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The Challenge of Carl Schmitt

A thought-provoking collection of responses to Carl Schmitt in a “post-political” age.

Carl Schmitt’s thought serves as a warning against the dangers of complacency entailed by triumphant liberalism. His conception of politics is a sharp challenge to those who believe that the blurring of frontiers between the left and right and the increasing mobilization of political discourse constitute great advances for democracy. Schmitt reminds us forcefully that the essence of politics is a struggle and that the distinction between friend and enemy cannot be abolished.


With contributions by Grigoris Ananiadis, Agostino Carrino, Catherine Colliot-Thélène, Jorge E. Dotti, David Dyzenhaus, Paul Hirst, Jean-François Kervégan, Chantal Mouffe, Ulrich K. Preuss, Carl Schmitt, and Slavoj Žižek


  • Mélenchon: A Radical Reformist Against Mounting Oligarchy

    The Belgian philosopher Chantal Mouffe — a thinker who inspires French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon — defended her project in a column appearing in the 15 April edition of Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s breakthrough into third place in the presidential polls has unleashed a campaign by defenders of the status quo trying to pass him off as a "communist revolutionary." After long having dismissed Mélenchon, part of the press is now working to destroy the credibility of his programme, presented as the "cloud-cuckoo-land plans of the French Chávez."

    Painted as a dangerous extremist, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is attacked by all those who think that there is no alternative to neoliberal globalisation. For them, democracy requires acceptance of the "post-political consensus" established among the centre-left and centre-right parties. Any questioning of this consensus must be the work of populist demagogues.

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  • Chantal Mouffe, the philosopher who inspires Jean-Luc Mélenchon

    Raphaëlle Besse Desmoulières' profile of Chantal Mouffe first appeared in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Chantal Mouffe. via YouTube

    Looking through Chantal Mouffe’s desk diary is like leafing through an atlas of Europe. Madrid, Athens, Lisbon, Barcelona, Paris: here the cities line up as her travels demand. In late October, upon the invitation of the Mémoire des luttes association, the Belgian philosopher was in the French capital for a "dialogue" with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, La France insoumise’s ["Rebellious France’s"] candidate for the 2017 presidential elections. "Mélenchon’s project is a left-populist one, even if I am not sure that he will present it like that," explains the political theory professor from London’s Westminster University. "But he constructs what we would call the 'populist' political boundary: the people against the establishment."

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  • Left Populism and Taking Back Democracy: A Conversation with Chantal Mouffe

    On 8 July 2015 the Belgian political scientist Chantal Mouffe was in Bogotá to give a talk on ‘democracy and passion’ at the Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango. Before the meeting, Palabras al Margen [1] spoke to her about the contemporary meaning of populism and democracy as well as the experience of certain social movements in Europe, in light of the Latin American situation. Translated by David Broder

    Palabras al Margen: What is the relevance of your influential work Hegemony and Socialist Strategy today, thirty years since its publication?

    Chantal Mouffe: When we wrote the book it was clear that it was necessary to rethink socialism in a way that would also incorporate the demands of the new social movements – from feminism to ecology and gay struggles. And that is still now a highly relevant question. However, I would not today propound a theoretical project trying to reformulate socialism — for whereas when we wrote Hegemony the idea of socialism was central, that is not the case today. In that moment, we advocated reformulating the socialist project in terms of the radicalisation of democracy. We thought that it wasn’t enough to think a socialist project within the limited terms of working-class demands alone. Today the great difference between a Left project and a right-wing one is rooted in the fact that only the former can uphold any kind of radicalisation of democracy.

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Other books Edited by Chantal Mouffe