Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nepal: Revolution Reports (Prologue - Section 1)

This is the beginning of a project of any number of posts on the revolution in Nepal. The previous posting was of articles from collected bookmarks during the last two months. In the future, such bookmark updates will be featured in an effort to keep up with the news. My plan is to next take up an analysis of the report from the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the disintegrating situation (the "non-leftist" or "non-communist" position). This will be followed by a thorough review of the debate on the situation from various communist to anarchist writers that is taking place at The Kasama Project. At some point the coverage will begin from within Nepal as anticipated. In this post I will provide a synopsis of the coverage and opinion on the revolution I have provided in earlier posts on this blog followed by some background information on the ICG and the Kasama project. Perhaps the title "Nepal: Revolution Reports" seems odd to some readers. The international press will tell you the revolution has already occurred but I believe I am not alone in thinking it is far from over.

First, I want to discuss that this entry in the blog marks a kind of departure from the former content. I have been in the past mainly focused on theoretical issues. Writing of these will continue from time to time, but the coverage of the situation in Nepal is a transition more to a greater focus on practice vs theory. In this way the content will include more day to day news coverage as well as a web journal aspect. Another practice will be to post entries as they are being developed. Often it takes me as much as a week to prepare a post for publication, so instead of waiting till the item is done I will post to the internet with a notification to readers that the posting is "in progress".

Readers should know about a well done documentary, Between Two Stones, on the Maoist revolution in Nepal that can be viewed from the Stefandav TV widget found in the sidebar to the right. Information on how to use the widget for video on demand can be read at my blog entry. There are also 66 bookmarks and counting at my Delicious website. My prior entries are:

The Maoist Debate in Nepal - Part 3

The Maoist Debate in Nepal - Part 2

The Maoist Debate in Nepal – Part 1

I will provide a synopsis of these three entries beginning with the first two paragraphs of Part 3 and then adding a synopsis of Part 3 itself:

Part 1 of this series of entries provided back ground on why there is fear the Maoists are merely engaging in a strategic process aimed at ending parliamentarian government and creating a communist party state. At the same time it was pointed out that in the ranks of the Maoists, is another fear of a reactionary or reformist “Maoist” controlled country that leaves Nepal subjected to an elite class within the coordinates of global capitalist power. The first aspect of my opinion was that those who are rebellious have already jumped to the conclusion that they have the right to rebel and it would be better to continue vigilance at this point about whether the path being proposed by Prachanda and Bhattarai is merely a quantitative accumulation based on the collaboration with existing parliamentary power or whether it engenders a qualitative leap in its application of Marxist theory (the theme of my analysis of current events in Nepal has been developed in the context of theoretical questions, specifically with reference to the ideas of Alain Badiou on Mao’s fidelity to the communist hypothesis).

Writing Part 2 coincided with a stunning development: announcement of a unified statement by the Maoist’s that, although they are participating in the institution of a democratic republic, the question of a single party people’s republic is to remain open. I went into some articles and opinion that were quite rancorous by those opposed to the Prachanda/Bhattarai line. The synthesis of the two sides of the debate, as I discussed, seemed a resounding defeat for these opponents. At the same time it was noted that the new position may prove problematic in garnering international support. Part 3 is to take a closer look at the positions of those advocating an immediate move to a people’s republic, and also return to my thesis: the Nepal Maoist’s application of theory in contradiction with practice may prove to be an event ushering in a novel phase of Maoism, a new phase in evolution of the communist hypothesis that might be the kind of event anticipated by Badiou’s analysis of prior periods of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist history as indicative of needing a new manifestation of fidelity .

Part 3 opened with the synopsis of the first two parts as provided above. I then proceeded to examine a series of articles by prominent Maoists who are to lesser or greater degree suggesting a theoretical argument counter to the new government’s performance, to the theory in practice as “Prachanda Path”. Most interestingly,these counter-propositions were shown to be not actually as “hardline” as they have been portrayed by many. In fact, I attempted to clarify how the recent synthesis of several internal factions has occurred because the concept of “people’s republic” itself has been subjected to a radical transformation. I made a presentation of 5 major points indicated by what the "hardliners" say to suggest that the Prachanda-Bhattarai line is corrupt. However, counter to such a premature conclusion was my analysis of a number articles by other prominent Maoist leaders including Kul Prasad KC “Sonam”, Mohan Baidya “Kiran” and Chandra Prakash Gajurel.

