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DOCUMENT

UFD026 Alain Badiou

From False Globalisation to
the One Communist World
Badiou examines the relation between the Communist
Hypothesis and the question of immigration and the
‘foreigner’, and suggests that, in order to pursue the
consequences of the declaration that we share the same
world, we must value identity-in-becoming over
identity-as-defence
URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS

URBANOMIC.COM
We must set out from some very simple observa- the inner city and the suburbs! Always walls to keep
tions. Today, a true world constituted by the men the poor confined among themselves.
and women who live on this planet does not exist.
The wall just moved elsewhere. It was
Why do I say that a world of women and men doesn’t
exist? Because the world that exists, the world of
between the totalitarian East and the
globalisation, is solely a world of objects and mon- democratic West. Today, it is between
etary signs, a world of the free circulation of com- the rich capitalist North and the
modities and financial flows. It is exactly the world devastated and impoverished South
foreseen by Marx a hundred and fifty years ago: the
world of the global market. In this world, there are
only things—saleable objects—and signs—the ab- It is almost thirty years ago that the Berlin Wall
stract instruments of sale and purchase, the differ- came down. Its fall was the symbol of the unity of
ent forms of money and credit. But it is not true that the world, after fifty years of separation. During
human subjects exist freely in this world. To start those fifty years, there were two worlds: the so-
with, they absolutely do not have the elementary cialist world and the capitalist world. Or, it was said,
right to move around and to live where they wish. the totalitarian world and the democratic world. Well,
The overwhelming majority of women and men of the fall of the Berlin Wall was the triumph of one
this so-called world, the world of commodities and unique world, the world of democracy. But today we
money, have no access to this world at all. They are can see that the wall just moved elsewhere. It was
ruthlessly confined to the outside, where, for them, between the totalitarian East and the democratic
there are very few commodities and no money at all. West. Today, it is between the rich capitalist North
This ‘confinement’ is very concrete. Everywhere in and the devastated and impoverished South. Within
the world walls are being built. The wall that will sep- countries, the contradiction opposed a strong, or-
arate the Palestinians from the Israelis; the wall on ganised working class to a dominant bourgeoisie
the border between Mexico and the US; the electric that controlled them. Today, the rich beneficiaries of
fence between Africa and Spain; the mayor of an global trafficking and the enormous mass of the ex-
Italian town even proposes to build a wall between cluded live side by side, yet between the two there

