A. Badiou “Philosophy and the Event”


“At the same time, we have countless texts by Mao in which he recalls that it is necessary to economize human forces — contrary to Stalin. There are lots of accounts that attest to the way in which he conducted himself with ordinary soldiers, especially during the Long March. He imposed, for example, the obligation of giving speeches and organizing ceremonies in honour of anyone who had fallen, even it they were a cook or a simple soldier. Mao, who never ceased making war, thought of the revolution in terms of war but he also insisted on everyone being respected for who they are. He was extremely attentive to what he called ‘the resolution of contradictions among the people’: for example, how to relate to people, the relations between people, the form of meetings, and popular power.
To consider Mao a ‘terrible’ figure is a particularly bad choice of adjective given his appreciation of popular forms of conviviality, his penchant for humour. This figure is not Stalin. Mao was an approachable person, always smiling. He was even made fun of for his taste for jokes. The image of Mao fabricated today is completely in keeping with counter-revolutionary procedures. It resembles more and more the way Robespierre was hauled over the coals as morbid, withdrawn and cold as ice. There is, in truth, a whole book to write on the way revolutionaries are portrayed in counter-revolutionary literature: Robespierre, Stalin, Mao and Lenin himself are all put through the mill. The same thing has even been tried with Marx, who was hardly, after all, a certified blood drinker. There are books that denounce him for having slept with his maid! In sum, the counter-revolutionary propaganda is doing its job. And it is crucial, for it, to definitively discredit revolutionary episodes and the proper names associated with them. Yet, even someone as moderate and as ‘republican’ as Clémenceau, who was someone who violently smashed worker’s strikes, ended up saying that the Revolution was for him a single block, such that one couldn’t state, without ultimately giving reason to the established counter-revolutionaries, that Danton was Good and Robespierre Evil. The communist experience is also a single block. This doesn’t mean that everything about it was good, but simply that it is necessary to come to terms with this period. If you don’t come to terms with it you ratify the adversary’s propaganda.”


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