This volume of conversations between Alain Badiou and Peter Engelmann focuses on the concrete political situation in the world of today. Here the validity and applicability of Badiou’s ideas are tested in relation to the great social and political problems of our time, including terrorism, migration, the surge in support for nationalist and populist parties and the growing gap between rich and poor.
Badiou argues that in the age of today’s globalized capitalism, with its division of labour on a global scale and the worldwide interconnection of information through the Internet, there are no longer any national solutions. Because nations and states lose meaning in favour of transnational corporations in globalized capitalism, resistance to capitalism must by definition be global too.
Only a politics that defines itself as a politics for all and does not act in the interests of one particular group – whether a nation, religion or community of shared values – can lead the world out of the current crisis of globalized capitalism.
Alain Badiou is a French Marxist philosopher, novelist and playwright. Born in Rabat, Morocco, Badiou completed high school in Toulouse before moving to Paris for undergraduate studies at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (ENS), where he worked closely with Louis Althusser, but was never one of the select group of disciples who came to be known as Althusserians. After completing his obligatory military service, Badiou taught in Reims, first at a lycée, then at the university. In 1968 he was invited by Michel Foucault to join the department of philosophy at Vincennes (University of Paris VIII), where his colleagues included Hélène Cixous, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-François Lyotard. After spending 30 years at Vincennes, Badiou left in 1998 to return to his alma mater ENS. The primary philosophical system developed by Alain Badiou is constructed in Being and Event, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II, and the forthcoming Immanence of Truths: Being and Event III. Badiou’s model of praxis is usually described as subtractive because it operates on the premise that political action can only work if it subtracts itself from the power and processes of the state. Throughout his career, Badiou has been actively involved in politics. During the events of May ’68 he was a member of highly vocal Maoist groups. In more recent times he has been involved with L’Organisation Politique, a politicized group he helped found. Because of its powerfully political texture, Badiou’s philosophy is increasingly widely read today, a measure both of the volatility of the times and the lucidity of his thought.
Peter Engelmann is a publisher, philosopher and editor of numerous texts by French philosophers in the areas of postmodernism and deconstruction.