Everywhere, the twentieth century has been judged and condemned: the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and criminal ideologies, of empty illusions, of genocides, of false avant-gardes, of democratic realism everywhere replaced by abstraction.
It is not Badiou's wish to plead for an accused that is perfectly capable of defending itself without the authors aid. Nor does he seek to proclaim, like Frantz, the hero of Sartre's Prisoners of Altona, 'I have taken the century on my shoulders and I have said: I will answer for it!' The Century simply aims to examine what this accursed century, from within its own unfolding, said that it was. Badiou's proposal is to reopen the dossier on the century - not from the angle of those wise and sated judges we too often claim to be, but from the standpoint of the century itself.
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The twentieth century has been judged and condemned as the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and dangerous ideologies, of empty illusions and mass genocides. In this major new book, the leading French philosopher Alain Badiou undertakes to re-examine this century - not from the customary moral standpoint of a wise judge looking back, but rather through an immanent investigation of the century itself in its unfolding.In order to do this, he considers poems, philosophical fragments, political programmes, theatre pieces - a whole body of material in which the nature of the century is uncovered. Against the grain of all other judgements hitherto pronounced, Badiou argues that the passion of the twentieth century was not at all the passions for utopia or ideologies, even less was it messianic passion. The terrible passion of the twentieth century - in contrast to the prophetic character of the nineteenth century - was the passion for the real. It was a question of activating the True, here and now.About the Author:
Alain Badiou, Professor of Philosophy, l'Ecole normale superieure
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