Etienne Balibar

Etienne Balibar is a French Marxist philosopher and the most celebrated student of Louis Althusser. He is also one of the leading exponents of French Marxist philosophy and the author of Spinoza and Politics, The Philosophy of Marx and co-author of Race, Nation and Class and Reading Capital.


  • Etienne Balibar: Populism in the American Mirror

    This essay first appeared in Libération. Translated by David Broder.  

    The new and substantially updated edition of Balibar's now classic introductory text The Philosophy of Marx is currently 40%, alongside all the other books on our Marx primer reading list.

    via Flickr.

    The question that came to my American friends’ lips after Trump’s election was always the same: "Who’s next? Do you think that Le Pen will win the French elections?" They foresaw either a sort of domino effect or the onset of contagion, grounded in the devastation of the redistributive policies that have been torn apart by neoliberalism. They saw Brexit as a warning, a forerunner. The fall of Renzi as well as Hollande’s announcement that he will not stand for re-election echoed Clinton’s defeat. The question of whether Merkel would "hold on" in the face of the German far Right became a strategic variable.

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  • Dissonances within Laïcité

    James Ingram's translation of "Dissonances within Laïcité" first appeared in Constellations in September 2004.  

    The “debate” over the prohibition of the “Islamic headscarf” and other “visible,” “conspicuous,” or “ostentatious” signs of religious belonging in public schools revived by the conclusions of the Stasi Commission, the intervention by the President of the Republic, and the introduction of a “simple and clear” bill by the Minister for Education, has seen no end of opacities and and displacements. The contradictory implications of the demand for a legislative intervention, which its promoters sought to ignore or imagined would be easily mastered, have proved to be uncontrollable in the national as well as the international sphere.

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  • “A Period of Intense Debate about Marxist Philosophy”: An Interview with Étienne Balibar

    Jérome Skalski's interview with Étienne Balibar about the period surrounding Reading Capital was published in L’Humanité in March 2015. This translation by Patrick King and Salar Mohandesi first appeared in Viewpoint.

    Reading Capital: The Complete Edition — the first unabridged English translation of the collective work, including contributions from Balibar, Louis Althusser, Jacques Rancière, Pierre Macherey, Roger Establet — is out now.

    Jérome Skalski: Fifty years ago Louis Althusser’s 
    For Marx, and, under his direction, Reading Capital, were published. What was the context of the debate at that period?

    Étienne Balibar: To put it very briefly, I would say that the question speaks to an intellectual and even academic dimension, and a political and ideological one.

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