Sarkozy’s love of crisis management – exemplified in the French presidency of the European Union, which was transformed into a permanent crisis-management machine, from Ireland’s no to the Lisbon Treaty, the Russo-Georgian war, and the global financial meltdown – is another symptom of his relative powerlessness. Resolving crises, especially diplomatic crises, substitutes for a longer term political programme; urgency has its own meaning and logic, like war, which absolves those involved from providing any meaning of their own for what they do and why.
Badiou decodes Sarkozy, but in a way that exaggerates his power and his purpose. Sarkozy’s boundless energy and forceful obsession should alert us to the vacuity of his political project. Far from being a neo-liberal demagogue or a state terrorist in the making, Sarkozy’s politics are pragmatic, short-termist and opportunistic. This corresponds to the underlying social disorientation and it is typical of both the left and the right. Sarkozy’s rise has signified not only the decomposition of the French left, but also of the French right.