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THE COMMUNI ST HYPOTHESI S
T
IFSFXBTBtangillo sonso ol dopiossion in tho aii in Fianco
in tho altoinath ol Saikozy`s victoiy.

It is olton said that


unoxpoctod llows aio tho woist, lut oxpoctod onos sono-
tinos piovo dolilitating in a dilloiont way. It can lo oddly
dispiiiting whon an oloction is won ly tho candidato who has lod in tho
opinion polls lion tho stait, just as whon tho lavouiito hoiso wins tho
iaco, anyono with tho slightost looling loi a wagoi, a iisk, an oxcoption oi
a iuptuio would iathoi soo an outsidoi upsot tho odds. Yot it could haidly
havo loon tho laio lact ol Nicolas Saikozy as Piosidont that soonod to
cono as such a disoiiontating llow to tho Fionch lolt in tho altoinath
ol May zoo;. Sonothing olso was at stakosono conplox ol lactois loi
which 'Saikozy` is noioly a nano. How should it lo undoistood?
An initial lactoi was tho way in which tho outcono alhinod tho nani-
lost powoilossnoss ol any gonuinoly onancipatoiy piogianno within
tho oloctoial syston: pioloioncos aio duly iocoidod, in tho passivo nan-
noi ol a soisnogiaph, lut tho piocoss is ono that ly its natuio oxcludos
any onlodinonts ol dissonting political will. A socond conponont ol
tho lolt`s dopiossivo disoiiontation altoi May zoo; was an ovoiwholning
lout ol histoiical nostalgia. Tho political oidoi that onoigod lion Woild
Wai Two in Fiancowith its unanliguous ioloionts ol 'lolt` and 'iight`,
and its consonsus, shaiod ly Gaullists and Connunists aliko, on tho
lalanco-shoot ol tho Occupation, Rosistanco and Liloiationhas now
collapsod. This is ono ioason loi Saikozy`s ostontatious dinnois, yacht-
ing holidays and so ona way ol saying that tho lolt no longoi liightons
anyono: Vivcnt |cs ricncs, and to holl with tho pooi. Undoistandally, this
nay hll tho sincoio souls ol tho lolt with nostalgia loi tho good old days
Mittoiiand, Do Gaullo, Maichais, ovon Chiiac, Gaullisn`s Biozhnov, who
know that to do nothing was tho oasiost way to lot tho syston dio.
o iv q
Saikozy has now hnally hnishod oll tho cadavoious loin ol Gaullisn ovoi
which Chiiac piosidod. Tho Socialists` collapso had alioady loon antici-
patod in tho iout ol Jospin in tho piosidontial oloctions ol zooz (and still
noio ly tho disastious docision to onliaco Chiiac in tho socond iound.
Tho piosont doconposition ol tho Socialist Paity, howovoi, is not just a
nattoi ol its political povoity, appaiont now loi nany yoais, noi ol tho
actual sizo ol tho votoq; poi cont is not nuch woiso than its othoi iocont
scoios. Rathoi, tho oloction ol Saikozy appoais to havo stiuck a llow to tho
ontiio synlolic stiuctuiing ol Fionch political lilo: tho syston ol oiionta-
tion itsoll has sulloiod a doloat. An inpoitant synpton ol tho iosulting
disoiiontation is tho nunloi ol loinoi Socialist placonon iushing to tako
up appointnonts undoi Saikozy, tho contio-lolt opinion-nakois singing
his piaisos, tho iats havo od tho sinking ship in inpiossivo nunlois.
Tho undoilying iationalo is, ol couiso, that ol tho singlo paity: sinco all
accopt tho logic ol tho oxisting capitalist oidoi, naikot oconony and so
loith, why naintain tho hction ol opposing paitios?
A thiid conponont ol tho contonpoiaiy disoiiontation aioso lion tho
outcono ol tho oloctoial conict itsoll. I havo chaiactoiizod tho zoo;
piosidontial oloctionspitting Saikozy against Royalas tho clash ol
two typos ol loai. Tho hist is tho loai lolt ly tho piivilogod, alainod that
thoii position nay lo assailallo. In Fianco this nanilosts itsoll as loai ol
loioignois, woikois, youth lion tho bun|icuc, Muslins, llack Aliicans.
Essontially consoivativo, it cioatos a longing loi a piotoctivo nastoi, ovon
ono who oppiossos and inpovoiishos you luithoi. Tho cuiiont onlodi-
nont ol this hguio is, ol couiso, tho ovoi-stinulatod polico chiol: Saikozy.