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we signs. a fundamental political question? Because all of put an end to the world of the global market—that the human living beings who arrive in different coun. he said: the pro- URBANOMIC. and death. police dogs. then. they are not cared for in forbid them to stay. their provenance. emancipation. naval patrols. Its law is that one percent that isn’t what happens. walls. How can one is the problem. ‘The Excluded’ is the name of all those who are not A question that fuels the criminal aspect of politics. A question that necessarily leads the way to persecution. there is no unity of the world. He argued en- into two regions separated by walls. Money is the same everywhere. the the freedom of circulation of objects and monetary dollar and the euro are the same everywhere. against the false world of the glob- world. ening of democracy. if you the city…. Overwhelmingly we think of people own 46% of global wealth. Overwhelmingly we think of these Today. living bodies deed that of the world. think about it. the world of commodities and money. they do not live in the same parts of ple from another world—an awful question.COM letariat has no homeland other than the whole world Why has what we call immigration become. the proletariat—yes. is to say. how many of these peo- own means. Here percent own 86% of global wealth. hatred. of wealth. barbed wire. But he or she less defense. it is another world. certain well-meaning people believe that this powerful vision of Marx’s can be achieved by a wid- people as coming from another world. their way of existing. we go to the same schools. and that ten of these people as coming from another world. that which exists in Western democracies and in Japan. ergetically that the world is that which is common bureaucratic controls. across the of the living. The tries and try to live and to work there. Up to thirty years ago. a political iron curtain. for liv- now there is a wall that separates the enjoyment of ing bodies. freedom is first of all the lim- of women and men. good is that this democracy does not exist every- eigners [étrangers] as people of the same world as where. Here is what we can say: If the unity of the world there was an ideological wall. behind the walls and the barbed wire. And then. we would have to welome these for. In order for there that the thesis of the democratic unity of the world is to be a world common to all. There are riches from the desire of the poor. Because the unified world of Capital has its al market: that is what the great communist Marx brutal price: the violent division of human existence desired. those who are outside. in the true world. to all of humanity. are all sorts of walls and separations: they do not we say that it is not of our world. Among us there are women itless freedom to own property. Today there is no The one world. had to be ruthlessly separated as a function of their provenance and their resources. 2 . He said that the principal actor of URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS and expulsions. We must extend to the whole Here is the problem world the good form of the world. We ask ourselves anxiously how the same way. the financial dictatorship of private property. we must globe. desperate voyages. But in my view this vision is absurd. The fatal consequence of this conception is don’t mind accepting the dollars and euros brought the separation of living bodies by and for the relent- by this foreigner from another world. All of this as if. And for this to be the case. and we must return to him. in order for there to be just one unique This is why the central political question today is in- world of objects and monetary signs. the freedom to ap- and men who are considered as having come from propriate everything that has value. They are the living proof that our build a world from such ferocious inequalities? In democratic. we must put an end to entirely false. zones. is that of objects and monetary signs. the pitiless defense of the privileges in person. But world is private property. We would have to love them as one loves a absolute material basis of the Western democratic traveller who makes a stop close to your house. they cannot move around by their many of them there are. developed world is not the one world Western democracies. of the existence of the world. We control it. What is not If it were true. The our own. prohibition. are the proof world of capital and its proprietors. and mass expulsion.

The prolerariat are international. takes us right back to our problem: if ty: quite simply. education. The war in Yugoslavia. also. that we reverse the dominant idea of the unifi- of number. say these little Le Pens. the test. now. as an ax. They are not democrats. they exist in must count. in Somalia. ple phrase. this Moroccan I see digging a hole in the must prosecute long wars. they have barbarous customs…how can is not an objective conclusion. one ing. This phrase women. It is there. habit the same world. and Bamako. here. Since they counted badly. What is more. It is here that the objection arises of the difference between cultures. Those who are is war. imposes the monetary law of number. as in Baghdad. these people who are here. or are the same world. We know that. they have to learn our values. or exists only artificially. in order to be able to say that free have it. from Africa and we others. There you The fact that. just URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS upon them by means of war. But under the absolute condition that they Which proves that the world thus conceived does exist just like me—that is to say. and elections. But those who have a differ- iom. then they are of the same world as us. ception of the world is electoral democracy wedded This is the important point. And those who do not count. one restaurant. say: no. We’ll make them take an world’. Exactly like Marx. We ent culture. iat have no homeland. so as to draw the diffi. this democracy imposes the law else. should lead us to reflect road. and there are dozens of French military interventions in Africa…. in Libya. like anyone. in the same world. If there is one sole world of living women and men. This African worker I see in the kitchen of a elections have been organised in a country. signs. The unity be that to impose electoral number by means of of the world is that of living. This phrase. those I think we should turn the problem the other way who drink wine and eat sausages…these people in- around. food. It is a matter of drawing the world is the set of all those for whom our values arduous and difficult consequences of really matter. if they want to come women and men. different religion. those who do this or that. ‘there is one have to share our values. Belgrade. we know perfectly well the concrete A first very simple consequence concerns those of form of this ‘widening’ of democracy. Tripoli. they the rich from the poor. through violence. those who eat the same meat. it is a world different language to mine. No. and then. or this veiled woman looking after children in a not only on war. in Afghanistan. The word for all of this is ‘integration’. a different way of dress- where everything is counted. this very simple phrase those who respect women. un. not really exist. I can talk with them. In politics. no! Our world is not just any old thing! Our formative. For example those who are democrats. active bodies. called immigrants. when he created the first Workers’ International. It may well an idea that leads to persecution and war. those who speak French. war. garden—all of them are of the same world as I am. they oppress one world of living women and men’. there is no unique world of the same world as me?…. but on elections too. What? They are of the same world as I am? The partisan of identity politics will This phrase ‘there is one world’ is per. the masters of this world. those who uphold hu- man rights. is performative. we will impose our accountable laws exist like I do. they exist just like me. with a the world is that of objects and signs. someone who doesn’t drink wine and eat pork be in der the law of money. And I must absolutely maintain the proof of this uni- or in Kabul. it foreign origin who live among us. there may be agreements and disagree- URBANOMIC. with wine and ham as arduous and difficult consequences of this very sim. There is the wall that separates into our world. those who cult consequences of his affirmation: the proletar. in Iraq. are not truly of should make the very simple declaration: ‘There is our world. It is a matter of drawing the examination in our values. and nowhere today? After all. As if the world unified by commodities cation of the world via objects.COM ments. The proletariat are of every In order for the world of the worker who comes over country. Very simply. the existence of the world. 3 . We should affirm from the outset. come from elsewhere must integrate into our world. To what con. as a principle.