Of course I would want readers to read the entire entries, but let me just conclude with a reprint of the final section of Part 3 wherein I return to the conception of the communist hypothesis and the exposition of world communism today according to the philosopher Alain Badiou:

Is there not the idea that communism should be both egalitarian and inclusive of all people. Does it really necessarily call for the elimination of the functions of the bourgeoisie in a form that is not exploitive of others? Consider the definition of the communist hypothesis as defined by Alain Badiou that was taken up in some detail in a prior post:

"What is the communist hypothesis? In its generic sense, given in its canonic Manifesto, ‘communist’ means, first, that the logic of class—the fundamental subordination of labour to a dominant class, the arrangement that has persisted since Antiquity—is not inevitable; it can be overcome. The communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labour. The private appropriation of massive fortunes and their transmission by inheritance will disappear. The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away."

The question remains. Will the Nepali Maoists manifest a novel form of communism in their vision of a people’s republic? There is nothing about this vision that precludes the possibility of revolution against the logic of class despite the obvious dangers. We are in a completely different historical period calling not for a victory of the hypothesis as it existed and ultimately succumbed in prior phases, but as it calls for practice in the context of conflict between old and new theory in the modern context. Badiou:

"In many respects we are closer today to the questions of the 19th century than to the revolutionary history of the 20th. A wide variety of 19th-century phenomena are reappearing: vast zones of poverty, widening inequalities, politics dissolved into the ‘service of wealth’, the nihilism of large sections of the young, the servility of much of the intelligentsia; the cramped, besieged experimentalism of a few groups seeking ways to express the communist hypothesis . . . Which is no doubt why, as in the 19th century, it is not the victory of the hypothesis which is at stake today, but the conditions of its existence. This is our task, during the reactionary interlude that now prevails: through the combination of thought processes—always global, or universal, in character—and political experience, always local or singular, yet transmissible, to renew the existence of the communist hypothesis, in our consciousness and on the ground."
So the block quote above is the theoretical position I follow. Also, I feel the three part series on the Maoist debate provides an adequate snapshot of the internal politics of the Maoists in Nepal. The previous post as designed, was to bring the reader up to date on the most recent developments - they suggest we are now entering into a critical period wherein internal political opposition to the Maoists along with international powers will confront the Maoists final push to establish a communist peoples republic. As I said at the outset above, I will continue to publish articles from breaking news periodically under the title "Current Nepal Maoist Bookmarks" - probably dating the entry the 15th of each month. As soon as I am able I will return to Nepal to provide coverage from there.

In the meantime I plan to develop this prologue, beginning with additional sections comprising an an overview of viewpoints from a number of international observers. I will introduce our guests below:

Quoting from the Wiki on the International Crisis Group:

"The ICG is considered the world’s leading independent, non-partisan, source of analysis and advice to governments, and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank, on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Its primary goals are a unique combination of field-based analysis, sharp-edged policy prescription, and high-level advocacy, with key roles being played by a senior management team highly experienced in government and by a highly active Board of Trustees containing many senior diplomats."

I have been reading the ICG reports since shortly after its inception in the mid-90s. Among my bookmarks referenced above you will find all the reports on the conflict in Nepal. The ICG reports are excellent factual accounts of history. The recommendations they provide are reflective of course of the viewpoints of the many national governments, foundations and individuals comprising its donor base - but we understand they are being as "objective" as possible. The content is quite clear of language entailing ideological or political stances. Understanding the critical developments at this time, they have very recently issued a major report on the current situation in Nepal - which will be discussed.