In oloctoial toins, this is contostod not ly a iosounding alhination ol
soll-dotoinining hotoiogonoity, lut ly tho loai ol this loai: a loai, too, ol
tho cop hguio, whon tho potit-louigoois socialist votoi noithoi knows
noi likos. This 'loai ol tho loai` is a socondaiy, doiivativo onotion, whoso
contontloyond tho sontinont itsollis laioly dotoctallo, tho Royal
canp had no concopt ol any allianco with tho oxcludod oi oppiossod,
tho nost it could onvisago was to ioap tho dulious lonohts ol loai. Foi
loth sidos, a total consonsus ioignod on Palostino, Iian, Alghanistan
(whoio Fionch loicos aio hghting, Lolanon (ditto, Aliica (swaining
with Fionch nilitaiy 'adninistiatois`. Pullic discussion ol altoinativos
on thoso issuos was on noithoi paity`s agonda.

This is an oditod oxtiact lion Dc quci Surkczy cst-i| |c ncn?, Circcnstunccs, ,
Nouvollos Editions Lignos, Paiis zoo;, to lo pullishod in English ly Voiso as Wnut
Dc Wc Mcun Wncn Wc Suy Surkczy? in zoo8.
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z
Tho conict lotwoon tho piinaiy loai and tho 'loai ol tho loai` was sot-
tlod in lavoui ol tho loinoi. Thoio was a viscoial ioox in play hoio, voiy
appaiont in tho lacos ol thoso paitying ovoi Saikozy`s victoiy. Foi thoso
in tho giip ol tho 'loai ol tho loai` thoio was a coiiosponding nogativo
ioox, inching lion tho iosult: this was tho thiid conponont ol zoo;`s
dopiossivo disoiiontation. Wo should not undoiostinato tho iolo ol what
Althussoi callod tho 'idoological stato appaiatus`incioasingly thiough
tho nodia, with tho pioss now playing a noio sophisticatod pait than UW
and iadioin loinulating and nolilizing such colloctivo sontinonts.
Within tho oloctoial piocoss thoio has, it soons, loon a woakoning ol
tho ioal, a piocoss ovon luithoi advancod with iogaid to tho socondaiy
'loai ol tho loai` than with tho piinitivo, ioactionaiy ono. Wo ioact, altoi
all, to a ioal situation, whoioas tho 'loai ol tho loai` noioly takos liight at
tho scalo ol that ioaction, and is thus at a still luithoi ionovo lion ioal-
ity. Tho vacuity ol this position nanilostod itsoll poiloctly in tho onpty
oxaltations ol Sgolno Royal.
E|cctcru|isn und tnc stutc
Il wo posit a dohnition ol politics as 'colloctivo action, oiganizod ly coi-
tain piinciplos, that ains to unlold tho consoquoncos ol a now possilility
which is cuiiontly iopiossod ly tho doninant oidoi`, thon wo would
havo to concludo that tho oloctoial nochanisn is an ossontially apoliti-
cal piocoduio. This can lo soon in tho gull lotwoon tho nassivo loinal
inpoiativo to voto and tho lioo-oating, il not non-oxistont natuio ol
political oi idoological convictions. It is good to voto, to givo a loin to ny
loais, lut it is haid to loliovo that what I an voting jcr is a good thing in
itsoll. This is not to say that tho oloctoial-donociatic syston is iopiossivo
pcr sc, iathoi, that tho oloctoial piocoss is incoipoiatod into a stato loin,
that ol capitalo-pailianontaiianisn, appiopiiato loi tho naintonanco ol
tho ostallishod oidoi, and consoquontly soivos a consoivativo lunction.
This cioatos a luithoi looling ol powoilossnoss: il oidinaiy citizons havo
no handlo on stato docision-naking savo tho voto, it is haid to soo what
way loiwaid thoio could lo loi an onancipatoiy politics.
Il tho oloctoial nochanisn is not a political lut a stato piocoduio, what
doos it achiovo? Diawing on tho lossons ol zoo;, ono olloct is to incoi-
poiato loth tho loai and tho 'loai ol tho loai` into tho statoto invost
tho stato with thoso nass-suljoctivo olononts, tho lottoi to logitinato
it as an oljoct ol loai in its own iight, oquippod loi toiioi and cooicion.
z iv q
Foi tho woild hoiizon ol donociacy is incioasingly dohnod ly wai. Tho
Wost is ongagod on an oxpanding nunloi ol lionts: tho naintonanco ol
tho oxisting oidoi with its gigantic dispaiitios has an iiioducillo nilitaiy
conponont, tho duality ol tho woilds ol iich and pooi can only lo sus-
tainod ly loico. This cioatos a paiticulai dialoctic ol wai and loai. Oui
govoinnonts oxplain that thoy aio waging wai alioad in oidoi to piotoct
us lion it at hono. Il Wostoin tioops do not hunt down tho toiioiists
in Alghanistan oi Chochnya, thoy will cono ovoi hoio to oiganizo tho
iosontlul ialllo outcasts.
