Marx against Badiou?
The young Marx criticizing the Rousseauism of the French Revolution:
The more powerful a state and hence the more political a nation, the less inclined it is to explain the general principle governing social ills and to seek out their causes by looking at the principle of the state – i.e., at the actual organization of society of which the state is the active, self-conscious and official expression. Political understanding is just political understanding because its thought does not transcend the limits of politics. The sharper and livelier it is, the more incapable is it of comprehending social problems. The classical period of political understanding is the French Revolution. Far from identifying the principle of the state as the source of social ills, the heroes of the French Revolution held social ills to be the source of political problems. Thus Robespierre regarded great wealth and great poverty as an obstacle to pure democracy. He therefore wished to establish a universal system of Spartan frugality. The principle of politics is the will. The more one-sided – i.e., the more prefect – political understanding is, the more completely it puts its faith in the omnipotence of the will, the blinder it is towards the natural and spiritual limitations of the will, the more incapable it becomes of discovering the real source of the evils of society. (“Critical Notes on the Article ‘The King of Prussia and Social Reform. By a Prussian'”)
I wonder if a lot of this doesn’t also apply to Badiou (perhaps the RCP were right to call Badiou a Rousseauist). Read more↴