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Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe: The Evolution of Post-marxism

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In their groundbreaking Hegemony and socialist strategy (1985), Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe develop a new account of radical politics in which the subjective construction of hegemony establishes political conditions, not the objective historical stages and class contexts of traditional Hegelian Marxism. On this basis, they forcefully justify the 'identity politics' of contemporary women's, African-American, gay, and working class groups and organisations and oppose both the hegemony of the new right and the 'classism' and revolutionary orientation of the radical left. In their later work, they elaborate their accounts of hegemony and move in new directions. In On populist reason (2005) and The rhetorical foundations of society (2014), Laclau draws on poststructuralist discourse or rhetoric as well as notions of populism or the masses to show that hegemony involves what he terms antagonism, frontiers or we/they oppositions, equivalential logics, and other elements. By contrast, in On the political (2005) and Agonistics: thinking the world politically (with Wagner, 2013), Mouffe elaborates the notion of the fissured subject which, as she and Laclau argued in Hegemony, was constituted by the antagonisms of diverse social movements or the dislocation of social structures; however, her new accounts of the antagonisms or, as she says, 'agonisms' dividing the political field forcefully oppose universal norms of rationality or democracy in order to establish a genuine pluralism on a national and a global scale.
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Keywords: HEGEMONY; IDENTITY POLITICS; LACLAU AND MOUFFE; POST-MARXISM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 2019

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