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.
The decline of the Izquierda Unida (IU), the Front de Gauche’s traditional partner in Spain, is a collateral effect of the rise of Podemos. In this interview with Mediapart, Alberto Garzón, a candidate for the IU leadership, argues that Podemos’s ‘caesarism’ provides no solutions. He calls for the different Left forces to converge in the run up to the elections. This piece, from the viewpoint of Podemos's political rivals in the established Spanish Left, provides a critique of Podemos and the populism that has been inspired by Argentinian political theorist Ernesto Laclau.
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Ernesto Laclau's passing away has caused a great stir in the international Left. It has lost one of its most insightful political thinkers. We publish here Íñigo Errejón's tribute to Laclau, a very timely reminder of the urgent actuality of Laclau's life-long reflections on hegemony, left-wing strategies, and the knotty question of populism.
Although I had a few of his books on the shelves of my childhood home, it was not until the last year of my degree that I read Ernesto Laclau, together with his personal and intellectual compañera Chantal Mouffe, for a 2005-6 seminar by Professor Javier Franzé. I remember how dense and complex the fragment of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy struck me as, and I would later return to it pencil in hand. But certainly already it shook up some of my certainties and opened up a field of intellectual curiosity to which I would subsequently devote myself. Some time later, passing through Buenos Aires after a year of living and researching in Bolivia, I bought On Populist Reason, as I was already obsessed with understanding the national-popular in Latin America and passionate about working through some of its ambivalences. This was in 2009. In May 2011, three days after the 15 May protests, I defended my doctoral thesis at the Universidad Complutense, its title being ‘The MAS’s struggle for hegemony in Bolivia (2006-2009): a discursive analysis’. The work of Ernesto Laclau (to repeat: and also Chantal Mouffe) and their neo-Gramscian school of thought played a central theoretical role in my thesis.