Agonistics: Thinking The World Politically
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Political conflict in our society is inevitable, and its results are often far from negative. How then should we deal with the intractable differences arising from complex modern culture?
Developing her groundbreaking political philosophy of agonistics – the search for a radical and plural democracy – Chantal Mouffe examines international relations, strategies for radical politics, the future of Europe and the politics of artistic practices. She shows that in many circumstances where no alternatives seem possible, agonistics offers a new road map for change. Engaging with
cosmopolitanism, post-operaism, and theories of multiple modernities she argues in favour of a multipolar world with real cultural and political pluralism.
is always possible to bind together a considerable amount of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestation of their aggressiveness.’6 Once this has been recognized, the problem that we encounter is the following: If collective identities are always constructed on the mode of we/they, how can we avoid this relation becoming one of enmity? This is one of the central issues that my agonistic model of democracy has addressed. How can we think of an
regulation of exchanges, based on solidarity and the preservation of natural resources. Movements like Via Campesina are very active in this field, and they have brought to the fore the political dimension of the struggle, designating the big multinational agribusiness corporations as their main adversary. To be sure, a sustainable politics will have to challenge the existing structure of power relations, and this is why it must be articulated within a wider political project. Such a project
shared by everybody. For instance, some post-operaist theorists maintain that the analysis of Adorno and Horkheimer, based as it is on the fordist model, does not provide a useful guide for examining the new forms of production that have become dominant in the post-fordist mode of capitalist regulation. They see those new forms of production as allowing for new types of resistance, and they envisage the possibility of a revitalization of the emancipatory project, to which artistic practices could
space is the terrain where one aims at creating consensus. For the agonistic approach, on the contrary, the public space is where conflicting points of view are confronted without any possibility of a final reconciliation. Such a conception is clearly very different from the one defended by Jürgen Habermas, who presents what he calls the ‘public sphere’ as the place where deliberation aiming at a rational consensus takes place. To be sure, Habermas now accepts that it is improbable, given the
constituted by a manifold of artistic practices bringing to the fore the existence of alternatives to the current post-political order. Its critical dimension consists in making visible what the dominant consensus tends to obscure and obliterate, in giving a voice to all those who are silenced within the framework of the existing hegemony. There is, however, a point that needs to be clarified to avoid any misunderstanding about the way the agonistic approach understands critique. Critical