Žižek’s critique of Badiou’s response to the November attacks

In his recently published Against the Double Blackmail (Penguin, 2016), Žižek noted his response to Alain Badiou’s judgement (summarized here) on the Paris massacres of November 2015. He agrees broadly with Badiou’s analysis and especially that there is no emancipatory potential in fundamentalist violence despite its avowed anti-capitalism, a hatred in reality rooted in a frustrated desire for the West. He does, however, differ from Badiou on some significant points that are worth noting. Firstly, he disagrees with the latter’s reduction of the role of religion to ‘a secondary, superficial feature’ (p.88) of anti-Western sentiment. While he agrees with Badiou that it makes no sense to seek the roots of fundamentalism in ancient religious texts, he does not agree that religion can be seen as simply some form of superficial ideological clothing for ideas whose ‘truth’ lies elsewhere. Being part of the story people tell themselves about their situation, it plays a material role in shaping their outlook and can thus not somehow be stripped away to reveal some authentic core. Secondly, he is sceptical about Badiou’s description of migrants and refugees as a ‘nomadic proletariat.’ He suggests on the contrary that migrants are among the Third World populations most in thrall to the ‘desire for the West’ and thus resistant to playing some sort of vanguard, anti-capitalist role (p.89). Thirdly, he suggests that Badiou evokes too naively the possibility and the ease of dialogue between Western progressives and migrant and refugee others.  These others, Žižek suggests, are disoriented and ‘possessed by the opposing attitudes of envy and hatred (of the West)’ (p.89). So, while Žižek agrees with Badiou’s fundamental diagnosis that the only way out of the destructive opposition between capitalist globalization and fascist and identitarian responses to it is for there to be a truly radical progressive project that will break down contemporary exclusions, he feels that it will be something rather harder to achieve than Badiou might seem to suggest.

This entry was posted in Morality, philosophy, theory, The politics of crisis, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Žižek’s critique of Badiou’s response to the November attacks

  1. Pingback: Alain Badiou on the 13th November Paris massacres | La France et la Crise

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