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What is Kasama

What is Kasama

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Published by Zuresh Path

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Published by: Zuresh Path on Oct 03, 2013
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Category: Theory  Created on Sunday, 30 March 2008 12:13Written by John Steele
 What about  Alain Badiou,the contemporary philosopher? Like Zizek,  he has attracted much attention among people looking for newavenues both intellectually and politically. A friend in Latin Americanstudies has told me his name is everywhere in Latin Americanintellectual circles.
Badiou’s background is within Marxism and Maoism. He was a
student of the French communist philosopher  Louis Althusser  in the early sixties, an activist within the French uprisings of May 1968, and a Maoist activist and theorist in the 1970s. He has concluded, beginning in the 1980s andfor a nest of reasons both political and philosophical, that this tradition of political practice (that is, basically, theinternational c
ommunist movement as it had emerged that far), has reached a point of “saturation,” as he terms it,
 
and that a new beginning
 –
a new truth-process, as he calls it
 –
is necessary. He has gone on since then to outline anew approach in some very basic fields of philosophy.In a February 2006 interviewat University of Washington, he summed up: Paul is generally viewed as a deeply reactionary character by Marxists and even by many progressive Christians.One could say that Paul took an early egalitarian Jewish sect, and played a pivotal role in transforming it into anestablished Church with a novel, codified doctrine, and th
e ability to “take over” the Roman empire, Europe and
beyond.So why does a revolutionary like Badiou write about Paul? Well
 –
 
we don’t need to just examine an historical figurelike this from the point of view of “was his doctrine correct?” or “do we see him as reactionary?”
 Badiou is examining Paul as an archetype of militancy
 –
 
as a person with “fidelity” to a world historic “event” and the“truth
-
process” emerging from it (in this case, a resurrection [undocumented to be sure] and a certain universal
set of messages that were unprecedented for their times.)
On the second page of this book, Badiou characterizes Paul as someone who “practices and states the invariantfeatures of what can be called the militant figure.”
 
Badiou goes on to say, “there is cu
rrently a widespread search for a new militant figure¼called upon to succeed theone installed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the century, which can be said to have been that of the
party militant.”
 He thinks that now, when such a step forward is needed, a look back at the distant and apparently very dissimilar case of Paul is highly illuminating.
Badiou says he wants to trace the connection, embodied in Paul, “between the general idea of a rupture, an
overturning, and that of a thought-pro
cess which is this rupture’s subjective materiality.” It’s the connection, in other 
words, between an
event 
and the
truth-process
and the
subject 
 
which are both born out of it. The “militant figure” is
the militant
of 
a truth-process and part of a new subjectivity. (Subjectivity in this philosophical sense does not mean,as in Maoist usage, being un-objective or anti-scientific. It means in this case, being a new subject (or part of a newsocial subject), a newly defined and awakened actor on the social stage and within the new process of truth-formation.)
 
To rephrase slightly, Badiou’s quest is for a new way to be a revolutionary in our present circumstances. Heapproaches Paul in this light, for those reasons, and interprets Paul’s life and practice in terms of his own (Badiou’s)
philosophy of event, subject, truth-
process, and fidelity. A “new militant figure” would be the militant of a new truth
process.
That’s the background of his concern with Paul. He goes on to say that what he’s going to focus on in Paul’s work is“a singular connection, which it is formally possible to disjoin from the fable [that is, Christianity] and of which Paul
is...the inventor: the connection that establishes a passage between a proposition concerning a subject and aninterrog
ation concerning the law.”
 What Paul contributed, Badiou believes, is the insight and practice of separating truths (and truth-processes) fromtheir particular historical context. Badiou opposes this to the contemporary practices of dissolving truths into forms of cultural, linguistic or historical relativisms.
A Universal Singularity
 
In the world today, Badiou says, on the one hand there is a vast “extension of the automatisms of capital,” whichimposes “the rule of an abstract homogenization,” while “on t
he other side there is a process of fragmentation into
closed identities, and the culturalist and relativist ideology that accompanies this fragmentation.” Both of these
processes, and their ideological expressions, are inimical and deadly to the creation of new truth today. Moreover, the
two processes are complementary: , page 99] What to think? Well, let’s take a more familiar political example.
Suppose you are a revolutionary militant or cadre. You have been grasped in your life and activated by a greateruption in the world, and the experience has completely up-ended the conventional system of facts and categoriesand hierarchies
 –
all that you thought you knew. You have entered into a process of synthesizing and recognizingand establishing new truths in the world, a process which is not just yours, but yours along with many others. I amsure many of us on this site have experienced this, and have entered into such processes, and have had this shapeour lives.
Let’s say that these new truths are universal (in the sense of being “addressed to all” as Badiou often puts it). These
truths demand to be made real in the world, which means changing the world. Wrong ways of approaching this
demand: either preaching to people (“here’s the truth; accept it, believe
 
it”), or enforcing it as truth, if you have thepower to do that (“here’s the truth; you must accept it or else”). Rather, the truth has to be made real in the world, not
by opposing itself abstractly to the differences and particularities of people and groups, but
through
them. This wouldbe what the mass line
is about, as Badiou is interpreting it here. “From the masses, to the masses” –
 
taking “the ideas

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