We have seen Badiou describe Deleuze’s politics as a thinly disguised ethics. Badiou describes this ethics in terms of the “maxim of creation” to prefer becoming to history. To give substance to this prescription he cites Deleuze:
What we most lack is to believe in the world, we’ve totally lost the world, it’s been taken from us. To believe in the world is to precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that escape control” (NEGOTIATIONS, 176, translation slightly modified).
Badiou glosses this as expressing the three elements necessary for a revolutionary politics: a new negation (revolt against control), a new affirmation (create events), and a new subjectivity (believe in the world). It is surprising to see Badiou here (2001) limiting the scope of Deleuze’s prescriptions to ethics when Badiou himself in a lecture (2013) on “Affirmative Dialectics“, takes up the same prescriptions as part of a new logical framework for political action.
Deleuze’s politics of becoming is spelled out in terms of resistance against the society of communication and control, creation of new events that escape from control, and the belief in this immanent world. But then Badiou returns to the immediate context of this talk, which took place at a conference on September 21-22 2001, i.e. very shortly after the attacks of September 11, that Badiou calls an “affirmation of death”. He finds a new way to describe Deleuze’s ethics in terms of an affirmation of life, against death:
Et la question, pour nous, est maintenant de savoir s’il est possible d’opposer à la mort quelque chose de nouveau ? Quelque chose qui ne soit pas une autre mort. Non pas la mort contre la mort. Eh bien, l’éthique deleuzienne nous dit : nous avons à créer quelque chose de nouveau qui ne soit pas une mort pour une autre mort. Nous avons à créer les nouveaux liens de la vie : nouvelles négations, nouvelles affirmations, nouvelles subjectivités.
(“And the question for us is now to know if it is possible to oppose something new to death. Something that is not another death. Not death versus death. Well, Deleuze’s ethics tells us: we have to create something new that is not death for another death. We have to create new connections of life: new negations, new affirmations, new subjectivities”).
thesis 13: Deleuze’s politics is to create new connections of life
Badiou concludes his analysis of this ethics of life by according it the status of politics:
Après tout, oui, c’est bien là une question éthique, mais aussi une question politique.
(“After all, yes, that is certainly an ethical question, but also a political question”).
Note: this is the end of the talk. The text continues for a page and a half with a question and answer session, which I will discuss in my next post.