Archive for the ‘Communism’ Category
There have been reports that the Parti des Indigènes de la République – much admired in the English speaking world by a fraction of the left, such as the US journal ironically titled Jacobin and Richard Seymour (often for their hatred of Charlie Hebdo) has been in the news recently.
In the May Issue of Le Monde Diplomatique Serge Halmi cited this statement by their spokesperson, Mme Houria Bouteldja.
« La perspective décoloniale, explique-t-elle, c’est d’abord de nous aimer nous-mêmes, de nous accepter, de nous marier avec une musulmane ou un musulman, un Noir ou une Noire. Je sais que cela semble une régression, mais je vous assure que non, c’est un pas de géant. »
The de(anti)colonial standpoint, she explained, is above all to love each other, to love our own, to marry with a Muslim man or woman, a black person with a black person. I realise this may seem a step backwards, but I can assure you it’s a giant step forward.
These are some of their tweets (hat-Tip K)
The Tweets read: the integration of whites into the marginalised is as impossible as the integration of the ‘indigenous’ into the republic.
For us races do not represent a theoretical concept, but a relation of struggle.
A white person converted to Islam can de-convert: but an Arab, even perfectly atheist, remains a Muslim.
For us there is a relation of force between the races, the aim of our organisation is to bring this relation in out favour .
When a White asks, How do you see the link between races and classes, one should not reply.
The struggle against domination, goes through the abandoning of privileges in favour of the privileges of others.
For more information see above.
The article largely refers to this: Racisme (s) et philosémitisme d’Etat ou comment politiser l’antiracisme en France ?
One Good Piece of News at least.
The visit of Lewis the Eighteenth, April 1814.
“There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel, and immense applause; the mob crying out, ‘God bless your Majesty!” as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives.”
((Zechariah Coleman, a radical and dissenter) “who did not hooray, and did not even lift his hat when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps” is challenged by a drayman for not saluting the Bourbon King.
A full fight ensures.
Zechariah is rescued by Major Cartwright, “Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear.”
The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane. Mark Rutherford. 1887.
But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine,
Holy Willie’s Prayer. 1785. Robert Burns.
“Election 2015: Ed Miliband resignation imminent as Conservatives win stunning majority”
Today is not a good day.
Not a good day at all.
The People have dealt us a nasty lick.
The vote for common decency – the Labour Party – did not succeed in squaring up to the Right.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to step down later after his party’s disappointing general election showing, the BBC has learned.
Labour suffered heavy losses at the hands of the SNP, with the Tories forecast to achieve a majority.
BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Miliband was expected to address party staff, with two senior sources saying he would quit.
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was among the party’s big-name casualties.
It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy.
In England the electorate of Eatanswill has returned, like a dog to its vomit, to David Cameron.
In Scotland, the alliance of Holy Willie and Oor Wullie has dealt a blow to more than the Labour Party – it’s hit socialism itself.
Those who imagine that the SNP’s politics of looking after their “ain folk” has managed to strike a blow against the British Imperial state, heralding a new politics of the ‘anti-austerity’ left, in association with Rupert Murdoch, will soon find that reading Tom Nairn is no substitute for the realities of the egoistic and narrow goals of the nationalists.
Farage looks on course to fail to win a seat for UKIP.
If we can draw some further (meager) comfort from the results this is it: George Galloway blames ‘racists and Zionists’ for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West.
There must be a lot of racists and Zionists in Bradford West as this was the vote, “The Respect party MP, lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.”
So much for the strategy of aligning with Islamism.
There was no breakthrough for the left of the Labour Party.
The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was, and remains, irrelevant.
Its votes were derisory.
In Ipswich we have this, much more depressing, news, “Election 2015: Ben Gummer increases his majority as he fights off David Ellesmere to hold Ipswich seat.”
Yesterday about 5 pm, as I was passing down Upper Brook Street, there was a street person on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and Ipswich ‘Rangers’. Walking round the corner, in Dog’s Head Street, one of another group, obviously buzzing on a mixture of illegal and legal highs, asked me for dosh. Back in the Street, entering Sainsbury’s a woman tried to reassure her tiny daughter, “You see things like this in London all the time”.
