Badiou and Politics
Bruno Bosteels Duke University Press, 2011 Library of Congress B2430.B274B678 2011 | Dewey Decimal 320.092
Badiou and Politics offers a much-anticipated interpretation of the work of the influential French philosopher Alain Badiou. Countering ideas of the philosopher as a dogmatic, absolutist, or even mystical thinker enthralled by the force of the event as a radical break, Bruno Bosteels reveals Badiou’s deep and ongoing investment in the dialectic. Bosteels draws on all of Badiou’s writings, from the philosopher’s student days in the 1960s to the present, as well as on Badiou’s exchanges with other thinkers, from his avowed “masters” Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan, to interlocutors including Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek, Daniel Bensaïd, Jacques Derrida, Ernesto Laclau, and Judith Butler. Bosteels tracks the philosopher’s political activities from the events of May 1968 through his embrace of Maoism and the work he has done since the 1980s, helping to mobilize France’s illegal immigrants or sans-papiers. Ultimately, Bosteels argues for understanding Badiou’s thought as a revival of dialectical materialism, and he illuminates the philosopher’s understanding of the task of theory: to define a conceptual space for thinking emancipatory politics in the present.
Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek together have emerged as two of Europe’s most significant living philosophers. In a shared spirit of resistance to global capitalism, both are committed to bringing philosophical reflection to bear upon present-day political circumstances. These thinkers are especially interested in asking what consequences the supposed twentieth-century demise of communism entails for leftist political theory in the early twenty-first century.
Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations examines Badiouian and Žižekian depictions of change, particularly as deployed at the intersection of philosophy and politics. The book details the origins of Badiou’s concept of the event and Žižek’s concept of the act as related theoretical visions of revolutionary happenings, delineating a number of difficulties arising from these similar concepts. Johnston finds that Badiou and Žižek tend to favor models of transformation that risk discouraging in advance precisely the efforts at changing the world of today that these uncompromising leftists so ardently desire. Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations will surely join Johnston’s Žižek’s Ontology as an instant classic in its field.
In Can Politics Be Thought?—published in French in 1985 and appearing here in English for the first time—Alain Badiou offers his most forceful and systematic analysis of the crisis of Marxism. Distinguishing politics as an active mode of thinking from the political as a domain of the State, Badiou argues for the continuation of Marxist politics. In so doing, he shows why we need to recapture the emancipatory hypothesis of Marx's original gesture in order to actualize its radical potential. This volume also includes Badiou's “Of an Obscure Disaster: On the End of the Truth of the State,” in which he rebuts claims of Communism's death after the fall of the Soviet Union.
For Badiou serves both as an introduction to the influential French philosopher Alain Badiou’s thought and as an in-depth examination of his work. Ruda begins with a thorough and clear outline of the sometimes difficult main tenets of Badiou’s philosophy. He then traces the philosophers throughout Western thought who have influenced Badiou’s project—especially Plato, Descartes, Hegel, and Marx—and on whose work Badiou has developed his provocative philosophy. Ruda draws from Badiou’s oeuvre a series of directives with regard to renewing philosophy for the twenty-first century. For Badiou continues the interrogations of its subject and raises new materialistic and dialectical questions for the next generation of engaged philosophers.
The French philosopher Jacques Rancière has influenced disciplines from history and philosophy to political theory, literature, art history, and film studies. His research into nineteenth-century workers’ archives, reflections on political equality, critique of the traditional division between intellectual and manual labor, and analysis of the place of literature, film, and art in modern society have all constituted major contributions to contemporary thought. In this collection, leading scholars in the fields of philosophy, literary theory, and cultural criticism engage Rancière’s work, illuminating its originality, breadth, and rigor, as well as its place in current debates. They also explore the relationships between Rancière and the various authors and artists he has analyzed, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Flaubert, Rossellini, Auerbach, Bourdieu, and Deleuze.
The contributors to this collection do not simply elucidate Rancière’s project; they also critically respond to it from their own perspectives. They consider the theorist’s engagement with the writing of history, with institutional and narrative constructions of time, and with the ways that individuals and communities can disturb or reconfigure what he has called the “distribution of the sensible.” They examine his unique conception of politics as the disruption of the established distribution of bodies and roles in the social order, and they elucidate his novel account of the relationship between aesthetics and politics by exploring his astute analyses of literature and the visual arts. In the collection’s final essay, Rancière addresses some of the questions raised by the other contributors and returns to his early work to provide a retrospective account of the fundamental stakes of his project.
Contributors. Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Bruno Bosteels, Yves Citton, Tom Conley, Solange Guénoun, Peter Hallward, Todd May, Eric Méchoulan, Giuseppina Mecchia, Jean-Luc Nancy, Andrew Parker, Jacques Rancière, Gabriel Rockhill, Kristin Ross, James Swenson, Rajeshwari Vallury, Philip Watts
Adrian Johnston’s Prolegomena to Any Future Materialism,planned for three volumes, will lay the foundations for a new materialist theoretical apparatus, his “transcendental materialism.” In this first volume, Johnston clears an opening within contemporary philosophy and theory for his unique position. He engages closely with Lacan, Badiou, and Meillassoux, demonstrating how each of these philosophers can be seen as failing to forge an authentically atheistic materialism. Johnston builds a new materialism both profoundly influenced by these brilliant comrades of a shared cause as well as making up for the shortcomings of their own creative attempts to bring to realization the Lacanian vision of an Other-less, One-less ontology. The Outcome of Contemporary French Philosophy yields intellectual weapons suitable for deployment on multiple fronts simultaneously, effective against the mutually entangled spiritualist and scientistic foes of our post-Enlightenment, biopolitical era of nothing more than commodities and currencies.
