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Alain Badiou

BADIOU’S COMMUNIST HYPOTHESIS

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Verso, America’s preeminent radical press, is proud to announce the third volume in its ongoing Pocket Communism series:

THE COMMUNIST HYPOTHESIS

By ALAIN BADIOU

“A figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us!”—Slavoj Žižek

“In sum, a heartless bastard”—New Republic

Unwilling to neglect the stigmatizing burden of historical failure that communism has come to bear, Alain Badiou has set out to formulate a hypothesis that will resurrect and reinvigorate the communist ideal. 

In the wake of the financial crisis, Badiou presents his argument with a controlled urgency and a sincere conviction that “Communism is the right hypothesis.” Pointing to the emptiness in neoliberal capitalism’s promise of “human rights,” Badiou aims for a new kind of “universal emancipation” in his reconceptualization of communism. 

Badiou insists that his book is not a work of politics, but one that deals with the issues it raises at a fundamentally philosophical level: rather than taking for granted the “failure” of communism, he is intent on defining failure as such, crediting with sagacity only those “who are not blinded by the propagandist notion of failure.” With this in mind, Badiou takes us from May 1968 to the Cultural Revolution to the Paris Commune. Rather than flinching from the historical precedent set by these events, Badiou invites the possibility that these so-called failures may be thought of as a sequence that is far from complete. He argues, in other words, “that the apparent, and sometimes bloody, failures of events closely bound up with the communist hypothesis were and are stages in its history.”

Concerning the ultimate goal of The Communist Hypothesis, the book speaks for itself: 

“To put it in a nutshell: we have to be bold enough to have an idea. A great idea. We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism. Its imperative, as formulated by Guizot, was: ‘Get rich!’ We can translate that as ‘Live without an idea!’ We have to say that we cannot live without an idea. We have to say: ‘Have the courage to support the idea, and it can only be the communist idea in its generic sense.’ ”

FOR INTERVIEWS & REVIEW COPIES OF ALL TITLES IN THE SERIES PLEASE CONTACT CLARA HEYWORTHclara@versobooks.com

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Fanaticism

FANATICISM

On the Uses of an Idea

By ALBERTO TOSCANO

Published 7h June 2010

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EVENTS:

Thursday 3 June, 1pm at the RSA, London: A special introduction to Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea. For more information and book your free place: http://www.thersa.org/events/our-events/fanaticism-on-the-uses-of-an-idea

Friday 2 July, 2-3.30pm at the Marxism 2010 Festival in London, Room 3E at ULU, 2-3.30. For more information and to book:  https://www.marxismfestival.org.uk/2010/bookonline.html

Thursday 8 July, 6.45pm: Launch talk at the ICA. Further details to be announced here: http://www.ica.org.uk/7945/Talks/Talks-listings.html

Monday 11 October, 6.30 -8.00pm at the LSE, Wolfson theatre as part of the Forum for European Philosophy talks. Further details to be announced here:http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/forumForEuropeanPhilosophy/events/Default.htm

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“A tour de force in every sense – Toscano wipes the smug smiles off the self-righteous faces of the New Philosophers.” Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

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Fanaticism is usually seen as a deviant or extreme variant of an already irrational set of religious beliefs. Drawing a straight line from the Peasant Wars to Bolshevism, this view of fanaticism is today invoked by the West in order to demonize and psychologize any non-liberal politics. Alberto Toscano’s compelling counter-history explores the critical role fanaticism played in forming modern politics and the liberal state, and undermines the idea that liberalism and fanaticism are irrevocably opposed. 

Tracing its development from the traumatic Peasants’ War of early sixteenth-century Germany, to contemporary Islamism, Toscano tears apart the sterile opposition of “reasonableness” and fanaticism. Instead, in a radical new interpretation, he places the fanatic at the very heart of politics, arguing that historical and revolutionary transformations require a new understanding of its role. Showing how fanaticism results from the failure to formulate an adequate emancipatory politics, this illuminating history sheds new light on an idea that continues to dominate debates about faith and secularism.

The ‘fanatic’ is the figure that we are all scared of – whether it’s the Islamic fundamentalist primed for a suicide bombing or the Christian anti-abortionist planning to murder a doctor. The fanatic is a whirl of contradictions: at once cold-blooded and insanely passionate, opportunistic but principled, backward and yet technologically sophisticated, murderous and prepared to risk everything to human rights. He or she is driven by abstract principles, whether religious or secular, that threaten the very basis of a pragmatic liberal democracy. But are these oppositions really the way to understand the conflict between religion and state, terror and democracy?

In this tour de force examination of political and philosophical rhetoric through the ages, Alberto Toscano examines the use of the term ‘fanatic’. Following its use by Martin Luther in the Reformation, the rationalists in the Enlightenment, and liberals in the Cold War and the present day, he finds our understanding of it dictated by the prejudices of the day.

Toscano argues that there is an unsettling intimacy between political behaviour regarded as fanatical, and rational, emancipatory politics: supposedly liberal political projects are also marked by fanaticism. Moreover, while a liberal would claim that passion and abstract principles (such as universal rights) are the jurisdiction of the fanatic and have no place in rational politics, we should seek to reclaim a place for these supposedly negative terms at the heart of contemporary politics. For example, finding that nineteenth century slavers called abolitionists fanatics for their ‘mad’ adherence to the Rights of Man, he asks us to reconsider who we regard as a fanatic.

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ALBERTO TOSCANO is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production, translator of Alain Badiou’s The Century and Logics of Worlds and co-editor of, among others, Alain Badiou’s Theoretical Writings and Antonio Negri’s Political Descartes. He has published numerous articles on contemporary philosophy, politics and social theory, and is an editor of Historical Materialism.

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ISBN: 978 1 84467 424 4 / $26.95 / £16.99 / CAN$33.50 / 304 pages

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For more information visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/tuvwxyz/tuv-titles/toscano_alberto_fanaticism.shtml

To buy the book in the UK:

http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9781844674244/Fanaticism

or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fanaticism-Uses-Idea-Alberto-Toscano/dp/184467424X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273744261&sr=8-1

To buy the book in the US:

http://www.amazon.com/Fanaticism-Uses-Idea-Alberto-Toscano/dp/184467424X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273744586&sr=1-1

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The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

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