From the website at the other end of the spectrum:

"Kasama is a communist project for the forcible overthrow and transformation of all existing social conditions. We are open to learning, unafraid to admit our own uncertainties. At the same time, we will not shrink from what we do know: the solutions cannot be found within the current world order or the choices it provides. We are for revolution. We seek to find the forms of organization and action for the people most dispossessed by this system to free themselves and all humanity."

The writing there is well referenced and provided by a range of "socialist" thinkers who have obviously been at the study of communist theory and practice for a long time. The coverage of the Nepali revolution has been extensive - recently a sister site dedicated almost exclusively to the Maoist revolution in Nepal and the Naxilites in Northern India was started - Revolution in South Asia. Prachanda's and other's proclamations to move to the final phases of revolution has generated tremendous interest and debate there, some of which I want to share.

Blog Guide: A discussion of blog features and primary topic content may be found at the initial entry. The first few entries give a good idea of how best to use the blog, especially for the tagging and social bookmarking at my external Delicious site, and for instructions regarding the Stefandav TV widget.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Current Nepal Maoism Bookmarks


1. The single article introduction below is the latest posting of this month's bookmarks for news items or opinion pieces on the Maoist revolution in Nepal. To see all this months bookmarks to date, use the "Read More" link following this first article introduction.

2. The introductions to articles are excerpts from the original publication. The original publication is accessed from the article title link or at the link at the end of the introduction "... go to original article".

3. To obtain next month's Nepal Maoism bookmarks only go here

4. To obtain a display of blog postings including all monthly bookmarks as well as all other blog postings including the tag "nepal maoism" please go here.

Maoists Prepare Draft of New Constitution in Nepal

Feb 28 - The Unified CPN (Maoists) has decided to propose a mixed system with an executive President and a Prime Minister with limited authority to be incorporated in the new constitution. A task force led by .. Bhattarai, formed to prepare the draft of the new constitution, made such suggestions. In response to Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala’s remark that presidential system would invite totalitarianism, Bhattarai said.. presidential system is being followed successfully in various other countries including the USA.. The main opposition party (NC) has already decided to propose a parliamentary Prime Ministerial system. Meanwhile, the parliamentary party meeting of the Maoists has instructed its CA members going to various districts to collect public opinion for the new constitution to advocate for Presidential system. The PP meeting also endorsed the party’s decision to nominate Narayan Kaji Shrestha as the deputy leader of the PP. ... go to complete original article

To get a display of all this months Nepal Maoism bookmarks

Prachanda on the People’s Liberation Army in a Changed Situation

Feb 26 - The fusion will not take a long time. We will have to win the war for peace within a few months. We must win. The peace process cannot be succeeded without help, discipline, unity and devotion of PLA. Many people still are not ready to accept a decade long People’s War to be the foundation of the declaration of republic. They hesitate to accept the truth that republic has been established on the strong foundation of PW. Therefore, the present situation is sharper than before. You are wining different wars and battles. Settle under the cantonment is also a People’s War. You have won it and you have to win the war continuously. Therefore, for the guarantee of the war for peace, you should follow and implement the directives of AISC unconditionally. Some people are making pretensions in accepting the leadership and implementing the directives of the elected government. If the PLA follows the directives of AISC fully, the war will be won by you. ... go to complete original article

Dina Nath Sharma - Interview in Nepal Telegraph

Feb 25 - Dina Nath Sharma, alias Ashok is currently the spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party- United Maoists’. In 1999 he led a revolt within the Communist Party of Nepal (Masal) against the party leadership. On April 6, 1999 Sharma split from the party and constituted his own parallel Communist Party of Nepal (Masal). Sharma's party called for boycott of elections and supported the armed struggle. Soon after the split Sharma's party merged with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Sharma was inducted in the Maoist politburo. Sharma represented the Maoists during the 2003 peace-talks. After the end of the 2006 democracy movement in Nepal, Sharma was included in the group sent to Kathmandu to start peace negotiations with the new government. In early 2005 Sharma was, along with Baburam Bhattarai and Hisila Yami, demoted by the party supremo Prachanda. In July of that year Prachanda reinstated Sharma into the politburo. ... go to complete original article

