Mass, Class and Party: Badiou’s Communist Critique of Sartre

Alain Badiou, “Pocket Pantheon,” Verso Books 2009.

What is a fused group?

Dialectic and Class

In Badiou’s critical evaluation of Sartre, “no political cause can unite consciousnesses in any collective project” (2009, p. 18). Social isolation is the consequence threatened by an existential ontology. Because ever since Hegel all self-consciousness depends on the basic recognition of an Other. What consciousness is is not here, but depends on something external to it called the other. In his chapter on Sartre Badiou sums up the dialectic and its consequences:

The People’s Party:

In his chapter Badiou makes a temporal distinction between democratic and proletarian politics. Sartre’s humanism belongs to the epoch of bourgeois-democratic revolution. Sartre sets out to describe an event like the storming of the Bastille, one coming together spontaneously among the people who are present. Crucially, there is something missing: the role of the party to guide the masses of the people. From Sartre we learn how groups fuse into relative affinity with one another and eventually form social institutions. And outside the groups, no matter how fused, there is no party representing those actions for a class. Badiou writes:

The journal from the group, the Proletarian Left.

Works Cited

Alain Badiou, Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy. Translated by David Macey. Verso Books 2009.

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