April 2, 2008 – Alberto Toscano & Nina Power: “The Philosophy of the Restoration: Badiou on Revisionists, Reactionaries, & Renegades”

Alain Badiou recently defined his entire philosophical project in terms of the attempt to account for the abandonment and betrayal of a revolutionary impetus in the 1970s. This paper will examine this suggestion by tracking the way the definitions of different anti-political or anti-emancipatory figures play a crucial role in the development of Badiou’s theory of political subjectivity. How are we to think subjects that oppose, betray or wish to neutralize egalitarian militancy, or what Badiou would call fidelity to a truth-procedure? The paper will combine an account of this little-explored aspect of Badiou’s theory of the subject with historical contextualization and periodization, touching on the importance of the theory of “revisionism,” the development of an account of reactive subjectivity, and the conditions for a repudiation and denunciation of revolutionary politics. These elements converge in Badiou’s portrait of the subjectivity proper to the moment following “les années rouges” of the 60s and 70s—what he calls the Restoration, and whose latest incarnation he has identified in the “transcendental Pétainism” of President Sarkozy.

Alberto Toscano is a lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze (Palgrave, 2006), and the editor and translator of several books, including Alain Badiou’s The Century (Polity, 2007), his Theoretical Writings, with R. Brassier (Continuum, 2004), and Antonio Negri’s The Political Descartes, with M. Mandarini (Verso, 2007). He is an editor of Historical Materialism.

Nina Power is a lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University, London. She is the author of several articles on Feuerbach, contemporary French thought and theories of the subject, and the co-editor, with A. Toscano, of Alain Badiou’s On Beckett (Clinamen, 2003).


April 2, 2008 | 12:15 pm
Free and open to the public

Humanities Building 1, Room 210
University of California, Santa Cruz