Maoists discuss increasing party intervention in government undertakings

Feb 24 - Maoists discuss increasing party intervention in government undertakings The Unified CPN (Maoist) on Tuesday mulled over putting more muscle behind the government’s initiatives to ensure its “effective implementation” There was participation of all Maoist ministers in the meeting except that of Minister for Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Janardhan Sharma. The Maoist Central Secretariat had on Sunday formed the Government Mobilization Department, led by Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, to effectively implement the government's programmes. The department, which has been formed at a time when the government led by the Maoist party had to retract one decision after another following pressure from the main opposition party Nepali Congress including national and international forces, has Maoist ministers as members. ... go to complete original article

Prachanda instructs Maoist Party to stay on alert

Feb 15 - Prachanda has instructed his party cadres to stay alert for another revolution, on Saturday. Addressing a function organised by All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF – affiliated to Maoists) in Lalitpur, Dahal said the party will not always be engaged in the peace process. "The constitution-drafting process will not last forever, we should seriously prepare ourselves for the next situation," said Dahal. Dahal opined that while many communist movements in the world failed because they could not recognise the need of the hour, Maoists in Nepal understood the situation and acted accordingly. He said, his party would now take the revolution into new heights against colonial forces. ... go to complete original article

Mohan Baidya: Exit of leader Matrika Yadav makes no difference to the party

Feb 15 - Mohan Baidya Sunday said that the exit of leader Matrika Yadav does not make any difference to the party. remarks of Baidya came in the wake of increasing possibility of the loss of Maoist grip in Madhesh.. Baidya said that Yadav would be allowed to rejoin if he comes back after correcting himself, though the party purged him on discipline ground. Talking to journalists at the party headquarters in Buddhanagar today, Baidya, who is the ideologue and leads the hardliners within the party, made it clear that anyone who wants to quit the party are free to do so as there is ideological freedom in the party. More than 100 leaders and activists of the Unified CPN (Maoist) defected to the CPN (Maoist) reconstituted and headed by Matrika Yadav on Saturday. The defectors include Bhojpura State Committee member Indal Rai Yadav, central committee member of the Tharuwan Mukti Morcha Palat Chaudhary and central committee member of the Madheshi Rastriya Mukti Morcha Jayram Yadav. ... go to complete original article

Nepal’s Kiran: Threatening “Another Bend” in the Street Struggle

Feb 8 - Many of the conspiracies are being hatched to fail the elected Maoist-led government. We all know that the main task of the government is to write a new constitution and lead the peace process in to a logical end. The extra-others are the secondary tasks for the government. However, the anti-people power and the reactionaries are trying to divert from the main issues and the tasks. Therefore, we advance a head to fulfill these tasks through the street struggle. Is the street struggle related to the future insurrection? The street struggle is connected with the progress of the peace process. The three fronts: the government, CA and street: are complementary. However, the front of struggle can take another bend if the anti-people and the reactionary powers create obstacles incessantly against writing constitution and the peace process. ... go to complete original article

CPN-Maoist, Masal unite - Prachanda warns of Peoples Revolt if government is forced to quit

Jan 14 - Prachanda is threatening widespread mass struggle (and possibly insurrection) if there isn’t progress toward a radically new and different constitution in the assembly. He is identify the parties that are roadblocks to the people’s hopes, and he is calling on the people to prepare for struggle. And (very prominently in this piece) he is pointing out the important role played by the armed struggle (previously in the form of peoples war) in all progress so far. This is a call for people (at the base of society and of his party) to prepare themselves for the next wave of struggle. Prachanda warns of Peoples Revolt if government is forced to quit The formal announcement of unification between CPN (Maoist) and Unity Centre (Masal) was made in Kathmandu amid a mass gathering Tuesday. Party workers took out rallies from different parts of the capital prior to the mass gathering at Khula Manch, which was attended by senior leaders from the Maoist party and the now-dissolved Unity Centre (Masal). Prachanda, Prime Minister and chairman of CPN (Maoist), heads the united party which has been named as Unified CPN (Maoist). The party will have a 175-member central committee that includes 38 members from Unity Centre (Masal). Addressing the mass meeting, party chairman Dahal warned of 'people's revolt' if the current Maoist-led government is forced to quit. "This government is not a repetition of past ones. If it is overthrown our party will spearhead a people's revolt from the next day and capture power," ... go to complete original article

