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The Communist Hypothesis af Alain Badiou
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The Communist Hypothesis (udgave 2010)

af Alain Badiou

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1735119,941 (2.91)3
We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy - the form of state suited to capitalism - and to the inevitable and 'natural' character of the most monstrous inequalities. Alain Badiou's formulation of the communist hypothesis has travelled around the world since it was first aired in early 2008, in his book, "The Meaning of Sarkozy". The hypothesis is partly a demand to reconceptualize communism after the twin deaths of the Soviet Union and neoliberalism, but also a fresh demand for universal emancipation. As third way reforms prove as empty in practice as in theory, Badiou's manifesto is a galvanizing call to arms that needs to be reckoned with by anyone concerned with the future of our planet.… (mere)
Medlem:brleach
Titel:The Communist Hypothesis
Forfattere:Alain Badiou
Info:Verso (2010), Edition: First edition in English., Hardcover, 288 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:***
Nøgleord:politics, theory, nonfiction, philosophy, history

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The Communist Hypothesis af Alain Badiou

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The Communist Hypothesis by Alain Badiou is a work of political philosophy (even though the author denies it). Badiou is the former chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure.

Communism failed and that is a given, but what is failure? There is a saying that goes "Failure is not falling down. It is refusing to get back up." I was expecting to read a detailed account of how the left and the working class will rise again. As a Marine in the Cold War, I was committed to defending America and its allies from the communists. Since that time, I have gotten older, more read, more educated, and more aware.

Badiou spends a great deal of time discussing the Chinese and Soviets. I have a problem with that. Marx and Engles explained what was needed for communism to start. Communism needed to rise from industrialized societies, not underdeveloped and agrarian societies. Both examples, China and Russia, occurred in undeveloped countries. In fact, every example of a communist revolution has happened in an undeveloped country. The Soviet Union and China were, and in China's case still is, a totalitarian state. There no doubt that a class system exists or existed in both systems. Both systems are failures even without competition from the West. China has even joined the west in limited capitalism and foreign investment. Communism in theory is very different than how it has been practiced.

Badiou seems to want to defend the failed system. He looks down at the successful democratic socialist governments in Europe as being polluted. It would seem that system has done more to bring equality to a society than the "communist" systems. When you fail, you want to learn from your mistakes, not repeat them. By defending the Maoist and Soviet systems, Badiou is just repeating the same failures over again. I understand his passion, but not his direction.

I am glad Badiou mentions Hegel. Hegel dialectic is known to every political science student. It works like a pendulum. On one extreme is a thesis* and the other its anti-thesis* and eventually the pendulum stops in the center where the forces of both sides equal out and a stable state is maintained -- Synthesis*. If this exercise is run with communism as the thesis, capitalism as its antithesis, democratic socialism is the result. That is the position of most of the successful and content countries of the world.

There may be a reason revolution does not happen in industrial societies. These members of those societies regardless of class know they are pretty well off in a world view of their situation. Also, the producers in these societies depend on the workers to make their products as well as consume them. No workers mean no consumers which mean no profits. Many people realize that unregulated capitalism is a bad thing, but few are willing to take up arms. We vote, we make our voices heard, but little else. The Occupy movement started quickly but lost steam as people realized that they were not threatened by the system enough to make an effort to change it. Industrialized countries have become complacent in their consumer culture. If they can buy, things are well.

Communism failed more from its method than its message.




*Kant's terms often attributed to Hegel.
( )
  evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
The communist hypothesis is that a different collective organization is practicable, one that will eliminate the inequality of wealth and even the division of labour. The private appropriation of massive fortunes and their transmission by inheritance will disappear. The existence of a coercive state, separate from civil society, will no longer appear a necessity: a long process of reorganization based on a free association of producers will see it withering away.

I fear my response to this book, particularly to Badiou's horrific hagiography of The Cultural Revolution will lead to my expulsion from Zizek's cool kids club. Some matters are indefensible. That may not be philosophically progressive, it certainly doesn't coincide with Badiou's living for an Idea. This text isn't John Carpenter's They Live, if I wear the shades, Mao doesn't become decent, the denouncement remains too human and the idealism in the Cultural Revolution is negligible at best.

The section on the Paris Commune is easier to address. Strange how Badiou begins the book with pages of citation from his own play. Bad form. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This collection of previous writings along with essentially an essay tying them together serves as a limited but useful introduction to this aspect of Badiou's thought. His elaborations on three 'events' (May '68, the Cultural Revolution and the Paris Commune) are used to explain the general idea of the Communist Hypothesis. These chapters make for interesting reading and warrant several close readings if one wants to better understand his argument. This does not necessarily mean agreement, just an understanding. Without an understanding of the ideas as he perceives them (indeed any ideas presented for consideration) it is fruitless to argue for or against them.

Briefly, his overarching argument is that even though the attempts at socialism and communism, particularly the latter, have failed it does not logically follow that the ideas at the core have to be abandoned. Much like a scientific theory or hypothesis, as he argues, a failure simply means that a particular attempt has not yet been proven. To a large extent the question may well not be whether the ideas are faulty in themselves but rather whether the attempts at implementation have been the problem. Destruction is not always the difficult aspect but rather filling the void left in the resultant space.

While there are more questions raised than answered, this serves as a clear call not to demonize the ideas when one demonizes the failed attempts.