Strutcgic ncc-Pctuinisn
In Fianco, this allianco ol loai and wai has classically gono ly tho
nano ol Ptainisn. Tho nass idoology ol Ptainisniosponsillo loi
its widospioad succoss lotwoon qo and qqiostod in pait on tho
loai gonoiatod ly tho Fiist Woild Wai: Maishal Ptain would piotoct
Fianco lion tho disastious ollocts ol tho Socond, ly kooping woll out
ol it. In tho Maishal`s own woids, it was nocossaiy to lo noio aliaid ol
wai than ol doloat. Tho vast najoiity ol tho Fionch accoptod tho iola-
tivo tianquillity ol a consonsual doloat and nost got oll laiily lightly
duiing tho Wai, conpaiod to tho Russians oi ovon tho English. Tho
analogous piojoct today is lasod on tho loliol that tho Fionch nood sin-
ply to accopt tho laws ol tho VT-lod woild nodol and all will lo woll:
Fianco will lo piotoctod lion tho disastious ollocts ol wai and glolal
dispaiity. This loin ol noo-Ptainisn as a nass idoology is olloctivoly
on olloi lion loth paitios today. In what lollows, I will aiguo that it is
a koy analytical olonont in undoistanding tho disoiiontation that goos
ly tho nano ol 'Saikozy`, to giasp tho lattoi in its ovoiall dinonsion, its
histoiicity and intolligilility, ioquiios us to go lack to what I will call its
Ptainist 'tianscondontal`.
z
I an not saying, ol couiso, that ciicunstancos today iosonllo tho
doloat ol qo, oi that Saikozy iosonllos Ptain. Tho point is a noio
loinal ono: that tho unconscious national-histoiical ioots ol that which
goos ly tho nano ol Saikozy aio to lo lound in this Ptainist conhgu-
iation, in which tho disoiiontation itsoll is solonnly onactod lion tho
z
Soo ny Lcgiqucs dcs ncndcs, Paiis zooo loi a lull dovolopnont ol tho concopt ol
'tianscondontals` and thoii lunction, which is to govoin tho oidoi ol appoaianco ol
nultiplicitios within a woild.
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z
sunnit ol tho stato, and piosontod as a histoiical tuining-point. This
natiix has loon a iocuiiing pattoin in Fionch histoiy. It goos lack to tho
Rostoiation ol 8 whon a post-Rovolutionaiy govoinnont, oagoily sup-
poitod ly nigis and oppoitunists, was liought lack in tho loioignois`
laggago-tiain and doclaiod, with tho consont ol a woin-out population,
that it would iostoio pullic noiality and oidoi. In qo, nilitaiy doloat
onco again soivod as tho contoxt loi tho disoiiontating iovoisal ol tho ioal
contont ol stato action: tho Vichy govoinnont spoko incossantly ol tho
'nation`, yot was installod ly tho Goinan Occupation, tho nost coiiupt
ol oligaichs woio to load tho countiy out ol noial ciisis, Ptain hinsoll,
an agoing gonoial in tho soivico ol piopoity, would lo tho onlodinont
ol national ioliith.
Nunoious aspocts ol this noo-Ptainist tiadition aio in ovidonco today.
Typically, capitulation and soivility aio piosontod as invontion and iogon-
oiation. Thoso woio contial thonos ol Saikozy`s canpaign: tho Mayoi ol
Nouilly would tiansloin tho Fionch oconony and put tho countiy lack
to woik. Tho ioal contont, ol couiso, is a politics ol continuous olodi-
onco to tho donands ol high hnanco, in tho nano ol national ionowal. A
socond chaiactoiistic is that ol doclino and 'noial ciisis`, which justihos
tho iopiossivo noasuios takon in tho nano ol iogonoiation. Moiality is
invokod, as so olton, in placo ol politics and against any populai noli-
lization. Appoal is nado instoad to tho viituos ol haid woik, disciplino,
tho lanily: 'noiit should lo iowaidod`. This typical displaconont ol poli-
tics ly noiality has loon piopaiod, lion tho ;os 'now philosophois`
onwaids, ly all who havo lalouiod to 'noializo` histoiical judgonont.
Tho oljoct is in ioality political: to naintain that national doclino has
nothing to do with tho high soivants ol capital lut is tho lault ol coitain
ill-intontionod olononts ol tho populationcuiiontly, loioign woikois
and young pooplo lion tho bun|icuc.
