|Born||6 October 1935|
Buenos Aires, Argentina
|Died||13 April 2014 78) (aged|
|Era||20th / 21st-century philosophy|
|Hegemony · Identity politics|
Ernesto Laclau (Spanish: [laˈklaw] ; 6 October 1935 – 13 April 2014) was an Argentine political theorist and philosopher. He is often described as an 'inventor' of post-Marxist political theory. He is well known for his collaborations with his long-term partner, Chantal Mouffe.
He studied history at the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, graduating with a licenciatura in 1964, and received a PhD from the University of Essex in 1977.
Since 1986 he served as Professor of Political Theory at the University of Essex, where he founded and directed for many years the graduate programme in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, as well as the Centre for Theoretical Studies in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Under his directorship, the Ideology and Discourse Analysis programme has provided a research framework for the development of a distinct type of discourse analysis that draws on post-structuralist theory (especially the work of Saussure, and Derrida), post analytic thought (Wittgenstein, and Richard Rorty) and psychoanalysis (primarily the work of Lacan) to provide innovative analysis of concrete political phenomena, such as identities, discourses and hegemonies. This theoretical and analytical orientation is known today as the 'Essex School of discourse analysis'. 
Over his career Laclau lectured extensively in many universities in North America, South America, Western Europe, Australia, and South Africa. He also held positions at SUNY Buffalo and Northwestern University, both in the US.
Laclau died of a heart attack in Seville in 2014.  
Laclau studied history at the University of Buenos Aires  and was a member of the PSIN (Socialist Party of the National Left) until 1969, when the British historian Eric Hobsbawm supported his entrance to Oxford.  He had close links with Jorge Abelardo Ramos, the founder of the PSIN, although he stated in 2005 that the latter had evolved in a direction he did not appreciate.  In the same interview, he claimed that he came from a Yrigoyenista family, and that the Peronist politician Arturo Jauretche, a strong opponent of Justo's dictatorship during the Infamous Decade of the 1930s, was a close friend of his father. 
In his later years, he had close ties with the Argentine Socialist Confederation (Spanish: Confederación Socialista Argentina),  and in Argentina he is associated with Peronism. 
Laclau's early work was influenced by Althusserian Marxism and focused on issues debated within Neo-Marxist circles in the 1970s, such as the role of the state, the dynamics of capitalism, the importance of building popular movements, and the possibility of revolution. Laclau's most significant book is Hegemony and Socialist Strategy , which he co-authored with Chantal Mouffe in 1985. The position outlined in this book is usually described as post-Marxist because it rejects (a) Marxist economic determinism and (b) the view that class struggle is the most important antagonism in society. In their 2001 introduction to the second edition Laclau and Mouffe commented on this label, stating that whilst 'post-Marxist' they were also 'post-Marxist':  their work, though a departure from traditional Western Marxism, retained similar concerns and ideas. A key innovation in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy was Laclau and Mouffe's argument that left-wing movements need to build alliances with a wide variety of different groups if they are to be successful and establish a left-wing 'hegemony'. In the final chapter of the book, the project of "radical and plural democracy" was advocated: a democracy in which subjects accept the importance of the values of liberty and equality, but fight over what the terms mean.
In Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Laclau and Mouffe also offered a constructivist account of 'discourse'. By drawing on the work of the later Wittgenstein, they argued that social entities only become meaningful through both linguistic and non-linguistic discursive articulation.  As such, the meaning of something is never pre-given but is, instead, constructed through social practices. In a later summary of his view, Laclau claims there is support for this broad sense of discourse in Saussure. "By discourse... I do not mean something that is essentially restricted to the areas of speech and writing, but any complex of elements in which relations play the constitutive role. This means that elements do not pre-exist the relational complex but are constituted through it. Thus 'relation' and 'objectivity' are synonymous. Saussure asserted that there are no positive terms in language, only differences — something is what it is only through its differential relations to something else." 
Laclau subsequently used this account of discourse to re-consider the nature of identity, arguing that all political identities are discursive - even if they are experienced by individuals as 'natural' (even to the point where one's identity is not recognised as an identity). For example, though an individual may think that they are just 'born male' this is, for Laclau[ citation needed ] not the case: 'maleness' is a socially constructed category that has no innate meaning.
