Alain badiou's politics and the problem of social history

David Wild*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the plausibility of Alain Badiou's ahistorical theory of politics. By insisting that the events of egalitarian politics are radically subtracted from social and historical conditions Badiou imagines a form of political action that effectively comes out of nothing. However, in order to establish the very prospect of an event's occurrence Badiou is forced to ground the possibility of political intervention in his theory of "evental recurrence", which effectively enables the subjects of political action to draw on the consequences of a preceding event in order to act in the here and now. The paper argues that by introducing the social dimensions of evental recurrence it is possible to construct an alternative account of political action that resolves a number of inconsistencies in Badiou's otherwise miraculous vision of politics. Consequendy, rather than a militant activist that comes out of nowhere, evental recurrence implies that the militants of political action are saturated in their immediate social and political circumstances and in the memory of past struggles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-411
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Horizons
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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