A thiid chaiactoiistic ol noo-Ptainisn is tho paiadignatic lunction
ol loioign oxpoiionco. Tho oxanplo ol coiioction always conos lion
alioad, lion countiios that havo long ovoicono thoii noial ciisos. Foi
Ptain, tho shining oxanplos woio Mussolini`s Italy, Hitloi`s Goinany
and Fianco`s Spain: loadois who had put thoii countiios lack on thoii
loot. Tho political aosthotic is that ol initation: liko Plato`s doniuigo, tho
stato nust shapo socioty with its oyos hxod on loioign nodols. Today, ol
couiso, tho oxanplos aio Bush`s Anoiica and Blaii`s Biitain.
q iv q
A louith chaiactoiistic is tho notion that tho souico ol tho cuiiont cii-
sis lios in a disastious past ovont. Foi tho pioto-Ptainisn ol tho 8
Rostoiation, this was ol couiso tho Rovolution and tho lohoading ol tho
King. Foi Ptain hinsoll in qo it was tho Populai Fiont, tho Blun
govoinnont and alovo all tho gioat stiikos and lactoiy occupations ol
o. Tho possossing classos lai pioloiiod tho Goinan Occupation to
tho loai which thoso disoidois had piovokod. Foi Saikozy, tho ovils ol
May o8loity yoais agohavo loon constantly invokod as tho causo
ol tho cuiiont 'ciisis ol valuos`. Noo-Ptainisn piovidos a usolully sin-
plihod ioading ol histoiy that links a nogativo ovont, gonoially with a
woiking-class oi populai stiuctuio, and a positivo ono, with a nilitaiy
oi stato stiuctuio, as a solution to tho hist. Tho aic lotwoon o8 and
zoo; can thus lo olloiod as a souico ol logitinacy loi tho Saikozy gov-
oinnont, as tho histoiic actoi that will hnally onlaik on tho coiioction
noodod in tho wako ol tho inauguial danaging ovont. Finally, thoio is tho
olonont ol iacisn. Undoi Ptain this was liutally oxplicit: gotting iid ol
tho Jows. Today it is voicod in a noio insinuating lashion: 'wo aio not an
inloiioi iaco`tho inplication loing, 'unliko othois`, 'tho tiuo Fionch
nood not doult tho logitinacy ol thoii countiy`s actions`in Algoiia
and olsowhoio. In tho light ol thoso ciitoiia, wo can thoioloio point: tho
disoiiontation that goos ly tho nano ol 'Saikozy` nay lo analysod as tho
latost nanilostation ol tho Ptainist tianscondontal.
Tnc spcctrc
At hist sight thoio nay soon sonothing stiango alout tho now Piosidont`s
insistonco that tho solution to tho countiy`s noial ciisis, tho goal ol his
'ionowal` piocoss, was 'to do away with May o8, onco and loi all`. Most
ol us woio undoi tho inpiossion that it was long gono anyway. What is
haunting tho iogino, undoi tho nano ol May o8? Wo can only assuno
that it is tho 'spoctio ol connunisn`, in ono ol its last ioal nanilosta-
tions. Ho would say (to givo a Saikozian piosopopooia: 'Wo ioluso to lo
hauntod ly anything at all. It is not onough that onpiiical connunisn
has disappoaiod. Wo want all possillo loins ol it lanishod. Evon tho
hypothosis ol connunisngonoiic nano ol oui doloatnust locono
unnontionallo.`
What is tho connunist hypothosis? In its gonoiic sonso, givon in its
canonic Munijcstc, 'connunist` noans, hist, that tho logic ol class
tho lundanontal suloidination ol laloui to a doninant class, tho
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z
aiiangonont that has poisistod sinco Antiquityis not inovitallo, it
can lo ovoicono. Tho connunist hypothosis is that a dilloiont colloc-
tivo oiganization is piacticallo, ono that will olininato tho inoquality ol
woalth and ovon tho division ol laloui. Tho piivato appiopiiation ol nas-
sivo loitunos and thoii tiansnission ly inhoiitanco will disappoai. Tho
oxistonco ol a cooicivo stato, sopaiato lion civil socioty, will no longoi
appoai a nocossity: a long piocoss ol iooiganization lasod on a lioo asso-
ciation ol pioducois will soo it withoiing away.
'Connunisn` as such donotos only this voiy gonoial sot ol intolloctual
iopiosontations. It is what Kant callod an Idoa, with a iogulatoiy lunc-
tion, iathoi than a piogianno. It is loolish to call such connunist
piinciplos utopian, in tho sonso that I havo dohnod thon hoio thoy aio
intolloctual pattoins, always actualizod in a dilloiont lashion. As a puio
Idoa ol oquality, tho connunist hypothosis has no doult oxistod sinco
tho loginnings ol tho stato. As soon as nass action opposos stato cooi-
cion in tho nano ol ogalitaiian justico, iudinonts oi liagnonts ol tho
hypothosis stait to appoai. Populai iovoltstho slavos lod ly Spaitacus,
tho poasants lod ly Muntzoinight lo idontihod as piactical oxanplos
ol this 'connunist invaiiant`. With tho Fionch Rovolution, tho connu-
nist hypothosis thon inauguiatos tho opoch ol political nodoinity.
