Alain Badiou replies to Nancy’s Support for Libyan Intervention

Verso has the full text here. For context, see here.The crux:

How can you of all people fall into this trap? How can you accept any kind of ‘rescue’ mission being entrusted to those very people for whom the old situation was the good one, and who absolutely want to get back into the game, by forcible means, from motivations of oil and hegemony? Can you simply accept the ‘humanitarian’ umbrella, the obscene blackmailing in the name of victims? But our armies kill more people in more countries than the local boss Gaddafi is capable of doing in his. What is this trust suddenly extended to the major butchers of contemporary humanity, to those in charge of the mutilated world that we are familiar with? Do you believe, can you believe, that they represent ‘civilisation’, that their monstrous armies can be armies of justice? I am stupefied, I must confess. I ask myself what good is philosophy if it is not immediately the radical critique of this kind of unreflecting opinion, moulded by the propaganda of regimes such as our own, which popular uprisings in regions strategic for them have put on the defensive, and which are seeking their revenge.

Well, all that might be true. But it’s stupefying in the name of taking on imperialism that Badiou denies that a “people” exists in Libya.

Didn’t you notice right from the start the palpable difference between what is happening in Libya and what is happening elsewhere? How in both Tunisia and Egypt we really did see massive popular gatherings, whereas in Libya there is nothing of the kind?

Whatever one thinks of the Libyan intervention, to deny the events of Feb. 15-17 (the arrest of Fethi Tarbel, which trigged protests, which then resulted in a day of rage for the 17th, which resulted in Qaddafi’s forces gunning down protesters with anti-aircraft machine guns) to make this point, all to incongruously suggest that agents of France and Britain were in Libya prior to the events in Tunisia and Egypt, but were responsible for the “protests” in Libya, demonstrates a remarkable view of causation. Blame the Western powers. Hate the military bombardments done in the name of humanitarianism. But leave this stuff out.

 

 

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13 comments

  1. oh please, this anti-colonial bag has gotten so old. Read some Benjamin for crying out loud. Violence can be used as a means to an end to liberate and/or cessate the further abuses of power through oppression (which is what America is doing to get rid of an evil dictator)… and its totally baffling to me how Bush gets no credit on the Left.

    In Iraq Bush planted the idea of democracy in the Middle East, and now we are reaping the benefits of this revolutionary idea being propagated into other countries. More colonialism please! Maybe then we can liberate the entire middle east, and stop unarmed pacifist protestors from being slaughtered willy nilly by ruthless dictators like Qadaffhi and Saddam Hussein (or we could just end the concept of the state altogether?!?)

  2. oh please, this anti-colonial bag has gotten so old. Read some Benjamin for crying out loud. Violence can be used as a means to an end to liberate and/or cessate the further abuses of power through wanton oppression (which is what America is doing to get rid of an evil dictator)… and its totally baffling to me how Bush gets no credit on the Left.

  3. who is going to get violent against the US once the machine ‘liberates’ all of these zones (into more direct routes into capital)? or is the violence too soft (ecologically and otherwise) to do anything (just dont cut your paycheck or health care or we’ll stand around for a few days grrr)? how come the US never intervened during the genocide in Rwanda? no resource/land/foothold interest. whoops.

    not to mention the US setup Saddam in Iraq in the first place. they were cleaning up their own mess. and seriously, giving Bush credit for uprisings is ridiculous for that fact alone. how far do we want to retroact the causality of “uprisings” here?

    why you would side with anyone in these situations is ridiculous in itself.

    1. Is the “you” referring to “me”? I’m not sure if that means my own views above have come off wrong. I am highly ambivalent about the Libyan operation, which is why you won’t hear me winging off so knowingly about it: on the one hand, Samantha Power is right about what looked to be underway in Libya. On the other hand, the use of this one tool on the international scene shows a horrifying lack of imagination, which is also to say it’s become another video-game war for the West with all collateral damage suffered by those to be saved.

  4. All I’m saying is that in 2003-4 I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Now, in 2011, it might be safe to say that the ‘colonial’ endeavors in Iraq are reaping dividends. In Libya the insurgency there is demanding a ‘Constitutional Democracy’ – and it is not beyond the realm of imagination to think that the idea was instilled in the Middle East because of the Bush Administration (in fact, the Iraq War was officially about bringing democracy to the middle east)…

    I’m not a conservative by any means. I am actually a pacifist who is disgusted by unnecessary wars. But, I do not want to just disregard the power of ‘cultural diffusion’ – bringing Western Ideas into another cultural context can have a powerful ripple effect.

  5. That’s just idiotic. I’m sorry, I realize this isn’t a nice thing to say, but your notions are so outside the realms of reality I don’t have any communicable response.

    1. A-P,
      Thanks for the comments: perhaps better to point him to exactly what is wrong with his reasoning. First off, this suggests that Arabs are so blinkered and dumb they can only learn about democracy (and what a democracy in Iraq!) by being forced to be free. Second, well, I can’t recall all the Bush-supporting posters and placards in Cairo. A great hero that one is …

  6. Well when you want to talk like an adult, get back to me. I am not ‘outside the realm of reality’ just outside the realm of acceptable academic discourse. So, yes, it may seem idiotic, its just that I happen to think for myself (unlike you apparently). Plus, you made you the judge of what is ‘outside the realm of reality’ and what isn’t? Last I checked you are not God, and what you said was totally pretentious… I do not take my cues from the academic consensus – but form my own opinions… I recommend you try it sometimes :) All the best, no hard feelings.

  7. oh please, they were doing such a bang up job of moving towards democracy before Bush invaded. Get real… I am not stupid folks. I know that Saddam was a puppet of the American Machine installed to fight the Iranians… but, there is no denying that the stated purpose of the Iraqi intervention was to remove a dictator from power (Check, done) and often times this takes a drastic use of force that the average pacifist civilian cannot do through placards and saying “Please Evil Dictator, Step Down” – I think that is obviously what is going on in Libya right now. Protestors were not militant enough, they got slaughtered by Qadhaffi, and now America is intervening to provide the means to a democratic end… simple as that.

    Is it messy? Yes…but so is life in the real world, nobody has a pure ethical position. We all have dirty hands…driving to work today meant I had to use oil that probably came from Libya, so am I contributing to the slaughter (which the left is so sure is not about humanitarian efforts, but oil)? Probably… but is doing something better than doing nothing and letting an atrocity continue? Yes.

    Discursive measures are totally ineffective when dealing with a dictator who does not care about killing people just to stay in power.

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