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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

  • An interview with Alain Badiou: theatre and philosophy, an antagonistic and complementary old couple



    During your talk in Avignon’s ‘Theatre of Ideas’ series you evoked the tensions at work within the 2,500 year-old couple of philosophy and theatre.  In your view are these fruitful tensions, or, on the contrary, destructive ones? Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ offers evidence enough of this difficult relationship, while Socrates (helped by Euripides) wanted to sound the death knell of tragedy and herald the triumph of reason…

    Alain Badiou: There have been two fundamental currents in philosophy ever since its origins, and not just one. What Nietzsche called philosophy is a Platonism that he had largely fabricated. So you could make a lot of objections to Nietzsche even based on Plato himself. Nietzsche counterposes a certain construct of philosophy to the original fundamental power of Tragedy, the Appollonian and Dionysian, but this is still only one definition of philosophy among many others, which he uses as a sort of war machine. It ought not be forgotten that Nietzsche went so far as to say that ‘the philosopher is the criminal of criminals’ – he did not qualify his assertions.

    I think that in reality the relationship between philosophy and theatre is an ambiguous one, from its very origins.

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  • 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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Other books by Alain Badiou Translated by David Fernbach