When the masses think, the intellectual dies.
—Antonio Negri, The Winter is Over
In his remarkable and still untranslated 1976 book Lenin, the Peasants, Taylor, Robert Linhart speaks of the arc of the “elation of the intellectual petite bourgeoisie”: the “about-face” that unfailing transforms an initial “mystical adoration” for the masses into “disgust.” Linhart speaks in particular of the revulsion many pre- and post-Revolution Russian intellectual youth reserved for the peasantry. He asserts that the “anti-peasant ideological offensive” launched by Maxim Gorky among others during the period during and just after the Civil War was nothing new among this petit-bourgeois layer, having its roots in the failures of the late 19th century “populist” campaigns in the countryside to fuse the young intellectuals with the peasant masses. In the short run, these failures produced “despair and nihilist temptations.” But in the long run, he explains, this experience “secreted the poison of a ferociously anti-peasant ideology” among significant fractions of the socialist intelligentsia, an ideology whose affective tenor ranged from bitterness, to fear, to hatred. Linhart places particular emphasis on a text written by Gorky on the occasion of Lenin’s death, in which he recalls a scene from 1919 in which thousands of peasants arrived from the North of Russia and squatted the Winter Palace. A detail stands out. The peasants, Gorky notes, went out of their way – the bathrooms were functioning perfectly well – to relieve themselves in the precious vases acquired and exhibited by the former Tsars, using them as chamberpots. Gorky is particularly taken aback by this, seeing it as a form of “vandalism” expressing a desire to “dishonor beautiful things,” to “defile the beautiful” – a desire constitutive of the Russian peasant. Such is the mood pervading these former “friends of the people”: a terror before the barbarity and cruelty of these masses who shit in the vases of Tsars.1
Linhart recounts this episode and analyzes this affective trajectory, in order to conclude by noting that he himself “witnessed similar phenomena” among his comrades in the établissement movement in France, particularly among those militants who participated in the first waves of this movement initiated by the Union des jeunesses communistes marxistes-léninistes in the Fall of 1967. Not all of those who entered this movement into production – the establishment of Marxist-Leninist intellectuals at the heart of the French industrial working class – performed this about-face. Linhart himself did not. But a “bitter blathering minority” of these ex-établis experienced just such a hatred, feeding an “entire anti-worker ideology” among “certain post-68 currents.”2
The Union des jeunesses communistes marxistes-léninistes (Union of Marxist-Leninist Communist Youth, hereafter UJCml) – was originally a French student organization formed in December 1966. It resulted from a split within the official, Communist Party-controlled student union, the Union of Communist Students (UEC), by a group of students close to Louis Althusser and led by Robert Linhart. The first seeds of the organization were sown, however, in the period just before this split, when the UEC was wracked by a struggle between two tendencies: a Trotskyist faction allied with a democratizing, reformist faction dubbed the “Italians,” because they wanted to follow the Italian Communist Party’s democratizing example, on one side; and a faction led by Linhart that defended the French Communist Party (PCF) orthodoxy on the other. After successfully purging the Italians and winning control of the UEC, this faction then set its sights on that same Party orthodoxy, undertaking a primarily theoretical rectification and defense of Marxist theory inspired by Althusser himself, against perceived deviations and revisionism within the Party’s theoretical and strategic framework. The virulence of this campaign led to this faction being expelled from the UEC in its turn, and opened the way to the foundation of the UJCml.
The foundation of the UJCml took place during a momentous period. The December 1966 formation of the group coincided with the publication in that same month of an issue of the journal Cahiers marxistes-léninistes, devoted to the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” that was launched in China in August of the same year. The issue included an unattributed text written by Louis Althusser with the title “On the Cultural Revolution.”3 In this article Althusser argued, with a sober enthusiasm, that the revolutionary process then currently underway in China represented an “unprecedented” event in this history of the international communist movement, an event that had nevertheless been anticipated by Marx, Engels and Lenin: the setting in motion of a cultural or “ideological revolution” after an earlier seizing of the means of production and state power. Undertaken in view of protecting an ongoing revolutionary process always threatened with a regression that could divert it down the “capitalist road,” the ideological class struggle placed on the agenda in August of 1966 entailed the emergence of new forms of organization (in particular the “Red Guards”) distinct and in some sense even autonomous from the Party. For good reason: the role of these organizations, according to Althusser, was to “oblige the Party to distinguish itself from the State” after a period during which these two forces underwent, perhaps ineluctably, an at least “partial fusion.”4 If Lenin had already, at the end of his life, seen the need to encourage the formation of non-party organizations – such as the “Worker and Peasant Inspectorate” tasked with, as Althusser puts it, “regulat[ing] the relations between the Party and the State in order to avoid the pitfalls of bureaucracy and technocracy” – it was only with the Cultural Revolution itself that a proliferation of mass ideological organizations capable of singling out so-called “capitalist roaders” within the Chinese Communist Party leadership began to practice this “regulation” on a mass scale. The Cultural Revolution was launched in view of continuing and even intensifying class struggle, in a society in which the means of production had been socialized and the state subsumed, to the point of “fusion,” by the Communist Party. It aimed at bringing that struggle to the heart of the Party itself. The subsequent unfolding of the Cultural Revolution would reveal the risks entailed by the unleashing of such forces.
