An Essential Philosophical Thesis: “It Is Right to Rebel against the Reactionaries.”

Alain Badiou (2005) An Essential Philosophical Thesis: “It Is Right to Rebel against the Reactionaries.” Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 13(3), 669–677.

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We are familiar with Mao Zedong’s formula: “Marxism comprises many principles, but in the final analysis they can all be brought back to a single sentence: it is right to rebel against the reactionaries.” This phrase, which appears so simple, is at the same time rather mysterious: how is it conceivable that Marx’s enormous theoretical enterprise, with its ceaselessly and scrupulously reworked and recast analyses, can be concentrated in a single maxim: “It is right to rebel against the reactionaries”? And what is this maxim? Are we dealing with an observation, summarizing the Marxist analysis of objective contradictions, the ineluctable confrontation of revolution and counterrevolution? Is it a directive oriented toward the subjective mobilization of revolutionary forces? Is Marxist truth the following: one rebels, one is right?1 Or is it rather: one must rebel? The two, perhaps, and even more the spiraling movement from the one to the other, real rebellion (objective force) being enriched and returning on itself in the consciousness of its rightness or reason (subjective force)…

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