Bradley's Reviews > Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics

Hegemony and Socialist Strategy by Ernesto Laclau
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's review
Jan 02, 2010

really liked it
Read in January, 2010

Laclau and Mouffe do a contemporary reading of Gramscian style critical theory. Bringing Marxism into the current, "Post-Marxist" phase as many of the theoretical modes of analysis popularized during the 60's and 70's were simply unable to stop the spread of the Conservative hegemony that dominated the 1980's. Unfortunately, like other fads popularized during the 1980's (Flock of Seagulls haircuts, Bon Jovi, and Stone Washed Jeans) this grandiose style of writing has fallen out of favor. Almost every single tactical point made by L&M has been appropriated by the Right. Remember, this book was published prior to the 24-hour news cycle that currently dominates the cable networks. Namely Fox News as well as AM Radio.
Interestingly enough, one of my favorite parts in this book happens towards the end when they deconstruct Neo-Classical Liberalist Political Theory, by going through various Right-Wing theorists (namely Milton Friedman, Frederick Hayek, and Robert Nozick) and then systematically deconstruct all of these position. This section is poigniant for the simple fact that when this book was published in 1985 the West was at the height of Conservative-Hegemony (Reagan and Thatcherism). So it was, and still is quite timely. Most of the struggles for hegemony were continued during the 90's in the form of the Culture Wars.
For all of the stereotypes about this book being filled with convoluted theory, I found it to be quite readable when I paced myself slowly.
Clearly its major flaws is the over-emphasis on "Discourse," at the expense of what Judith Butler might call, "Bodies that Matter," and material forms of violence, but for what it is worth, this book is quite the masterpiece. Worth reading several times to take in the full effect. Yet, its impossible to gauge the full impact of a book like this because it is squarely indebted to the Western Academy, and has been predominantly read by Left-Leaning intellectuals. Hardly the target audience that needs to hear its message.
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Reading Progress

01/02/2010 page 40
20.0% "Very Interesting for the simple fact that Laclau and Mouffe pull together a vast array of Marxist texts seamlessly."

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message 1: by Mike (new)

Mike As usual, another interesting review.

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