Can democracy be the enemy of democracy itself?
When Alain Badiou was asked why he claimed that nowadays the enemy is not capitalism but democracy he responded:
“My thought about this topic is a little more complex. Not only I think that capitalism as a system is an enemy of human emancipation. I also think that there is no signification today in the idea of directly fighting against it, because capitalism is an abstract and objective system, a structural domination. So we have to fight the political expression of capitalism, and not directly its economic imaginary.”
When people come out to fight against capitalism, what are they fighting against? How can you fight against something that exists not just in the objects but in the very abstract idea of the objects?
And how can democracy be the enemy of democracy itself?
The problem with voting is that it doesn’t give the whole story. There is always an element that goes beyond the vote itself, something beyond the decision itself. A decision becomes more than the result of the decision and this something else, this remainder sometimes remains to haunt the decision.
When after a debate you come to an agreement or you “agree to disagree” you are left with more than just the thesis and antithesis. This is the heart or the kernel of a relationship, that “something” that can’t be put into words. But in some ways democracy doesn’t have the sophistication to incorporate this something else, this surplus.
If we continue to fetishise democracy as a thing itself, a self contained system, we will continue to be haunted by this extra dimension.
In some ways Karl Marx didn’t acknowledge the Karl Marx in Karl Marx. Yes you have this extra remainder called surplus value, but what about the surplus of the value itself?