Unwilling to neglect the stigmatizing burden of historical failure that communism has come to bear, Alain Badiou has set out to formulate a hypothesis that will resurrect and reinvigorate the communist ideal.
In the wake of the financial crisis, Badiou presents his argument with a controlled urgency and a sincere conviction that “Communism is the right hypothesis.” Pointing to the emptiness in neoliberal capitalism’s promise of “human rights,” Badiou aims for a new kind of “universal emancipation” in his reconceptualization of communism.
Badiou insists that his book is not a work of politics, but one that deals with the issues it raises at a fundamentally philosophical level: rather than taking for granted the “failure” of communism, he is intent on defining failure as such, crediting with sagacity only those “who are not blinded by the propagandist notion of failure.” With this in mind, Badiou takes us from May 1968 to the Cultural Revolution to the Paris Commune.Rather than flinching from the historical precedent set by these events, Badiou invites the possibility that these so-called failures may be thought of as a sequence that is far from complete. He argues, in other words, “that the apparent, and sometimes bloody, failures of events closely bound up with the communist hypothesis were and are stages in its history.”
Concerning the ultimate goal of The Communist Hypothesis, the book speaks for itself:
“To put it in a nutshell: we have to be bold enough to have an idea. A great idea. We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism. Its imperative, as formulated by Guizot, was: ‘Get rich!’ We can translate that as ‘Live without an idea!’ We have to say that we cannot live without an idea. We have to say: ‘Have the courage to support the idea, and it can only be the communist idea in its generic sense.’ ”