Maoists are all set to unleash another "massive" struggle, says Gajurel

Jan 4 - A senior Maoist leader CP Gajurel, Saturday, said that his party is prepared to unleash yet another “massive” struggle to institutionalise republic in the country as per the desire of people. Gajural, who is the chief of CPN (Maoist)’s foreign department, came up with this remark while speaking at a program in Sindhuli. “We are all geared up to launch such a struggle from the street, the parliament and the government,” he said adding that the country would achieve sustainable peace and development only after the success of another “severe” struggle we are going to unleash to “uphold the aspirations of ordinary people.” He also said the certain foreign power centers including India are bent to augment their unscrupulous clout in Nepali political domain. Gajural also lambasted the government led by his own party saying that it has failed to provide any relief to the people. ... go to complete original article

Blog Guide:
A discussion of blog features and primary topic content may be found at the initial entry. The first few entries give a good idea of how best to use the blog, especially for the tagging and social bookmarking at my external Delicious site, and for instructions regarding the Stefandav TV widget.

Subscribe to Stefandav: Atom 1.0 RSS 2.0

Read more!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Alain Badiou and Cornel West

This 9 part video features a presentation by Alain Badiou, for most of its duration, which is an excellent and accessible explanation of his analysis of the current world situation in the framework of his philosophical system. I really want people to listen to it. The follow up on Badiou's presentation by Cornel West is a brilliant and inspiring oratory. I will be providing notes on Badiou's talk below as a means of learning (and for sharing for what its worth):


The title of the presentation is introduced as "Personal Liberty and Collective Equality".

Badiou begins with a sketch of his concept of the "Event" which ruptures the existing "Situation" and results in a new situation wherein elements in the pre-evental "State" which were not experienced as related become involved in a relationship in the novel state following the event.

The theme of his talk is proposed as concerning the relationship of ethics and politics. He takes up what he says have been the three classical conceptions of ethics (theological, natural and formal ethics), and in the end states he is opposed to each. The theological posits a difference between good and evil determined transcendentally by God, characterized by submission to divine law. The natural determines what is good and evil from a sense of pity, for humanity, for victims. Formal ethics posits imperatives for subjective intentions that are followed (good) or not (bad).

Badiou agrees that some actions are better than others but that neither law, pity or intention can be foundational for ethics. Rather one must find in each singular situation a new rule of action. He contrasts attention to the concrete situation in determining ethical action to belief in something external to the situation for that determination. The example is the the September 11 event and the subsequent reaction - his point being the action of terrorists and the subsequent revenge for that action have emerged from ethical decisions that were not rooted in attention to the real concrete political situation.

Badiou then speaks to the situation of politics today as being characterized by the continued failure of what he calls "expressive dialectics" - to which he proposes attention instead to non-expressive dialects. The former refers to political struggle in the last century as expressive of social contradictions (he refers to Lenin on Marxism: classes are expressed by parties and parties are expressed by leaders - as Badiou says, the proper name of whom express the becoming of the political process).

Non-expressive political dialectics would need to be a new form of collective action, the conception of which is virtual and yet to be actualized; it would be a political dialectics not the result of social contradictions (which nonetheless are real and to which we must be attentive), and a dialectics not expressive of conflicts of opinion in our objective world. Such conception of the possibility of a novel truth, and its actual generation, rather than a struggle between opinions means in fact maintaining separation from the actual objective situation of the expressive dialectics of politics today.

The expressive dialectic of our current objective world - that which we must move beyond, is between conservative and progressive politics, oppressive preservation of power versus creative justice, between desire for law and order versus the collective desire for another world as possible. Both sides of this expressive dialectic are proponents of "prophetic democracy" - which Badiou (prior to stating he will disagree with) outlines as essentially oriented to the principles of human rights, of tolerance and of freedom for all: the individual subject has the right to satisfy desires, all cultures are equal, and subjects must be allowed maximal expressive capacity.

