Philosophy for Militants by Alain Badiou

This short selection of interesting texts has been sold in the UK under a misleading title. The translator Bruno Bosteels has confessed that the French version of the texts was called ‘The Enigmatic Relationship Between Philosophy and Politics’ and this wording conveys the subtle tensions within the works. Badiou follows in the footsteps of Althusser by reviving the spirit of Marx through questioning the assumptions made by dogmatic Marxists.

Badiou writes against parliamentary democracy, but his thinking is flavoured by democratic thought. He states:

“Philosophy assumes that the search for truth is open to all. The philosopher can be anyone. What the philosopher says is validated (or not) not by the speaker’s position, but solely by the spoken content.”

However, the basis on which Badiou assumes “capitalo-parliamentarism” is unethical remains somewhat elusive. The eloquence of the thinker can deflect from critical analysis of his arguments. While the status quo could be viewed as unsatisfactory in several ways, Badiou does not appear to entertain the idea that things may have improved in some respects. As a result, dogmatism may have been questioned, but it might not have been abolished. This does not mean that scepticism should be put on a pedestal, but it does imply that moving from the abstract to the concrete and back again is an inherently complex process.


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