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The Idea of Communism: Badiou, Althusser and Lacan

A teach-in by Platypus member Chris Cutrone held on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alain Badiou’s recent book (2010) is titled with the phrase promoted by his and Slavoj Zizek’s work for the last few years, “the communist hypothesis.” Zizek has spoken of “the Badiou event” as opening new horizons for both philosophy and communism. Badiou and Zizek share a background in Lacanian and Althusserian “post-structuralist” French thought, in common with other prominent post-New Left thinkers — and former students of Louis Althusser — such as Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière. Althusser found, in the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, a salutary challenge to the notion of the Hegelian “logic of history,” that revolutionary change could and indeed did happen as a matter of contingency. For Badiou, this means that emancipation must be conceived of as an “event,” which involves a fundamental reconsideration of ontology.

Reading List:

Cutrone, “The Marxist Hypothesis: A Response to Badiou’s ‘Communist Hypothesis’” (2010)

Badiou, “The Communist Hypothesis” (2008)

Cutrone, “Chinoiserie: A Critique of the RCP, USA on Badiou” (2010)

Badiou, “Tunisia, Egypt: The Universal Reach of Popular Uprisings” (2011)

Wal Suchting, “Althusser’s Late Thinking about Materialism” (2004)

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