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THIRTY WAYS OF

EASILY RECOGNISING
AN

OLD-MARXIST
Georges Peyrol (a.k.a. Alain Badiou)

1. An old-Marxist never speaks of countries, but of social formations. He does not say China, or Senegal but: the Chinese social formation, the Senegalese social formation. Everything is formed, everything is social. 2. The old-Marxist often pronounces this sentence: the study of the Soviet social formation remains to be undertaken. He thus suspends his judgement about Russian imperialism. The wisdom of doubt. 3. The old-Marxist is painfully tormented by the social composition of the working class. It is a study that remains to be undertaken. 4. There is no doubt, however, as to the existence of the workers movement. Perhaps it is currently rather discrete. But the old-Marxist is certain: one of these days the workers movement will give us something to talk about. 5. The old-Marxist fears the stranglehold of the multinationals. The extent of this stranglehold is a study which, in great part, remains to be undertaken. 6. The old-Marxist supports the left against the right. He knows that the left is not perfect: Capital and business put up fierce resistance to it. But there is nothing else. Besides, with the left, the workers movement has better chances of giving us something to talk about. 7. The old-Marxist is prudent concerning the PCF, its politics, its character. It seems that the PCF is, nevertheless, a workers party, or a class party, or a part of the class party, or an opportunistic tendency, but a wellestablished one, of the class, or the class itself, or a class bureaucracy. Its study, obviously, remains to be undertaken. 8. One thing is certain: if the PCF were more democratic, everything would be a lot better. 9. The old-Marxist is often persuaded that if the PCF resembled the (Italian) PCI, the workers movement would be doing a lot better.

178 _ PRELOM 8 _ IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE A MARXIST IN PHILOSOPHY?

10. The old-Marxist knows the (bureaucratic) failings of the unions, but he knows they are indispensable, that they constitute the armature of the workers movement. The unions are the organs of the economic struggle, the first stage of the class struggle, which is in turn the antechamber of the political struggle, the supreme stage of the class struggle, which is in turn consolidated by the ideological struggle, which is the hyper-supreme stage of the class struggle, with which the oldMarxist is occupied. 11. The old-Marxist wages the ideological class struggle by defending, in conferences and journals, old-Marxist positions. 12. The old-Marxist studies and edits Capital with ceaselessly renewed ardour. 13. The old-Marxist studies factories in terms of the organisation of work. His study leads him to the conclusion that the workers movement must change this organisation, which is outdated. The ageing bosses do not know what to do with this change. Let the unions enlighten them! 14. The old-Marxist is very interested in the CFDT. Firstly, there reigns within it a supremely democratic ambience. Secondly, it accepts as worthy interlocutors some old-Marxists. Thirdly, it is realist. Fourthly, it venerates above all the workers movement, which they call the movement of the workers, but it could be worse. 15. The old-Marxist thinks there is a rise in racism. Faced with it, he constructs a clever dam: to make immigrants at least the good ones, the well-established ones vote for the left. 16. For the old-Marxist, the University is a very important question. He accepts the heavy burden of its management (in committees and other organs), in order to wage within it the ideological class struggle. 17. For the old-Marxist the key Marxist-concept is mode of production. Several articulated modes of production make up a social formation. The place in the process of production defines the type of belonging to the social formation. Thus, the old-Marxist is a professor, and he announces it with the modesty of the materialist. One must know what one is talking about, and not extrapolate. The harsh constraint of science. 18. Another study remains to be undertaken: one of the axioms of the oldMarxist is that Marxism does not have a theory of the modern State. This is a very important cause behind the tribulations of Marxism. Something should be done about it. 19. The old-Marxist has a passion for the Italian workers movement and its thinkers. Italy is his second conceptual homeland. 20. The old-Marxist despises Hegel. He venerates Spinoza. 21. The old-Marxist thinks that in the Little Red Book there is 90% of morality and at most, 10% of Marxism. 22. The old-Marxist infinitely analyses the plans of the bourgeoisie. And equally, the plans of imperialism. He hopes to oppose to them a counter-

Georges Peyrol a.k.a. Alain Badiou _ THIRTY WAYS OF EASILY RECOGNISING AN OLD-MARXIST _ 179

plan of the workers movement. 23. An old-Marxist serenely vituperates the new philosophers. Neither new, nor philosophers says the old-Marxist, he who is a (materialist) philosopher and does not ask himself the question of the new or the old, because scientific Marxism has no wrinkles. At most, some lacunae. 24. The old-Marxist has never seen a worker other than a minor union clerk. 25. The old-Marxist accords all the required importance to the following point: the workers movement must not cut itself from the petit bourgeoisie. After all, arent petit bourgeois also workers? 26. The old-Marxist does not make a song and dance out of the fact that France is an imperialist country, since it pales besides monstrous American imperialism. 27. The old-Marxist sets a suspicious eye on the plans of the German bourgeoisie. He uncovers the threat of a German-American model. He has a lot more tenderness for German pacifists. 28. The old-Marxist has a strong tendency to consider that in Poland, one must above all study the influence of the church. 29. The old-Marxist thinks that he is a leftist intellectual, in the sub-section critical communists. 30. The old-Marxist is between thirty and fifty years old. The old-Marxist is rather young.
source: Georges Peyrol, 30 moyens de reconnatre coup sr un vieux-marxiste, Le Perroquet 29-30 (1983), pp. 5-6 translated by Nina Power and Alberto Toscano