Alain Badiou on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus_Covid19

[…]

The lesson to be drawn from this is clear: the ongoing epidemic will not have, qua epidemic, any noteworthy political consequences in a country like France. Even supposing that our bourgeoisie – in light of the inchoate grumbling and flimsy if widespread slogans – believes that the moment has come to get rid of Macron, that will in no way represent any change worthy of note. The ‘politically correct’ candidates are already waiting in the wings, as are the advocates of the most mildewed form of a ‘nationalism’ as obsolete as it is repugnant.

As for those of us who desire a real change in the political conditions of this country, we must take advantage of this epidemic interlude, and even of the – entirely necessary – isolation, to work on new figures of politics, on the project of new political sites, and on the trans-national progress of a third stage of communism after the brilliant one of its invention and the – interesting but ultimately defeated – stage of its statist experimentation.

We will also need to pass through a stringent critique of every perspective according to which phenomena like epidemics can work by themselves in the direction of something that is politically innovative. Over and above the general transmission of scientific data about the epidemic, a political charge will only be carried by new affirmations and convictions concerning hospitals and public health, schools and egalitarian education, the care of the elderly, and other questions of this kind. Only these might possibly be articulated with a balance-sheet of the dangerous weaknesses on which the current situation has shed light.

In passing, one will need to show publicly and dauntlessly that so-called ‘social media’ have once again demonstrated that they are above all – besides their role in fattening the pockets of billionaires – a place for the propagation of the mental paralysis of braggarts, uncontrolled rumours, the discovery of antediluvian ‘novelties’, or even  fascistic obscurantism.

Let us not give credence, even and especially in our isolation, except to truths that are controllable by science and to the grounded perspectives of a new politics, of its localised experiences as well as its strategic aims.

Translated by Alberto Toscano

Original Title: On the Epidemic Situation

Alain Badiou – 23 March 2020 – Verso

Original Text in French at GallimardAlain Badiou – Sur la situation épidémique [PDF]

SubSense

From the start, I thought that the current situation, characterised by a viral pandemic, was not particularly exceptional. From the (viral) pandemic of AIDS, and passing through the avian flu, the Ebola virus, and the SARS 1 virus – not to mention several flus, the appearance of strains of tuberculosis that antibiotics can no longer cure, or even the return of measles – we know that the world market, combined with the existence of vast under-medicalised zones and the lack of global discipline when it comes to the necessary vaccinations, inevitably produces serious and devastating epidemics (in the case of AIDS, several million deaths). Besides the fact that the current pandemic situation is having a huge impact on the rather comfortable so-called Western world – a fact in itself devoid of any novel significance, eliciting instead dubious laments and revolting idiocies on social media – I didn’t see why, beyond…

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alain-badiou

SubSense

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