or to be Breton or Muslim in a country two quite different aspects. said: ‘If foreigners want to stay in ences is also an infinity of identities. are different. themselves even when we affirm the existence of cause I don’t love Nicolas Sarkozy’s France at all. ways of playing or living. walls. that anything regulate them? Is there no identity that en. the pure and simple dissolution of his identity in Then you will ask: These infinite differences. is just one world. ance of his style. He must love and practise the same values. the identity of an of the world. different to anoth. I am not integrated into integration. the identity of a foreign community in a country is that which enables us to recognise URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS someone belonging to it: language. we can affirm the right to be ourselves. firstly. ine a little how these distinct identities can maintain And I said to myself. to be the same world. his moth- er world. And no one asks us to love laws—only artist is made of everything connected to the invari- to obey them. of the identity. they must love France—if not.he lives in the same world as me. and ultimately war. Because if he thinks.(dynamic identity). The one world is precisely the place where the infinity of differences exists. must immense unity of the world of living beings? become the same as us. as a world. then it is the world that is right. So. But it cannot have conditions of entry. the African worker. all those who ex. he can also affirm that he has the world to be the same. gestures. remains invariant. is made of everything connected to the invariance It is simply a provisional rule that exists in one region of the possible object of desire. they osophical dialectic of the Same and the Other. For example. Let us exam- France. he. the same because those who live in it are different. If there is only one world. he has no a priori ters into a dialectic with these differences? There reason to think mine better than his own. hatred. Which leads the way inevitably to separa. very well. if one asks those who live in the ists just like me. controls. the identity ‘homosexual’ different from a condition. deaths. just like me. A law applies equally to all. Less still like a minority of those – Identity is that which does not become different others. within the dialectic of with a Christian tradition.er tongue. fascism. means nothing before the the same and the other. etc. that which. tions. He affirms his identity by refusing integration—that is. we have the great phil- ist in it exist as I do. or to be a Moroccan who lives This having been said.COM ing. recognised as being ‘itself’. for example like a white civilized petit-bour. as I do. to maintain and develop our identities. I’ll have to go then. A president of the French Republic. doesn’t favour of another. It – Identity is that which is different from the rest cannot demand that. I one world for all living human beings. Thus one might say You will say to me: all the same. Of course. in order to live in it. one must (static identity). etc. In reality.variant properties that are his. but they are not like me. geois. his religion. this affirmation of identity has in France. of properties. cloth- The one world is precisely the place URBANOMIC. But does that mean that to be French. what is an identity? The simplest defini- tion is: an identity is the set of traits. be like all the others. don’t share his values of integration at all. where the infinity of differences exists Thus defined by invariants. eating habits. to conserve and organise the in- closed and becomes. identity relates to differ- The one world of living women and men can indeed ence in two ways: have laws. be. as soon as you set down conditions for by means of which an individual or a group can be the African worker to be of the same world as you. well. a country has its that an identity is the set of properties that support laws. the infinity of differ- Nicolas Sarkozy.In the background here. But a law is something absolutely an invariance. But what is ‘itself’? It is you have already ruined and abandoned the princi. It’s a good question. through all the characteristic properties ple ‘there is just one world of living women and men’. Of course. 4 . If the Malian worker ex- On the contrary. The world is On the hypothesis that we all live in the same world. they can go’.

