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The Idea of Communism 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1844674596
ISBN-10: 1844674592
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Editorial Reviews


“Separating the promise of communism from the disasters of the twentieth century is no easy task. But it feels necessary. Already we know that choices will have to be made and sides taken. Impending ecological disaster suggests that this could be our last chance to do so. If another world is possible, it will happen in action, not abstract theory. The first choice is very simple: to begin.”—Guardian

About the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.

Costas Douzinas is Professor of Law and Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London. He is the author of numerous works, including Human Rights and Empire, The End of Human Rights, and Law and the Image: The Authority of Art and the Aesthetics of Law.

Alain Badiou teaches philosophy at the École normale supérieure and the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. In addition to several novels, plays and political essays, he has published a number of major philosophical works, including Theory of the Subject, Being and Event, Manifesto for Philosophy, and Gilles Deleuze. His recent books include The Meaning of Sarkozy, Ethics, Metapolitics, Polemics, The Communist Hypothesis, Five Lessons on Wagner, and Wittgenstein’s Anti-Philosophy.

Bruno Bosteels, Professor of Romance Studies at Cornell University, is the author of Badiou and Politics, Marx and Freud in Latin America, and The Actuality of Communism. He is also the translator of several books by Alain Badiou: Theory of the Subject, Can Politics Be Thought? and What Is Antiphilosophy? Essays on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Lacan. He currently serves as the General Editor of Diacritics.

Susan Buck-Morss is Professor of Political Philosophy and Social Theory at Cornell University. She is the author of Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project and The Origin of Negative Dialectics: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt Institute.

Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory and John Rylands Fellow, University of Manchester. His other books include Ideology; The Function of Criticism; Heathcliff and the Great Hunger; Against the Grain; Walter Benjamin; and Criticism and Ideology, all from Verso.

Peter Hallward teaches at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. He is the author of several books including Absolutely Postcolonial, Badiou: A Subject to Truth, Out of This World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation, and Damming the Flood.

Antonio Negri has taught philosophy and political science at the Universities of Padua and Paris; he has also been a political prisoner in Italy and a political refugee in France. He is the author of over thirty books, including Political Descartes, Marx Beyond Marx, The Savage Anomaly, The Politics of Subversion, Insurgencies, Subversive Spinoza, and Time for Revolution, and, in collaboration with Michael Hardt, Labor of Dionysus, Empire and Multitude. He currently lives in Paris and Venice.

Jacques Rancière is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-VIII. His books include The Politics of Aesthetics, On the Shores of Politics, Short Voyages to the Land of the People, The Nights of Labor, Staging the People, and The Emancipated Spectator.

Alberto Toscano is a lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Theatre of Production and Fanaticism, translator of Alain Badiou’s The Century and Logics of Worlds and co-editor of Alain Badiou’s Theoretical Writings and On Beckett. He has published numerous articles on contemporary philosophy, politics and social theory, and is an editor of Historical Materialism.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1 edition (December 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844674592
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844674596
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of essays delivered as presentations at 'The Idea of Communism' conference held by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities (London) in March 2009.

There are a total of fifteen papers:

The Idea of Communism - Alain Badiou
To Present Oneself to the Present. The Communist Hypothesis: a Possible Hypothesis for Philosophy, an Impossible Name for Politics? - Judith Balso
The Leftist Hypothesis: Communism in the Age of Terror - Bruno Bosteels
The Second Time as Farce... Historical Pragmatics and the Untimely Present - Susan Buck-Morss
Adikia: On Communism and Rights - Costas Douzinas
Communism: Lear or Gonzalo? - Terry Eagleton
'Communism of the Intellect, Communism of the Will' - Peter Hallward
The Common in Communism - Michael Hardt
Communism, the Word - Jean-Luc Nancy
Communism: Some thoughts on the Concept and Practice - Antonio Negri
Communists Without Communism? - Jacques Rancière
Did the Cultural Revolution End Communism? Eight Remarks on Philosophy and Politics Today - Alessandro Russo
The Politics of Abstraction: Communism and Philosophy - Alberto Toscano
Weak Communism? - Gianni Vattimo
How to Begin From the Beginning - Slavoj Zizek

So, I think you can probably deduce from the titles that these essays really are part of a serious philosophical debate around the concept of 'communism'. Inevitably linking to Marx and Engels but in no way constrained simply to Marxism, the essays broaden out the central concept in some surprising ways. However, overall, these essays are clearly aimed at philosophers and thus, as a 'common reader' I found many of them extremely hard work.

Saying that, some are genuinely thought-provoking.
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After the left's 20 year dormancy in the wake of capitalism's self-proclaimed victory, much to Francis Fukyama's dismay, history seems to be moving again. The 2008 financial meltdown is just one symptom of late capitalism's crisis. The return of radical emancipatory politics was inevitable and could not have come soon enough.

This collection of essays by the Left's greatest contemporary scholars reevaluates "The Idea of Communism" relative to the post-soviet, late-capitalist world. The essays are by no means univocal and end up representing a plurality of takes on Communism. This diversity of leftist thought is presented as a tremendous dialogue, where the scholars present multiple viewpoints without ever returning to the sectarian in-fighting of old. In the end the dialogue is both productive and inspiring. My only critique is the dense language utilized in some essays. Personally I am trained as a political theorist, but I fear the non-academic will find many of the essays in the collection bogged down by overly academe language. However, I greatly enjoyed the text and highly recommend it to those still dedicated to emancipatory politics.
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Wow, I wish I had attended this conference. A group of some of the best and brightest philosophers working today meet to discuss the resurgence of communist politics in an era washed in insipid socialist rhetoric and the moans of a dying capitalist order. Not the thing for most Anglo-American scholars, maybe, but that goes too deep into a longstanding quarrel...

Regardless, this is an excellent collection. The four-star review is because I don't think any anthology can be perfect - there's a couple articles I would scratch, for sure, and some ideas I would have preferred to be brought to the fore. Nevertheless, it's worthwhile reading for anyone interested in contemporary politics and culture and bears with it all the brilliance and intellectual rigor one would expect from Zizec, Badiou, et al.
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No complaint. Delivery was excellent in every way.
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