Polemics

Simon Critchley writes:

In Polemics, there are withering critiques and witty demolitions of the so-called war on terror, the invasion of Iraq, the bombardment of Serbia and the pantomime of parliamentary democracy, using the example of the French presidential elections of 2002. There is a delightful Swiftian satire on the Islamic headscarf affair and a denunciation of the racism that led to the riots in the banlieues late in 2005: ‘We have the riots we deserve.’ Badiou sees France as a politically ‘sick’ and ‘disproportionately abject country’ whose political reality is located not in the endlessly invoked republican ideal of the Revolution, but in the reaction against it. For Badiou, France is the country of Adolphe Thiers’s massacre of the Communards, Pétain’s collaboration with the Nazis and De Gaulle’s colonial wars. In this context, the victory of Sarkozy is an affirmation of Pétainism and Le Penism, and a continuation of France’s long war against the enemy within.

(LRB 20 September 2007)

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