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Marxism expatriated: Alain Badiou's turn

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Chapter Summary

In order better to delineate the specific difference of Alain Badiou's project, and of the problems that spurred it on, this chapter examines the period between the highest speculative product of Badiou's heterodox Maoism, Théorie du sujet (1982), and the cornerstone of his mature work, L’Être et l’événement (1988), in particular the book Peut-on penser la politique?, published in 1985, which is to say contemporaneously with Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony. Like many post-Marxists, and indeed anti-communists, Badiou condemns the 'metaphysics' that haunt Marxist politics. Badiou does not offer an immanent critique of Marxism as a science of capitalism and revolution, but displaces what he regards as core Marxist principles to a dissimilar practical and theoretical framework, where politics and philosophy are 'desutured'. At times, Badiou's 1980s 'expatriation' of Marxism seems to dissolve the consistency of the Marxist project, casting doubt on the very possibility of holding onto the term 'Marxism'.

Keywords: Alain Badiou; Laclau; Marxism; Théorie du sujet

10.1163/ej.9789004145986.i-813.149
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