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The Post-Political and Its DiscontentsSpaces of Depoliticization, Spectres of Radical Politics$
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Japhy Wilson and Erik Swyngedouw

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748682973

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748682973.001.0001

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Seeds of Dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political

Seeds of Dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political

(p.1) Seeds of Dystopia: Post-Politics and the Return of the Political
The Post-Political and Its Discontents

Japhy Wilson

Erik Swyngedouw

Edinburgh University Press

In recent years a growing body of literature has begun to theorise contemporary depoliticisation in terms of post-politics, post-democracy, and the post-political. This chapter provides an introduction to this literature, in preparations for the more involved debates that form the substance of the book. We conceptualise the post-political as a ‘Borromean Knot’ comprising the Imaginary – the ideology of ‘the end of history’; the Symbolic – the institutional mechanisms through which politics is reduced to the consensual management of economic necessity; and the Real – the ontological erasure of ‘the political difference’ between a given social order and the establishment of that order on an always absent ground. We then introduce the conceptualizations of the post-political in the work of Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, and Slavoj Žižek. We argue that Mouffe is concerned with the post-political as the repression of antagonism, Rancière with post-democracy as the disavowal of equality, and Žižek with post-politics as the foreclosure of class struggle. These distinct theoretical approaches provide the grounds for divergent understandings of ‘the return of the political’. We conclude by outlining the key arguments that are played out in the book.

Keywords:   Post-politics, Post-democracy, Post-political, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek

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