Ernesto Laclau

Ernesto Laclau is Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Government, University of Essex, and Distinguished Professor for Humanities and Rhetorical Studies at Northwestern University. He is the author of, amongst other works, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (with Chantal Mouffe), New Reflections of the Revolution of Our Time, The Populist Reason, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality (with Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek), and Emancipation(s).


  • An Introduction to Verso's Radical Thinkers Series at the ICA

    From Tuesday 29th January, a fortnightly series of events at the ICA in London launching the latest set in the Radical Thinkers series will introduce the thought of Gillian Rose, Max Stirner, Edward W. Said, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, and Sheila Rowbotham.

    The books are from Set 8 of Verso’s beautiful Radical Thinkers set. You can discover more about the set and peruse the complete list of authors featured here.

    The following offers some suggested preliminary background material ahead of the events.

    Critical Theory will be publishing regular excerpts from these titles and more from Radical Thinkers Set 8. Excerpts from Freud and the Non-European and Women, Resistance and Revolution are now available at the links provided below, with more to follow from The Melancholy Science, The Ego and Its Own and Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.  

    Critical Theory is also running a giveaway of Radical Thinkers Set 8 titles. Details for how to enter are here.

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  • Mario Tronti: "We have populism because there is no people"

    A piece written by Mario Tronti for a recent issue of Democrazia e Diritto (2010, 3–4), dedicated to the question of populism


    'Quite a number of the terms that we use all the time, and which we thus believe that we understand in all their significance, are, in reality, only fully clear to a privileged few. As in the case of the terms "circle" or "square", which everyone uses, though only mathematicians have a clear and precise idea of what they really mean; so, too, the word "people" is on everyone's lips, without them ever getting a clear idea in mind of its real meaning'. So said the mathematician and philosopher Frédéric de Castillon, victorious participant in the 1778 contest held by the Royal Prussian Academy on the question, close to the heart of Frederick the Great, 'is it useful for the people to be tricked?' 'Normally, by "the people" we mean' – Castillon continued – 'the majority of the population, almost constantly occupied by mechanical, rough and wearisome tasks, and excluded from government and roles in public life'. Here, we are dealing with the eve of the French Revolution – but in Germany, where nation and people had not yet met, as they already had some time before in England, France and Spain, by way of their absolute monarchies. Thus we are also talking about here, in Italy. Frédéric de Castillon arrived in Berlin having come from Tuscany. Nation and people grew together in the modern age. And what brings them together is the modern state. There is no nation, without the state. But there is no people, without the state. This is important, first in order to understand the question, and moreover in order to grasp it within the time that concerns us, and in which we are engaged. Because the theme is an eternal one, Biblical more than it is historical.

    The ancient/Old Testament concept of the people – the people founded by Moses – seems to me to be closer to the modern concept of the people than are the Greeks' demos or the Romans' populus. Neither the city-state nor the Empire founded a people. No promised land, no exile, no exodus, no God of the armies. The free citizens in the agora or the plebs on the terraces of the Colosseum did not make up a people. These images and metaphors are current/not-current for our own time. The people is a secularised theological concept. It has nothing to do with the assembly of sovereign electors or the many headed beast. Esposito and Galli, in the Enciclopedia del pensiero politico ['Encyclopedia of Political Thought'] say that the process of secularisation began with Marsilius (universitas civium seu populus) and with Bartolo (populus unius civitatis). But it was Machiavelli who later spoke of a popular government distinct from, and counterposed to, the principality and the aristocratic republic. And for Hobbes, in the state of the Leviathan, 'the subjects are the multitude and the King is the people'.

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  • COMPETITION: Win the entire Radical Thinkers backlist!

    And here are the answers you've all been so patiently waiting for. Congratulations to our incredibly well-read winners!

    Get your radical thinking caps on...To celebrate the publication of Set 5 of the Radical Thinkers series, Verso is offering 2 lucky winners the chance to win all available titles in the five sets published to date.

    The highly popular series publishes new editions of important works of continental philosophy in beautifully-designed and affordable editions. Covering the full spectrum of critical thought, the series includes work from radical thinkers such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Louis Althusser, Jean Baudrillard, Guy Debord, Georg Lukács, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and many more. 

    First published in 2005, there are now 60 titles in the series. In 2009, set 4 was launched with a stunning and acclaimed new cover design from Rumors, which has become a hallmark of the series. They have been widely praised, including in the Guardian, Bookforum and the New Statesman. 

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