Reviewed from an ARC made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Jun 2, 2015 |
Let's say you're invited to a dinner party. The other guests will be Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Alain Badiou. Don't go. It isn't worth it. Stay home. Badiou is going to dominate the entire evening's conversation, and he won't say anything that has a damn bit of impact on anyone or anything in the world outside his own head.

This is exactly the kind of material that filters thinky, introspective kids with exciting ideas out of every philosophy department in the nation, and leaves only those career academicians who desire nothing more than to get their Masters of Incomprehensible Gobbledy-Gook and P(ompous)h(abitual)Diatribing so that they may someday become a department Head of Alienating People Through Verbosity and be alone with their books, their tenure, and their inflated egos.

I was reading this book on the bus the other day when a friend of mine got on at the university. They have a professor who just told the class, "Any paper longer than five pages is bullshit." I said he has a point. The Communist Manifesto was a fucking pamphlet, and it changed everything in the world. The Communist Hypothesis, however, doesn't lay down a single sentence in 279 pages that is going to have any effect on anything. So why bother?

I see Jesus and Gandhi at that dinner party exchanging sideways glances of patient discomfort, Marty shaking his head and chuckling to himself, and myself throwing the fork down and groaning "Oh, shuuut the fuuuck uuup!" when I can no longer stand Badiou's reminiscences of Paris in 1968. (Wait, I did actually say that in a few waiting rooms and on the bus... often, and out loud.) Despite the amazing company, if Badiou were present at such an event I'd only go in order to show off my new custom T-shirt, which I'm having made to wear while stuck with books like Badiou's that really needn't ever be distributed outside the university lecture circuit: "I'd rather be reading The Pooh Perplex." ( )
1 stem gunsofbrixton | Mar 30, 2013 |
Badiou needs to learn not to talk big. There are some interesting moments here; leading us through idiosyncratic interpretations of the student protests in France in 1968, the Cultural Revolution, and the Paris Commune, he makes and reinforces a case that a thread runs through these episodes, making them the best starting place for learning the lessons about what communism needs to be for the future and how we need to start making it that. Communism has blossomed or advanced a million different ways since the Manifesto, he says, and all of them have ended in abject failure. What that means isn't that communism isn't possible. It just means that we haven't figured out how to do it yet. All the communisms we've tried have been impossible, so the question before us is, how to rescue the idea of communism from those failures? And the hypothesis is that there exists a possible communism that works. And the reason to test that hypothesis is that "all those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parlaimentary democracy--the form of state suited to capitalism--and to the inevitable and "natural" character of the most monstrous inequalities."


Now that's exciting jacket copy! And the book is that particular light communist red that's definitely not orange and definitely not pink, and the writing is gold, Little Red Book-style, and all the signs are there: this is a major new salvo in the communism of the future that is struggling to birth, the indeterminate object around which Zizek, and David Harvey's Enigma of Capital, and in a weird way even housing protests and LOHAS and op-eds hacking on the banks, are orbiting. Take us a step closer, Badiou!


Oh hell, it's later now, and I would really like to know what the fuck happened to the rest of my review and why this keeps happening on librarything. Anyway, he figures that the student protests' failure ushered in neoliberalism because we couldn't believe anymore (so Francecentric, I love it), and the Cultural Revolution is this amazing example of Mao channeling the people permanent revolution-style to combat the bourgeoisie within the party and that we should find a way to salvage that without the massive death (and that would be so much more convincing if he treated said massive death with the needed massive dignity and did not just kind of try to squirm through it with a serious, future-oriented look on his face), and that the Paris Commune's singularity consists in the fact that it was the first and only time the people took over and provided social programs instead of riots or pogroms and didn't sell the whole thing out to the parties of the left, who by their very nature are non-transformative--the left wing, the left leg, part of the greater repressive whole.


But Paris was working, until it was crushed by the army. Lenin danced in the snow when the Bolsheviks had been in power longer than the Communards, and it's a stinging sliver, that ambiguity as to whether he saw it as them beating the odds where their forebears had failed or whether he saw it as the vindication of the party model, the revolutionary-vanguard theory that's never meant anything but irrelevance or tyranny in practice.


So how does Badiou do on his big promises? Well, there is interest here, as I try to get across, and things to agree and (more often) disagree with, and a lot of conceptual meandering straight out of Being and Event about the nature of the Fact and the Idea that I could mostly do without, and a letter to Zizek that is adorable in the mutually striving, big-brains-on-the-bleeding-edge bromance it bespeaks but perplexingly defends Mao as kinder and gentler than the medieval Slavic brand of communism that Zizek grew up with because he didn't purge his rivals within the party (but whether the famine happened because Mao was so devoted to theory over evidence re economic voluntarism and home factories and such, or just because of endemic lies and asscovering at every level about how bad things actually were, at some-odd million deaths ignorance becomes guilt). But long story short on the getting us a step closer thing: he didn't. ( )
2 stem MeditationesMartini | Dec 9, 2010 |
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We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy - the form of state suited to capitalism - and to the inevitable and 'natural' character of the most monstrous inequalities. Alain Badiou's formulation of the communist hypothesis has travelled around the world since it was first aired in early 2008, in his book, "The Meaning of Sarkozy". The hypothesis is partly a demand to reconceptualize communism after the twin deaths of the Soviet Union and neoliberalism, but also a fresh demand for universal emancipation. As third way reforms prove as empty in practice as in theory, Badiou's manifesto is a galvanizing call to arms that needs to be reckoned with by anyone concerned with the future of our planet.

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