Canapé December 2015 (In French with English subtitles)

Canapé December 2015 (In French with English subtitles)


(woman singing opera) – French philosopher Alain Badiou is particularly interested in the relationship between the historical moment, movement and organization. In his youth, he was a Maoist, but with the failure of the socialist states, he re-evaluated — like many philosophers — the role of the party form of organization. However, he has not abandoned the universal, but rather is constantly searching for the creation of a new universal and ideology. This month, Badiou visited New York City and was guest at Columbia University, where he emphasized the need for what he called a “new communism.” (speaking French) – Many politicians today — and some intellectuals — affirm that there is, there exists today the war of civilizations, between finally the barbarian Muslim’s world and the civilized Western World. We know this discourse in France for many years, as a state of discourse, but it was not innocent. We have progressively the concrete consequences of that sort of affirmation. And it’s not innocent to speak of the war of civilizations, even when this war does not exist. Maybe it will exist one day, as precisely an impossible conflict. And on the other side, on the other side of that sort of affirmation in our world — in the Western World — on the other side we have a clearly fascist use of mass murder to affirm the reality of this sort of war. But all that, in some sense, is an imaginary fiction. The war, really horrible because in some sense, it’s a war without any rational description. I think that the new form of the world with many conflicts between identities, with large fear, a profound fear in the middle class in the Western World, with the existence of fascist gangs with religious alibi, with places of the world without any state, which are like “frank” zones… all that is only at its beginning. It’s a very fundamental crisis, but a crisis without any hand, because it’s a crisis inside the globalized capitalism and not a crisis between the globalized capitalism and something else. I can name all that an imminent crisis. So we must change the world. (crowd tittering) OK, we have many local problems which are of great importance. What are you doing concerning refugees? What is your position concerning Islamophobia? What is the possibility to create the possibility for peace in the Middle East? Is it possible to reduce the monstrous inequalities? We are at the root of all that, and so on. But I think that all that must take place in a new strategic vision. The goal must be, at the end, to destroy the total hegemony of financial capitalism. If it’s not the case, if this idea stays in its “disparition,” the crisis, the imminent crisis, will be more and more difficult to solve and we shall have a war. A true war. A true war. I think that we are probably — in an unconscious manner — inside the possibility that the true question, the true invisible question is today: peace or war? At a large scale, after many wars localized. Peace or war, because when the globalized capitalism is unable to solve its proper contradiction in another manner than with manipulation of identities, when finally politics becomes manipulation of identities, there is something logically criminal and with the search of war in this vision. It’s generally speaking the fascist vision in its nationalist form, but in some sense a fascist vision is always in nationalist form. And all that is compatible with the destiny of globalized capitalism in a vision of destruction and death. So the goal is to destroy the total hegemony of financial capitalism. So negatively — because the goal, this goal, is negative — negatively, we must become new communists. New communists. Why “communist,” which is a dead word? And after the complete failure, monstrous failure of the socialist state? Because “communist” has always been the name for the existence of a strategic vision not reducible to globalized capitalism. And if somebody proposes another name, another good name, I buy. (crowd laughing) But you know, the question of names in politics is very important. Precisely, the question of universality or identity is also a question of names. If you see, if you say “Palestinians,” you say some things. If you pass from “Palestinians” to “Arabs,” the level is not the same. You change the problem only by changing the name, in some sense. And so if we search a name for the new possibility of a strategic vision which is not reducible to the hegemony of globalized capitalism, we must be cautious. And naturally, communist is a bad name. But we can affirm that this bad name is historically — at the birth of the name, like Marx and manifestos of the communist party — this bad name has a complex and terrible history. But it’s very difficult to find another name appropriate to the situation. So we must become new communists. I insist on “new.” (audience chuckling) (speaking French) We must propose — that is the most important point, maybe — we must propose to the popular youth in the world a positive strategy, which is to construct beyond all identities the new international strength of a common world. Without something like that, the major part of the popular youth will be in the part of fascism. Because for a big part of popular youth, there is no real pure democratic choice today, in the globalized capitalism as it is. The inequalities are so monstrous that they cannot rely and create an active subjectivity in the popular youth. And so the temptation is the temptation of fascism: the temptation to oppose your true identity, which is fiction, in fact. To oppose your pure identity to all the Western World, all the middle class and so on, by the Freudian effect of repressed desire to be in this world, to be a member of this beautiful middle class. To, to, to struggle against all that, not only we must have strategic visions beginning all the process, but we must propose in some detail through the popular youth this positive strategy as something which is universal and glorious, something which by itself creates new, great places for the destiny of youth. You can see that the political games of today don’t create any places. It is why, in some sense, Bernie Sanders is somebody, because it proposes something new, proposes something which can be, in some sense, something for the youth. But we must go much more outside the existing system and convince this part of the popular youth, which is in the temptation of fascism — which is the temptation of nihilistic murders and so on — that something else is possible. And something else which is not to be a “good young man,” or a “good young woman,” but to be in a new form of political heroism. I think that to the youth, we must propose a new form of heroism and not only a new form of quiet integration in the world as it is. It’s the only way to destroy the nihilistic support of fascism today. It’s not military operations. It’s not parliamentary discussion. It’s not politicians. It’s a true and complete opposition for a new life, a new personal life, a new personal action in the world. We must also — at all levels and against all cults of identities — we must create the new universalism. The new universalism that is in some sense the universality of something else than money, because we must understand that the only universalism, the true universalism today, is the universality of money. Because it’s like Marx said: it’s the general equivalent. The general equivalent is precisely what is finally universal, and what is the pull of the desire of everybody everywhere. And so if we must finish with that sort of abstract universality of the money, which is a fundamental characteristic of globalized capitalism, we must present and propose something like a new form of universality. And we know then internationalism to go beyond all forms of closed identities, to go across the differences of class, to speak with others, to create a movement, to have some forms of horizontal democracy and so on. We have experiences of all that. We must systematize all these experiences and we must really propose, progressively, the new terms of universality, which is not the repression of differences, but universality inside differences, for differences precisely. We must love what is fragile, what is the new movement, the new creation. We must love all that because all that is beyond the apparently massive and strong identities. When we propose some new forms of universality against identities, we propose also something which is a creation against something which is a state of affairs. We must go beyond all too consistent evidence in the search of creative novelty of universal value. It’s a political necessity today against war, different forms of war. But it’s also a political necessity. I conclude by a quotation of a poem of Paul Celan: German poet, Jew poet, poet of the Second World War. “On, on inconsistencies… inconsistencies… on inconsistencies,” line. “Flick in the abyss, in the scribblings, in the notebooks, the world begins to rustle. It all depends on you.” Maybe today the world, in terrible fashion, begins to rustle for a new universality. “It all depends on you.” (crowd tittering) Thank you. (clapping) – (man): I’m ready now. (woman singing opera) Closed Captioning by SETTE inc.

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