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The Communist Hypothesis

A new program for the Left after the death of neoliberalism.
‘We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy—the form of state suited to capitalism—and to the inevitable and “natural” character of the most monstrous inequalities.’—Alain Badiou

Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’, first stated in 2008, cut through the cant and compromises of the past twenty years to reconceptualize the Left. The hypothesis is a fresh demand for universal emancipation and a galvanizing call to arms. Anyone concerned with the future of the planet needs to reckon with the ideas outlined within this book.

Reviews

  • “A figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us!”
  • “A Little Red Book for our time?”
  • “An heir to Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser.”
  • “Shaking the foundations of Western liberal democracy.”
  • “One of the saddest, funniest books of the past 20 years.”

Blog

  • Political Theory Undergraduate Reading List: 50% off!

    All the books on this list are 50% off until Tuesday 8th September as part of our Back to University/Back to School sale. See all the books included in the sale here.

    Catch up on your radical political theory BEFORE you head back to class with books from Badiou, Butler, Žižek and more! The next time someone suggests pulling an all-nighter to finish that paper, you'll have Jonathan Crary's argument against capitalism infringing on our lives 24/7.

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  • Eleven Melancholic Points Regarding the Future of the Greek Situation

    In July, in the wake of the ‘No’ vote in Greece’s referendum, the philosopher Alain Badiou expressed his hope that a new sequence was opening up. A few hours after Alexis Tsipras’s resignation, he bemoaned the Greek prime minister and his advisors missing this ‘unique’ political opportunity. 

    Translated by David Broder

    1 We thought that we were right in thinking that the guiding principle of Syriza, winner of the Greek elections, was a vigorous ‘No’ to austerity. As such, we thought that it would categorically refuse all the anti-social, regressive conditions – attacking the most basic principles of the aspiration to equality and a tolerable life for the people – which the various financial authorities and their European cover made the condition of their loans.  Many people furthermore rejoiced in the possibility of a new political orientation finally emerging in Europe, one absolutely different from the reactionary consensus in which all states have kept their respective public opinion for thirty years, whether out of consent or by force.

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  • Badiou's Happiness Lesson

    Is it selfish to want to be happy? On the contrary, thinks Alain Badiou: happiness is fundamentally egalitarian and to demand it, against its apparent impossibility, is a militant act. The interview below was translated by David Broder; see the original French text here.

    (Photo: Badiou at Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, 2014)

    What encounters proved most decisive in giving your life its direction?

    Alain Badiou: Before theatre and philosophy, it was something that my father said. Indeed, during the Second World War I had this screen memory take form, which was of decisive importance for my subsequent existence. I was six years old at the time. My father, who was in the Resistance – for which reason he was appointed Mayor of Toulouse upon Liberation – put up a big map of the military operations, in particular covering the developments on the Russian front. The frontline was marked out by a thin piece of string, pinned to the wall with tacks. I saw that the string and the tacks kept moving, though I did not ask too many questions; as a man operating in clandestinity, in front of the children my father was evasive about anything regarding the political situation and the war. This was spring 1944. One day, at the moment of the Soviet offensive in Crimea, I saw my father moving the string further left, clearly showing that the Germans were retreating toward the West. Not only had their conquering advance been held back, but now it was they who were losing vast swathes of territory. With a flash of understanding I said to him, ‘But then, maybe we’ll win the war?’ and for once he gave a very clear answer: ‘But of course, Alain! We just need to want it’.
     

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Other books by Alain Badiou