Sylvain Lazarus. Can Politics be Thought in Interiority? Vol. 4. No. 1. 2019

Publication Details

Can Politics be Thought in Interiority?
Title in the language of publication: Можно ли мыслить политику в интериорности?
Sylvain Lazarus
(b. in 1943) Political theoretician and activist, former professor of social sciences in the University of Paris–VIII (Vincennes — Saint-Denis), one of the leaders of the Maoist “Union of Communists of France Marxist-Leninist”, subsequently one of the leaders of the group “Political organization” founded in 1985 by him together with Alain Badiou and Natacha Michel.
Translated from French: 
Sergey Ermakov
Associate Research Fellow at the Sociological institute of the Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Address: 25/14 7-ya Krasnoarmeyskaya str., St. Petersburg 190005, Russia.
P. 73–104.
Language: Russian
Document type: Research Article (translation)


Since the beginning of 1980-s, in the range of works later collected in one volume “Intelligence of politics” (2013) Lazarus develops his own theory, which might be considered at once both as one of radical versions of post-Marxism and as a principally new mode of thinking the politics in general, which is understood as a thought sui generis, irreducible to the universitarian political studies and political philosophy. For this aim, he undertakes a radical rereading of Lenin, Marx, Saint-Just and Mao and designs his proper unstandardized categorial apparatus. The latter may look extremely abstract for an unprepared reader, but it is linked closely 1) to the most actual French agenda of the time; 2) to the huge number of field studies performed by Lazarus, consisting of thousands of interviews with workers and trade union members. The Lazarus’ thought of 1980–90-s, appearing something like a bridge between the universitarian discourse on politics and the activist thought, have influenced much Alain Badiou’s thought about politics and remains very actual in the present situation where the balance between the universitarian the activist thought is completely broken to the favor of the university side.

The text, proposed to the reader, “Can Politics be Thought in Interiority?” (1985) is one of author’s manifest, where he for the first time introduces many of his basic categories (he will apply them in his works for the further 25 years, including his fundamental book, “Anthropology of the Name” (1996), as well as demonstrates new clues to the reading of the basic texts of revolutionary and leftist tradition and demarcates his way of thinking politics from the others. One of the most important Lazarus’ achievements is “dehistorization” of politics, meaning drawing out the thought about it from the dominance of historical thought (as a result, the politics is interpreted as a singular self-substantiating act, not as a consequence of its historical and sociological prerequisites). Some outcomes of his analyses — discovering a new relationship between the state and economics in parliamentary systems, where the programmatic politics has vanished, or reassessment of the role of people and a new understanding of the term “democracy” — will become a commonplace among multiple universitary leftists only after approximately 20 years.


Politics-as-thought, post-Marxism, post-Leninism, post-Maoism, political subjectivity, dehistorization of politics, singularization of politics.


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© Sylvain Lazarus, 2019  © Sergey Ermakov, transl., 2019

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