Socialism’s Encore

  • Jason Barker Justin Clemens Kyung Hee University, School of Global Communication, Republic of Korea, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, Australia
Keywords: artificial intelligence, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Karl Marx, materialism, socialism, Voltaire


This text is a serious parody of Alain Badiou’s cruise ship lecture on Edmund Husserl and mathematics to an empty auditorium in Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialism (2010). Drawing on elements and implications of Badiou’s lecture, as well as from Jacques Lacan’s famous “Impromptu at Vincennes” (1969) and his seminar of 1972-73, the authors recreate a comparable—or incomparable ?—scene of instruction on an imaginary cruise ship in the Aegean. Jason Barker delivers the lecture in propria persona. The presentation of this scene is further nested à la a Russian Matryoshka doll, according to the ancient generic logic of the fictional “found and edited manuscript.” In this case, the fiction is that the transcript of Barker’s lecture has been recovered, digitally transcribed, edited and annotated by an artificial intelligence unit called AI SYSBRO 68 from the year 2210, following the sinking of the cruise ship due to pilot error sometime in our near future—2020? 2023? the data remains unclear—and a subsequent planetary apocalypse due to climate breakdown. The AI bot’s annotations are themselves an attempt to explain to its networked brethren, denominated AI ALLSYS, some of the names and terms that appear in the lecture; however, given the AI’s situation, its entirely in- or non-human nature, it is not always the most reliable or accurate of editors. It speaks of humans, which it calls “HUMS,” to other AIs: it has no “experience” or “knowledge” of the human, other than the transcribed code itself and the links of the code-terms to other code in its database. We must recall that code is not language: the former has no gaps, whereas the latter is always missing from its place. The manifest theme of the text is the problematic relation of socialism and revolution. The threat of gaplessness emerges as a telos of technology and the complete catastrophe of infinite progress.


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How to Cite
Justin ClemensJB. Socialism’s Encore. FV [Internet]. 2019Dec.31 [cited 2021Jan.17];40(3). Available from:
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