We’ll see a lot more of that with Cameron’s victory.
I am in the mood to make sure that we fight this every inch of the way.
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber and Faber 2005.
The richest man in Britain is Odessa born Len Blavatnik. He made billions from Russian oil after the collapse of the Soviet Union, owns Warner Music and lives in a £41m mansion in Kensington. Many other billionaires, whose fortune originates in post-Communist capitalism, appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Times Rich List.
Russia, Nothing is True begins, is the homeland of the “new jet set”, the “the richest, the most powerful, the most dangerous.” In Moscow, Peter Pomerantsev continues, “performance” is what counts. Life is one “glittering masquerade”.
Moscow even has a high performing English language television station, available on free-view in the UK. Russia Today, now known as RT, was set up by Presidential decree and a generous budget. George Galloway MP has his own show, Sputnik. Other figures on the outer circles of the British left, including the Stop the War Coalition, and supporters of convicted electoral fraudster, the former Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, appear regularly on RT (though the man himself is oddly absent). They are treated with the respect they perhaps consider that they unfairly lack in mainstream political life.
Pomerantsev, British born and educated, with fluent Russian from his émigré parents, plunged deeply into the whirlwind world of post-Soviet energy-capitalism. Nothing is True tells of his time working in television, “factual entertainment”.
As a producer Pomerantsev was employed for the station TNT, sponsored by the planet’s largest gas company. His first commission was How to Marry a Millionaire A Gold Digger’s Guide. He meets ‘former’ gangsters, like Vitaly Djomochka, who’d won fame through a mini-series about the life of criminals, The Spets, featuring real guns and bullets. He encounters a one-time Irish academic economist, Benedict, who’d run the gamut of Russian double-dealing and corruption before washing up at RT – only to be tossed aside when he will not co-operate with secret service. The Irishman, approaching retirement, retreated to Kaliningrad, the home of his wife. This Russian enclave in the Baltic has a waterfront that’s a replica of “seventeenth-century gingerbread German town”. These building are “hollow to the touch, painted Perspex, and plaster imitating stone, timber and iron.”
Raw tragedy comes to Pomerantsev when investigating the apparent suicide in New York of former supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova. She is linked to a “personal development” cult, Rose of the World. Its techniques come from a training programme used by Lifespring – the subject of numerous lawsuits in the United States. The television producer becomes interested in other post-Soviet cults. There was Kashpirovsky, who miraculously charged water via television with “healing energy”. There are the Night Wolves, ultra-nationalist bikers presently re-enacting the progress of the Red Army into Eastern Europe. There are lots, and lots, of other ultra-nationalists, New Age sects, like Vissarion’s New New Testament, and Orthodox traditionalists proclaiming anew Moscow as the Third Rome. Overt racists, Stalin worshipers dot the scenery.
Nothing is True is an in-depth trip into the landscape sketched in the BBC 3 series, Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia. It could be read as fantasy reportage – part Narnia, part Mordor. But if this sounds a refined, and frankly, brilliant, essay on Kitsch – a word springing to mind during the portraits of the festivals of the Russian wealthy – Nothing is True is never less than serious. The Kremlin ‘demiurge’, Vladislav Surkov, “the political technologist of all of Rus”, may be Sauron. But he also Aslan. “The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” (Page 79) Pomerantsev worked as a generously paid consultant for a liberal media house, SNOB, which stands as a case study in the official tolerance and promotion of such “oppositions”.
Surkov, we are not in the least surprised to learn, is a fan of post-modern theories of simulacra. Pomerantsev does not name the texts in detail, but you can instantly feel the presence of Jean Baudrillard at work – or should we say, his lingering hyper-réalité. From the façades of Kaliningrad to the wars between Moscow business-gangster clans, the Oligarchs, to the battles in Ukraine, there are so many kinds of ‘surface’, that even the master-players get lost. They speak « several languages at the same time ». This is not just double-think, a split between what you say in the public and the private derision you cover it with, but, contrary to Pomerantsev’s own judgement, but a boundless enthusiasm for playing.
