You can read 9 more articles this month
IN THIS bite-sized book of barely 100 pages, French intellectual Alain Badiou offers an accessible radical analysis of the state of the world.
The former Maoist answers questions from the sceptical, but open-minded, anti-communist Peter Engelmann and, in allowing Badiou to tackle some commonly held prejudices on the big questions of capitalism, communism, fascism, liberalism and Islamism, it’s a format that works very well.
There’s a steadfast honesty about his views on the dire state of the left’s predicament, including a refreshing recognition of the sheer extent of the labour aristocracy in the West. “The privileges of the West are based on the oppression of the rest of the world,” he insists, “there’s no changing that.”
Particularly challenging for traditional Western leftists, perhaps, is that in his description of the potential agents of revolutionary change today the “traditional working class” are not at the forefront.
If anything, according to Badiou, they appear to be the weak link. “In my view, that class is stuck deep in reactionary, nationalist or xenophobic mindsets and has been for twenty or thirty years,” he writes.
The four progressive forces he identities are sections of the intelligentsia and youth, “that part of the middle class which includes the workers” and, most importantly, the “nomadic proletariat.”
In contrast to the likes of Slavoj Zizek, whose position is essentially a pseudo-Marxist airbrushing of the mainstream or far-right trope of migrants undermining European values, Badiou correctly understands that the nomadic proletariat have not only the greatest interest in overthrowing capitalism but are also the least susceptible to the national chauvinist narratives most likely to undermine these efforts.
He identifies key political questions, those of of conviction, alliances, discipline and violence, and gives a very clear take on both the issue of fascism — essentially defining it as capitalism stripped of modernity — and how to fight it with a non-capitalist modernity which the liberals, obviously, cannot provide.
All in all, this is a very satisfying and useful read. It vigorously combines clarity and relentless honesty with a confidence that is actually convincing, as opposed to the laboured variety so often found in political works fuelled by a sense of obligation not to depress the reader.
Published by Polity, £9.99.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.