chapter 2
From Maoism to L'Organisation Politique

The question of the internal coherence of Badiou's work is a fairly complicated one. The few published accounts of his philosophy often assume that he began writing in the mid-1980s. There is indeed a sense in which his books up to and including Théorie du sujet (1982), the summa of his early work, have become partially obsolete by his own subsequent criteria. The break between the overtly Maoist works of the 1970s and the more serenely argued books of the 1980s and 1990s—the break in argument and priority, as much as in tone, style, and presentation—is obvious enough. On several occasions Badiou alludes, rather discreetly, to his early “égarement, ” his misguided emphasis on “destruction, ” and his effective equation of philosophy and politics. 1 The evolution of his relations to both Althusser and Deleuze certainly gives a colorful measure of how far his position has shifted from the days when he labeled the former “arrogant, idealist, irresponsible, hypocritical and metaphysical” and the latter a “petit professeur de l'embuscade désirante.”2

The principal motor and medium of Badiou's evolution has been political through and through. Radical political engagement is both the great constant of Badiou's life and the field in which the slow transformation of his position is most obvious, from his earliest adherence to a Sartrean Marxism through his fully fledged Maoism in the decade following 1968 to the difficult elaboration of a post-Maoist “politics without party, ” a politics coordinated by the Organisation Politique, which Badiou founded, in 1984–85, with his friends

-29-

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