Tag Archives: engaged intellectuals

“Worse than Nothing”: On the Discussion of the Letter by Russian Leftists to Alain Badiou

The following text was originally published (in Russian) on the website of the Forward Socialist Movement (ВПЕРЁД>>).

The story with the letter sent to Alain Badiou by a group of leftist intellectuals and activists provoked a whole slew of interpretations from the conspiracy theorists and political spinmeisters. As often happens at critical moments, many key antagonisms and oppositions were thrown into sharp relief during this incident, which touched many people to the quick personally and professionally. Who initiated the letter? Who paid off its authors? Whose pet project was it? Who was really in charge? Although they belong to warring ideological and intellectual factions, all the commentators had one thing in common—a stunning, catastrophic unwillingness to admit the possibility that this was an OPEN, TRANSPARENT, NON-HIERARCHICAL, DEMOCRATIC decision by a group of people who share a particular initiative.

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BASTA! Special Issue: An Open Letter to Alain Badiou

This is the sixth in a series of translations of the articles in BASTA!, a special Russian-only issue of Chto Delat that addresses such pressing issues as the fight against racism and facism, the new Russian labor movement, the resistance to runaway “development” in Petersburg, the prospects for student self-governance and revolt, the potential for critical practice amongst sociologists and contemporary artists, the attack on The European University in St. Petersburg, and Alain Badiou’s aborted visit to Moscow.

The entire issue may be downloaded as a .pdf file here. Selected texts may be accessed here.

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An Open Letter to Alain Badiou
& His Rejection of Gleb Pavlovsky’s Invitation

From: Chto delat <info@chtodelat.org>
Date: Mon, 01 Feb 2008 12:50:32
To: <abadiou….>
Subject: Lettre des activistes russes concernant votre prochaine visite
en Russie

Dear Comrade Badiou!

We are Russian activists and leftist intellectuals. We know and value you as a philosopher and intellectual who has not surrendered in the face of the current neo-capitalist reaction. In your public statements, you have on many occasions expressed your allegiance to the great contemporary liberation movement, of which we also consider ourselves to be a part. In particular, we have greatly appreciated your latest book, De quoi Sarkozy est-il le nom?, which deals with the reactionary movement in the contemporary world. Your philosophical and political program is attractive to many local activists and groups who are otherwise locked in a constant polemic with one another. At the same time, it has come to our attention that Gleb Pavlovsky’s foundation (The Russian Institute is a branch of this foundation) has invited you to visit Moscow this coming April. This news dumfounded those of us here who know and appreciate your work and your political stance. We have long dreamed that you would visit us in Russia. But a visit under these circumstances would be worse than no visit at all. It would compromise you and us, your readers and supporters. Continue reading

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Filed under critical thought, open letters, manifestos, appeals, Russian society