Alain Badiou talks somewhere, quite grandly, about art; a theory to art to which he does not subscribe, in which art appears as something like "the condescension of the infinite into the material abjection of the body."
There are many good reasons to talk about art. It's pleasant to discuss pleasant things. It can be a way of obliquely discussing political questions, since the distinctions between ethics and aesthetics are somewhat indefinite. Also there is a great deal of money sloshing around unrestrained by dreary market imperatives.
It is perhaps not Professor Badiou's intention here to be working through an explicit critique of political conservatism.
The infinite is certainly a category of the postmodern political aesthetic. In employing such figures such as "the statistical mysteries of GNP" one suggests the real abstraction of things; infinite displacement. But this way of looking at the world is prefigured by more ancient ideas, those of modern and precapitalist conservatism.
Conservatism has an afiliation with theology. It is nonetheless fundamentally pragmatic and emotional. Its basis is something like the idea that human institutions are justified by a series of validating operations tending to infinity. This perpective is, or ought to be, underwritten by the relatively static nature of the society in which it subsists. Several strands of distinctively modern ideology depend to an extent on the same feeling, notably evolutionary biology and political economy.
Having carefully studied Duchamp's urinal, not to mention the theoretical articles supporting it in The Blind Man, it is hard not to be convinced that the opinion of many art-school professionals, who assert that this work expresses Duchamp's personal lyricism, and that whatever such a remarkable individual designates as art is so, is not only wrong, but expresses prejudices comparable to those Duchamp attacks. The affective basis of Duchamp's work is, clearly, the conflation of the conservative paradigm, where an institution is validated retroactively irrespective of its practical usefulness (as a thing detached from its circumstances, such detachment being unacceptable), and an object of no practical usefulness as art (though with undeniable practical usefulness in itself, as Hegel was fond of saying). This is a deconstruction of conservatism, and it's odd to find it discussed in a way that conforms to the tenets of this same conservatism.
The conservative instinct is, however, very strong, meshing as it does with material interests, and can be expected to cling tenaciously to the bottle-rack and the bicycle-wheel.