The dogmatist-machine

K-Punk’s latest post is a manifesto for stupidity rendered radical. He completely ignores the situatedness of what Badiou conceptualises as an ‘event’ while embracing the universality of what Badiou calls a ‘truth.’ He expresses the paranoid desire of a free floating dogmatist-machine that populates the assemblage of K-Punk. He is subtracting the world from itself before he has encountered the event, and such a closing down and closing off is silly. From an interview with Badiou:

“For complex reasons, I give the Good the name “Truths” (in the plural). A Truth is a concrete process that starts by an upheaval (an encounter, a general revolt, a surprising new invention), and develops as fidelity to the novelty thus experimented. A Truth is the subjective development of that which is at once both new and universal. New: that which is unforeseen by the order of creation. Universal: that which can interest, rightly, every human individual, according to his pure humanity (which I call his generic humanity). To become a subject (and not remain a simple human animal), is to participate in the coming into being of a universal novelty. That requires effort, endurance, sometimes self-denial. I often say it’s necessary to be the “activist” of a Truth. There is Evil each time egoism leads to the renunciation of a Truth. Then, one is de-subjectivized. Egoistic self-interest carries one away, risking the interruption of the whole progress of a truth (and thus of the Good).”

The subject of truth to an event is immanent to the event itself. A fidelity to a truth stems from the descision to bare witness to its inherent ‘infinite’ and ‘universal’ singularity of the event. Anything else is an Evil. If K-Punk lives and thinks by the non-evental axiom of ‘dogmatism’ he ceases to be open to the constant, complex flows in which he is bound. The possibility of an event — determined by the fidelity to a singular truth it envelopes — is continually displaced by a rabid and subtractive ‘egoistic self-interest’ overcoding of the world.

Or there is another possibility. K-Punk is already the subject of a truth-event. What are the conditions of this event? No idea; he doesn’t say. However, he does proffer an axiom:

“Briefly, it involves commitment to the view that there are Truths. One can add to this, the view that there is a Good.”

Which, if you subtract all the ‘radical’ hubris of K-Punk’s writing, leads me to believe that his ‘event’ is reading Badiou. So what we have then is K-Punk’s fidelity to the Truth of ‘Truths’ and the Good of a ‘Good.’ Let’s call this the Badiouist fallacy, the adherents of which I can only imagine will increase in number as ‘Badiou’ inevitably garners more fan-boys. The fallacy involves subtracting the opinion from the event of ‘Badiou’ until all we are left with is ‘Badiou’ itself. In other words, the world is subtracted and what is left is a mere caricature. Although there is nothing specifically Evil about the axiomatisation of this fidelity…

The problem remains of the specific construction of K-Punk’s dogmatism, he writes:

No, I am not tolerant.
No, I do not want to ‘debate’ or ‘enter into
dialogue with’ liberal democrats, PoMoSophists, opnionists, carnalists, hedonists, mensheviks, individualists….
No, I don’t respect you, nor do I solicit such respect for myself from you.
The defenders of tolerance, debate, dialogue and respect advertise their bourgeois credentials with such advocacy. I’m sorry, apolologists for exploitation of labour, but, no, I don’t see it as my duty to provide the enemy with a space to express itself. You already have the global videodrome, the judiciary, the police, the psychiatric establishment and the most powerful armies of the world on your side. If that isn’t enough, you could always make the effort to build your own profile and audience so you can add to the chorus of approval for the Satanic-worldly. (Too much like hard work? Thought so.)
Be under no illusions: differends, incommensurability, language games, forms of life, very far from disrupting the Dominant Operating System are that operating system in person. Zizek is right about Rorty being right: for all their apparent philosophical wrangles, the political upshot of the theories of Derrida and Habermas (and one can presumably add in Lyotard here) is exactly the same: defence of the liberal values of respect for Otherness etc etc.
Yes, I want to leave all that behind. One of the scandals of Badiou’s thought is to announce the blindingly obvious: difference is not suppressed by the established order, it is its banal currency. Fragmentation, deconstruction, cut-up are the very stuff of which mediocracy is made.

The key point K-Punk makes is that “difference is not suppressd by the established order, it is its banal currency.” I whole heartedly agree with him here. Capital’s banal currency of ‘difference’ is actually one of Deleuze and Guattari’s points: “capitalism forms with a general axiomatic of decoded flows. […] The axiomatic itself, of which States are models of realization, restores or reinvents, in new and now technical forms, an entire system of machinic enslavement. […] Capital is indeed an axiomatic, because it has no laws but immanent ones.” (ATP, pg 453, 458, 463, orig. ital.).

The voice of resistance is an expression that counter-actualises the ‘realization’ of these flows — so it is, first, coded with a meaning, and then, secondly, creates a plane of transcendence through the overcoding function of the ditribution of difference in horizontal and hierarchical relations of power. However, Badiou’s ‘militant’ progresses from specific, material situations that locks on to a novelty — a multiple marked, i.e. coded, by a differential relation — introduced into the world by way of the event. The error of K-Punk’s thought is to think ‘difference’ in such a naive, molar way, as if he has no choice in the matter. His master, Badiou, already separates different truth-events into those belonging to science, art, love and politics. Further, Badiou takes it to the molecular level:

“Indeed, the function that assigns to every mutlitple the degree of intensity of its appearing is fundamental a differential function. It identifies a given multiple through the systematic comparison of the intensity of its appearing-in-the-world (its being there) with the intensity of all the other multiples that are co-present in the world. That this comparison is ultimately quantitative (an order of degress) conforms to everything that science (precisely) tells us: the correlation of worldly phenomena with the purity of their being is marked by the necessity of measurements.”
Alain Badiou (2004) “Afterword” Think Again, pg 234, orig. ital.

K-Punk appears to confuse his simulacrum of fidelity — the ‘dogmatism’ refrain — with the a-nihlation and refusal of difference — the welcoming of an entropic equilibrium. On the contrary, difference must be systematically measured and selected. A choice has to be made; choosing the radicalism of ‘Badiou’ does not necessarily lead to the absurd relief of not having to make anymore choices. The belief in a single choice allowing for the dismissal of difference itself is utter nonsense. A refusal to be complicit in the machinery by which ‘capital’ deterritorialises and conjugates decoded flows is understandable, but this machinery is quite separate from difference itself. Difference itself is in-different to itself.

You get my drift?

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