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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

  • 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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  • Badiou: Down with Death!

    What is the meaning of death today? For Alain Badiou, it is a reminder that we are defined by finitude: 'we are only mortals' is the order of the day, underlying both capitalist and religious nihilisms. In a seminar given on 18 May 2015, Badiou offered a new conception of death as radical exteriority. 'Death is something that happens to you; it is not the immanent unfolding of some linear programme.' Translated by David Broder.


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  • A France For All, by Alain Badiou, Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel

    Alain Badiou, Sylvain Lazarus and Natacha Michel examine the round-up of the sans-papiers in France, tracing it back to the tradition instated by the Vichy government when it called on Jews to register at the prefectures, the selfsame, shameful practice by the government "of lying and surveillance." The following post was orginally published by Le Monde on 9 December, 1997, and is translated by David Broder.


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Other books by Alain Badiou Translated by David Fernbach