Hallward's Fidelity to the Badiou Event
According to Richard Dawkins's well-known formulation, “God's utility function” in living nature is the reproduction of genes, that is, genes (DNA) are not a means for the reproduction of living beings, but the other way round: living beings are the means for the self-reproduction of genes. Ideology should be viewed in the same way, and we should ask the following question: What is the “utility function” of an ideological state apparatus (ISA)? The materialist answer is this: The utility function of an ISA is neither the reproduction of ideology qua network of ideas, emotions, and so on, nor the reproduction of social circumstances legitimized by this ideology, but the selfreproduction of the ISA itself. The same ideology can accommodate itself to different social modes, it can change the content of its ideas, and so on, just to “survive” as an ISA. However, from time to time something emerges that cannot be reduced to this placid logic of survival and reproduction: an event, an engagement for a universal cause that inexorably follows its inherent necessity, disregarding all opportunistic considerations.
So what does Alain Badiou aim at with his central notion that philosophy depends on some truth event as its external condition? When Deleuze, Badiou's great opponent-partner, tries to account for the crucial shift in the history of cinema from image-mouvement to image-temps, he makes a surprisingly crude reference to “real” history, to the traumatic impact of World War II (which was felt from Italian neorealism to American film noir). This