Dimitris Vardoulakis University of Minnesota Press, 2010 Library of Congress B3998.S745 2011 | Dewey Decimal 199.492
What does it mean to think about, and with, Spinoza today? This collection, the first broadly interdisciplinary volume dealing with Spinozan thought, asserts the importance of Spinoza’s philosophy of immanence for contemporary cultural and philosophical debates.
Engaging with Spinoza’s insistence on the centrality of the passions as the site of the creative and productive forces shaping society, this collection critiques the impulse to transcendence and regimes of mastery, exposing universal values as illusory. Spinoza Now pursues Spinoza’s challenge to abandon the temptation to think through the prism of death in order to arrive at a truly liberatory notion of freedom. In this bold endeavor, the essays gathered here extend the Spinozan project beyond the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy to encompass all forms of life-affirming activity, including the arts and literature. The essays, taken together, suggest that “Spinoza now” is not so much a statement about a “truth” that Spinoza’s writings can reveal to us in our present situation. It is, rather, the injunction to adhere to the attitude that affirms both necessity and impossibility.
Contributors: Alain Badou, École Normale Supérieure; Mieke Bal, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis; Cesare Casarino, U of Minnesota; Justin Clemens, U of Melbourne; Simon Duffy, U of Sydney; Sebastian Egenhofer, U of Basel; Alexander García Düttmann, Goldsmiths, U of London; Arthur Jacobson, Yeshiva U; A. Kiarina Kordela, Macalester College; Michael Mack, U of Nottingham; Warren Montag, Occidental College; Antonio Negri; Christopher Norris, U of Cardiff, Wales; Anthony Uhlmann, U of Western Sydney.
A vital and timely contribution to the growing scholarship on the political thought of Alain Badiou
Is inattention to questions of race more than just incidental to Alain Badiou’s philosophical system? Universal Emancipation reveals a crucial weakness in the approach to (in)difference in political life of this increasingly influential French thinker. With white nationalist movements on the rise, the tensions between commitments to universal principles and attention to difference and identity are even more pressing.
Elisabeth Paquette’s powerful critical analysis demonstrates that Badiou’s theory of emancipation fails to account for racial and racialized subjects, thus attenuating its utility in thinking about freedom and justice. The crux of the argument relies on a distinction he makes between culture and politics, whereby freedom only pertains to the political and not the cultural. The implications of this distinction become evident when she turns to two examples within Badiou’s theory: the Négritude movement and the Haitian Revolution. According to Badiou’s 2017 book Black, while Négritude is an important cultural movement, it cannot be considered a political movement because Négritude writers and artists were too focused on particularities such as racial identity. Paquette argues that Badiou’s discussion of Négritude mirrors that of Jean-Paul Sartre in his 1948 essay “Black Orpheus” that has been critiqued by leading critical race theorists. Second, prominent Badiou scholar Nick Nesbitt claims that the Haitian Revolution could only be considered political if its adherents had shifted their focus away from race. However, Paquette argues that not only was race a central feature of this revolution but also that the revolution ought to be understood as a political emancipation movement.
Paquette also moves beyond Badiou, drawing on the groundbreaking work of Sylvia Wynter to offer an alternative framework for emancipation. She juxtaposes Badiou’s use of universality as indifference to difference with Wynter’s pluri-conceptual theory of emancipation, emphasizing solidarity over indifference. Paquette then develops her view of a pluri-conceptual theory of emancipation, wherein particular identities, such as race, need not be subtracted from a theory of emancipation.
The forces of globalization have transformed literary studies in America, and not for the better. The detailed critical reading of artistic texts has been replaced by newly minted catchphrases describing widely divergent snippets and anecdotes—deemed mere documents—regardless of the critic’s expertise in the appropriate languages and cultures. Visions of Global America and the Future of Critical Reading by Daniel T. O’Hara traces the origin of this global approach to Emerson. But it also demonstrates another, tragic tradition of vision from Henry James that counters the Emersonian global imagination with the hard realities of being human. Building on this tradition, on Lacan’s insights into the Real, and on Badiou’s original theory of truth, O’Hara points to how we can, and should, reground literary study in critical reading.
In Emerson’s classic essay “Experience” (1844), America appears in and as a symptom of the critic’s self-making that sacrifices the power of love to this visionary project—a literary version of the American self-made man. O’Hara rescues critical reading using James’s late work, especially The Golden Bowl (1904), and builds on this vision with examinations of texts by St. Paul, Emerson, Wallace Stevens, James Purdy, John Cheever, James Baldwin, John Ashbery, and others.