We are living through a period of intellectual regression in the realm of Continental Philosophy, a regression that proclaims itself to be a decisive progress beyond the merely negative and critical philosophies of the recent past. Yet the philosophies of Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard cannot be summed up in the image of pure critique. Their critical dissolution of the dogmatic residues contained in even the most innovative philosophies they had encountered did not leave us in a powerless void of negativity and paralysis. Beyond the critique of the new figures of transcendence and ontotheology they gave concrete sketches of how to see the world in terms of a very different sort of ontology based on immanence – a diachronic ontology.
The recent promotion of philosophical successors to this constellation of thinkers of immanence, such as Badiou and Zizek, has not led to any real progress but to a labour of travestying the past (one has only to look at Badiou’s DELEUZE and Zizek’s ORGANS WITHOUT BODIES) and to a return to such intellectual deadends as Lacanian psychoanalysis. But even these regressive philosophers remain in dialogue, however one-sided and unjust, with their illustrious predecessors, and strive to confront them at the level of conceptual richness that characterised their work. The next step was to keep up the general aura of having “gone beyond” the older supposedly negative thinkers but to radically simplify the conceptual level, presenting easy summary presentations of the new thought while conveniently forgetting the conceptual paths followed.
Both Mehdi Belhaj Kacem and Alexander Galloway agree that it is Badiou’s philsophy that expresses in its purest and most general form the new paradigm that articulmates explicitly what is elsewhere just blithely presupposed as a form of thought too evident to even be aware of. They indicate that the next step in consolidating the regression that Badiou’s philosophy, however innovative, does not initiate but rather registers and legitimates, corresponds to the far less ambitious productions of the object-oriented ontologists. I say far less “ambitious” in the sense of conceptual ambition, because their ambition is of a different order. They are the marketised version of the Badiou-Zizek constellation, and so the extremely politicised tone has been discreetly dissolved to leave a more demagogic packaging to the stale ideas that OOO trumpets ambitiously as the new construction after so much critique. They promulgate a dumbed down de-marxised version of the set-theoretic universe explicated by Badiou.
It is normal that in this context François Laruelle’s philosophy is at last coming into its own. It could not fully succeed while the work of Deleuze and Derrida were in progress, as his critiques of that work were only half-true, based on giving it an ultimately uncharitable reading as remaining within the norms of sufficient philosophy, but other readings are possible. Laruelle pursued over the decades his unwavering commitment to immanence, and this project shines forth now against the background of the regression that Badiou-Zizek-Meillassoux and the OOOxians represent.