BADIOU ON DELEUZE’S POLITICS (5): there is no politics of politics

We have seen that Badiou has isolated in Deleuze’s work insofar as it pertains to politics if not a contradiction, then at least a tension between a theory of universal becoming and a theory of universal history. Deleuze prposes a politics of becoming. Badiou concludes that as becoming is characteristic of the general human experience, it cannot at the same time belong to a specific mode of creation, poltics included:

si la politique, entendue comme maxime politique (le devenir passe avant l’histoire) n’est pas une forme de pensée séparée, à part, c’est parce que la politique est une maxime, non pas pour la politique, mais pour l’art, la science ou la philosophie. Deleuze pense qu’il y a une politique de l’art, une politique de la science et une politique de la philosophie. Mais, si je puis m’exprimer ainsi, Deleuze ne pense pas qu’il y ait une politique de la politique.

(“if politics, understood as political maxim (becoming primes history) is not a separate form of thought, by itself, it is because politics is a maxim, not for politics, but for art, science, or philosophy. Deleuze thinks that there is a politics of art, a politics of of science, and a politics of philosophy. But, if I may put it like this, Deleuze does not think that there is a politics of politics”).

Badiou is able to extract a “political maxim” from Deleuze’s discussion of the relation between becoming and history:

thesis 10: the political maxim is to prefer becoming to history, to create something new

thesis 11: there is no (general) politics of a (specific) mode of politics

If there is any conflation of the theoretical and the practical, I think it is Badiou’s doing, not Deleuze’s. It is Badiou who tells us that “politics is a maxim”. Yet he is right to insist that there is a connection between maxims and modes, between political philosophy and politics. Deleuze tells us:

I, for my own part, made a sort of move into politics
around May 68, as I came into contact with specific problems, through Guattari, through Foucault, through Elie Sambar. Anti-Oedipus was from beginning to end a book of political philosophy (NEGOTIATIONS, 170).

Contrary to Badiou, Deleuze sees no opposition between the generality of his “political philosophy” and his engaging with “specific problems”. Yet Badiou may well be right in insisting on a “tension” between the general and the specific in Deleuze’s approach to the thought of politics.

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