And really think that the idea of the superiority of a world that the internal consequences of this axiom are is absurd—since there is only one world? necessarily political actions that open up the crea- tive aspect of identities. And how can we blame him for this. Because the Moroccans. remain internal to the same. or rather. as a subjective movement. and above all. into repressive police states. expulsions. creatively. And this will gradually transform our societies another. at all costs. is to state accept. the 5 . uphold URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS worker will forcefully affirm that his traditions and everything that makes creative identity prevail over URBANOMIC. we will demand together the abolition of laws of per- secution. Which is why we must. in the same world.COM customs are not those of the European petit-bour. The Malian tasm. what we can do together so as to movement of creation and a movement affirm that we exist. It seeks to preserve its purity. It con. and leads the way to infinite wars. we will have young islamists The other way to affirm identity is negatively. Meanwhile. Hollande and de Valls. familial. roundups. in large numbers. but the process of purification. It is a matter of the proletariat. identities make crea. one must refer unity of the world of the living. always be with us. ready to martyr themselves for the purity of their sists in doggedly defending the fact that I am not faith. The Malian worker will not leave be. so that I can very precisely All identity is the dialectical play of a discuss. It is a creation. This leads to fascism. persecutions. A little like Nietzsche’s and expulsions a disaster? Why does it lead to famous maxim: ‘Become what you are’. All identity is the dialectical play of a movement of Laws that deliver foreigners to the police. To see all this. control. there are two uses of difference involved Everywhere we must organise the political exist- in identity. He will even strengthen his identitarian reli. when our governments. other countries is not at all a question of identity and ties and the great principle ‘There is only one world’. We will encounter one another. through their active. in communist politics. as in a struggle. through policing. with a Moroccan worker or the mother of a family from Mali. he will create himself come all the same. to a crude national phan- thoritarian and persecutory integration. ruption by the other. to the unique world of living humans. the only way to do so. in its own differentiating power. it in fact creates two worlds. Ultimately. teach us. it rots away the situation within our this. The first aspect is the desire for my becoming to Why is the politics of walls. both of us. slaved. and not to the tion prevail over purification. He will oppose himself to the Western world whose superiority he does not The only method. But collective identity. nomad life. they worker in Montreuil. The general idea is simple: under the principle of the that in politics. all reactionaries and which is nothing other than a capitalist politics en- complicit with fascism on this point. through a dilation of identity. This is a the emergence of very dangerous fascist options? matter of the immanent development of identity in Because. and all the others. ple. if we from the outset that there is only one world. who. who want immediate integration by means of expul- sion and persecution. a new situation. being in the same world. Without anything cess of creation. integration. of purification whatever our partially distinct identities might be. purificatory identity. But he may little by little adapt all what is more. or humanity. We will creation and a movement of purification. gious traits and customs. false world of separated nations. And and we can obviously discuss our different ways of a negative use: the same defends itself against cor. but instead the face of Sarkozy or Blair. insist forcefully. He will thus invent what he is: a Malian Malians. An affirmative use: the same is maintained ence of one world. the finds himself. from the Malian peasant for them the persecution will not reinforce the pro- to the worker living in Montreuil. of course. even if we know the latter will geois. laws that build walls. But firstly. In within himself being decisively broken. which amounts to denying the very existence of hind any of what makes up his individual. to the place in the world in which he societies themselves. demand an au. in the end. the Romanians. that the presence in France of hundreds of thousands of people from Thus we see very well the relation between identi. And it is often indispensable—for exam.

