Polity

  • Trump

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 25 Avril 2019

    The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States sent shockwaves across the globe. How was such an outcome even possible? In two lectures given at American universities in the immediate aftermath of the election, the leading French philosopher Alain Badiou helps us to make sense of this extraordinary occurrence. He argues that Trump's victory was the symptom of a global crisis made up of four characteristics: the triumph of a brutal form of global capitalism, the decomposition of the established political elite, the growing frustration and disorientation that many people feel today, and the absence of a compelling alternative vision. It was in this context that Trump could emerge as a new kind of political figure that was both inside and outside the political order, a member of the Republican Party who, at the same time, represents something outside the system. The progressive political challenge now is to create something new that offers people a real choice, a radical alternative based on principles of universality and equality.    This concise account of the meaning of Trump should be read by everyone who wants to understand what is happening in our world today.

  • Black

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 18 Octobre 2016

    Who hasn't had the frightening experience of stumbling around in the pitch dark? Alain Badiou experienced that primitive terror when he, with his young friends, made up a game called "The Stroke of Midnight." The furtive discovery of the dark continent of sex in banned magazines, the beauty of black ink on paper, but also the mysteries of space and the grief of mourning: these are some of the things we encounter as the philosopher takes us on a trip through the private theater of his mind, at the whim of his memories. Music, painting, politics, sex, and metaphysics: all contribute to making black more luminous than it has ever been.

  • The history of humanity has only just begun. The Neolithic Revolution may have endowed us with unparalleled means of communication, subsistence, and knowledge acquisition. However, it is clear in today's world that inequality, power hierarchies, and violence persist on a greater scale than ever before.
    In these two lectures, delivered to the large number of young people who gathered in the Lycée Henri-IV and the École nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris to hear him speak, Alain Badiou argues that we are still firmly rooted in the Neolithic era, subjugated by the structures of political power - property, family, and state. He calls for a second revolution to restore to each person their freedom and agency. Through an analysis of recent attempts at political organisation, including the Arab Spring, Occupy, and Nuit debout, Badiou shows that progress toward this goal will only be achieved through an emphasis on sameness, not difference.
    This rallying cry to the young from one of France's most renowned radical thinkers will appeal to the many who read and follow his work, and to the millions of young people around the world who are passionate about redressing the deeply entrenched inequalities and divisions in our societies today.

  • Number and Numbers

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 18 Mai 2018

    The political regime of global capitalism reduces the world to an endless network of numbers within numbers, but how many of us really understand what numbers are? Without such an understanding, how can we challenge the regime of number? In Number and Numbers Alain Badiou offers an philosophically penetrating account with a powerful political subtext of the attempts that have been made over the last century to define the special status of number. Badiou argues that number cannot be defined by the multiform calculative uses to which numbers are put, nor is it exhausted by the various species described by number theory. Drawing on the mathematical theory of surreal numbers, he develops a unified theory of Number as a particular form of being, an infinite expanse to which our access remains limited. This understanding of Number as being harbours important philosophical truths about the structure of the world in which we live. In Badiou's view, only by rigorously thinking through Number can philosophy offer us some hope of breaking through the dense and apparently impenetrable capitalist fabric of numerical relations. For this will finally allow us to point to that which cannot be numbered: the possibility of an event that would deliver us from our unthinking subordination of number.

  • The Century

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 18 Mai 2018

    Everywhere, the twentieth century has been judged and condemned: the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and criminal ideologies, of empty illusions, of genocides, of false avant-gardes, of democratic realism everywhere replaced by abstraction. It is not Badiou's wish to plead for an accused that is perfectly capable of defending itself without the authors aid. Nor does he seek to proclaim, like Frantz, the hero of Sartre's Prisoners of Altona, 'I have taken the century on my shoulders and I have said: I will answer for it!' The Century simply aims to examine what this accursed century, from within its own unfolding, said that it was. Badiou's proposal is to reopen the dossier on the century - not from the angle of those wise and sated judges we too often claim to be, but from the standpoint of the century itself.

  • Migrants and Militants

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 17 Avril 2020

    The question of migration has come to dominate the news agenda in many countries, but what does the word `migrant' really mean today and how should we respond to those who are labelled `migrants'?
    In this short book Alain Badiou argues that our way of thinking about migration should be governed both by an ethical duty to welcome the migrant in the name of hospitality and also by the urgent need to put an end to the global capitalist oligarchy that has produced the migrant as a figure of contemporary crisis.  For the `migrant,' argues Badiou, is in fact a nomadic proletarian.  Today, our homeland is the world, and any meaningful politics must include those who come to us and who represent the universal nomadic proletariat.       
    Writing with the rigor, clarity, and polemical flair that have made him one of the world's most influential philosophers, and drawing on a rich body of material including contemporary poetry and the words of an anonymous migrant, Badiou develops a powerful riposte to those who have stoked the fear of migrants and exploited the migration question for political ends.

