Situation recognition

Maybe I should expand a bit on my previous post on Badiou’s national subjectivity, since it could have come across as scurrilous.

Looked at in some ways, Badiou’s subject shares a lot with the Hegelian subject, in that it appears not to maintain a connection with, or even require the existence of, a world (or structure, or situation, whatever it gets called). For both Badiou and Hegel, subject formation does not need the mediation of an objective situation; the subject creates its own thought and existence. However, for Badiou, it is not enough to attain this idealist existence, as a subject must inhabit a situation, even though it is not formed by it or subject to its structure. In other words, though there is no constituent relation with the situation, there nonetheless must be a relation for the subject to have a place to manifest itself in and act within. Unlike in Hegel’s unhappy consciousness, without some minimal relation between subject and situation (i.e., what passes for Badiou’s materialism), politics would be impossible.

It’s with subjectivity’s emergence in the situation that Organisation Politique’s motto completes Badiou’s metaphysics. Because migrants are purely economic beings, they are not yet subjects for themselves; that is, in their complete lack of politics, they do no count. To attain subjectivity, their existence must be translated into a political ontology. But this translation must necessarily occur in a way that is delimited by space and time, a specific space-time situation: “Those who work and live here belong here.” The repetition of “here” is no accident, as Badiou, for all his talk of overthrowing/bypassing the state and the party, still abides by the formalization created by the nation, the “here.” The migrant’s transition to political subjectivity, unlike others’, is informed by the distribution and structure of the situation, and an acknowledgment by the nation — however tacit and free from formal declarations of citizenship it might be — completes the transition.

And so we arrive back at Hegel — and the politics of recognition.


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