The political ontology of post-Marxism.
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Since the 1970’s and the emergence of so-called ‘identity’ struggles, we have seen a proliferation of political theories aiming to articulate the traditional movement of the working-class with these struggles and thus provide new strategies for the left. The work of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe has been central to attempts to revise traditional Marxist theories on the centrality of the worker’s movement. Influenced by the structuralism of Saussure and Lacan, and by Derrida’s critique of structuralism, they have sought to develop an alternative strategy based on a post-structuralist conception of the social world. This thesis endeavours to show how this transition between structuralism and post-structuralism has been made in the work of Laclau and Mouffe, with a particular focus on the political and strategical implications of that transition as a contribution to theorising the articulation of struggles and of identities. Secondly, it attempts to compare and confront the hegemonic strategy and the so-called post-hegemonic strategy influenced by Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical work. Through a close examination of works within the field of radical democratic thought, and in particular through an exploration of the opposition between Ernesto Laclau’ and Lasse Thomassen’s ‘ontology of lack’ versus Andrew Robinson’ and Simon Tormey’s ‘ontology of abundance’, the thesis casts new light on the most recent debates within radical democratic currents. The philosophical debate is also completed by the analyses of the political translations of these different ontologies such as Peronism and the Zapatista movements and enriched with Toni Negri and Michael Hardt’s theory of the Multitude. The contribution of this thesis is hence to map out and clarify some of the most important problems and debates concerning the question of the ‘unity’ and ‘fragmentation’ of the oppressed, and develop some tools in order to evaluate the best strategies for emancipatory social change.
- Theses