Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Mon May 28 12:32:22 PDT 2001

>Book Reviews
>Edward Skidelsky
>Monday 21st May 2001
>Ethics: an essay on the understanding of evil
>Alain Badiou, translated by Peter Hallward
>Verso, 166pp, 18 ISBN 1859842976
>Badiou believes that he possesses the answer to this dilemma. Truths such
>as the Bolshevik revolution can be recognised by their "universal
>address"; simulacra such as the Nazi revolution are distinguished by their
>rejection of universality and their "invocation of blood and soil". This
>distinction is historically dubious. Badiou seems to accept without
>question the orthodox Marxist equation of the proletariat with the
>"universal class". Yet Nazi theorists were equally adamant that Germany
>was a "universal nation". On what grounds does Badiou accept one
>identification and reject the other?

If Edward Skidelsky doesn't know why positing the proletariat as a class whose emancipation calls for the emancipation of humanity from class society (= "equation of the proletariat with the 'universal class'") is a political good but positing Germany as a "universal nation" is a political evil, it's Skidelsky's problem, not Alain Badiou's. If Skidelsky can't understand that the rhetoric of human rights as employed by bourgeois politicians (often to start a war, etc.) is inimical to the universal emancipation of humanity, it's again Skidelsky's problem, not Badiou's.

Perhaps Skidelsky's mad at Badiou because, for all the taste for avant-garde art & allegedly complicated sex life, there's too much Marxism left in Badiou's & other French philosophers' pronouncements.

Badiou & French philosophers may be criticized, but not on the grounds that Skidelsky criticizes them.


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