The Spirit of Nihilism
The story is often told of Marx that he was the product of a specific tripartite European formation: British political economy, German idealism, and French socialism. The Europe of today is different: in Germany we have media theory, in Italy we have political theory, and in France we have philosophy. The period of crisis and retrenchment that began in French philosophy around 1975 or 1976, and that lasted for twenty-five years, is, happily, coming to an end. The children of the '68ers are now of age. And they are writing.
There are two figures poised to emerge as important young voices in France. They could not be more different. The first is already known in the English-speaking world. He is Quentin Meillassoux, the author of After Finitude (Continuum, 2008). The second is almost entirely unknown outside of France. His name is Mehdi Belhaj Kacem but he often goes by his initials, MBK. Both Meillassoux and MBK have been propelled in part by the vast intellectual richness and patronage of Alain Badiou. While Meillassoux is a rigorous scientist and, as an intellectual presence at the École Normale Supérieure, already an institutional insider, MBK is a self-styled outsider, a trickster, an autodidact, or, in his own words, an "anti-scholastic," an "anti-philosopher."