In his more recent works Laclau returned to a topic that was prevalent in his earliest writings: populism. In On Populist Reason, Laclau considered the nature of populism in political discourse, the creation of a popular hegemonic bloc such as "the people", and the importance of affect in politics. Building on his earlier work, Laclau argued that the basis of populism lies in the creation of "empty signifiers": words and ideas that express a universal idea of justice, and symbolically structure the political environment. Against those who see populism as a threat to democracy, Laclau argued that it is an essential component of it. 
Laclau is known for his long standing dialogue with Lacanian "arch-Marxist" Slavoj Žižek. This dates back to at least 1989, when Laclau wrote the introduction to Žižek's first book in English (The Sublime Object of Ideology). Žižek is widely recognized as responsible for Laclau's increased acceptance of Lacanian ideas and his essay "Beyond Discourse Analysis",  which was published in Laclau's New Reflections on the Revolutions of Our Time (1990), provided a psychoanalytic critique of Laclau's work. In 2000, Laclau, Žižek and Judith Butler published the trialogue Contingency, Hegemony, Universality , in which each responded to the others' works in a three-essay cycle. Although Žižek and Laclau noted their similarities and mutual respect, significant political and theoretical differences emerged between all three interlocutors. Following several acrimonious publications in the early 2000s, Laclau wrote in On Populist Reason (2005) that Žižek had an impractical and confused approach to politics, describing him as "waiting for the martians".  Their disagreement escalated in the pages of Critical Inquiry in 2006, when in a spate of essays the two argued in an increasingly hostile manner about political action, Marxism and class struggle, Hegel, populism, and the Lacanian Real.   More recently in a 2014 interview with David Howarth, Laclau stated that his relationship with Žižek had deteriorated due to the latter adopting a "frantic ultra-Leftist stance, wrapped in a Leninism of kindergarten". 
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to critical theory:
Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher, cultural theorist and public intellectual. He is international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities at the University of London, visiting professor at New York University and a senior researcher at the University of Ljubljana's Department of Philosophy. He primarily works on continental philosophy and political theory, as well as film criticism and theology.
Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic, philosopher and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends, particularly his analysis of postmodernity and capitalism. Jameson's best-known books include Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) and The Political Unconscious (1981).
In Marxist philosophy, cultural hegemony is the dominance of a culturally diverse society by a ruling class who manipulate the culture of that society—the beliefs and explanations, perceptions, values, and mores—so that the worldview of the ruling class becomes the accepted cultural norm. As the universal dominant ideology, the ruling-class worldview misrepresents the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, and perpetual social conditions that benefit every social class, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.
Chantal Mouffe is a Belgian political theorist, formerly teaching at University of Westminster.
Freudo-Marxism is a loose designation for philosophical perspectives informed by both the Marxist philosophy of Karl Marx and the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud. It has a rich history within continental philosophy, beginning in the 1920s and 1930s and running since through critical theory, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and post-structuralism.
Agonism is a political and social theory that emphasizes the potentially positive aspects of certain forms of conflict. It accepts a permanent place for such conflict in the political sphere, but seeks to show how individuals might accept and channel this conflict positively. Agonists are especially concerned with debates about democracy, and the role that conflict plays in different conceptions of it. The agonistic tradition to democracy is often referred to as agonistic pluralism. Beyond the realm of the political, agonistic frameworks have similarly been utilized in broader cultural critiques of hegemony and domination, as well as in literary and science fiction.
Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left is a collaborative book by the political theorists Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek published in 2000.
Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics is a 1985 work of political theory in the post-Marxist tradition by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Developing several sharp divergences from the tenets of canonical Marxist thought, the authors begin by tracing historically varied discursive constitutions of class, political identity, and social self-understanding, and then tie these to the contemporary importance of hegemony as a destabilized analytic which avoids the traps of various procedures Mouffe and Laclau feel constitute a foundational flaw in Marxist thought: essentializations of class identity, the use of a priori interpretative paradigms with respect to history and contextualization, the privileging of the base/superstructure binary above other explicative models.
Radical democracy is a type of democracy that advocates the radical extension of equality and liberty. Radical democracy is concerned with a radical extension of equality and freedom, following the idea that democracy is an unfinished, inclusive, continuous and reflexive process.
Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis, also known as the Ljubljana Lacanian School is a popular name for a school of thought centred on the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Philosophers related to School include Slavoj Žižek, Rastko Močnik, Mladen Dolar, Alenka Zupančič, Miran Božovič and Eva Bahovec. Other scholars associated with the school include philosophers Zdravko Kobe, Rado Riha, Jelica Šumič Riha, sociologist Renata Salecl and philosopher Peter Klepec.
Welcome to the Desert of the Real is a 2002 book by Slavoj Žižek. A Marxist and Lacanian analysis of the ideological and political responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Zizek's study incorporates various psychoanalytic, postmodernist, biopolitical, and (Christian) universalist influences into a Marxist dialectical framework.
Post-politics refers to the critique of the emergence, in the post-Cold War period, of a politics of consensus on a global scale: the dissolution of the Eastern Communist bloc following the collapse of the Berlin Wall instituted a promise for post-ideological consensus. The political development in post-communist countries went two different directions depending on the approach each of them take on dealing with the communist party members. Active decommunisation process took place in Eastern European states which later joined EU. While in Russia and majority of former USSR republics communists became one of many political parties on equal grounds.
Yannis Stavrakakis is a Greek–British political theorist. A member of the Essex School of discourse analysis, he is mainly known for his explorations of the importance of psychoanalytic theory for contemporary political and cultural analysis and for his discourse studies on populism.
Aletta Norval is a South African born political theorist. As of 2019 she is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Anglia Ruskin University. A prominent member of the Essex School of discourse analysis, she is mainly known for her deconstructionist analysis of Apartheid discourse, for her methodological contributions to discourse analysis and for her work on decentred, democratic and poststructuralist political theory. Her other research interests include feminist theory, South-African politics, ethnicity and the politics of race. More recently, she has worked on biometrics, focussing on issues of citizen consent to identity management techniques.
The Essex School of discourse analysis, or simply 'The Essex School', refers to a type of scholarship founded on the works of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. It focuses predominantly on the political discourses of late modernity utilising discourse analysis, as well as post-structuralist and psychoanalytic theory, such as may be found in the works of Lacan, Foucault, Barthes, and Derrida. Discourse analysis, according to its own terms at least, seeks to "unfix and destabilise" the accepted meanings of everyday language, and to reveal how the dominant discourse "marginalises and oppresses... equally valid claims to the question of how power could and should be exercised."
The Democratic Paradox is a collection of essays by the Belgian political theorist Chantal Mouffe, published in 2000 by Verso Books. The essays offer further discussion of the concept of radical democracy that Mouffe explored in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, co-authored by Ernesto Laclau. In this collection, Mouffe deals with the specific conflicts between the post-Marxist democratic theory that she and Laclau theorized in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy and the competing democratic theories proposed by Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. Verso's UK blog characterizes The Democratic Paradox as Mouffe's most accessible review of her perspectives on radical democracy.
Post-Marxism is a trend in political philosophy and social theory which deconstructs Karl Marx's writings and Marxism itself, bypassing orthodox Marxism. The term "post-Marxism" first appeared in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's theoretical work Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It can be said that post-Marxism as a political theory was conceived at the University of Essex by Laclau and Mouffe, and was further developed by Louis Althusser and Slavoj Žižek. Philosophically, post-Marxism counters derivationism and essentialism. Recent overviews of post-Marxism are provided by Ernesto Screpanti, Göran Therborn, and Gregory Meyerson.
The Day After the Revolution is a 2017 nonfiction book of writings of Vladimir Lenin edited by Slavoj Žižek, who also provides an extensive introduction. Published by socialist media group Verso Books, the work consists of writings from after the Soviet victory during the Russian Civil War up to his death in 1924. Žižek describes this body of writings as significant to understanding the philosophical potential of Lenin's revolutionary ideology and its significance to contemporary leftism.
The Peterson–Žižek debate, officially titled Happiness: Capitalism vs. Marxism, was a debate between the Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek on the relationship between Marxism, capitalism, and happiness. Moderated by Stephen J. Blackwood, it was held before an audience of 3,000 at Meridian Hall in Toronto on 19 April 2019.
| Library resources about |
|By Ernesto Laclau|