chapter 10
Politics: Equality and Justice

Politics is truth in the collective, by the collective. Though all generic procedures are addressed to everyone, only in the case of politics does this universality characterize both import and operation. Badiou writes, “Politics is the only truth procedure that is generic not only in its result, but in the local composition of its subject.” Though every situation is ontologically infinite, “only politics summons up, immediately, as subjective universality, this infinity.” Hence a certain pride of place for politics in a fully generic philosophy. Badiou knows perfectly well that, just as love relates only two people, so does a mathematician, in order to complete a proof, need only one other competent colleague to recognize its validity. Science, art, and love might be called “aristocratic” procedures, whereas “politics can only think as the thought of all” (AM, 156–57). Politics is organized around the Real of a radical fraternity before it is drawn to the Imaginary pursuit of equality or the Symbolic presumption of liberty. True politics begins with an exposure to “the real violence of fraternity” and is sustained in the practical present of its “demonstration” (manifestation).1 As with every truth procedure, this real “manifests itself, constructs itself, but never represents itself”: fraternity is no more representable than is an insurrection or a demonstration.

Badiou's conception of political truth has nothing to do, then, with bland speculations concerning civic responsibility or liberal “communication.” Badiou knows that only a “militant conception of politics … can link

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