For my sins, I have been reading Alain Badiou. (The intellectual’s work is never done.) He is, in his own words, “the most widely read and translated French philosopher in the world.” More banally, he is the very latest professor of liberation; and more banally still, the very latest professor of liberation from liberalism. In his conceptually delirious way, he mocks “the presumed ‘rights of man’” and “the humanism of human rights” in favor of an “emancipatory politics.” If the word “democracy” can still be salvaged, it is only by means of “a detour through the Idea of communism.” Badiou regards it as his “thrilling task” to “give new life to the communist hypothesis.” He adduces “the People’s War of Liberation in China, from 1927 to 1949” and “Bolshevism in Russia, from 1902 to 1917” and “the Great Cultural Revolution [in China], at any rate from 1965 to 1968” as examples of “a new practice of collective emancipation.” He lists “the first sequence of the Iranian revolution” and the Zapatistas in Mexico admiringly alongside the Solidarity movement in Poland. He once wrote a commentary—“guided by the idea of the eternity of the True”—on Mao’s writings on Stalin. This slavish devotion to historical cataclysm, this guiltless affiliation of progressivism with barbarism, is derived from the mysticism of “the event” in his masterwork (“I was quite aware of having written a ‘great’ book of philosophy”) Being and Event, a rancidly overdeveloped and almost risibly arcane system of ontology according to which “truth procedures” in art, science, politics, and love are melodramatically inaugurated by a rupture in the normal order of things and new possibilities are violently disclosed. Badiou’s “event” is something between a revolution and a revelation, and it expresses his deep contempt for the transcendences that may be had in unclimactic, unecstatic, unapocalyptic experience, in events that are not “events.” The human subject is “nothing other than an active fidelity to the event of truth,” or “a militant of truth.” This is not at all postmodernism (which is all the good that can be said of it); it is a godless theology in which Badiou’s elect, in the radiance of l’événementiel, march to free us from “our ‘democratic’ totalitarianism” and attain “the emancipation of humanity in its entirety.” In sum, a heartless bastard. . . .
Read the rest here: http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/75954/non-event.