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Poststructuralist Marxism and the "Experience of the Disaster." On Alain Badiou's Theory of the (Non-)Subject

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Abstract:

Can politics be thought?, asks Alain Badiou in the title of a recent book. The question itself reveals an experienced lack: that of politics. A lack which the so-called "return of the subject," far from resolving, would stigmatize. The "return of the subject," as he asserts, is merely the counterface of the break of politics, its reduction to an "ethics of tolerance" from which all its properly political traces have previously been erased. If politics cannot be associated with the "return of the subject," this is because politics does not relate to any subject but rather to the very impossibility of conceiving of it. Thus, the attempt to reactivate politics becomes inextricably linked to the endeavor of rethinking, or better said, unthinking the subject. As this article shows, this project articulates a specially dynamic current of thought in the last years, which we may call, generically, "poststructuralist Marxist." That project not only gave a new impulse to Marxist thinking, articulating a space of reflection which delimitates this current from that one with which it borders--deconstructionism--and from which it can interpellate the entire philosophical tradition. Ultimately, it comes to condense an issue whose relevance far exceeds the ambit of Marxist thinking: how politics is possible in a post-metaphysical and post-subjective context. Being and Event, by Alain Badiou, is, no doubt, the most systematical attempt to answer that question. It allows us to observe the main contributions of these current to contemporary philosophical thinkings, revealing, at the same time, the kind of aporias that that issue poses to it.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1084877032000138594

Publication date: 2003-08-01

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