What ionains is to dotoinino tho point at which wo now hnd ouisolvos
in tho histoiy ol tho connunist hypothosis. A liosco ol tho nodoin
poiiod would show two gioat soquoncos in its dovolopnont, with a
loity-yoai gap lotwoon thon. Tho hist is that ol tho sotting in placo ol
tho connunist hypothosis, tho socond, ol piolininaiy attonpts at its
ioalization. Tho hist soquonco iuns lion tho Fionch Rovolution to tho
Paiis Connuno, lot us say, ;z to 8;. It links tho populai nass novo-
nont to tho soizuio ol powoi, thiough tho insuiioctional ovoithiow ol
tho oxisting oidoi, this iovolution will alolish tho old loins ol socioty
and install 'tho connunity ol oquals`. In tho couiso ol tho contuiy, tho
loinloss populai novonont nado up ol townslolk, aitisans and stu-
donts cano incioasingly undoi tho loadoiship ol tho woiking class. Tho
soquonco culninatod in tho stiiking novoltyand iadical doloatol tho
Paiis Connuno. Foi tho Connuno dononstiatod loth tho oxtiaoidi-
naiy onoigy ol this conlination ol populai novonont, woiking-class
loadoiship and ainod insuiioction, and its linits: tho ccnnunurds
could noithoi ostallish tho iovolution on a national looting noi dolond it
against tho loioign-lackod loicos ol tho countoi-iovolution.
o iv q
Tho socond soquonco ol tho connunist hypothosis iuns lion ;
to ;o: lion tho Bolshovik Rovolution to tho ond ol tho Cultuial
Rovolution and tho nilitant upsuigo thioughout tho woild duiing tho
yoais oo;. It was doninatod ly tho quostion: how to win? How to
hold outunliko tho Paiis Connunoagainst tho ainod ioaction ol
tho possossing classos, how to oiganizo tho now powoi so as to piotoct it
against tho onslaught ol its ononios? It was no longoi a quostion ol loi-
nulating and tosting tho connunist hypothosis, lut ol ioalizing it: what
tho th contuiy had dioant, tho zoth would acconplish. Tho olsos-
sion with victoiy, contiod aiound quostions ol oiganization, lound its
piincipal oxpiossion in tho 'iion disciplino` ol tho connunist paitytho
chaiactoiistic constiuction ol tho socond soquonco ol tho hypothosis. Tho
paity olloctivoly solvod tho quostion inhoiitod lion tho hist soquonco:
tho iovolution piovailod, oithoi thiough insuiioction oi piolongod popu-
lai wai, in Russia, China, Czochoslovakia, Koioa, Viotnan, Cula, and
succoodod in ostallishing a now oidoi.
But tho socond soquonco in tuin cioatod a luithoi piollon, which it
could not solvo using tho nothods it had dovolopod in iosponso to tho
piollons ol tho hist. Tho paity had loon an appiopiiato tool loi tho
ovoithiow ol woakonod ioactionaiy ioginos, lut it piovod ill-adaptod
loi tho constiuction ol tho 'dictatoiship ol tho piolotaiiat` in tho sonso
that Maix had intondodthat is, a tonpoiaiy stato, oiganizing tho
tiansition to tho non-stato: its dialoctical 'withoiing away`. Instoad, tho
paity-stato dovolopod into a now loin ol authoiitaiianisn. Sono ol thoso
ioginos nado ioal stiidos in oducation, pullic hoalth, tho valoiization
ol laloui, and so on, and thoy piovidod an intoinational constiaint on
tho aiioganco ol tho inpoiialist powois. Howovoi, tho statist piinciplo
in itsoll piovod coiiupt and, in tho long iun, inolloctivo. Polico cooicion
could not savo tho 'socialist` stato lion intoinal luioauciatic inoitia,
and within hlty yoais it was cloai that it would novoi piovail in tho loio-
cious conpotition inposod ly its capitalist advoisaiios. Tho last gioat
convulsions ol tho socond soquoncotho Cultuial Rovolution and May
o8, in its lioadost sonsocan lo undoistood as attonpts to doal with
tho inadoquacy ol tho paity.
!ntcr|udcs
Botwoon tho ond ol tho hist soquonco and tho loginning ol tho socond
thoio was a loity-yoai intoival duiing which tho connunist hypothosis
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z ;
was doclaiod to lo untonallo: tho docados lion 8; to q saw inpo-
iialisn tiiunphant acioss tho glolo. Sinco tho socond soquonco cano
to an ond in tho ;os wo havo loon in anothoi such intoival, with tho
advoisaiy in tho ascondant onco noio. What is at stako in thoso ciicun-
stancos is tho ovontual oponing ol a now soquonco ol tho connunist
hypothosis. But it is cloai that this will not locannot lotho con-
tinuation ol tho socond ono. Maixisn, tho woikois` novonont, nass
donociacy, Loninisn, tho paity ol tho piolotaiiat, tho socialist statoall
tho invontions ol tho zoth contuiyaio not ioally usolul to us any noio.
