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Post-Foundational Political ThoughtPolitical Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau$
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Oliver Marchart

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748624973

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748624973.001.0001

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The Political and the Impossibility of Society: Ernesto Laclau

The Political and the Impossibility of Society: Ernesto Laclau

(p.134) Chapter 6 The Political and the Impossibility of Society: Ernesto Laclau
Post-Foundational Political Thought

Oliver Marchart

Edinburgh University Press

The assumption that the political has been systematically ‘absorbed’ by the social places the Laclauian enterprise in the framework of theories that share Carl Schmitt's neutralisation thesis and Hannah Arendt's colonisation thesis. However, no pessimistic or even fatalistic conclusions as to the irreversibility of this absorption or enclosure of the political in the ‘iron cage’ of an increasingly bureaucratised and managed society are drawn. How does Ernesto Laclau proceed about showing the primacy of the political? And how does he define the political and the social in the first place? In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, after having deconstructed the history of Marxism in a remarkable tour-de-force, Laclau and Chantal Mouffe start again building their theory of politics as hegemony by renouncing the conception of ‘society’ as founding totality of its partial processes. Laclau relates the difference between the social and the political to Edmund Husserl's distinction between sedimentation and reactivation. Laclau's theory has to be located at the antagonistic end of the scale of social post-foundationalism.

Keywords:   Ernesto Laclau, post-foundationalism, social, political, politics, Chantal Mouffe, society, Edmund Husserl, sedimentation, reactivation

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