[Marxism] Alain Badiou on Ukraine, Egypt and Finitude [23th April 2014]

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Thu May 1 15:21:31 MDT 2014

"What strikes me about the Ukrainian situation, considering what we 
learn reading the press, listening to the radio etc., is that it is 
captured and understood according to an operation that I would call the 
complete stagnation of the contemporary world. The commonplace narrative 
is to say that Ukraine wants to join free Europe, breaking with Putin's 
despotism. There is a democratic and liberal uprising whose goal is to 
join our beloved Europe -- the motherland of the freedom in question -- 
while the sordid, archaic manoeuvres of the Kremlin's man, the terrible 
Putin, are directed against this natural desire. What is striking in all 
this is that everything is framed in terms of a static contradiction. 
Well before the Ukraine affair there was already a fundamental schema 
constantly at work, distinguishing the free West from all the rest. The 
free West has but one mission, that of intervening everywhere it can in 
order to defend those who want to join it. And this static contradiction 
has neither a past nor a future.

It has no past because -- and it is particularly typical in the 
Ukrainian case -- nothing about Ukraine's own real history is ever 
considered, named or described. Who cared about Ukraine before last 
week? Many people did not even have much idea where it was... Ukraine, 
champion of European freedom, suddenly takes to the stage of History; 
and this is possible because what is taking place there can be described 
in terms of the static contradiction between Europe, motherland of 
freedom, democracy, free enterprise and other such splendours, and then 
all the rest, including Putin's barbarism and the despotism that goes 
with it.

  It has no past because we do not know where all this is coming from, 
for example the fact that Ukraine is a component part of what was for 
centuries called Russia; that only very recently did an independent 
Ukraine take shape, within the framework of a very particular historical 
process: the unravelling of the Soviet Union.

Similarly, the fact that Ukraine has always had separatist tendencies 
and that these have constantly been reactive: that is, backed by 
strongly reactionary powers and even worse. The Ukrainian Orthodox 
clergy, whose sacred city is Kiev, has played a determining role in all 
this, and it goes without saying that it is the most reactionary on 
Earth, a megalomaniac centre of Imperial Orthodoxy. This separatism at 
certain moments reached extremes that no one could forget, particularly 
not the Russian people, knowing that the vast mass of the Nazi-armed and 
organised armies coming from Russian territory were Ukrainian. The 
Vlasov army was a Ukrainian army.

Today we can even read the history of Ukrainians turning entire villages 
to blood and fire, including French ones. A good part of the repression 
of the /maquis/ in central France was carried out by Ukrainians. We are 
no identitarians, we are not going to say: 'What bastards, those 
Ukrainians!', but all this does constitute a history, the history of a 
certain number of the political subjects in Ukraine.

Moreover, the contradiction has no future, because the future is 
pre-constituted: the Ukrainians' desire will be to rally to good-old 
Europe, an already-existing citadel of freedom. The operations imposing 
this finitude here bear on time itself. If time is finished, it is 
because it has been stopped. The time of propaganda is an immobile time. 
It is very difficult to make propaganda for a time-in-becoming: we can 
make propaganda for what /is /but not for what /is/ /becoming/. And here 
we have the propaganda that the Ukrainian uprising is static, in that it 
came out of nothing and is heading towards something that already 
existed, democratic free Europe."

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