The issues around the recent Arizona law and other concerns dealing with ethnic studies have brought out the best and worst from people. I claim that this is simply an issue that cannot be ignored, but has to be dealt with in a truly political way.
I think Alain Badiou, who has worked for immigrant rights in France, has written in his Ethics some important things that need to be considered in dealing with Arizona and the signs of anti-immigrant feelings. He notes that we are still living in the reality of nation-states and borders; that reality does not look like it is going to change anytime soon. Considering this reality, the questions we need to ask are whether or not the State is dealing in an egalitarian/civil manner.
There are 3 questions that need to be asked. 1. How do we concretely treat the people who are here? 2. How do we deal with those who would like to be here? 3. What is it about the situation in the original countries that makes them want to leave?
These 3 questions get at the heart of the matter. These questions, in this particular order, are a better way of formulating the problem than cries for "open borders" (which don't mean anything, honestly) or the blatant racist/nationalist opinions of various gasbags. This is a serious political issue that cannot be ignored...
In an interview, Badiou said: "My philosophy desires affirmation. I want to fight for; I want to know what I have for the Good and to put it to work. I refuse to be content with the "least evil." It is very fashionable right now to be modest, not to think big. Grandeur is considered a metaphysical evil. Me, I am for grandeur, I am for heroism. I am for the affirmation of the thought and the deed."
This is coming from a guy who likes heroes from the Westerns, which is a genre I grew up watching as well. There is something admirable about knowing what is the good within a given situation. A hero is a hero for affirming the good in a way that does go against popular opinion or because he or she sees something disgusting in evil. Like Barth and Augustine, Badiou does not want to give a name to a metaphysical/radical Evil first and then talk about the Good. No, the Good comes first only then followed by the parasitic evil. When evil rears its ugly head it needs to be smashed...
I'm literally killing 2 birds with 1 stone. First, I'm working through Church Dogmatics I:1 & I:2 in a doctoral Directed Reading with Dr. John Franke. So far, the reading and the conversations have been stimulating. I will also be reading the so-called Postmodern Barth books (Ward, Johnson, Andrews) as well. In light of these readings, I want to then have Barth dialogue with thinkers like Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben, or Alain Badiou (I just had Barth dialogue with Zizek in a paper on theology/psychology).
I think that we might be past the postmodern or "religious turn" readings often associated with Levinas and Derrida. This is why I plan to put Barth in conversation with the other figures because they are often thinking past Derrida and Levinas (as well as Heidegger).
Second, I need to get ready for my posting for the Karl Barth Blog coming up in July. I will be putting Barth in conversation with Badiou. I wrote a paper for a Theological Method's seminar led by Nancey Murphy on Barth and Badiou on the Event. There are some nice connections but also some clear differences. My goal is to look for the actual connecting points. There have been a number of books recently published that are starting to consider Badiou's Paul book. But more about that later... The idea for my current seminar is to look at Badiou's critique of the turn to language and otherness and see if Barth would connect with him. We shall see if this is successful.
By the way, notice how grandfatherly Badiou and Barth both look in the pictutres. I hope I look that hugable!