Jean Birnbaum's interview with Étienne Balibar about his new book Des Universals was first published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
You recently published a book on the question of the universal (Des Universals, Paris: Galilée, 2016). This notion, which seems so familiar, however often remains rather unclear. If you had to give a definition to a class of 17 year olds, what would you say?
I would say that it is a value that designates the possibility of being equal without necessarily being the same, and thus of being citizens without having to be culturally identical.
Indeed, in our era universalism is often associated with consensus, and first of all with a bien pensant Left, presumed to be weak and naïve… Yet in your view universalism is anything but an idealism.
First of all, my objective is not to uphold a "left-wing position," but to debate universalism as a philosophical question. Of course, I am on the Left, but the Left itself is is traversed by all the conflicts inherent to the question of the universal. The universal does not bring people together, it divides them. Violence is a constant possibility. But I first of all seek to describe internal conflicts.
In light of recent developments in Europe that have brought questions of hegemony, populism and organisation to the foreground, Toni Negri asks: where does the thought of Ernesto Laclau leave us on this score? The following talk was given at Maison de l’Amerique Latine in Paris, 27 May 2015. Translated by David Broder; see the original French text here.
By Toni Negri
I would like to talk very schematically about what Ernesto Laclau’s work has meant to me, and the dialogue that the two of us had, particularly in recent years. This was a simultaneously close and critical dialogue, marked by evident differences, but it was also characterised by very great respect; and again today I would like to emphasise my esteem for Laclau.
Is representation necessary, or antithetical, to the democratic will? In light of the significant gains made by the indignados in the Spanish municipal and regional elections on Sunday, we publish a discussion about democracy and representation between Jacques Rancière, the inspiration for much analysis of the 15-M movement, and Ernesto Laclau, an important theoretical reference point for Podemos.
Amador Fernández-Savater introduces a discussion between the philosophers Jacques Rancière and Ernesto Laclau. Translated by David Broder, from El Diario
It can be said that the work of theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau has been realised in the new popular social movements in Greece and Spain. This article, originally published in Der Freitag, is a useful discussion of Chantel Mouffe's contribution to left theory and its pertinence today.
Chantal Mouffe didn’t come to Berlin just for lunch with Katja Kipping. A discussion with the left theorist.
She is reluctant to say that history has backed her up, that she saw a lot of things coming. The elegant lady with the red scarf on the stage is too modest for that. Yet what Chantal Mouffe has suspected for the last thirty years seems now to be finding confirmation in Athens: if ‘progressive forces’ act together – workers, trade unionists, social movements – it really is possible to do something against neoliberalism. She is speaking just one day after the Greek elections, and many people have come to the Humboldt University in Berlin to hear this influential theorist of the left.
As Europe's political climate is increasingly defined by an assurgent left populism, we re-publish Razmig Keucheyan's discussion of political theorist Ernesto Laclau, whose theoretical legacy is a critical engagement with this problematic realised today in Greece and Spain. This piece was originally published in Keucheyan's cartography of the contemporary world's leading critical thinkers; The Left Hemisphere: Mapping Critical Thinking Today.