Title

Alain Badiou: The Event of Becoming a Political Subject

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-2008

Journal

Philosophy & Social Criticism

Volume

34

Issue

9

First Page

1051

Last Page

1070

URL with Digital Object Identifier

10.1177/0191453708098537

Abstract

One of the more poignant claims Badiou makes is that the subject develops an understanding of itself as a political subject only by executing decisive political actions or making decisive political interventions. In this article I will argue that in order to have a fuller philosophical conception of political subjectivity, and therefore political agency, one must also hold that, first, political interventions do not necessarily lead to a definition or a further way of referring to and understanding the subject. In fact, political events and interventions may consciously aim at and result in the de-politicizing, de-subjectivating or dehumanizing of the subject. Second, political agency need not result in an event or an intervention in order to be political. In other words, failed or non-interventions may still be considered political. Third, despite Badiou's call for an ethics rooted in truth and fidelity, his political philosophy results in a relativism that can easily lapse into violence and injustice.