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The Philosophy of Government



Alain Badiou

translated by Susan Spitzer


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Logics of


The Philosophy of Government

To Those Who Think…

Introduction to Encore

Psychoanalytic Cities

Tarantino's Girls

Saint Simeon

Hegel, Sex and Marriage

Richard Phillips

[…]When a dyer wants to dye a woolen fabric purple, he starts by selecting from the whole rainbow of colors a fabric that's naturally white, and it's only after he's carefully prepared it, so that it can absorb the brightest color, that our man steeps it in purple dye. When a cloth is dyed in this way, the dye is color-fast and it can be washed, even with soap, and the color's brightness won't come out. But if you go about it some other way, regardless of whether the cloth is colored or is white but poorly prepared, you know what happens: it all comes out the first time it's washed and you look like a perfect fool. Now suppose that our educational work, aimed at making all the country's inhabitants capable of being the guardians of our system of government, is of the same sort as the dyer's and that, for the purple of our principles, well-prepared Subjects are needed. It's for just such a preparation that literature, music, and mathematics, as well as the history of revolutions or martial arts, are of use to us where the younger generation are concerned. So let's posit that the basic principles of our system of government are a kind of dye for the soul, and that the aim of the educational protocol we've proposed is simply to allow young people to take on the color of the principles so that it's fast, and, by combining their basic natural goodness with education, to acquire an unshakable opinion about what should be feared and ultimately about all the important issues, an opinion that can't be removed by either that potent detergent that can wash everything out--by which I mean indiscriminate pleasure, which is more effective at cleansing the Subject of everything that fosters its worth than are ashes or brushes--or the trio of pain, fear, and selfish desire, which together make up the chemical formula of a fearful detergent. I call "courage" that sort of power which, in any and all circumstances, safeguards the correct, lawful opinion about what must or must not be feared, preventing life's ups and downs from fading its brightness[…]

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