The UJCml, in its struggle against the “revisionism” of the PCF leadership, clearly took its inspiration from the ideological struggles in China and the forms of organization that emerged within these struggles. (In August 1967, the leadership of the UJCml would make the obligatory trip to Beijing to witness these events firsthand.) But the historical situation was, to be sure, completely different: the France of 1967 was hardly a socialist country torn between the temptation to capitalist relapse and the will to surge forward along the path to full communism. The task the UJCml set for itself was more modest, if still enormous: it would rebuild, from scratch, a properly revolutionary, mass communist party of the sort the PCF, in the UJCml’s estimation, once aspired to be.
The UJCml would last a mere year and a half, being forced to disband by the French state after the tumultuous events of May and June 1968, while also having encountered its own, internal limits during those months. We can identify three basic tactical phases it developed during this period. The first was the formation, soon after the founding of the group, of what were called “Vietnam Base Committees,” organizations meant to full-throatedly support the Vietnamese struggle against American imperialism in opposition to both the PCF’s weak plea for “Peace” in Vietnam – the CVBs countered with “The FLN will win!” – and the rival Trotskyist National Vietnam Committee, with its more critical if still unflinching support for the Vietnamese “revolution.” These committees had the effect of carving out a space for the UJCml on a crowded left, siphoning off many radicalized lycée students in particular who might have otherwise drifted toward the hegemonic Trotskyist position. More importantly, these fledgling mass organizations gave the UJCml a foothold in popular and working class neighborhoods, where the base committees were able to maintain a sustained contact with class layers outside of its student core. Though this initial tactic was not abandoned, and continued up to May 1968, its limitations were nevertheless apparent: the UJCml’s capacity to build an authentic, revolutionary mass communist party would require contact with industrial working class of France at the point of production. It would require entering the factories.
The initial form this took was a series of so-called enquêtes – inquiries or investigations – among worker (and, importantly, poor peasant) milieus in the summer of 1967. Inspired by the celebrated Maoist dictum “no investigation, no right to speak,” the results of these inquiries – which ultimately afforded only limited, external, and discontinuous contact between the militants and those class layers whose experience and self-activity were to form the cornerstone for the building of a new communist party – were deemed insufficient, if not disappointing. Regrouping at the end of the summer after a period of dispersal across France, these militants decided to take a radical tactical turn. The enquêtes would be conceived of as a set of initial surveys, a preliminary sort of range-finding that would prepare for a new “step necessary for the development of the Marxist-Leninist movement in France” and “for the building of the Communist Party.”5 The investigations they had conducted over the summer of 1967 would pave the way for a militant implantation within the large industrial complexes on the outskirts of Paris and other major French cities. The militants of the UJCml would clandestinely enter production as “proletarian syndicalists” in order to cultivate the most combative elements of the French working class and to radicalize, from within, the communist-controlled CGT trade union, transforming it into a “class struggle CGT.” The établissement movement was launched.
