As Herr Sch
mitt would then have it, you, as a political animal, distinguish friend from enemy. That’s the most basic thing that you do. It’s the transcendental act (of perception) that, however indirectly, grounds all your empirical deeds. Of course, it must be added that you can only distinguish your friend after you’ve distinguished your enemy. The concepts of friend and enemy do not spring into existence together. “Friendship” is derived from “enemy-ship.” We hear this sentiment humorously echoed in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian by the Levianthan-like character of Judge Holden, in part a satiric representation of a Sch mittian type of conservative douchebaggery, when he ponderously proclaims that “what joins men together … is not the sharing of bread but the sharing of enemies.”
So the enemy is primitive, the friend derived. One of the Big Sch
mitt’s more famous disciples, Leo Strauss (a.k.a. the Little Sch mitt or Sch mitten Little), explained why his master was right to declare the precedence of the enemy over the friend. The enemy is primitive, the argument goes, because human nature is essentially evil, i.e. rapacious, murderous, bloodthirsty, always longing for a bit of ultraviolence. The foundation of human awareness is thus fear: the fear of dying in a violent way (that is, of being killed) at the hand of this dangerous animal, man. Presumably this fear arises from the knowledge of human evil, which, I guess, is supposed somehow to be a priori? Anyway, in light of these conclusions, the Little Sch mitt determined that humanity was simply in need of being ruled, top-down, by a kind of benevolent dictatorship that would constantly remind its subjects, through a crafty use of myth or religion, of the dark and scary substance of human nature, and thereby keep them in line.
There are, of course, models of human nature that invert the primacy of “the enemy” and of “evil.” Models as divergent as those of Nietzsche and Alain Badiou. Nietzsche, ironically, provides the most obvious critique. It’s a critique that was laid out half a century in advance of the drizzling Sch
mitts. It’s funny thinking about their arguments in light of Nietzsche’s conception of “slave morality,” which indeed formulates the primacy of “the enemy” and “evil.” Of course, slave morality is itself a parodic derivation of master morality, which does not make the distinction between a primary “evil” and a derivative “good” but between a primary “good” and a derivative “bad.” Nietzsche’s own philosophical and political goal is to parody the parody, to invent a form of sensibility that is closer to the grandfather than to the father, that holds a new kind of “good” primary and a new kind of “bad” derivative. This is the form of sensibility of the “comedians of the ascetic ideal.”
Badiou also holds “good” primary and “evil” derivative. But these are not primary and derivative features of human nature, but rather primary and derivative features of the Event that interpellates the human animal as an “Immortal.”
This is a totally perfunctory account of Badiou, and I will have to flesh it out in time, but I’m in view of a point I want to make. Actually I would like to perform a ritual of unnatural nuptials. I want to marry Nietzsche’s idea of a “comic” transvaluation of values to Badiou’s idea of “immortality.” Because I basically think that the idea of immortality is somehow inherent to comic sensibility. As inversions of the slavish conservative model, the accounts of Nietzsche and Badiou (however divergent they are from one another) would seem both to refuse the primacy of the fear of being killed in a violent way by another human being. They downgrade or replace that fear with something else: a primal joy perhaps, the joy of creation, the joy of solidarity with the friend, the joy of the intimations of immortality…?