20 December 2009

Its a two party system, whatcha gonna do?

According to Alain Badiou, philosophy is "first and foremost this: the invention of new problems". When asked why philosophers in general do not comment on contemporary political situations, he replied:
"...in standard parliamentarianism, in its usual functioning, the majority and the opposition are commensurable. There is obviously a common measure between the majority and the opposition, which means you do not have a relation that is not a relation, you do not have the paradoxical relation. You have differences, naturally, but these differences do not amount to a paradoxical relationship; on the contrary, they constitute a law-governed relationship. This is easily grasped: since sooner or later (this is what is referred to as 'democratic alternation') the opposition will replace the majority, or take its place, it is indeed necessary for there to be a common measure between the two. If you don't have a common measure, you will not be able to substitute the one with the other. So the terms are commensurable, and to the extent that they are commensurable you do not have a situation or radical expectation. What's more, you do not have a truly radical choice: the decision is a decision between nuances, between small differences - as you know. Elections are generally decided by the small group of the hesitant, those who do not possess a stable pre-formed opinion. People who have a genuine commitment constitute fixed blocks; then there is a small group of people in what is called the centre, who sometimes go one way, sometimes the other. And you can see why a decision taken by people whose principle characteristic is hesitation is a very particular decision; it is not a decision taken by decisive people, it is a decision of the undecided, or of those who have not decided and who will decide for reasons of opportunity, or last-minute reasons. So the function of choice in its true breadth is absent. There is proximity, rather than distance. The election does not create a gap, it is the rule, it creates the realization of the rule. Finally you do not have the hypothesis of a veritable event, you do not have the feeling of exception, because you are instead in the presence of the feeling of the institution, of the regular functioning of institutions. So the question of elections for the philosopher is a typical matter of opinion, which is to say that it doesn't have to do with the incommensurable, with radical choice, distance or exception. As a phenomenon of opinion, it does not constitute a sign for the creation for problems." - 'Philosophy in the Present', p17-19
which is possibly the most long-winded and convoluted way of saying "meh!" that I have come across in some time. Badiou, incidentally, has not voted since 1968.

à propos de la, I give you this little gem from the ever apt xkcd:



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