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ESSAYS AND STUDIES

DEMOCRACY IN BADIOU’S POLITICAL ONTOLOGY

Abstract

In this article the author reflects on Badiou’s concept of democracy, at the same time considering philosophical, social and political implications that come forth from this contemporary complex theory. Badiou’s writings on democracy appear as a constitutive part of his political ontology i.e. of the twofold system of being and event on the one hand and logics of worlds on the other. In spite the fact that the concept and practices of democracy are not addressed in his work in a systematic manner (most of his essays on this topic are found in Polemics), this issue, nonetheless, is of utmost relevance for his political philosophy in toto – most notably in the way democracy is structurally interrelated with rethinking of equality. More precisely, Badiou builds a critical discourse of representative democracy as parliamentary democracy per se, focusing especially on the construction and role of the United Nations as the “world parliament” and then demonstrating the multiplicity of ways in which it has been abused in last decades, globally as well as in particular states. Representation is articulated as an always already excess of presentation and therefore as a violent intervention and fictional gesture which, in final instance, dissolves the world as such. Moreover, Badiou’s main emphasis concerning contemporary proclaimed democracy is on neoliberalism and on demonstrating how such an ideological model, first and foremost led by blind economy, enabled conceptual and practical identification between democracy and war. These “democratic wars” are, for the most part, undeclared wars essentially signified by their asymmetric character. In this respect, in different essays it is argued that precisely neoliberalism erased the line between peace and war and promoted so-called “humanitarian” but essentially violent interventionist politics worldwide, and that the ultimate carrier of these processes has been the United States as the leading empire of the end of the 20 Century. In contrast to such forms, Badiou insists on the concept of “Truth-Event”, i.e. on the contingent and incalculable character of the event and the forms in which “the excluded” in politics can be seen and recognized. Furthermore, Badiou lays emphasis on the invention of egalitarian political models – opposed to nihilism of virtual equality ‒ as the proper way for comprehending and realizing true democracy, and therefore concludes with the insight that such democracy is always a matter of subjectivation in a particular local situation. In this sense, in final part of the article, the author addresses Badiou’s critical discourse on the war against Serbia and underlines how Serbia’s struggle against the empire is an exemplary case of local specificities of resistance and democratic politics.

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References

    • Badiou, Alain. 2005. Metapolitics. New York: Verso.
    • Badiou, Alain. 2006а. Being and Event. New York: Continuum.
    • Badiou, Alain. 2006b. Polemics. New York: Verso.
    • Badiou, Alain. 2009. “Тhe Lessons of Jacques Ranciere”. In Jacques Ranciere – History, Politics, Aesthetics, eds. Gabriel Rockhill and Peter Watts. pp. 35-47. London: Duke University Press.
    • Badiou, Alain, 2012. The Rebirth of History. New York: Verso.
    • Badiou, Alain. 2013. Logics of Worlds. New York: Continuum.
    • Critchley, Simon. 2007. “A Heroism of the Decision, a Politics of the Event”, London Review of Books, Vol. 29 No. 18 · 20.
    • Levinas, Emanuel. 2000. Entre Nous. New York: CUP.
    • Ranciere, Jacques. 2006. Hatred of Democracy. New York: Verso.
    • Sotiris, Panagiotis. 2014. “Alain Badiou and the Aporia of Democracy Within Generic Communism”. Crisis and Critique, No.1. pp. 117‒136.
PERIODICS Serbian Political Thought 2/2020 2/2020 УДК 141.7 Badiou A.:321.7 205-221