Badiou builds his disagreement with the three main orientations of prophetic democracy on aspects of its formal internal contradictions - on the fact of problematic relationships between human rights, cultural tolerance and freedom. He points out that though people must have the right to exercise their will to satisfy desire there is no parameters of what is "normal" desire eminent to the concept of human rights as such. Likewise there is no parameters for "normal" cultural practices. Finally, freedom in some cultures is only maximized not by how much individual creativity is allowable but by obedience and sacrifice. Again, returning to the example of the "war on terror", Badiou states that on a philosophical level this is a war between enjoyment and sacrifice, between comfort and money on one side and death and obedience on the other. In either case there is not in either case an ethical framework in which we might wish to participate.

The argument continues against prophetic democracy with an explicit outline of what Badiou has coined "political dialectics" whereby there is participation in novel freedom rather than expressive freedom. We have to grasp in this the meaning of the poetry of saying freedom is like the experience of the possibility of something that is impossible. Badiou introduces the distinction between actual freedom being always a matter of production of novelty rather than the expression or realization of something already existing in the political situation.

In the productive scheme of political dialectics the struggle always involves making a choice against the expression of something intimate to oneself and for something that is social, that is inclusive of that beyond oneself. This would be a human rights orientation that is heroic in opposition to juridical rights because some existing and even allowable behaviors are unacceptable as are some practices in some cultures. What Badiou posits here is that there is "what is" - that is subjects and cultures (individuals and languages of social group expression); but there also exist universal "Truths". What he means precisely needs careful enunciation.

Universal Truths (I employ capital T) are precisely that, not particular individual or particular cultural truths. They are as Badiou says, exceptions to the situation of individuals in their cultural milieu: "There are only bodies and languages except that there are truths". To this he is careful to point out this does not mean there are Truths in addition to individuals and cultures. Truths are not transcendental either inasmuch as they operate in individuals and cultures while not being reducible to either.

Political dialectics today, unlike prophetic democracy, is a new democratic political activity engaging Truth rather than a repeating the failed political struggle of the last century. It is not an effort to produce an expressive harmony, a negotiation between multiple cultures. Subjects in the productive action of participation in a becoming of a novel "truth body" do so, according to Badiou, primarily through existing situational modalities of politics, art, science and/or love. What is more, he says, the individual in political dialectics is becoming more than herself in the existing situation, doing more incorporating truth than was possible with her proper ability.

Blog Guide: A discussion of blog features and primary topic content may be found at the initial entry. The first few entries give a good idea of how best to use the blog, especially for the tagging and social bookmarking at my external Delicious site, and for instructions regarding the Stefandav TV widget.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Revolution of the Mind (Amphibolies)

February is to be a personal struggle. I have began the practice of making the first blog entry of the month something of a diary of my philosophical journey. Actually as I write this I am well into the future of the month and pre-dating the entry so it becomes somewhat of the truth written in future anterior. The fact is, there was (is to be) too little time and too much confusion to keep up with writing in line with actual events. I have been contemplating different scenarios for relocating out of China where I have been working for six years. This has been taking my time in its difficulties around personal life; while the confusion has been in the area of my study of philosophy - about which we get to the title of this entry, a title appropriately quite ambiguous.

First, as if it is February 2, I provide the usual re-cap of what happened the month before (all prior entries are linked at the bottom of this page). The one I did on the Obama Inauguration was fun. It was based on opinion pieces about Obama by a range of thinkers including Noam Chomsky (on Obama and the Palestinian situation), Paul Street, and Savoj Zizek; and on Alain Badiou's analysis of the electoral system of Western nations, what he calls capitalo-parliamentarianism.
The point made was: that it is from within the new situation that something novel can arise, that we are given new and better scope for our personal decisions as a result of the election. It is a much more profound and performative requirement for us to take action once we are awake to the tragedy of the mere formal freedom afforded by the electoral system. The spectacular advent of Barak Hussein Obama in the existing coordinates of power may evoke at least a paucity of hope to be found not in the person, but in the gaps of the new situation he rules - openings for our greater scope of action; a critical analysis of the suppressed reality of the Palestinian situation may enable us to see beyond the illusions we are fed under the ideological signifiers such as "democracy"; but these are but examples within a greater systemic problem. A truly eloquent expression of the idea of world emancipation from the confines of the current "global" situation was described in a quote from Badiou:

