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The Meaning of Sarkozy

The reactionary tradition behind Sarkozy, and the communist hypothesis for the twenty-first century.
In this incisive, acerbic work, Alain Badiou looks beyond the petty vulgarity of the French president to decipher the true significance of what he represents—a reactionary tradition that goes back more than a hundred years. To escape the malaise that has enveloped the Left since Sarkozy’s election, Badiou casts aside the slavish worship of electoral democracy and maps out a communist hypothesis that lays the basis for an emancipatory politics of the twenty-first century.

Reviews

  • “Magnificently stirring ... a characteristically lucid polemic from a philosopher who is far from willing to abandon humanity to the vicissitudes of so-called global capitalism.”
  • “In the tradition of revolutionary pamphleteering.”
  • “Compelling ... He deconstructs, with languid, sarcastic ferocity, the notion that ‘France chose Sarkozy’ ... a very French piece of political venom.”
  • “Heir to Jean-Paul Sartre and Louis Althusser ... a thundering, rallying tirade. ”
  • “Incisive, incredibly readable and funny critique.”

Blog

  • Alain Badiou's "anti-Semitism": Badiou, Segré, and Winter respond to the current accusations in France

    A debate has long been raging between France’s public intellectuals regarding Israel/Palestine and the question of anti-Semitism. From Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1946 Anti-Semite and Jew to Jacques Derrida’s “Interpretations at War” to Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster, France—the country with the largest population of Jews and Arabs in Europe—has been fertile ground for these public debates. Even amongst philosophical allies positions have been fragmented; Deleuze expressed his support for the Palestinian cause, while Foucault held a strong pro-Israel stance.

    Today, however, the debate has turned personal as well as ideological as attacks have been levelled against Alain Badiou, whose outspoken pro-Palestinian position and advocacy of a single state, along with his thoughts on anti-Semitism, have aroused much debate. Leading the charge is Éric Marty, a professor of contemporary literature at the University of Paris-7 and the author of Une querelle avec Alain Badiou, philosophe (2007). Marty had begun his querelle with Badiou as early as 2000 when he criticized Badiou for his enthusiasm for the ideas of the Cultural Revolution in China. By 2006 Marty published a full on attack with an article titled ‘Alain Badiou: the Future of a Negation’ in Les temps modernes. The ‘querelle’ continued with Badiou’s response to Marty titled ‘The Word “Jew” and the Sycophant’, in his book POLEMICS. Reflections on Anti-Semitism, a book co-authored with Eric Hazan and Ivan Segré, set out to definitively dispel all accusations of anti-Semitism against Badiou.

    Still, in July, the debate heated up once more with the publication of Gérard Bensussan’s article in Libération titled, ‘The far Left has done what the far Right only dreamed of.’ There Bensussan, a professor of philosophy at the Université Marc Bloch in Strasbourg, charges Badiou and the far left critics of Israel with helping to restore anti-Semitic sentiments in France.




    Below are several responses to Bensussan’s article. The first is Badiou’s retort followed by a response by Cécile Winter, the author of the essay 'The Master-Signifier of the New Aryans', which is published in Polemics. The final response comes from Ivan Segré, a Talmudic scholar and co-author with Badiou of Reflections on Anti-Semitism. 


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  • The Front National: what kind of people are they? By Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre

    Xenophobia Blog Series. This is the first 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.

    “The terrible results of the European elections were not a crash of thunder in a calm sky. They are a particularly worrying step in a downward spiral that has accelerated in recent months.” This is how the sociologists Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre see the recent results from the European elections. Together Boltanski and Esquerre discuss the aftermath of the European elections and the rise of the Front National Party—an economically reactionary, socially conservative, and xenophobic nationalist political party—in France. 

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  • Alain Badiou: ‘People cling onto identities… it is a world opposed to the encounter’

    It would be a mistake to see the philosopher Alain Badiou as only being a political activist – having long been a Maoist – or a polemicist – his short book The Meaning of Sarkozy having made his name among the general public. A philosopher but also a mathematician, novelist and playwright, he is clearly above all a man of encounters. The wealth of his output bears witness to it. It has led to him theorising In Praise of Love and very recently debating Alain Finkielkraut in his L’Explication. With Alain Badiou, the encounter does not come just by itself – it is rich with promise…

    What is an encounter?

    It is a contingent, chance element of existence. Something happens to you that nothing among your existing world’s points of reference made likely or necessary. You encounter someone who you do not know and yet who strikes you, attracts you, enters into your life.

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Other books by Alain Badiou Translated by David Fernbach