Laclau or Mouffe? Splitting the difference

Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (5):581-606 (2003)
Abstract
The majority of those who comment upon the theories of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe - both supporters and critics - treat the work of the two authors as a coherent unity. I see acute differences that demarcate the ideas of Laclau and Mouffe: differences that impede any straightforward delimitation of the authorial identity `Laclau and Mouffe'. The purpose of this paper is to bring to the fore the incommensurate political differences that separate the work of the two authors, and to establish the superiority of Mouffe's position. At its most basic both authors view politics as described in their co-authored Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: i.e. `as a practice of creation, reproduction and transformation of social relations' . This agreement, however, conceals the fact that the authors describe the political articulation of social relations in distinct ways, and that those descriptions are implicated in, and reinforce, contrasting ethico-political commitments and prescriptions. These differences reflect the differences between the politics of the Marxist tradition retained by Laclau - albeit understood as a negative apparition of its former fully positive self - and Mouffe's radical democratic pluralism. This latter perspective - in its more recent formulations - represents a political compound of civic-republicanism with a defense of liberalism; this is a political imaginary that retains little if anything from the Marxist tradition
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Tomasz Szkudlarek (2011). Semiotics of Identity: Politics and Education. Studies in Philosophy and Education 30 (2):113-125.
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