[Marxism] Left Socialist Blog A Critical Account of Laclau and Mouffe on Populism. Part One.

andrew coates pabs47 at hotmail.com
Mon May 20 05:43:38 MDT 2019

Ernesto Laclau<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernesto_Laclau> (1935 – 2014) was a political theorist, perhaps best known as a ‘post-Marxist’. The former Professor Political Theory at Essex University, he is attributed the founder of the Essex School of Discourse Analysis, and is best known today for his book on a topic which has recently come to dominate politics, On Populist Reason (2005). The Belgium born Chantal Mouffe,<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantal_Mouffe> his partner, has, like Laclau, passed the major part of her career in British higher education. Their joint book, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1986) made a splash, as a critique of class based Marxism that tried to deal with ‘new social movements’. Readers of Marxism Today during the period would have been familiar with the two names, as well as the often virulent critiques of their turn. Norman Geras began with an attack on  ”a procession of erstwhile Marxists” (Post Marxism<https://newleftreview.org/issues/I163/articles/norman-geras-post-marxism>? 1987) But since that time Mouffe, like Laclau, seemed consigned to the decent obscurity of the University.

Now Laclau and Mouffe's names have become references in debates on Populism, and the National Populism that is on the rise in Europe, including Britain's Brexit Party, which is expected to come first in the European elections in the UK.


Andrew Coates

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