|I've read the middle third of Being and Event, as well as the smaller book Ethics. Badiou's writing is consistently polemic. I can't help but think of him as a secular Kierkegaard, in that one only becomes a subject through a chosen fidelity to an event. Meaning, one needs to have a politics, an art form, a scientific endevour or a fierce love in order to be a true subject.|
He's in line with guys like Zizek that attack "convictionless pomos." He's in love with the idea of radical action.
All of which sounds fine, until I came across this paragraph about the Chinese cultural revolution from this post:
"But the acts of violence, often so extreme? The hundreds of thousands of dead?* The persecutions, especially against intellectuals? One will say the same thing about them as about all the acts of violence that have marked the history, to this very day, of any expansive attempts to practice a free politics. The radical subversion of the eternal order that subjects society to wealth and to the wealthy, to power and to the powerful, to science and to scientists, to capital and to its servants, cannot be sweet, progressive and peaceful. There is already a great and rigorous violence of thought when you cease to tolerate that one counts what the people think for nothing, for nothing the collective intelligence of workers, for nothing, to say the truth, any thought that is not homogenous to the order in which the hideous reign of profit is perpetuated. The theme of total emancipation, practiced in the present, in the enthusiasm of the absolute present, is always situated beyond Good and Evil, because, in the circumstances of action, the only known Good is what the status quo establishes as the precious name of its own subsistence. Extreme violence is therefore reciprocal to extreme enthusiasm, because it is in effect, to speak like Nietzsche, a matter of the transvaluation of all values. The Leninist passion for the real, which is also the passion of thought, is without morality. The only status of morality, as Nietzsche saw, is genealogical. It is a residue of the old world. Thus, for a Leninist, the threshold of tolerance to what, seen from our old and pacified present, is the worst, is incredibly high, regardless of the camp that one belongs to. This is obviously what causes some today to speak of the barbarity of the century. Nevertheless, it is altogether unjust to isolate this dimension of the passion for the real. Even when it is a question of the persecution of intellectuals, as disastrous as its spectacle and effects may be, it is important to recall that what makes it possible is that it is not the privileges of knowledge that command the political access to the real. Like Fouquier-Tinville said during the French Revolution, when judging and condemning to death Lavoisier, the creator of modern chemistry: The Republic does not need scientists. Barbarous words if there ever were, totally extremist and unreasonable, but that must be understood, beyond themselves, in their abridged, axiomatic form: The Republic does not need. It is not from need, from interest, or from its correlate, privileged knowledge, that derives the political capture of a fragment of the real, but from the occurrence of a collectivisable thought, and from it alone. This can also be stated as follows: politics, when it exists, grounds its own principle regarding the real, and thus is in need of nothing, save for itself."
How are we supposed to take this? Are we actually supposed to believe that contemporary western capitalism is a worse state than China in the 1950s and 1960s? I just don't get this guy sometimes.
*I'm sure he meant to say millions dead.