Friday, October 24, 2008

War and Democracy: Always Already Together Again

(((Alain Badiou on what results from democratic materialism's commitment to the proposition that there are only bodies and languages; what else, by the way, is there?)))

Today, natural belief can be summarized in a single statement:

There are only bodies and languages.

This statement is the axiom of our contemporary conviction. I propose to name this conviction democratic materialism. Why? Democratic materialism. The individual fashioned by the contemporary world recognizes the objective existence of bodies alone. [ . . . ]

Moreover, it is essentially a democratic materialism. This is because the contemporary consensus, in recognizing the plurality of languages, presupposes their juridical equality. [ . . . ]

Having said that, democratic materialism acknowledges a global limit to its polymorphous and animalistic tolerance. A language that does not recognize the universal juridical and normative equality of languages does not deserve to benefit from this equality. A language that claims to regulate all the others, to rule over all bodies, will be termed dictatorial and totalitarian. Then it is no longer a matter of tolerance, but of our ‘right to intervention’: legal, international and, if necessary, military intervention. Aggressive actions serve to rectify our universalistic claims, along with our linguistic sectarianism.

Bodies will be made to pay for their excesses of language. That is how a violent Two (the war against terrorism, democracy against dictatorship – at any cost!) sustains the juridical promotion of the multiple. In the final analysis, war, and war alone, makes possible the alignment of languages.

War is the barely hidden materialist essence of democracy.

Democracy has always been at war with terrorism.

And always will be.

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