Is this just a Russian phenomenon ? Former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First Party look in many respects to have come out of Surkov’s tool-kit. A little anti-austerity for the left, a little religious enthusiasm for the ‘community’, the brazen funding of ‘players’, the ‘management’ of elections, the cajoling, the bullying…..
People, and not just ideologies, get mangled in this game. The ‘anti-hegemonic’ message of RT seduces European nationalists with anti-EU messages, religious reactionaries by the Kremlin’s fight against homosexuality, the far-left by tales of fighting US imperialism, the grinning ninnies of the Keisler Report try win business converts by criticising Western financial malpractice.
But the baron-bureaucrats of Moscow are not principally interested in taunting the West from the inside. They are part of a wealth accumulating machine that will crush anybody who gets in their way: rival oligarchs and masters of democratic and ultra-nationalist simulation in the Ukraine, the Russian masses, that is, anybody who does business with them.
“The worst thing is, that in all this interactive ferment, there is not the even the shadow of a new political space, or a new public spirit.” (“Le plus grave est qu’il n’y a pas dans tout ce bouillonnment interactif, l’ombre d’un nouvel espace politique ou d’un nouvel esprit public.” Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.)
The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.
These are some comments on one section, About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.
The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with Gérard Noiriel. 2011). I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.
This, nevertheless, suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.
Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.
We have to begin, then, by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics. Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion.
Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.
I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.
Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:
• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;
• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;
• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!
It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.
Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.
It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.
Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.
There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.
UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels, single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.
But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule.
These reservations should not obscure the principal point that across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.
In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.
How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” . Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.
These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.
The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.
As a first step we have to look at what we should not do.
The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach. (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)
Mahamdallie works with this central premise,
Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.
This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.
‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:
local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.
These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….
Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.
But, (we learn)
…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.
It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.
No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..
We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.
Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.
But what of organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……
There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...
Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015) (1)
Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?
Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out
“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”
The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).
“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”
Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.
I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.
To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.
“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “
In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.
There is another example of this in the Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others). Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).
We wonder where this particular journey will end.
In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.
As the comrade says,
It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.
More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.
More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR): Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne ! (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).
Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn bytranslated into English.
The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).
Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……
(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.
Badiou, Shanghai “la plus mémorable mobilisation démocratique que le monde ait jamais connue.” Badiou: Deleuze,
Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.
Alain Badiou’s political philosophy is, apparently, grounded on singular situated truths and potential revolutions. Fidelity to the invariant truth is a matter of procedure. What he calls an ‘Idea’’ has three basic elements, “a truth procedure, a belonging to history and individual subjectivation”. Authenticity, we might say were we admirers of Sartre’s philosophy, hangs in there.
This has a range (to put it as its most modest) of applications. But Badiou is best known for his politics (which are not renowned for their modesty).
On the Chinese ‘Cultural Revolution’, the professor has aroused controversy time and time again by giving a positive, glowing, account (“at any rate from 1965 to 1968” although he does not give the exact day of the week in this time-span) of this “political truth”. (1) These have had local, indeed spatial, moorings, no doubt, for example, in Maoist re-education camps as well as some time in Shanghai. There is the also the possibility of becoming a “militant for the truth”, perhaps, one might hazard, exemplified in the acts of the Union des communistes de France (marxiste-léninistes), the UJM (M-L) founded in 1969 by Alain Badiou and others whose names, sadly or not, few can recall or care about.
On the issue of Communism the professor has declaimed that the “Idea of communism, subjectivation constituted the link between the local belonging to a political procedure and the huge forward march towards its collective emancipation. To give out a flyer in a marketplace was also to mount the stage of History” (2) In the light of, er, recent and not so recent events, Badiou is not enthusiastic about the State’s ability to deliver Communism. A True Communist Event occurs only when it is “subtracted from the power of the State. “ Yet he notes with pleasure that Mao “had begun” to deal with this issue, incarnated by Stalin, “in a number of his writings” – which Badiou has commented on “guided by the eternity of the True.” (3)
Alain Badiou is perhaps reticent, for reasons which will become apparent, to mention that he too has mounted History’s stage. He too has experience of the “vigorous subjective existence of the communist hypothesis.” Indeed as Francis Dosse’s biography Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée (2009) illustrates in a fascinating snapshot, it was indeed “vigorous”.
