Radical Democracy in the C21st: Requiem or Renaissance?

Dr Russell Foster, KCL

When Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau published Hegemony and Socialist Strategy in 1985, a foundational text of post-Marxism was established. While Mouffe and Laclau were not the first scholars who we should consider “post-Marxists” and the essential elements can be identified in Baudrillard (1972) and Barthes (1957), their influence in navigating Marxist analysis away from the rigid orthodoxy of classes, unions, and exchange mechanisms and towards the discourses, subjects, and identities which are equally vital (but then-understudied) aspects of society, cannot be understated. In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s disintegration this trend gained even greater academic credibility and, the criticisms of Norman Geras notwithstanding, promised new approaches for a new millennium, offering the tools and mechanisms for understanding, and potentially reshaping, a society which exists as an imperfect combination of the sovereign, self-present subject and collective class agents.

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