I rarely agree with the French Maoist philosopher Alan Badiou. In fact, I spend a lot of my time attacking the New Communists.
Still, while their authoritarian proscriptions would be a disaster for the left, we reformist social democrats can learn something from their willingness to engage in bracing critique of ideology-as-meaning-in-the-
This remark from Badiou, made in 2001, helped me think about the Mail’s attack on Ralph Miliband as just that; a way to construct meaning in the service of power. We social democrats should speak like this a bit more than we do.
We live in a contradiction: a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian—where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone–is presented to us as ideal. To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of perfect goodness. But we’re lucky that we don’t live in a condition of evil. Our democracy is not perfect. But it’s better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it’s not criminal like Stalinism. (Alain Badiou)