In the journal of the UJM (M-L) Cahier Yénan (No 4. 1977) Badiou attacked the celebrated joint work of Deleuze and Guattari, L’anti-Œdipe as “vulgar moralisers”, and for ignoring the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism. The second piece under the pseudonym of Georges Peyrol, was titled, Le fascime de la pomme de terre. Badiou observed that the pair were “pre-fascists”. Badiou frothed at the metaphor of the “rhizome”, to grasp the tentacles of multiple being, the proliferation of social shoots (most celebrated in their Mille plateaux 1980). The Ontologist detected a parallel with Lin Biao’s revisionism, the One that dived into Two, had subtly become the One that symbolised the Tyrant. (4)
Revisionists! Pre-Fascists! During the 1970s these words did not just hang in the air in the Vincennes campus where both Badiou and Deleuze taught. Tendance Coatesy has already recorded the history of the oh-so-sage Professor’s Maoist troops during that period. Their efforts to imitate the Shanghai Commune included their assaults on another ‘revisionist’, Maria Antonitta Macciocchi. In this instance a colleague ran the intimidation from the same department of philosophy.
At the beginning the hostile M-L claque’s presence ensured that the lectures ended early. Later they would try to disrupt Deleuze’s lectures by claiming that a student union meeting to back a workers’ struggle was being held; other times the more erudite mentioned the bogey-name of Nietzsche (Deleuze’s 1963 study on whom no doubt proving by its title alone proof of serious pre-fascism). The admirers of the Little Red Book also assailed others, Jean-François Lyotard, and François Châtelet.
The stunts of the little band of Badiou’s Marxist-Leninists petered out as the decade proceeded. That has its own history, one which awaits Badiou to tell with anything resembling the truth.
When Deleuze passed away in 1995, Badiou, Dosse recounts, gave him a “vibrant homage.” He considered himself a “worthy successor” of Deleuze in his present Chair, on condition that one read him in the light of the “bonne philosophie” (the right philosophy). According to Dosse Badiou revealed that in 1991 he had proposed to Delueze to hold a public exchange of views (at the time when one of the Deleuze’s best-known works, What is Philosophy, was published). This was refused but as the resulting correspondence, giving reasons for this refusal, was apparently important. He equally refused to let this be published, which left Badiou with material he could not render public.
The book which did get to the printers, is Badiou’s, Delueze. La Clameur de l’Être (1997). It no doubt interests those fascinated by the obscurity of a (until very recent) apologist for the Khmer Rouge, and a conformed admirer of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. What rankles Dosse is that Badiou baldly repeats a much earlier idea: that Deleuze’s philosophy centres on the ONE, “C’est la venue de l’Un, renommé par Delueze l’Un-tout, que se consacre, dans sa plus haute destination, la pensée.” (5) In other words, he repeated, at the core of this ‘study’ the ridiculous claims he made back in the days of Cahier Yénan dressed up in more elliptical and pretentious language. He further – we note ourselves – charged that Deleuze was something of a Stoic – which to many people has more than w whiff of his old ‘cultural revolution’ or more exactly Gang of Four thinking about attacking ‘Confucius’.
Still, at least he didn’t call him once more a ‘pre-fascist’.
That’s Badiou for fidelity, hein?
(1) Page 2. The Idea of Communism. Alain Badiou. In The Idea of Communism. Edited Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Žižek. Verso. 2010. (2) Page 4. Badiou. Op cit. (3) Page 10. Badiou. Op cit. (4) Pages 432 – 434. Francis Dosse Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée La Découverte. 2009 (5) Page 435. Dosse Op cit.