The essays collected in this volume develop the theoretical perspective initiated in Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's classic Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.
Central to the argument of The Rhetorical Foundations of Society is the establishment of rhetorical tropes—such as metaphor, metonymy and catachresis—as the "non-foundational" grounds of society. From this basis, Laclau explores the state of social relations in today's heterogeneous society. Employing analytical philosophy from both phenomenological and structuralist traditions, he seeks to locate an ontological terrain for interpersonal relationships. Further, he investigates the definition of social antagonism in an increasingly globalized world, where the proliferation of conflicts and points of rupture erodes crucial links between the social subjects postulated by classical social analysis.
“Few would dispute Ernesto Laclau’s distinguished position at the forefront of contemporary political philosophy. And yet this designation fails to capture fully Laclau’s lifelong dedication to reflexively interrogating the political experience of the global Left as well as his passionate involvement with Theory (with a capital ‘T’) in its most challenging forms. Above all else, what must be duly acknowledged is his truly unique contribution in linking the two in ways that are not only original and appealing as critical arguments, but also strategically enabling as political interventions. This fascinating collection of essays, infused throughout with this spirit, is Laclau at his best!”
“What needs to be politically articulated at the present time is the possibility of a leftist populism. This is what makes Laclau’s long-awaited book so important. Arguably, populism has always been the governing concept in Laclau’s work and in On Populist Reason, he lays out his position with great power and analytical clarity.”