"Contemporary capitalism boasts, of course, that it has created a global order;.. The ‘one world’ of globalization is solely one of things—objects for sale—and monetary signs: the world market as foreseen by Marx. The overwhelming majority of the population have at best restricted access to this world. They are locked out, often literally so... The price of the supposedly unified world of capital is the brutal division of human existence into regions separated by police dogs, bureaucratic controls, naval patrols, barbed wire and expulsions. The ‘problem of immigration’ is, in reality, the fact that the conditions faced by workers from other countries provide living proof that—in human terms—the ‘unified world’ of globalization is a sham... The simple phrase, ‘there is only one world’, is not an objective conclusion. It is performative: we are deciding that this is how it is for us.."

Most of January however, was spent on an initial reading of several articles about Lacan, newly published by the International Journal of Zizek Studies, about which I was only able to briefly comment. Most of my intellectual energy was put into beginning an i n-depth re-reading of Sam Gillespie's The Mathematics of Novelty which explores the core of Badiou's philosophy: ontology = mathematics. The writing was comprised of a two part series introducing how it is that these thinkers, Lacan and Badiou, can speak of engendering zero: calling forth or bringing forth what? Precisely Nothing. Engendering zero implies generation and bringing into being in relation with the Void as it were. Why and how the Void? That was and has been my question. The first part of that series, Engendering Zero (Part 1), resulted in a 10-point schematic about what I think I know about Badiou's ontology=mathematics and its relationship to his key concepts of the Event and the Truth procedure that ensues; adding importantly that, in Badiou's theory, the truth (small t) in situations is categorized as existing in basically four quadrants: love, science, art and politics. Situations are transformed following the Event, thus being verified as novel in an anterior sense, to have transformed. In the interim, the individual is functioning in relation to inconsistent multiplicity in the Truth (capital T) procedure by which the situation and the individual herself are transformed.

The second part
, Engendering Zero (Part 2), anticipated where I am going in my thesis conflating Badiou and Zizek and Lacan: Being (ontology, being qua being) exists not just as our mere biological life (our situation), but is sustained by an excess of life (inconsistent multiplicity); the fundamental alienation / death drive (the fundamental Event) is a constant impulse to heal the wound (establish a novel situation). The questioning going on in me has to do with the perhaps repetitive and therefore non-novel resolution characteristic of thought itself in the thought of subjectivity as an ultimate name/place in the world. As I understand it, Lacan as per Zizek, posits this very impossibility of thought encompassing all of experience - that the subject as the thought of one's place in relation to the world is not the Subject. I want to put it this way: I know I exist and I know the world exists - isn't this our common experience as human beings? I mean this is the framework of daily existence. We can actually for a period observe this duality - and then experience that we forget to observe this fragmentation in the field of thought. Nonetheless, such observation provides an insight that the knower is the known in that the subject and its objects in the world are in the field of thought. We then say this is "my insight", however, and so perpetuate subjectivity (small s) rather than remain in fidelity to our insight. We continue to experience ourselves as a subject with external objects as comprising the total unity of life. But the fact is, that however we experience the subject there is some excess to the subject from which this experience is occurring - this would be the Subject (a name for no thing of thought - of Nothing, of the Void).

So began February. I continued since working on trying to understand each step in Gillespie's book, now I think I can write about it sometime up to about page 60 - essentially to the point where he has clarified Badiou's alignment of his philosophy with three positions in contention within modern mathematics: zero exists, one exists as an operation generated from zero, and thirdly that infinity exists. Its complex, I will be trying to understand it better for some time as it also requires gaining some familiarity with the mathematical terrain of the founding thinkers of these three positions: Frege and Russell, most importantly Cantor and his followers (Zermelo, Fraenkel and Von Neumann). For reasons I will discuss, I don't see myself getting back to the core ideas on engendering the Void for some time.

