[Marxism] Badiou on the political necessity for the ideology of evil (and other things we don't like but can't explain)

Jurriaan Bendien andromeda246 at hetnet.nl
Sun May 9 18:20:56 MDT 2004

Alain Badiou, Ph.D, born in Rabat, Morocco in 1937, Alain Badiou was a
student at the école Normale Supérieure in the 1950s. He taught at the
University of Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint Denis) from 1969 until 1999, when
he returned to ENS as the Chaire of the philosophy department. He continues
to teach a popular seminar at the Collège International de Philosophie, on
topics ranging from the great 'antiphilosophers' (Saint-Paul, Nietzsche,
Wittgenstein, Lacan .) to the major conceptual innovations of the twentieth
century. Much of Badiou's life has been shaped by his dedication to the
consequences of the May 1968 revolt in Paris. Long a leading member of Union
des jeunesses communistes de France (marxistes-léninistes), he remains with
Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel at the centre of L'Organisation
Politique, a post-party organization concerned with direct popular
intervention in a wide range of issues (including immigration, labor, and
housing). He is the author of several successful novels and plays as well as
more than a dozen philosophical works.

An excerpt from an interview with Dr Badiou:

"Today we see liberal capitalism and its political system,
parlimentarianism, as the only natural and acceptable solutions. Every
revolutionary idea is considered utopian and ultimately criminal. We are
made to believe that the global spread of capitalism and what gets called
"democracy" is the dream of all humanity. And also that the whole world
wants the authority of the American Empire, and its military police, NATO.

In truth, our leaders and propagandists know very well that liberal
capitalism is an inegalitarian regime, unjust, and unacceptable for the vast
majority of humanity. And they know too that our "democracy" is an illusion:
Where is the power of the people? Where is the political power for third
world peasants, the European working class, the poor everywhere? We live in
a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian-where
all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone - is presented to us as

To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot
really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that
all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of
perfect Goodness. But we're lucky that we don't live in a condition of Evil.
Our democracy is not perfect. But it's better than the bloody dictatorships.
Capitalism is unjust. But it's not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions
of Africans die of AIDS, but we don't make racist nationalist declarations
like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don't cut their
throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc.

That's why the idea of Evil has become essential. No intellectual will
actually defend the brutal power of money and the accompanying political
disdain for the disenfranchised, or for manual laborers, but many agree to
say that real Evil is elsewhere. Who indeed today would defend the Stalinist
terror, the African genocides, the Latin American torturers? Nobody. It's
there that the consensus concerning Evil is decisive.

Under the pretext of not accepting Evil, we end up making believe that we
have, if not the Good, at least the best possible state of affairs-even if
this best is not so great. The refrain of "human rights" is nothing other
than the ideology of modern liberal capitalism: We won't massacre you, we
won't torture you in caves, so keep quiet and worship the golden calf. As
for those who don't want to worship it, or who don't believe in our
superiority, there's always the American army and its European minions to
make them be quiet. (...) The real question underlying the question of Evil
is the following: What is the Good?

We could also ask: what, if anything, is socialism really about, in this day
and age ?

I want to be straight, I want to be straight
I wanna create a place of my own, in the welfare state
Brr, gonna be good, brr, gonna be kind
It might be a wrench, but think of the stench, I'm leaving behind
I want to be straight, I want to be straight
Come out of the cold, and do what I'm told, and don't deviate
I wanna give, I wanna give, I wanna give my consent
I'm learning to hate all the things that I thought when I used to be. bent!
Could be straight now ?
dum dum dilley
Might lead to greatness ?
dur yuh dum der
Owing to lateness....
My chance has only just arrived, ha !

- Ian Dury and the Blockheads, "I want to be straight".

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