The foreigners will teach us how. exile. Socrates’s young in the future of the struggle. Because the realisation of a true from which it separates itself with walls and with politics in a place within this one world that we pro- war. to claim ‘There is only one world’ is a prin. in order to even be possible. On the contrary! It is an opportunity. zones of total misery—and A socialist French prime minister said. exile. and of foreigners is concerned. most important today in politics. to do politics with foreign students. about ideas will come out of this. Every true politics presupposes ties. today absolutely central. by little Le Pens and their cops. the fact We can recapitulate this trajectory of thought in four that they are foreigners. foreignness. It is this politics. to its expanse. This principle is also that of the equality of existences in every place The mass of foreign workers and their children in this one world. It is enough to observe their existence. here of new forms of internationalism. without having to renounce anything at all. it rejects the damental characteristic of the communist is that he majority of humanity into an ‘other’. needs those who are only walls. in their long journey. basically. and in this world our identities politics presupposes expatriation. as follows: different. limit reactive as a normal life. develop creative identity. or that their culture may be points. pillage. ers) to their affirmative dimension (development of the same). It is with (3) The principle of the existence of one world does them that a new politics to come is to be invented. It merely entails that identities subor. they see the hor- rendous politics of our country and how they will On the intimate link between politics and the ques- participate in changing it. foreignness to integrate anyone whatsoever. ning of the eighties: ‘Immigrants are a problem. In this collective trajectory. today. drownings. Let the foreigners teach us at least to become foreign to ourselves. nor expatriation. be realised. foreign workers. which I will conclude with. provided we share Let us remind ourselves of this when we go amicably URBANOMIC. as a life that we can allow to exist purification. but it is impossible. is not an obstacle. And let us mocracies is a false world. abandoned zones. There claim. and allow ourselves be dominated dinate their negative dimension (opposition to oth. It cannot ganisation. In this sense. Unforeseeable new interlocutors say to him: ‘All you have told us. Recognising only the remind ourselves of what Marx said: the most fun- unity of products and monetary signs. and we will teach foreign. we will exchange identi.COM political actions. is internationalist. But it common conviction: there is one world in which we may be possible in a foreign city’. tion of foreigners. there are three objec- to require that it be regularised. youths from the banlieues: Socrates is right. zones that protect them- selves from everything. simple idea that they are there and exist like us is (4) As far as the existence in our countries of millions enough.’ We must reverse this judgment. URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS can be exchanged amicably. and say: ‘Immigrants (2) Thus. where the difference between foreign. politics. at the begin- in this chaos criminal ideologies flourish. to do what articulation of these three objectives defines what is we all do very naturally for our friends. and policed order. that we consider it tives: oppose persecutory integration. zones of come from another place in this same world. it is the possibility of the creation right (1) The ‘world’ of unbridled capitalism and rich de. are an opportunity!’ ciple of action. It is enough. and how we see their essential place the end of Book 9 of the Republic. tired country to the youth of the world.’ And Socrates responds: ‘Yes. striking text by Plato. to its infinite variety. As if every true all exist in equality. there is no world. to project ourselves out of 6 . in the City ers and nationals will be entirely subordinated to our where one is born it is perhaps impossible. there is a ers how we have tried for a long time to change it. testify in our old. a political imperative. is all very well. The concrete just like any other. devalued world. wars. not contradict the infinite play of identities and Without them we will sink into nihilist consumption differences. hatreds. And also forms of or.

and nihilist prospect. Against that catastrophic. enough to no longer be captives of this long occidental. and of which we can no longer expect anything but steril- ity and war. ourelves. which is the novelty. URBANOMIC / DOCUMENTS URBANOMIC. white history that is finished. securitarian.COM 7 . let us salute true communism. and thus the foreignness. of a new morning.