'Let us para-be', that is our war cry. And better yet: ‘We are nothing, let us para-be the Whole.’
Wherever there is war, there is a war situation as a whole.
Where to begin? Is this not the problem of the present? It seems that the movement of teleological Marxism has been historically destroyed—communism has been reduced to a mere “spectre” haunting Europe whilst taking the occasional holiday in the global South. In 1997, Alain Badiou announced that the “era of revolutions is closed.” This may still be the case, for despite the waves of revolt in the early 2000s that led to the overthrow of several governments in the Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR) and the Balkans, along with the recent waves of revolution sweeping Northern Africa and the Arab world, the dominant paradigm of liberal capitoparliamentarism remains as strong as ever. In 1977, Badiou declared that “Marxism is in crisis,” that it is “atomized,” that to defend it is “to defend a weakness.” The Marxist dream of a new man and a new world has been stifled by its historical failure. Post-Lenin, post-Mao, post-orgy we have arrived at an impasse. However this “crisis of Marxism” is now accompanied by a equally if not more destructive “crisis of capitalism.” Francis Fukuyama has admitted that he was wrong about the “end of history” and had not anticipated “political decay.” Before his death, Milton Friedman had also noted that the famous maxim “privatize, privatize, privatize” was “meaningless without the rule of law.” Yet, despite its empirical financial crisis, as well as the subtle (yet present) ideological crisis, liberal capitoparliamentarism reigns supreme and the militant practice of Marxism still remains somewhat of a continental geist.
In January 1999 Badiou asserted that the problem of the twentieth century bestows upon us, is to exist within the “non-dialectical conjunction” of the unreconciled themes of ‘ending’ and beginning.’ Within the twentieth century, they remain unreconciled, which leaves us with a fundamental antagonism—what is called a war, “total and definitive” to “destroy the old wars by total war.” This total war is waged in the name of “the final struggle” to destroy the old and create the new. It has been an absolute war for the subjective paradigm, for both the legacy of the past and the possibility of a future. And yet despite the failure of historical Marxism, there is no true victor. The twentieth century left us with “neither the one nor the multiple,” but rather has “borne a combative conception of existence” in the Two. It would seem, at first glace, that this means we must simply choose sides and take up arms. However, this assessment naively plunges us back into the old paradigm of dialectical materialism. We must rather measure the past, clarify the non-dialectical conjunction of the old war, and “recompose politics from the scarcity of its independent anchoring.” This recomposition of politics must take the two as the starting point and following Hegel, found a new politics on “the third term that marks the gap between the two others.” What is needed today is a concept of the third term that erupts from the gap between the struggle of the old nationalist wars in the twentieth century and the utopian “war to end all wars.” What is needed is a new concept of Marxism, communism, and militancy for the contemporary world. If it is true that communists are, “in the movement of history, the political subject,” then we must study their legacy—as the out-of-place, the illegal force that intervenes in the series of events to galvanize a novel militancy. We must educate ourselves in the politics of egalitarian emancipation. We must lay the groundwork for an intervention. This the point from which we must begin.
Badiou, Alain. Theory of the Subject. Trans. Bruno Bosteels. London: Continuum, 2009. p. 104.
Derrida, Jacques. Specters of Marx: the State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International. New York: Routledge, 1994.
Badiou, Alain. "Theorie axiomatique du sujet: Notes du cours 1996-1998." cited in Hallward, Peter. Badiou: a Subject to Truth. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, 2003. p. 41
Fukuyama, Francis. The Origins of Political Order: from Prehuman times to the French Revolution. London: Profile, 2011.
Milton Fiedman. “Economic Freedom behind the Scenes.” Preface. Economic Freedom of the World 2002 Annual Report. [Vancouver, B.C.]: Fraser Institute, 2002.