Tronti and Badiou on the Crisis

Mario Tronti, Politics at Work

It is time to engage in a new research project. Our theme is: work and politics. Yes, because it is a novelty to concern ourselves with this theme. It says a lot about the condition we find ourselves in. What until some time ago was an old conviction has today become an entirely new realisation: either the workers constitute a political force or they do not exist. And the political inexistence of the workers is of course the problem of the Left, but it is also the problem of society and the state, it is the real theme behind the crisis of civilization. If we don’t put it in these terms, we will not find the compass that we seek in order to orient ourselves in the open seas of world-capitalism, once again thrown into turmoil by affairs that are entirely its own.

Translated by Institute for Conjunctural Research. Full text at link.

 

Alain Badiou, Of Which Real is this Crisis the Spectacle? (Le Monde, 17 October 2008)

The only thing that we can hope for in this affair is that this didactic power may be found in the lessons drawn from this grim drama by people, and not by the bankers, the governments who serve them, and the newspapers who serve these governments. This return to the real has two related aspects. The first is clearly political. As the film has shown, the “democratic” fetish is merely the zealous servant of the banks. Its real name, its technical name, as I have argued for some time, is capitalist-parliamentarianism. It is advisable, as several political experiments have begun to do in the past twenty years, to organise a politics of a different nature.

Such a politics is, and no doubt will be for a long time, at a great distance from state power, but no matter. It begins level with the real, through the practical alliance between those who are most immediately available to invent such a politics: the newly-arrived proletarians from Africa and elsewhere, and the intellectuals who have inherited the political battles of the last few decades. This alliance will grow on the basis of what it will be capable of doing, point by point. It will not entertain any kind of organic relationship with the existing parties and with the electoral and institutional system that keeps them alive. It will invent the new discipline of those who have nothing, their political capacity, the new idea of what their victory will look like.

The second aspect is ideological. We must overthrow the old verdict according to which ours would be the time of “the end of ideologies”. Today we can clearly see that the only reality of this supposed end lies in the slogan “save the banks”. Nothing is more important than recovering the passion of ideas and countering the world such as it is with a general hypothesis, the anticipated certainty of an entirely different state of affairs. To the nefarious spectacle of capitalism, we oppose the real of peoples, of the existence of all in the proper movement of ideas. The theme of an emancipation of humanity has lost none of its power. Undoubtedly, the word “communism”, which for a long time served to name this power, has been debased and prostituted.

But today, its disappearance only benefits the advocates of order, the feverish actors of the disaster movie. But we will resuscitate communism, in its new-found clarity. This clarity is also its oldest virtue, as when Marx said of communism that it “breaks in the most radical fashion with traditional ideas” and that it will bring forth “an association in which the free development of each is the precondition for the free development of all”.

Total break with capitalist-parliamentarianism, the invention of a politics on a level with the popular real, sovereignty of the idea: it’s all there, everything we need to turn away from the film of the crisis and to give ourselves over to the fusion between live thought and organised action (everything we need to turn away from the film of the crisis and rise up).

Translated by Infinite Thøught and Institute for Conjunctural Research. Full text at link.

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