  • On 13 November 2015, Paris suffered the second wave of brutal terrorist attacks in a year, leaving 130 dead and many more seriously injured. How are we to make sense of these violent acts and what do they tell us about the forces shaping our world today?
    In this short book the influential philosopher Alain Badiou argues that while these violent events are commonly portrayed as acts of Islamic terrorism, in fact they attest to a much deeper malaise that is connected to the triumph of global capitalism and to new forms of imperialism that involve the weakening of states, such that whole regions of the world have been turned into ungovernable zones run by armed gangs in which ordinary people are forced to live the most precarious lives. These zones have become the breeding ground for a new kind of nihilism that seeks revenge for the domination of the West. And it is this new nihilism, on to which Islam has been grafted, that exerts a particular appeal to the young men and women on the margins who carried out the atrocities in Paris.
    The tragedy of 13 November might appear at first sight to be rooted in immigration and Islam but our wound is not so recent: it is rooted in a deeper set of transformations that have reshaped our world, creating small islands of privilege amidst large masses of the destitute and depriving us of a politics that would offer a serious alternative to the present.

  • The True Life

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 23 Mai 2017

    'I'm 79 years old. So why on earth should I concern myself with speaking about youth?' This is the question with which renowned French philosopher Alain Badiou begins his passionate plea to the young. Today young people, at least in the West, are on the brink of a new world. With the decline of old traditions, they now face more choices than ever before. Yet powerful forces are pushing them in dangerous directions, into the vortex of consumerism or into reactive forms of traditionalism. This is a time when young people must be particularly attentive to the signs of the new and have the courage to venture forth and find out what they're capable of, without being constrained by the old prejudices and hierarchical ideas of the past. And if the aim of philosophy is to corrupt youth, as Socrates was accused of doing, this can mean only one thing: to help young people see that they don't have to go down the paths already mapped out for them, that they are not just condemned to obey social customs, that they can create something new and propose a different direction as regards the true life.

  • Cinema

    Alain Badiou

    • Polity
    • 22 Août 2013

    For Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badiou's account of cinema.
    He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that constitutes the film is passed on to the viewer, who thereby encounters an aspect of the world and its exaltation and vitality as well as its difficulty and complexity. Cinema is an impure art cannibalizing its times, the other arts, and people - a major art precisely because it is the locus of the indiscernibility between art and non-art. It is this, argues Badiou, that makes cinema the social and political art par excellence, the best indicator of our civilization, in the way that Greek tragedy, the coming-of-age novel and the operetta were in their respective eras.

  • The fall of the Berlin wall was seen by many as the final triumph of liberal democracy over communism. But now, in the wake of the great financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath, things look a little different. New questions are arising about capitalism and democracy, new social movements are challenging established institutions and new political possibilities are emerging. Is democracy an inevitable hostage of capitalism, or can it reinvent itself to meet the challenge of globalization? In an exclusive, previously unpublished dialogue, Alain Badiou, a key figure of the radical left and a leading advocate of the communist idea, and Marcel Gauchet, a major exponent of anti-totalitarianism and a champion of liberal democracy, confront one another. Together, they take stock of history, interrogate one another's views and defend their respective projects: on the one side, the revival of ?the communist hypothesis,? and on the other, the radical reform of a contested democratic model.

  • Alain Badiou was born in 1937 in Rabat and Jean-Claude Milner in 1941 in Paris. They were both involved in the "Red Years" at the end of the Sixties and both were Maoists, but while Badiou was focusing all his attention on China, Milner was already taking his distance from it. Over the years, that original dispute over the destiny of gauchisme was fueled by deep, new differences between them concerning the role of philosophy and politics.
    In this wide-ranging and compelling dialogue, these two great thinkers explore the role of politics in today's world and consider the need for a formal theory of communist political organization. Whether they are addressing the era of revolutions, and in particular the Paris Commune and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, or discussing the infinite, the universal, the name "Jew", violence, capitalism, the left, or Europe, Jean-Claude Milner's dyed-in-the-wool skepticism constantly runs up against Alain Badiou's doctrinal passion.
    This extraordinary debate ultimately leads to new areas of interrogation and shows that there is no better remedy for the crushing power of media-influenced thinking than the revival of the great disputes of the mind.

  • In Praise of Theatre is Alain Badiou's latest work on the `most complete of the arts,' the theatrical stage. This book, certain to be of great interest to scholars and theatre practitioners alike, elaborates the theory of the theatre developed by Badiou in works such as Rhapsody for the Theatre and the `Theses on Theatre' and enquires into the status of a theatre that would be adequate to our `contemporary, market-oriented chaos.'
    In a departure from his usual emphasis upon canonical figures of the stage such as Bertolt Brecht and Samuel Beckett, Badiou devotes In Praise of Theatre largely to a consideration of contemporary practitioners, including Jan Fabre, Brigitte Jacques and Romeo Castellucci. In addition, the book features an incisive analysis of the precarious status of the theatre today, in which Badiou describes not only the current threats to the theatre from the right, but the far more insidious threat from the left.

