Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left (Radical Thinkers)

Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left (Radical Thinkers)

Ernesto Laclau, Judith Butler

Language: English

Pages: 330

ISBN: 1844676684

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

What is the contemporary legacy of Gramsci’s notion of Hegemony? How can universality be reformulated now that its spurious versions have been so thoroughly criticized? In this ground-breaking project, Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek engage in a dialogue on central questions of contemporary philosophy and politics. Their essays, organized as separate contributions that respond to one another, range over the Hegelian legacy in contemporary critical theory, the theoretical dilemmas of multiculturalism, the universalism-versus-particularism debate, the strategies of the Left in a globalized economy, and the relative merits of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis for a critical social theory. While the rigor and intelligence with which these writers approach their work is formidable, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality benefits additionally from their clear sense of energy and enjoyment in a revealing and often unpredictable exchange.












that civil society is constituted as a political space. This explains the hesitations, in Gramsci's texts, about the frontiers between state and civil society to which we have referred above, and also explains why he had to emphasize the m o m e n t of 'corporation' in the Hegelian analysis of civil society: the construction of the apparatuses of hegemony h a d to cut across the distinction between public a n d private. Let us try now to put together the various threads of our argument. T h e two

between pure and practical Reason. But this is, precisely, a distinction which should be eroded: there is no such strict separation between fact and value. A value-orientated practical activity will be confronted with problems, facilities, resistances, and so on, which it will discursively construct as 'facts' - facts, however, which could have emerged in their facticity only from within such activity. A theory of hegemony is not, in that sense, a neutral description of what is going on in the

world, but a description whose very condition of possibility is a n o r m a t i v e element governing, from the very beginning, whatever apprehension of 'facts' as facts there could be. T h a t being said, the problem remains of how these two dimensions, even if they cannot be entirely separated, can actually be articulated. Let us consider Marx's postulate of a society in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. Is this an ethical postulate or a

misses the point. 2 I have dealt in more detail with the task of providing the 'cognitive mapping' for tracing these differences in my latest book; 1 so, to avoid repetition, this essay is conceived as a supplement to that book, focusing on a specific topic: that of universality, historicity and the Real. Another introductory remark: it is quite probable that a counterclaim could sometimes be m a d e that in my dialogue with Butler and Laclau I am not actually arguing against their position but

her argument being so rooted in the Hegelian way of conceiving the articulation between the abstract a n d the concrete, which is one n o f o f contamination but of reconciliation. I think that the perfect balance attempted by a notion such as Sittlichkeit utterly excludes the possibility of hegemonic logics. T h e assertion that Butler does not take into account the question of the 'concrete abstract' is not, however, entirely correct. This question is, in some way, present in her discourse in

Download sample