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The Idea of Communism

An all-star cast of radical intellectuals discuss the continued importance of communism.
Do not be afraid, join us, come back! You’ve had your anti-communist fun, and you are pardoned for it—time to get serious once again!—Slavoj Žižek

Responding to Alain Badiou’s ‘communist hypothesis’, the leading political philosophers of the Left convened in London in 2009 to take part in a landmark conference to discuss the perpetual, persistent notion that, in a truly emancipated society, all things should be owned in common. This volume brings together their discussions on the philosophical and political import of the communist idea, highlighting both its continuing significance and the need to reconfigure the concept within a world marked by havoc and crisis.
With contributions by Alain Badiou, Judith Balso, Bruno Bosteels, Susan Buck-Morss, Costas Douzinas, Terry Eagleton, Peter Hallward, Michael Hardt, Jean-Luc Nancy, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Mark Russo, Alberto Toscano, and Gianni Vattimo

Blog

  • Alain Badiou: True and false contradictions of the crisis

    We are told capitalism is in crisis, and that this crisis forces a choice: "the West or else barbarism". In the light of escalating fascism and ongoing war, the choice is made to appear all the more urgent. Yet, as Alain Badiou shows in his article below, this is a false contradiction that serves both sides and "blocks the advent of the only global conviction that could save humanity from disaster".

    Translated by David Broder. The original French text is here



    By Alain Badiou

    Modernity is first of all a negative reality. Effectively it is a break with tradition. It is the end of the old world of castes, nobilities, religious obligation, youth initiation rites, local mythology, the submission of women, the father’s absolute power over his children, and the official division between a small group of rulers and a condemned mass of toilers. Nothing can push this movement back—a movement that evidently began in the West with the Renaissance, was consolidated by the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century and then materialised in the unprecedented breakthroughs in production techniques and the constant refinement of means of measurement, circulation and communication.

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  • True Communism Is the Foreignness of Tomorrow: Alain Badiou talks in Athens



    In late January the philosopher Alain Badiou was in Athens, where he gave three talks. The theme of the first of these was Plato, the second was on Lacan, while the third – the text of which appears below – was the most ‘political’. Each of the three talks had a packed-out audience. For this third talk, indeed, even the amphitheatre of the Law School did not suffice to contain the great number of attendees, with many of the large crowd of young people present filling out the stairs and floor. It took place on 25 January, and was jointly organised by the psychoanalysis review Alithia, the municipal elections movement Open City, and the SYRIZA youth organisation ‘Left Union’. It was supported by the Nikos Poulantzas Institute.

    The principle that there is a single world does not contradict the infinite play of identities and differences

    Alain Badiou

    I would like to thank, and to salute, all our Greek friends, and beyond that all those who are today struggling against the terrible situation inflicted on the Greek people by the financial oligarchy that today holds power in Europe, in service of globalised capitalism.

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  • The Idea of Communism in South Korea: Zizek Speaks!

    Back in the autumn of last year, Platoon Kunsthalle Seoul built on the success of previous conferences in London, Berlin and New York on The Idea of Communism to present the 4th Idea of Communism Conference. The meeting gathered some of the most prominent theorists and philosophers of the contemporary left, including Verso authors Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou.

    You can now view a recording of the entirety of Zizek’s fascinating talk on Youtube, as featured below. In the talk he delves into ideas expressed in both volumes of The Idea of Communism.

    With contributions from Jodi Dean, Antonio Negri and Terry Eagleton, the Idea of Communism volumes offer a lively and thought-provoking overview of the ideas and debates provoking communist theory today.







    To read more about the conference, including a mission statement from the organizers and the full list of speakers, click here.

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