Saturday, October 13, 2007

inside Badiou

Meditation Nine of Being and Event breaks sharply from the mathematical/ontological (and philosophical) elaboration that takes up the previous eight meditations. We turn from the state—as metastructure of situation, as, in fact, a set-theoretical notation—to the State, historically, as Marxist theory has understood it. The ontological categories normality, singularity, excrescence, are used to analyze Engel’s analysis of the State. The bourgeoisie is singular [i meant: normal], because it is presented (to step out of Badiou’s vocabulary, ‘really there’) and also re-presented by the State. The proletariat is singular, because it is presented (again, an objectively existing social group), but not re-presented in the State. The state itself, Badiou says that Engels says, is excrescence. This is wrong, though “formally correct”—I’m not sure how this works out yet. Perhaps Meditation Ten will bring enlightenment.

At the moment, it just sounds like Badiou is applying these ontological categories willy-nilly to historical situations. There has not always been a State, bourgeois or otherwise, and there isn’t one everyplace at the moment. What can he possibly mean? Surely ontology isn’t supposed to work differently if the means of production change?

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