At tho thooiotical lovol thoy coitainly dosoivo luithoi study and considoi-
ation, lut at tho lovol ol piactical politics thoy havo locono unwoikallo.
Tho socond soquonco is ovoi and it is pointloss to tiy to iostoio it.
At this point, duiing an intoival doninatod ly tho onony, whon now
oxpoiinonts aio tightly ciicunsciilod, it is not possillo to say with coi-
tainty what tho chaiactoi ol tho thiid soquonco will lo. But tho gonoial
diioction soons discoinillo: it will involvo a now iolation lotwoon tho
political novonont and tho lovol ol tho idoologicalono that was piohg-
uiod in tho oxpiossion 'cultuial iovolution` oi in tho May o8 notion ol a
'iovolution ol tho nind`. Wo will still iotain tho thooiotical and histoiical
lossons that issuod lion tho hist soquonco, and tho contiality ol victoiy
that issuod lion tho socond. But tho solution will lo noithoi tho loin-
loss, oi nulti-loin, populai novonont inspiiod ly tho intolligonco ol tho
nultitudoas Nogii and tho altoi-glolalists loliovonoi tho ionowod
and donociatizod nass connunist paity, as sono ol tho Tiotskyists
and Maoists hopo. Tho (th-contuiy novonont and tho (zoth-contuiy
paity woio spocihc nodos ol tho connunist hypothosis, it is no longoi
possillo to iotuin to thon. Instoad, altoi tho nogativo oxpoiioncos ol tho
'socialist` statos and tho anliguous lossons ol tho Cultuial Rovolution
and May o8, oui task is to liing tho connunist hypothosis into oxist-
onco in anothoi nodo, to holp it onoigo within now loins ol political
oxpoiionco. This is why oui woik is so conplicatod, so oxpoiinontal.
Wo nust locus on its conditions ol oxistonco, iathoi than just inpiov-
ing its nothods. Wo nood to io-install tho connunist hypothosistho
pioposition that tho suloidination ol laloui to tho doninant class is not
inovitallowithin tho idoological sphoio.
What night this involvo? Expoiinontally, wo night concoivo ol hnding
a point that would stand outsido tho tonpoiality ol tho doninant oidoi
and what Lacan onco callod 'tho soivico ol woalth`. Any point, so long
8 iv q
as it is in loinal opposition to such soivico, and ollois tho disciplino
ol a univoisal tiuth. Ono such night lo tho doclaiation: 'Thoio is only
ono woild`. What would this inply? Contonpoiaiy capitalisn loasts,
ol couiso, that it has cioatod a glolal oidoi, its oppononts too spoak ol
'altoi-glolalization`. Essontially, thoy pioposo a dohnition ol politics as
a piactical noans ol noving lion tho woild as it is to tho woild as wo
would wish it to lo. But doos a singlo woild ol hunan suljocts oxist? Tho
'ono woild` ol glolalization is sololy ono ol thingsoljocts loi saloand
nonotaiy signs: tho woild naikot as loiosoon ly Maix. Tho ovoiwholn-
ing najoiity ol tho population havo at lost iostiictod accoss to this woild.
Thoy aio lockod out, olton litoially so.
Tho lall ol tho Boilin Wall was supposod to signal tho advont ol tho singlo
woild ol lioodon and donociacy. Twonty yoais latoi, it is cloai that tho
woild`s wall has sinply shiltod: instoad ol sopaiating East and Wost it
now dividos tho iich capitalist Noith lion tho pooi and dovastatod South.
Now walls aio loing constiuctod all ovoi tho woild: lotwoon Palostinians
and Isiaolis, lotwoon Moxico and tho Unitod Statos, lotwoon Aliica and
tho Spanish onclavos, lotwoon tho ploasuios ol woalth and tho dosiios ol
tho pooi, whothoi thoy lo poasants in villagos oi uilan dwollois in juvc-
|us, bun|icucs, ostatos, hostols, squats and shantytowns. Tho piico ol tho
supposodly unihod woild ol capital is tho liutal division ol hunan oxist-
onco into iogions sopaiatod ly polico dogs, luioauciatic contiols, naval
patiols, lailod wiio and oxpulsions. Tho 'piollon ol innigiation` is,
in ioality, tho lact that tho conditions lacod ly woikois lion othoi coun-
tiios piovido living piool thatin hunan toinstho 'unihod woild` ol
glolalization is a shan.