There is no “established” translation for this particular term in English language accounts of this movement.6 In the article translated in this issue of Viewpoint, we have chosen, with some regret, to the leave the term untranslated. In all likelihood, the term was derived from a speech made by Mao Zedong in early 1957, and subsequently translated into French. The speech was delivered in midst of the famous “Flowers” campaign that lasted from late 1956 until the next July, followed and to some extent countered by an “anti-Rightist” campaign as well as the launching of the ill-fated (not to say disastrous) “Great Leap Forward” with its people’s communes. Just a few weeks before, Mao had given one of his more important theoretico-political texts, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People.” Now, at a Chinese Communist Party congress devoted to propaganda work, Mao underlines that despite the victories won in the pursuit of “building socialism” by the Chinese people, including much progress toward “socialist industrialization” and the transformation of social relations, the success of the ongoing struggle for socialism will depend on resolving the question as to who – the bourgeoisie or the proletariat – will win on the “ideological front.” The class struggle continues at the heart of the socialist project, even if it no longer takes the form of violent, revolutionary war, as it did prior to the victory of 1949. “There is still class struggle,” he says, and “it is very acute, too.” And: “The question of ideology has now assumed great importance.” This struggle must even take place within the Chinese Communist Party itself, in order to root out the various deviations or errors that plague it: “subjectivism, bureaucracy, and sectarianism.”
It is here that the problem of “intellectuals” gets posed – and its solution wagered. After remarking that among the millions of intellectuals in China there exists a large stratum that still “wavers” in its commitment to Marxism, and indeed a small minority that remain resolutely “antagonistic” toward it, Mao outlines a series of steps of increasing intensity and, implicitly, effectiveness in – this is Mao’s term – “remoulding” intellectuals. Three forms of contact with the masses:
We encourage intellectuals to go among the masses, to go to factories and villages. It is very bad if you never in all your life meet a worker or a peasant. Our state personnel, writers, artists, teachers and scientific research workers should seize every opportunity to get close to the workers and peasants. Some can go to factories or villages just to look around; this may be called “looking at the flowers on horseback” and is better than doing nothing at all. Others can stay for a few months, conducting investigations and making friends; this may be called “dismounting to look at the flowers.” Still others can stay and live there for a considerable time, say, two or three years or even longer; this may be called “settling down.”7
This sort of image is typical of Mao. Among the latter two images – “dismounting” from the horse for a few months, or “settling down” for a few years – we find the two forms of militant practice that would form the backbone of French Maoism and shape the trajectory of its first grouping: the investigation or enquête, and settling down, or s’établir (as the French translations of Mao’s Mandarin had it). The title of the programmatic UJCml tract establishing the aims, scope, and tactics of the établissement movement could very well be translated: “On Settling Down.” And the individual militants that practice this tactic: settlers.
“On Établissement” is indeed a programmatic text: it states the long-term strategic goals addressed by the formation of groups of “settlers” in production, states the impasses and antinomies such a project will inevitably encounter, and proposes a series of tactical steps to resolve or avoid these blockages. If the stated ambitions of the UJCml are to build a revolutionary Communist Party to supplant the revisionary PCF, and if the task of the établissement groups is to cultivate, among the most combative workers in each production unit, leading nuclei or cores on the basis of which the “Marxist-Leninist movement” in France can be constructed, the fundamental impasse these groups will address is a universal one, corresponding to a “law of historical development”: a “divorce” between the revolutionary ideas circulating among students and intellectuals and the spontaneous combativeness of the advanced elements of the working class. The universal solution to this disconnection is, according to the Leninist line, the “fusion” of the revolutionary Marxism and the workers’ movement. But the concrete form this solution will take is what here matters. If the revolutionary ideas of Marxism-Leninism (“the ideas of the mass line, of the strategy and tactics of popular war, of the development in stages of the uninterrupted revolutionary process, of the communist ideology of ‘Serving the People’ and of going to the school of the masses, the style of work that entails self-criticism and submitting to the criticism of the masses”) always take hold first among the intellectuals, only the “working class” can “lead” the revolution.
Mao’s text on propaganda work centered in part on the necessity to “remould” intellectuals. Such a transformation is identified as a key aspect of the “ideological struggle” needed to complete the construction of socialism. “On Établissement” in turn ends with a call to eliminate the “ideological terrorism” that commands “self-revolutionization” on the part of intellectuals. What is proposed instead is that the settler groups see themselves as “intermediaries” between the class and the class’s own development, and as provisional formations that, upon contact with the advanced elements of the class, will give way to “communist work groups” led not by UJCml militants but by workers won over to the revolutionary ideas of Marxism-Leninism. The posture to be assumed is more tortuous than it is made out to be in the tract. Where the post-1968 Gauche prolétarienne, composed of remnants of UJCml and the “libertarian” March 22 movement, will emphasize Mao’s conception of revolutionary organization as first and foremost the mere “systematization” – rather than production – of revolutionary ideas already circulating among the masses, or that emerge within the struggles the masses undertake, here we witness an unarticulated tension between this task of systematizing the thought that emerges from the masses themselves and the importation of revolutionary ideas from without.
