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The hegemony of hegemony

By Jeremy Valentine

Abstract

A distinctive characteristic of Laclau and Mouffe's theory of hegemony is its insistence on the denial of an essence or ground of the subject. This element of their theory is derived from their notion of antagonism, in which a relation with a ground is brought into question by revealing its contingency. This article argues that the political dimension of this argument makes sense only in the context of Laclau and Mouffe's notion of modernity. However, the universalizing of modernity as the form of hegemony reduces the ontological notion of antagonism to a dialectical or empirical notion of contradiction. This article examines two key moves in this process: first, the reduction of the subject to Lacan's account of the subject; and second, the reduction of modernity to an ontotheologicalpolitical structure derived from Lefort as the support of the hegemonic subject. From this the article examines Laclau's response to the exhaustion of political modernity in the figure of complexity, from which antagonism is evacuated through the hegemony of the category of myth. Finally, the article discusses a non-hegemonic approach to antagonism derived from the work of Foucault, Wolin and Rancière

Topics: JC
Publisher: SAGE
Year: 2001
OAI identifier: oai:eresearch.qmu.ac.uk:64
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