Readers may remember my references to the thought of Sylvain Lazarus over the years, including my piece on his Anthropology of the Name. I’m pleased to invite you to join me for a reading circle on Lazarus’s thought starting on May 9th and concluding with a plenary event on May 30th featuring different papers on his work by Asad Haider and Gabriel Tupinambá who I had the pleasure of recently interviewing on my podcast. Take a listen.
Study Group on the Thought of Sylvain Lazarus
Sylvain Lazarus’s groundbreaking work Anthropology of the Name offers an entirely novel mode of thinking about politics that is distinct from political science, economics, history, or philosophy. The text is forged in the long shadow of May 68 and gathers a generation of insights around political organizing in the Marxist-Leninist tradition. Lazarus upends the entire idea of politics, how ‘the people’ are to be conceived in political organizing and how history and time function in relation to politics. The book is both deeply philosophical, presenting theories of consciousness, time and the subject, and filled with case-studies that apply this thought to actual political interventions with working class groups.
Although the text is seldom discussed in socialist and leftwing circles in the United States, its insights have much to offer political organizers and thinkers interested in formulating new strategies of political organization. The ideas in this text have deeply informed the political thought and practice of Alain Badiou, a longtime comrade of Lazarus.
We will read the text with discussion leaders who will facilitate the material and process questions that come up. We will aim to read the entirety of the text starting on May 9th and ending on May 30th, although we will see how the pace goes and may adjust that goal. We will read the English translation of the text (2015, translated by Gila Walker) PDF available upon signing up. Please note that this reading group does not require prior knowledge of Lazarus or of Badiou, although that is helpful, it is not necessary.
Each Saturday session will be facilitated by one of the presenters for the May 30th plenary event. All sessions will take place by Zoom. Links will be password-based to enhance security.
1. Saturday May 9th / 4 – 6 pm EST
Reading: Introduction & Chapter 1
2. Saturday May 16th / 4 – 6 pm EST
Reading: Chapters 2 & 3
3. Saturday May 23rd / 4 – 6 pm EST
Reading: Chapters 4 & 5
4. Saturday May 30th / 2 – 6 pm EST – “Plenary on the Thought of Sylvain Lazarus”
Asad Haider – “Socialists Think”
Daniel Tutt – “Periodization in Lazarus”
Gabriel Tupinambá – “Case-Studies from the Circle of Studies of Ideas and Ideology”