Badiou nails it: Individual and collective

This recent short interview with Badiou is really excellent.

Not simply because he clarifies that an event “is a dialectical category,” in a sense resulting (albeit in an unforeseeable way) from the crystallisation of phenomena in the situation. Also not just because he makes this startling statement: “the organisation we need can’t just be an insurrectionary combat organisation, but must also allow for a new way of managing the state across a long transition period,” which is seemingly a long way away from his espoused ‘politics at a distance from the state’, even if he is still totally opposed to a bureaucratic or ‘statist’ socialism.

It is also awesome because it very neatly summarises the relationship between the individual and collective in a proper idea of communism:

Emancipation is the emancipation of all humanity; and humanity entails a vast range of differences, which will still continue to exist. There will still be men and women; there will still be Finnish speakers and Anglophones; there will even still be different jobs, even if we aim at versatility; and so on. Communism has to be a vision that incorporates such differences and, at the same time, affirms a universal community even within each of them. I would say that communism is not necessarily an identity; it’s not an identity that envelops all the other identities, but rather a movement, a new form of coexistence and commonality among all that is different.

On a musical level, my basic thesis would be this: this idea of communism also provides the ideological starting point for a contemporary idea of counterpoint. Replace ‘women’ and ‘men’ with ‘violins’ and ‘tubas’ (random examples, I’m not essentialising), and replace ‘Finnish speakers and Anglophones’ with ‘post-tonal pitch construction and folk-derived harmonies’ and ‘different jobs’ could be ‘different relationship to the metre’, or whatever – do that, and you’re getting a pretty good idea of what I’m trying to get at musically. A unification of musical lines that does not negate their identities – thus a counterpoint.

Of course, it is complicated, not just because one has to use a lot of imagination to work out the musical techniques and forms that would accord with this idea, but also because in my view an artistic rendering of this idea must take account of its current absence and its current status as a struggle. But that’s a refinement of the basic idea, it hardly negates it.

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