On November 9th, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. Alain Badiou responded in a talk at the University of California, Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the program in Experimental Critical Theory and the Center for European and Russian Studies.
I was thinking about French poetry, which is in a play of Racine, in fact. It’s a beautiful, beautiful sentence. In French: “C’était pendant l’horreur d’une profonde nuit.” In English: “It was during the horror of a profound night.” Maybe Racine was thinking of the election of Trump. It was during the horror of a profound night. And so, it was like an obligation for me to speak, to discuss, that sort of event, in a negative sense, because it’s impossible for me to be here in front of you and to speak of something very interesting in academic terms. I think it’s a necessity to think, to discuss, what happens during the horror of the profound night, just yesterday. You know, for me, but I think for many people, it has been, in some sense, a sort of surprise. And we are often, in that sort of surprise, under the law of affects: fear, depression, anger, panic, and so on. But we know that philosophically, all these affects are not really a good reaction, because in some sense, it’s too much affect in front of the enemy. And so, I think it’s a necessity to think beyond the affect, beyond fear, depression , and so on — to think the situation of today, the situation of the world today, where something like that is possible, that somebody like Trump becomes the president of the United States. And so, my goal this evening is to present, not exactly an explanation, but something like a clarification of the possibility of something like that, and also some indications, submitted to discussion, concerning what we must do after that; what we must do, which is not precisely to be under the law of affect, of negative affect, but at the level of thinking, action, political determination, and so on.