Every soi disant radical intellectual feels compelled, it seems, to answer the riddle they hear posed by the riots of the present, in Bahrain or Asturias, Chile or Britain: Why now? Why here? Why riot? These answers generally come in a few simple varieties. Invariably, attributions of unmeaning must find support in patronizing sociology, rendering the rioters mere side-effects of an unequal society, symptoms of neoliberalism, capitalist crisis and the ensuing austerity. Yes, we know that looting shops is wrong.
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Every soi disant radical intellectual feels compelled, it seems, to answer the riddle they hear posed by the riots of the present, in Bahrain or Asturias, Chile or Britain: Why now? Why here? Why riot? These answers generally come in a few simple varieties. Invariably, attributions of unmeaning must find support in patronizing sociology, rendering the rioters mere side-effects of an unequal society, symptoms of neoliberalism, capitalist crisis and the ensuing austerity.
Yes, we know that looting shops is wrong. But why is it happening now? Because grievances build up over time, because when the system wills the death of a young black citizen from a deprived community, it simultaneously, if subconsciously, wills the response.
Far worse than such half-hearted apologias is the claim, repeated with alarming frequency by people who should know better, that the rioters in London were acting out the self-contradictory imperatives of neoliberal society. Such commentary is likewise a symptomatic account. For Harvey, the rioters are mere reflections of the rapacity and greed of post-Thatcher capitalism.
For the Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman , looting is simply a violent and risky variant on shopping, an expression of a materialistic consumer society. Then there are the commentators who see the riots as simply misguided, rather than as reflections of capitalist ideology. Such writers understand the riots as an engine lacking the proper tracks. One can see the fundamentally patronizing lines common to all these responses.
In each, the intellectual imputes a kind of false consciousness to the rioters, in order to make himself and it is usually a him all the more necessary as the voice of missing authority. These intellectuals hear in the riots a question to which they must provide the answer. They do not realize that the riots are, rather, an answer to the question they refuse to ask.
Allan Sekula; Waiting for Tear Gas 2. Alain Badiou is not one to hide from the Sphinx. Nonetheless, he is a paradoxical candidate to address an entire book to the unfolding age of riots. On the one hand, it is entirely sensible: Badiou has maintained an affiliation with militancy from his days as a young French Maoist to his current position as towering maestro of contemporary European philosophy; indeed, he has forthcoming a manual of a sort translated as Philosophy for Militants.
On the other, there is a curious mismatch between thinker and subject here, caused in part by the incommensurate tempos and tonalities of intellectual position and global crisis. Badiou is a man of the desert: a figure of the horizonless interval wherein neoliberal policies, for all their vaunted dynamism, produced an unvariegated political landscape in which serious antagonism was in the main neutralized certain developments in South America notwithstanding. If history had not quite died, it was looking extremely wan.
Militant struggles against the coiled regimes of capital and state had burst forth unevenly, but something very much like everywhere. They burned bright, they faded, they were brutally repressed or they ate their own tails, but, as a general tendency, they spread.
The urgency for philosophers to nurture a theory of opposition in hope of future antagonisms was not abandoned, but of a different time and place. But claims for such a renewal depend only in select instances on observed historical developments, on new forms of communist practice or struggle. More often, they seem to stake their wager on a change in dinner table talk among philosophers — the idea of communism, rather than its political practice.
This contrasts markedly with the elaboration of communism one finds, for instance, in a book like The Coming Insurrection , whose writers base their theoretical elaboration of a new communism on a critical examination of the practices, struggles, and social movements of the last decade.
First the Idea, then its emergence in the world. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Badiou has the virtue at least of examining riots from a strategic rather than a moral perspective, and spying something within them other than a maddened reenactment of capitalist consumption. The questions which Badiou hears uttered by the Sphinx of riot are the correct ones: How do we generalize and extend the offensive capacity of the riot?
How and why do riots spread and become open insurrection? The historical riot, however, exhibits a categorical extension, spreading among men and women, the young and the old.
Still, it is absolutely essential to understand how riots and insurrections come to involve or remain limited to different social groups. One thing that decisively distinguishes the Egyptian insurrection from, say, the UK riots is that, largely as a result of the Tahrir encampment, there were numerous ways to participate in the uprising that did not involve direct combat with the police and their proxies.
This contributed not only to the expansion of the insurrection but its durability. Nonetheless, it is not enough for an insurrection to be composed of people other than young men if the relationship between social groups continues to follow the established division of labor in capitalist society — with men fighting the police and women doing the work of caretaking, for instance, or proletarians fighting and middle class people attending assemblies and making important decisions.
We have to examine not only how an uprising spreads among different social groups but how it undoes or perpetuates the violence of such categories. Thus, for example, the broken parade of riots that have rocked Thessaloniki and Athens go entirely unmentioned. It is a scandalous omission. These riots are, it must be admitted, hard to schematize. Perhaps each instance is immediate: episodes rarely last as long as, say, the Los Angeles riot that greeted the Rodney King verdict in also unmentioned.
The Greek riot has kept unfolding, unevenly but continuously as months turn into years, addressing itself now to the cops, now the banks; now the supermarkets, now the parliament. At the same time it has leapt beyond this demographic, filling Syntagma Square with broad swaths of the polis.
BADIOU THE REBIRTH OF HISTORY PDF
There is nothing to be done with it except laugh. So I take Badiou at his word when he identifies himself as a modern-day Platonist. He derisively says it is inexplicable why anybody would want to read Badiou. However, in the first year of its publication in France, readers purchased twenty thousand copies of his Being and Event Badiou has also been respected internationally for some time. They have also been relevant for political analyses throughout Latin America. Debates over his allegiances rage even as he identifies himself politically as a Marxist remaining faithful to the idea of communism.
The Rebirth of History: Times of Riots and Uprisings
Feb 28, Andrew Otway rated it really liked it. The Rebirth of History Alain BadiouThe Rebirth of History: Organizing is what transcends the impotence of rioting and brings about revolutionary change. Almost invariably, such riots are in reaction to an injustice committed by the state. In it, Badiou steps away from his more commonly used anecdotes—particularly that of May What Should Be Currently Badiou is an optimist, remains one even now.
In Defense of Alain Badiou
Historical riots as events that reopen History. The three traits of a Historical Riot - intensification, compaction, localization The importance of organization for sustaining the Idea An Event as that which dissolves the average identity, destroys separating names An Event as that which presents not represents! One likes Theoretical contributions Classification of riots Historical riots as events that reopen History. One likes the book for the beauty and clarity of its ideas, but is unsure if they encapsulate the entire dynamic. Can the conditions and necessities of a political truth not aid us in making one. I grew interested, while reading the latter part of the book, on applying his concepts to the Maoist movement in India. And then on the general possibility of a political truth in the country.
The Rebirth of History
The book proved to be an unexpected hit and confirmed that Badiou has a rare talent among philosophers for making accessible political interventions in wider society. The Rebirth of History surveys the Arab revolutions, the riots in England last August, the Spanish indignados movement and much more. Badiou sees a common theme connecting all of them - a long overdue return of the masses onto the stage of history, and the stirrings of a global revolt against a criminal and murderous ruling class. Badiou also attributes a philosophical significance to these uprisings. These revolutionary breaks are what Badiou calls "events" - and was full of them.