I continue to write as if its February 2, though in fact I am describing the coming month. It was refreshing to encounter an excellent video featuring a "debate" between Alain Badiou and Cornel West. I cover that in the entry subsequent to this one, so I won't go into it now other than to say its a hell of a lot more accessible than the mathematics. Its an inspiring presentation of political dialectics that is nonetheless substantiated by the formal mathematics - but we are spared the details of the substantiation! Political dialectics today he explains, unlike prophetic democracy, is a new democratic political activity engaging Truth rather than a repeating the failed political struggle of the last century. It is not an effort to produce an expressive harmony, a negotiation between multiple cultures. Subjects in the productive action of participation in a becoming of a novel "truth body" do so, according to Badiou, primarily through existing situational modalities of politics, art, science and/or love. What is more, he says, the individual in political dialectics is becoming more than herself in the existing situation, doing more incorporating truth than was possible with her proper ability.

Now we get to talking about what is to have been written in February that has not yet been written. The reason I have not kept up is that I am preparing to exit China after six years here. Its not clear where I will be living most of the time, although it will be a few weeks once a year in New York, Brooklyn to be exact, where I have a couple of grandchild units. The primary indication from my personal life situation is that New Zealand will be in the picture. With regards to my interests in revolutionary practice, however, I anticipate at least some initial time in making a return to Nepal. I was there in 2005 and have been following and writing on the revolution there since well before that time. Coinciding with my present transitioning is the perceived "deterioration" of the political situation in Nepal. I tend to think the general misconception, perhaps fostered by those in opposition to the revolution, is that the revolution happened and resulted in a wonderful opportunity for the Nepal Maoists to take part and lead a democratic parliamentary government. It is actually the case I, and many others would argue, that the real revolution has yet to occur. Obviously then, I have been concentrating on reading extensively on what is happening there now - such will be the topic of the post following the discussion of the Badiou video.

Now Nepal is clearly my focus as to revolutionary practice. What is becoming rather confusing and deeply interesting at the same time is the aspect of my theoretical learning. My reading has centered on Badiou and Zizek and this in turn has involved some study of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist writings as well as some study of psychoanalysis per Lacan. Zizek studies gets one into a wildly diverse range of topics and the deeper understanding of Badiou and Lacan is difficult for me and a long-term continuing project obviously. At the same time this area of seeming focus involves a diffuse involvement with other lines of philosophical thought that converge in certain figures of the past as well as other modern trends.

At this point I have been experiencing the topic of the Void as intimately connected to my feelings of mortality and also my immortality. This has drawn me to a growing interest in the juxtaposition of Badiou and Zizek thought to that of Martin Heidegger - who after all is about Being and in a mood toward death. Badiou uses "Being" as does Heidegger (Dasein).. there is distinctions but deep similarities. Void/Death? Its about the meaning of it, being or not, living or not. Then also there is meaning or not. Badiou and Heidegger are much about the important meaning of it and yet Ray Brassier, who has studied Badiou deeply and translated some of his works, is a nihilist. It seems, for him, the Void (Badiou, Lacan)may engender the Event (Badiou) and transform the Situation (Badiou) for Being-in-the-World (Heidegger) - but the Void is (according to Brassier) a mind-independent reality indifferent to to our ideas of meaningfulness; our way of making existence feel more hospitable, more palatable to our self-aggrandizement.

It is Brassier who uses the term "amphibolies" to describe much of what goes on, has gone on, in philosophy. By definition it is the use of words that create grammatical confusion in conveying meaning (like the phrase "They are flying airplanes"). Intuitively I experience they are talking about the same thing, but when Badiou, Zizek, Lacan, Heidegger or Brassier use terms such as being, void, death and so on - are they about pilots or flying objects? My God, its wonderful to be in the process of theoretical inquiry, this revolution of the mind. This is all for later writing if I can, but first is the area of practice: the revolution in Nepal.

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