Politics and the Other Scene

Essays on politics by the pupil of Althusser.
As one of Louis Althusser's most brilliant students in the 1960s, Etienne Balibar contributed to the theoretical collective masterpiece of Reading Capital. Since then he has established himself among the most subtle philosophical and political thinkers in France. In Politics and the Other Scene Balibar deepens and extends the work he first developed with Immanuel Wallerstein in Race, Nation, Class. Exploring the theme of universalism and difference, he addresses such topical questions as European racism, the notion of the border, whether a European citizenship is possible or desirable, violence and politics, and identity and emancipation.


  • Étienne Balibar: Three words for the dead and the living

    Étienne Balibar comments on Charlie Hebdo.

    An old Japanese friend of mine, Haruhisa Kato – formerly a professor at Todai university – wrote to me with this: ‘I’ve seen the images of all of France in mourning. I’ve been deeply moved by all this. Over the years I really loved Wolinksi’s collections. I have always been a subscriber to the Canard enchaîné, and I enjoyed Cabu’s “Beauf” cartoons every week. I still have his collection Cabu et Paris by my desk, including a number of fine drawings he did of Japanese girls, tourists having fun on the Champs-Élysées’. But further on, this reservation: ‘The 1 January Le Monde editorial starts with the words “A better world? This firstly supposes an intensified struggle against the Islamic State and its blind barbarism”. I was very struck by this statement, a rather contradictory one I thought, that we need a war for the sake of peace!’.

    Continue Reading

  • Étienne Balibar: For the resistance in Kobane

    While the situation is evolving from one hour to the next, it seems like the worst may well have been avoided – that is, a repetition of the Warsaw Rising, which was crushed by the Nazis in full view of the Red Army, which was waiting to take the chestnuts out of the fire by itself… The Americans did end up coordinating with the fighters on the ground and even Turkey seems to have been forced to half-open the border, allowing reinforcements to come in. Let’s hope that the city has indeed been saved, stopping the Islamist advance. In the little space that I have here and with the information that I have available to me, I would like to insist on two points.

    Continue Reading

  • Racists and anti-racists by Etienne Balibar

    Xenophobia Blog Series. This is the second instalment of a series of pieces published on our blog by leading voices on the current and alarming force of Xenophobia - the fear of "strange and foreign" identities. 

    Racists and anti-racists by Etienne Balibar

    Where, when and how was the concept of racism formed? It seems to have its origins in a book that appeared in 1933-1934, in which Magnus Hirschfeld described the 'racial theory' underlying Hitler's conception of race war. So the word was born in Germany, by way of contact with its first 'object': the racism of the Nazi state elaborated in the name of the Aryan myth, principally directed against Jews, but also against other 'untermensch' peoples and populations.

    Continue Reading

Other books by Etienne Balibar