The formation of worker-led communist work groups, and the weaving together of networks of these groups that would unify and generalize worker struggles across and between production units and sectors, was to form the infrastructure necessary to build a successor to the PCF. But to do this required “clandestine” work – aimed not at undermining the CGT, or encouraging worker self-activity and self-organization outside the relay belts of the entrenched institutional forces of the classical worker’s movement, but at returning to CGT’s militant roots. “Long live the class struggle CGT!” was the watchword of the groups settling down in the factories. As Pierre Victor, former UJCml militant and eventual leader of the Gauche prolétarienne puts it in a long interview recorded over the course of 1971,
We set out in search of an alliance with the unions. This was incontestably the dominant idea.… [The établis] were to militate within the CGT, to be really tough on positions regarding class struggle, to make the movements harder, to continually radicalize them and to defend the CGT in the name of its tradition.8
The practice of établissement would continue after the dissolution of the UJCml and the formation of the GP in October 1968, but this tactic of restoring the honor of the CGT was ultimately shelved after the catastrophic role the latter played along with its political overseer, the PCF, in breaking the insurrectionary surge of May and June 1968.9 The GP will favor, particularly in 1970-71 and exemplarily at Renault-Billancourt, the formation of what it called “apolitical base committees.”10 Focused primarily on working with unskilled and poorly paid immigrant workers from North Africa, the GP’s tactics came to resemble in some ways, at times consciously, the “direct action syndicalism” of the classical CGT,11 with militants in certain factories even studying Émile Pouget’s 1912 tract on sabotage, while also practicing the militant forms of “illegality” (bossnapping, physical attacks on foremen, and so on) for which it became notorious.12
The établissement movement largely dissipated along with the final dissolution of the Gauche prolétarienne. There were, to be sure, many “settlers” working with other groupings, Maoist or not, that remained. And the movement had, truth be told, lost its vigor even among the GP militants by the time of the latter’s shuttering, shortly after the murder of Pierre Overney by an armed guard outside the gates of a factory (he was attempting to enter it with a group of GP militants) in February 1972. The response of the GP’s clandestine “armed” wing was to kidnap a Renault executive. He was released shortly thereafter. The GP leadership later insisted that the death of Overney presented the GP with an unacceptable choice: to continue meant armed struggle, of the sort witnessed in Italy and Germany. Some ex-GP militants chose that path; others entered the “autonomist” squatter scene; most returned to a non-militant life. The GP’s short, tumultuous existence has given rise to a voluble literature on the subject; the établissement movement has incited fewer narrative accounts, Robert Linhart’s celebrated L’établi (translated into English as The Assembly Line) a notable exception. Many of the settlers returned from the factories full of fear, even rage and hatred, for the workers whom they earlier approached with what Linhart called “mystical adoration”:
In France, I saw, just before or after 1968, young intellectuals “settle down” among the workers and enter the factory with the religious fervor of men to whom the absolute truth was going finally to be revealed; then, after a difficult experience or after failures, these same men abandoned this “settling down” by declaring that the workers had become irremediably bourgeois – indeed, were corrupt or fascist.13
The religious, indeed Christian, note almost always accompanies these accounts. The UJCml’s prescription against petit-bourgeois ideological terrorism – one enters into the factory solely to revolutionize oneself – gave rise to accounts that can often best be described as “testimonies,” or forms of bearing witness. As the etymology of the term underlines, these settlers were transformed into martyrs. It is not by chance that many GP militants rallied to the movement around the Lip factory occupation, and the Larzac land struggles that echoed it in countryside. This occupation marked the resurgence of a radical syndicalism led by Catholic radicals associated not with the CGT but the CFDT14, including a Dominican “red” priest sympathetic to Maoism, that attracted many. Some of these same militants would look back on their years in the GP and their devotion to the Cultural Revolution as an experience comparable to the Gnostic sects of early Christianity. They would write a book to this effect called The Angel.15 Shortly thereafter, they would rally to the rightist, post-gauchiste phenomenon called “The New Philosophy.”
