Volume 19, Issue 3, 2016
Populism as Post-Politics
Ernesto Laclau, Hegemony, and the Limits of Democracy
The work of Ernesto Laclau develops a line of equivalences in which populism is hegemony is democracy is politics. Against this, I contend Laclau recreates rather than challenges basic tenets of modern liberalism and ultimately risks contributing to the “post political” order against his populist reason is deployed. Drawing from José Carlos Mariátegui, Antonio Gramsci, and Jodi Dean, I outline the limitations of hegemony theory and populism for thinking through the roadblocks and possibilities for social change in the present. The essay concludes with a provocation to de-center and de-fetishize democracy’s place in the radical imaginary.