  • In a well-known text called `The Communist Hypothesis', first published in 2007, the renowned philosopher Alain Badiou breathed fresh life into the idea of communism as an intellectual representation that provides a critical perspective on existing politics and offers a systemic alternative to capitalism. Now, in the course of this wide-ranging conversation with Peter Engelmann, Alain Badiou explains why he continues to value the idea of communism against the background of current social crises and despite negative historical experiences. From the anticipation of a communism without a state to the problem of the concept of democracy and an analysis of capitalism as a system, the two thinkers discuss the key political issues of our time. Whilst explaining his political philosophy, Badiou also reflects on current socio-political developments such as the turmoil in the Middle East and the situation in China. This compelling dialogue is both a highly topical contribution to the question of how we might organize our societies differently and an accessible introduction to Badiou's philosophical thinking.

  • Confrontation

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    • Polity
    • 15 Octobre 2014

    Everything in their respective positions divides them: Alain Badiou is the thinker of a revitalized communism and Alain Finkielkraut the mournful observer of the loss of values. The two opponents, gathered here for their first-ever debate, have irreconcilable visions. Yet neither is a stranger to controversy, and in this debate they make explicit the grounds of their personal dispute as well as addressing, in a frank and open exchange, their ideas and theories. Guided by Aude Lancelin, the two philosophers discuss subjects as diverse as national identity, Israel and Judaism, May 1968, and renewed popularity of the idea of communism. Their passionate debate is more than just the sum total of their disagreements, however, for neither of them is satisfied with the state of our society or the direction in which its political representatives persist in taking it. They agree that there needs to be change and their confrontation in this volume shows the importance of asking difficult questions, not only of each other, but also of our political systems.

  • The End

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    • Polity
    • 23 Août 2019

    The notion of `the end' has long occupied philosophical thought. In light of the horrors of the twentieth century, some writers have gone so far as to declare the end of philosophy itself, emphasizing the impossibility of thinking after Auschwitz.    In this book the distinguished philosopher Alain Badiou, in dialogue with Giovanbattista Tusa, argues that we must renounce `the pathos of completion' and continue to think philosophically. To accept the atrocities of the twentieth century as marking the end of philosophy is intolerable precisely because it buys into the totalizing doctrines of the perpetrators.  Badiou contends that philosophical thinking is needed now more than ever to counter the totalizing effects of globalized capitalism, which prescribes no objective for human life other than integration into its system, giving rise to a widespread sense of hopelessness and nihilism. This book will appeal to the many followers of Badiou's work and to anyone interested in contemporary philosophy and radical political theory.

  • This volume of conversations between Alain Badiou and Peter Engelmann focuses on the concrete political situation in the world of today. Here the validity and applicability of Badiou's ideas are tested in relation to the great social and political problems of our time, including terrorism, migration, the surge in support for nationalist and populist parties and the growing gap between rich and poor. Badiou argues that in the age of today's globalized capitalism, with its division of labour on a global scale and the worldwide interconnection of information through the Internet, there are no longer any national solutions. Because nations and states lose meaning in favour of transnational corporations in globalized capitalism, resistance to capitalism must by definition be global too. Only a politics that defines itself as a politics for all and does not act in the interests of one particular group - whether a nation, religion or community of shared values - can lead the world out of the current crisis of globalized capitalism.

  • Against the backdrop of an alarming rise in authoritarianism and the crisis of liberal democracy, few would consider extoling the virtues of politics today. Yet in this lively dialogue with journalist Aude Lancelin, leading French thinker Alain Badiou argues that it is precisely through politics that humanity can still achieve its most ambitious aims. As power becomes ever more concentrated in the hands of the state and global corporations, the role of the citizen is reduced to little more than ritual.  But Badiou emphasizes that politics is concerned not just with power and the state, but also with justice.  So the central question of politics is "What is a just power?", and the debate over politics is fundamentally about the norms to which power is subject and its relationship to a community - a community that is able to take control of its own destiny and provide its own direction, based on a shared standard of justice.  This engaging dialogue, in which Badiou articulates his view of politics with exceptional clarity, will be of great value to anyone interested in radical politics today.

  • Why bother to praise mathematics when you claim, as Alain Badiou does, that philosophy is first and foremost a metaphysics of happiness, or else it's not worth an hour of trouble? What possible relationship can there be between mathematics and happiness? That is precisely the issue at stake in this dialogue, which serves as a very accessible introduction to what mathematics is and an exploration of the crucial influence it has always exerted on the greatest philosophers. Far from the thankless, pointless exercises they are often thought to be, mathematics and logic are indispensable guides to ridding ourselves of dominant opinions and making possible an access to truths, or to a human experience of the utmost value. That is why mathematics may well be the shortest path to the true life, which, when it exists, is characterized by an incomparable happiness.

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