The sequence opened by the launching of the movement in the Fall of 1967 and closed by the resurgence of radical Christian syndicalism during the occupation and “self-management” of the Lip watch factory in 1973-4 took place a mere 40 years ago. It is, all the same, our antiquity. The period in question witnessed the most powerful wave of class struggle seen since the years following the end of the first World War. It was a crepuscular moment. The Lip episode represented the winding down of the Maoist moment and the definitive burning off of the energies released by May ‘68. That this period was characterized, as much in Italy as in France, by forms of struggle that emerged outside of the organizations of the classical workers’ movement and the struggles around wages these organizations orchestrated and managed in concert with the State and the capitalist class, makes both the UJCml ambition to radicalize the CGT from within and the central role the CFDT and its ideology of worker “self-management” played in the Lip occupation fitting, if ironic, brackets for this parenthesis.
In a text devoted to “Building the Party and the Union Question,” the Maoist grouping led by Alain Badiou, Union of Marxist-Leninist Communists of France (UCFML),16 noted that the 1967 UJCml line on the organization of the proletariat – “entryism in unions,” under the slogan “Long live the class struggle CGT!” – mistakenly “postulate[d] that the worker Left is syndicalist,” a position that contradicted “the spontaneous anti-revisionism of this Left, which in fact has as its practical and ideological form anti-syndicalism.”17 This judgment was offered in 1975, a couple years after the final dissolution of the GP and its various avatars, and in the final phases of the Lip episode. It was consistent, however, with the position Badiou developed in early 1969, when he was still a member of the Parti Socialiste Unifié (PSU), heading up a Maoist tendency that would eventually splinter away from the PSU in order to form the UCFML. But in a text presented at the PSU party conference that same year, Badiou announced two ways in which his tendency’s line departed from that of the UJCml. “In May ‘68,” he noted, “comrades who had and still have our active sympathy, and even more than that, the militants of the former Union of Marxist-Leninist Communist Youth were the victims” of a “grave malady of the revolutionary movement”: workerism. Workerism, as Badiou defines it, consists of three related errors: a sentimental depiction of the life of workers, a “blind belief in worker spontaneity,” and a conception of the revolutionary process as carried by workers alone, rather than by a popular “united front” that would fuse worker and student struggles, while bringing onboard “poor peasants” as well. The workerist deviation had led to a massive error at the opening of the May 1968 student revolts: the UJCml thought its “contempt” for the student movement was authorized, insofar as the latter was deemed “petit-bourgeois” and “focused on the University.”18
The passage from Robert Linhart’s book I cited to open this text was written at same moment, just after the cresting and shattering of the Maoist wave in France. It forces us to establish an uncertain connection between the UJCml’s reputed workerism and its use of the établissement tactic, to the subsequent “about-face” experienced by a vocal minority within that movement: the turn from workerism to a virulent hatred of the worker, to a rabid “anti-worker” ideological position that undeniably contributed to the larger rightist turn among the French intelligentsia in the mid-to-late 1970s. In a much more recent set of reflections, Badiou speaks, in terms recalling Linhart, of a “turncoat” phenomena among the GP leadership as well. He traces the reversals characteristic of this leadership to a set of three errors: “an impatient megalomania with regard to the course of history,” an extreme ideologization among its militants, and a “communitarianism” that lead them to organize workers along ethno-cultural lines, particularly Arab workers.19 These criticisms are aimed largely at the GP in the period after it abandons the “Class struggle CGT” line. We are nevertheless authorized to ask, on the basis of Badiou’s earlier criticisms of the UJCml position, what role the adoption of the tactic of établissement played in the ultimate rightist bend in the road many of these militants made. To identify such a turn with the adoption of a mere tactic would be absurd. The tactic was deployed in a determinate context, within a very specific strategic horizon: a workerist ideological environment, an entryist insertion at the point of production in view of rebuilding a union of worker combat, the ambition to build a properly revolutionary mass party that would in turn take on the historical tasks the PCF had renounced. To understand the historical part played by this tactic or to countenance its continuing viability would require accounting for all of these elements, and their combination.20
