Chantal Mouffe, “Agonistics”

I’m one chapter into Chantal Mouffe’s new text, and I am not sure I am going to like the rest of what I read.  She actively refutes the propositions that democracy can happen through fleeing the state, or through autonomista or other radical movements. Instead, she argues for reform. For “a pluralization of hegemonies” and for more “democratic, more egalitarian institutions”. She argues for a “demoi-cracy” composed of a “multiplicity of diverse demoi providing different spaces for the exercise of democracy”.  Now, demoi in this context means the common people or the populace. And its hard to disagree with this concept of “demoi-cracy” except that it mandates the suppression of constituent power, the power of the demoi, the common people. So the basic tenets of Mouffe’s “radical” democracy is a liberal democracy, one that she claims needs to be fixed.  And she believes that the political visions of Italian Autonomistas, and others who call for an exodus, is really a reaction to the lack of the potential for agonistic politics in liberal democracies, “and that they call for a radicalization, not a rejection, of liberal democratic institutions”(XVII). If you ask me, this seems like a misreading of these theorists, but perhaps there is something to her argument. Do Hardt and Negri and Virno yearn for a radicalized institution? Or is it different than what Mouffe suggests, is it that they yearn for a stable society of free-wiling people not governed by institutions?




About anthony



  1. Thanks for this intriguing preview. I will have to track down her book now (and probably get mad at her)…

  2. anthony

    I got the paperback recently, and I think this book is largely a review of many of her previous works, including On the Political, Return of the Political, and other essays and interviews. I am excited to read the section on artistic practices and contrast it with Virno and Ranciere. Thanks for the comment! I hope we can get a reading group together (virtual or not) soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: