of late capitalism meant the end of leisure while work, enabled by technology, colonized most hours of both day and night. Carducci praises the intelligence and accessibility of 24/7, both an essential and readable book:
Though brief (a mere 133 pages) and lightly annotated, 24/7 is the capstone of Crary’s archeology of the spectacle and arguably the most significant of the lot. It’s informed by the erudition of one of the most thorough and original researchers at work today. The vast bodies of knowledge Crary seamlessly weaves together in 24/7 is reminiscent of the work of Michel Foucault, but without the gnarly, headache-inducing sentence structure. It’s marked by a moral passion that fuels Crary’s polemic and underscores what’s at stake, specifically the future of the human being in both the physical and emotional sense. Plus, it’s eminently readable, eschewing the critical theory gobbledygook of the tribe of radical art historians he’s most closely associated with, the so-called October group that includes Rosalind Krauss, Hal Foster, and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh. (Those folks have done and continue to do important work in their fields, but the need for cultural critique these days is simply too dire to be locked away in the ivory tower.)
On publication in Italian in 1991, it was immediately recognised as one of those rare works of history that speaks to the present in new and urgent tones. For such an important work, it has taken a surprisingly long time to appear in English but we must be glad it has, for it has lost none of its pertinence; indeed, the current crisis in the eurozone has given its underlying message about the fragility of the democratic achievement a new importance.
Neoliberals solved [the] crisis [of liberal society to realize its own goals] but valuing liberty, defined in terms of liberty of property, over democracy, and competition as ideal over the unimpeded action of the market.
In Counterpunch, Ramzy Baroud writes in response to the right-wing newspaper The Jerusalem Post proclaiming the controversial intellectual and ‘sham philosopher’ Bernard Henry Levy the 45th “most influential Jew” in the world. Baroud, needless to say, does not have kind words to say about Lévy.