Bruno Bosteels discusses Gorky’s account in his analysis of Ricardo Piglia’s “Homenaje a Roberto Arlt.” See the chapter “In the Shadow of Mao” in Marx and Freud in Latin America: Politics, Psychoanalysis, and Religion in Times of Terror (London: Verso, 2012). ↩
Robert Linhart, Lénine, Taylor, les paysans (Paris: Seuil, 1976), 59-60. ↩
“On the Cultural Revolution,” trans. Jason E. Smith, Décalages 1 (2012): 1-18. Most articles in the Cahiers Marxistes-Léninistes were published unsigned. Nevertheless, it should be noted that Althusser would likely have been criticized severely within the PCF had this article appeared attributed to him. The editorial conventions of the journal here served as cover. ↩
Ibid., 18, 17. In his excellent account of the Chinese Cultural Revolution as perhaps the “last revolution,” Alain Badiou also characterizes this recourse to “forces foreign to the party” as an at least “partial defusing of the party and the State” (L’Hypothèse communiste [Paris: Lignes, 2009], 90, 92). Badiou’s term for this process of defusing is “désintrication,” a term that is most likely borrowed from Freud’s theory of the fusion and “defusion” of drives. Cf. Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis, The Language of Psychoanalysis, tr. Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York: Norton, 1974), 180. ↩
“On Établissement,” translated in this issue. ↩
The best English language account is Donald Reid’s “Établissement: Working in the Factory to Make Revolution in France,” Radical History Review 88 (Winter 2004): 83-111. ↩
Mao Zedong, “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work,” March 12, 1957. ↩
The Gauche prolétarienne will abandon their ambition to build a “class struggle CGT” in January 1969. For an exhaustive timeline of Maoism in France, see Christian Beuvain and Florent Schoumacher, “Chronologie des maoïsmes en France, des années 1930 à 2010,” Dissidences (Spring 2012). ↩
On Renault-Billancourt, see for example “Rapport d’ênquete: Renault-Billancourt,” Cahiers Prolétaires 1 (January 1971): 48-59. This report details the forms of sabotage undertaken by militant workers at Renault-Billancourt and the formation, in late 1970, of “Anti-cop Worker Groups” in response to the “terrorism” exercised by plant management. These groups took it upon themselves to attack “bosses” singled out for such terrorism, in forms ranging from the puncturing of automobile tires to “face smashing [cassage de gueule].” ↩
The CGT of the first decade of the 20th century was receptive to anarcho-syndicalist tendencies, as evidenced in the famous Charter of Amiens of 1906. ↩
See Marnix Dressen, “Le mouvement d’établissement: une résurgence du syndicalisme d’action directe?,” Le mouvement social 168, no. 3 (1994): 86. The GP was, of course, notorious for the more spectacular forms of direct action it staged outside the point of production: the theft and free distribution of subway tickets, the looting of luxury grocery stores to feed the poor, and so on. ↩
Robert Linhart, Lénine, Taylor, les paysans (Paris: Seuil, 1976), 59-60. ↩
The Confédération française démocratique du travail was formed in 1964, but it originated out of the Christian syndicalism of the former French Confederation of Christian Workers. During and after May 1968, the CFDT was close to the eclectic Parti socialiste unifié (PSU) and by 1970 organized its syndical activity around the idea of autogestion, or worker self-management. ↩
Christian Jambet and Guy Lardreau, L’ange: pour une cynégétique du semblant (Paris: Grasset, 1976). ↩
Union des communistes de France Marxiste-Léniniste. ↩
May 1968 demonstrated this: “In 1968, worker anti-syndicalism was no doubt spontaneous, confused. But it was also, already, the synthesis at a first level of a prolonged historical experience: that of the struggle between two paths, between revisionism and the proletarian position, such as it appears in a practical, wild, form in any class struggle that is the least bit serious. Whence the massive, global anti-syndicalism in May 68.” Cf. “Édification du parti et question syndicale.” ↩
A. Badiou, H. Jancovici, D. Menetrey, E. Terray, Contribution au problème de la construction d’un parti marxiste-léniniste de type nouveau (Paris : F. Maspéro, 1969), 42. Badiou does not mention the specific imprecation cast upon this movement by the political bureau of the UJCml on May 9, one week into the rebellion: “the largest anti-communist movement since 1956,” i.e. the revolt in Hungary that was smashed by Soviet tanks. It should be noted that Badiou also discusses the ambient sentiment within the PSU of giving “priority to implantation in enterprises,” but does not address the UJCml’s settlement initiative per se. ↩
Alain Badiou, “Roads to Renegacy,” New Left Review 53 (Sept.-Oct. 2008): 125-33. ↩
Thanks to the editors of Viewpoint, Asad Haider and Salar Mohandesi, and Rachel Kushner, for their help in the drafting of this short essay. ↩