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Radical Philosophy Review

Volume 21, Issue 2, 2018

Larry Alan Busk
Pages 225-248
DOI: 10.5840/radphilrev201811878

Radical Democracy with what Demos?
Mouffe and Laclau after the Rise of the Right

This paper considers the radical democratic theory of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau with reference to the recent rise of Right-wing populism. I argue that even as Mouffe and Laclau develop a critical political ontology that regards democracy as an end in itself, they simultaneously exclude certain elements of the demos. In other words, they appeal to formal categories but decide the political content in advance, disqualifying Right-wing movements and discourses without justification. This ambivalence between form and content reveals the limits of Mouffe and Laclau’s brand of radical democracy for understanding and critiquing the present political conjuncture.