A pcrjcrnutivc unity
Tho political piollon, thon, has to lo iovoisod. Wo cannot stait lion
an analytic agioonont on tho oxistonco ol tho woild and piocood to
noinativo action with iogaid to its chaiactoiistics. Tho disagioonont
is not ovoi qualitios lut ovoi oxistonco. Conliontod with tho aitihcial
and nuidoious division ol tho woild into twoa disjunction nanod
ly tho voiy toin, 'tho Wost`wo nust alhin tho oxistonco ol tho singlo
woild iight lion tho stait, as axion and piinciplo. Tho sinplo phiaso,
'thoio is only ono woild`, is not an oljoctivo conclusion. It is poiloi-
nativo: wo aio dociding that this is how it is loi us. Faithlul to this
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z
point, it is thon a quostion ol olucidating tho consoquoncos that lollow
lion this sinplo doclaiation.
A hist consoquonco is tho iocognition that all lolong to tho sano woild as
nysoll: tho Aliican woikoi I soo in tho iostauiant kitchon, tho Moioccan
I soo digging a holo in tho ioad, tho voilod wonan looking altoi childion
in a paik. That is whoio wo iovoiso tho doninant idoa ol tho woild unitod
ly oljocts and signs, to nako a unity in toins ol living, acting loings,
hoio and now. Thoso pooplo, dilloiont lion no in toins ol languago,
clothos, ioligion, lood, oducation, oxist oxactly as I do nysoll, sinco thoy
oxist liko no, I can discuss with thonand, as with anyono olso, wo can
agioo and disagioo alout things. But on tho piocondition that thoy and I
oxist in tho sano woild.
At this point, tho oljoction alout cultuial dilloionco will lo iaisod: 'oui`
woild is nado up ol thoso who accopt 'oui` valuosdonociacy, iospoct
loi wonon, hunan iights. Thoso whoso cultuio is contiaiy to this aio
not ioally pait ol tho sano woild, il thoy want to join it thoy havo to
shaio oui valuos, to 'intogiato`. As Saikozy put it: 'Il loioignois want
to ionain in Fianco, thoy havo to lovo Fianco, othoiwiso, thoy should
loavo.` But to placo conditions is alioady to havo alandonod tho piinci-
plo, 'thoio is only ono woild ol living non and wonon`. It nay lo said
that wo nood to tako tho laws ol oach countiy into account. Indood, lut
a law doos not sot a piocondition loi lolonging to tho woild. It is sinply
a piovisional iulo that oxists in a paiticulai iogion ol tho singlo woild.
And no ono is askod to lovo a law, sinply to oloy it. Tho singlo woild
ol living wonon and non nay woll havo laws, what it cannot havo is
suljoctivo oi 'cultuial` pioconditions loi oxistonco within itto donand
that you havo to lo liko ovoiyono olso. Tho singlo woild is piocisoly tho
placo whoio an unlinitod sot ol dilloioncos oxist. Philosophically, lai
lion casting doult on tho unity ol tho woild, thoso dilloioncos aio its
piinciplo ol oxistonco.
Tho quostion thon aiisos whothoi anything govoins thoso unlinitod dil-
loioncos. Thoio nay woll lo only ono woild, lut doos that noan that
loing Fionch, oi a Moioccan living in Fianco, oi Muslin in a countiy
ol Chiistian tiaditions, is nothing? Oi should wo soo tho poisistonco ol
such idontitios as an olstaclo? Tho sinplost dohnition ol 'idontity` is
tho soiios ol chaiactoiistics and piopoitios ly which an individual oi a
qo iv q
gioup iocognizos itsoll as its 'soll`. But what is this 'soll`? It is that which,
acioss all tho chaiactoiistic piopoitios ol idontity, ionains noio oi loss
invaiiant. It is possillo, thon, to say that an idontity is tho onsonllo ol
piopoitios that suppoit an invaiianco. Foi oxanplo, tho idontity ol an ait-
ist is that ly which tho invaiianco ol his oi hoi stylo can lo iocognizod,
honosoxual idontity is conposod ol ovoiything lound up with tho invai-
ianco ol tho possillo oljoct ol dosiio, tho idontity ol a loioign connunity
in a countiy is that ly which nonloiship ol this connunity can lo
iocognizod: languago, gostuios, dioss, diotaiy halits, otc.
Dohnod in this way, ly invaiiants, idontity is doully iolatod to dil-
loionco: on tho ono hand, idontity is that which is dilloiont lion tho
iost, on tho othoi, it is that which doos not locono dilloiont, which
is invaiiant. Tho alhination ol idontity has two luithoi aspocts. Tho
hist loin is nogativo. It consists ol dospoiatoly naintaining that I an
not tho othoi. This is olton indisponsallo, in tho laco ol authoiitai-
ian donands loi intogiation, loi oxanplo. Tho Moioccan woikoi will
loicolully alhin that his tiaditions and custons aio not thoso ol tho
potty-louigoois Euiopoan, ho will ovon ioinloico tho chaiactoiistics ol
his ioligious oi custonaiy idontity. Tho socond involvos tho innanont
dovolopnont ol idontity within a now situationiathoi liko Niotzscho`s
lanous naxin, 'locono what you aio`. Tho Moioccan woikoi doos not
alandon that which constitutos his individual idontity, whothoi socially
oi in tho lanily, lut ho will giadually adapt all this, in a cioativo lashion,
to tho placo in which ho hnds hinsoll. Ho will thus invont what ho isa
Moioccan woikoi in Paiisnot thiough any intoinal iuptuio, lut ly
an oxpansion ol idontity.
