Thursday, December 17, 2009

And in This Corner ...

I confess I didn't have the patience to read all of this, but if a slugfest between heavyweight professional provocateurs is your thing, here is Badiou vs. Finkielkraut on the national identity question.


Steven Rendall said...

Je l'ai lu en entier--ouf!--et je peux te dire: rien de nouveau, au contraire. On ne fait que ressasser des platitudes malsaines.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Steve, for saving me the trouble.

Leo said...

I would disagree with Steven. Badiou's Stalinist rants are anything but platitudes.
The fact that he is one of the Master Thinkers of the Ecole Normale Supérieure is bone chilling.
Short excerpt, talking of the "jeunes des banlieues":

"Le destin positif et universel de ces jeunes, ce serait de s'organiser dans la visée de la destruction de l'ordre établi : ça, ce serait une issue sublimée et positive" or "Ce sont les derniers patriotes véritables".

My generation had Althusser, my children's has Badiou. Let's hope, if he has a wife, that he ends up in the nut-house for waht he writes rather that, like his predecessor, for having murdered her.

Eric Brandom said...


finkielkraut said more or less that he doesn't think france is racist (i'd find the quote, since it is good to be precise, but the site is down). also in this interview, as i recall, he proudly cited the moral stand he took in defense of roman polanski. i'll take badiou any day.

there are plenty of problems with badiou's positions, political and otherwise. he is open to criticism on many fronts. the mental illness of one of his teachers is not among them.

let's be clear: you're upset because badiou says that the "jeunes des banlieues" ought to organize themselves into a genuine political force?

Unknown said...

You emphasize the word "organize." Leo, I suspect, focused on the word "destruction" and the notion of suburban youth as "the last true patriots," which seems to deny membership of the polity to other groups and perhaps to indulge the recurrent fantasy of discovering a "universal class" whose will will somehow miraculously coincide with that of the human race, as in L'Internationale. You are likely to talk past each other if you end your interpretation there.

Incidentally, I tried to read your paper about Barthes on your Web site, but it's password protected, which I don't think is what you intended.

Eric Brandom said...

agreed, agreed. certainly badiou is interested in revolution, a vanguard group, the destruction of the existing order, all those good old fashioned leninist things (i don't think it's fair to say stalinist). there should be no confusion about it. i'm not sure that he would include a 'universal class' in an explication of his politics. in the interview, he was willing to talk about his own patriotism--but taking the radical version of the revolutionary tradition as essential to French identity (that is, 1793, 1848, 1871, 1968...). this, i think, is the sense in which he meant "last true patriots." the degree to which badiou accepts the idea that France is the bearer of a revolutionary universality is surprising. that's his contribution to the identity debate. on a certain level, it's really not so different from a certain kind of republicanism.

the political and philosophical usefulness/danger of all that is up for discussion. only, maybe we should leave althusser and his wife out of it.

Steven Rendall said...

Leo--you're right; "platitudes" was probably a poor choice of words. What I meant was that it seemed I'd heard all this before, and that it was more or less what you'd expect from these two figures and the groups they represent.