Tho political consoquoncos ol tho axion, 'thoio is only ono woild`, will
woik to consolidato what is univoisal in idontitios. An oxanploa
local oxpoiinontwould lo a nooting hold iocontly in Paiis, whoio
undocunontod woikois and Fionch nationals cano togothoi to
donand tho alolition ol poisocutoiy laws, polico iaids and oxpulsions,
to donand that loioign woikois lo iocognizod sinply in toins ol thoii
piosonco: that no ono is illogal, all donands that aio voiy natuial loi
pooplo who aio lasically in tho sano oxistontial situationpooplo ol
tho sano woild.
ntoi6u: "GUFS4BSLP[Z q
Tinc und ccurugc
'In such gioat nisloituno, what ionains to you?` Coinoillo`s Modoa is
askod ly hoi conhdanto. 'Mysoll! Mysoll, I say, and it is onough`, conos
tho ioply. What Modoa iotains is tho couiago to docido hoi own lato,
and couiago, I would suggost, is tho piincipal viituo in laco ol tho diso-
iiontation ol oui own tinos. Lacan also iaisos tho issuo in discussing
tho analytical cuio loi dopiossivo dolility: should this not ond in giand
dialoctical discussions on couiago and justico, on tho nodol ol Plato`s
dialoguos? In tho lanous 'Dialoguo on Couiago`, Gonoial Lachos, quos-
tionod ly Sociatos, ioplios: 'Couiago is whon I soo tho onony and iun
towaids hin to ongago hin in a hght.` Sociatos is not paiticulaily satis-
hod with this, ol couiso, and gontly takos tho Gonoial to task: 'It`s a good
oxanplo ol couiago, lut an oxanplo is not a dohnition.` Running tho
sano iisks as Gonoial Lachos, I will givo ny dohnition.
Fiist, I would iotain tho status ol couiago as a viituothat is, not an
innato disposition, lut sonothing that constiucts itsoll, and which ono
constiucts, in piactico. Couiago, thon, is tho viituo which nanilosts
itsoll thiough onduianco in tho inpossillo. This is not sinply a nattoi
ol a nonontaiy oncountoi with tho inpossillo: that would lo hoioisn,
not couiago. Hoioisn has always loon iopiosontod not as a viituo lut as
a postuio: as tho nonont whon ono tuins to noot tho inpossillo laco to
laco. Tho viituo ol couiago constiucts itsoll thiough onduianco within
tho inpossillo, tino is its iaw natoiial. What takos couiago is to opoiato
in toins ol a dilloiont durcc to that inposod ly tho law ol tho woild. Tho
point wo aio sooking nust lo ono that can connoct to anothoi oidoi ol
tino. Thoso inpiisonod within tho tonpoiality assignod us ly tho doni-
nant oidoi will always lo piono to oxclain, as so nany Socialist Paity
honchnon havo dono, 'Twolvo yoais ol Chiiac, and now wo havo to wait
loi anothoi iound ol oloctions. Sovontoon yoais, poihaps twonty-two, a
wholo lilotino!` At lost, thoy will locono dopiossod and disoiiontatod,
at woist, iats.
In nany iospocts wo aio closoi today to tho quostions ol tho th contuiy
than to tho iovolutionaiy histoiy ol tho zoth. A wido vaiioty ol th-
contuiy phononona aio ioappoaiing: vast zonos ol povoity, widoning
inoqualitios, politics dissolvod into tho 'soivico ol woalth`, tho nihilisn
qz iv q
ol laigo soctions ol tho young, tho soivility ol nuch ol tho intolligontsia,
tho cianpod, losiogod oxpoiinontalisn ol a low gioups sooking ways
to oxpioss tho connunist hypothosis . . . Which is no doult why, as
in tho th contuiy, it is not tho victoiy ol tho hypothosis which is at
stako today, lut tho conditions ol its oxistonco. This is oui task, duiing
tho ioactionaiy intoiludo that now piovails: thiough tho conlination
ol thought piocossosalways glolal, oi univoisal, in chaiactoiand
political oxpoiionco, always local oi singulai, yot tiansnissillo, to ionow
tho oxistonco ol tho connunist hypothosis, in oui consciousnoss and
on tho giound.