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Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics Paperback – May 17, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A brilliant tour de force of scholarship and argument.”—Marxism Today

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Phronesis Series
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 2nd edition (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859843301
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859843307
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I studied this text as a graduate student at York University. I must admit that I did not understand the terse theoretical language for a long time. However, I had the good fortune of finding a fellow graduate student in Political Thought who was so well versed in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy that he could extol the hidden meanings of the text for hours on end! I called his ranting, "bible thumping"! But in all seriousness, once you understand the conceptual relationships presented in the book, you find a whole new way of conceptualizing the social, not as an accomplished fact, but as an ongoing practice of articulation. The problem with orthodox forms of Marxism? The fixing of the meaning of the "working class" at the point of production. During the whole development of Marxism up to the theoretical work of Gramsci, we have witnessed the "undoing" of the essentialist meaning/construction of the working class as determined by pure economistic forces. The problem? The larger mediating role of politics and culture. Working class identity is not fixed at the point of production, but is fragmented across other discursive spaces, e.g. nationalism, sports fan, father, mother, reader, lover, etc. There is no neccessary articulation between any of these. The moral lesson behind all this is thus: The Right has been very successful in practicing articulation, providing a broad-based appeal in relation to identities; on the other hand, the left has been "left" with a worn-out, 19th century, industrial model of "working class" identity.Read more ›
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Laclau and Mouffe have developed a theory of hegemony, after Antonio Gramsci, that is more fluid and less determined by the ascendancy of one social or economic class; it is, in short, a postmodern reflection on Gramsci.

They begin by positing that there are countless groups within a society, each with a series of perspectives and views. Because of this plurality of groups, it is not possible to know which groups will coalesce into a bloc and be able, through their agreed upon ideas also coming together, to exercise hegemony. Different groups have many possible bloc allies. In the United States, there have been times when Jews and African-Americans have united and worked together, for example, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964; there have been other times when these groups have not been able to work together politically in an harmonious fashion, as with the anti-Jewish slogans of some members of the Nation of Islam (Louis Farrakhan, for instance).

What blocs form and produce a new hegemony depends upon a number of factors: the particular issues which become most salient and lead to groups "choosing up sides" on which position to take with respect to the emergent agenda, pre-existing interests and views characteristic of the group, and the extent to which segments of different groups' views can be articulated together in alliance with other groups to become a bloc.

To use the language of post-structuralism, each potential antagonism of one group with another is a "floating signifier,". . .a 'wild' antagonism which does not predetermine the form in which it can be articulated [linked up] to other elements in a social system." Furthermore, rapid change is possible in a current hegemony.
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Format: Paperback
Hegemony and Socialist Strategy is an excelent book. It will become a classic for not only those involved in politics, but to understand the very process of political formations. For Laclau and Mouffe, the Left is in a `crossroads', where new social fragmentation questions the core of leftist paradigms. The task, then, becomes how to renovate a theoretical paradigm that can open the possibility for the Left to articulate the various fragmented social struggles into its political project. It with such aim, that the authors remodel a notion of hegemony to fit in with the present social circumstance and leftist paradigm impediments. The authors see themselves as post-Marxists, where the post fits in with the theoretical tools coming from the work situated at the post-structuralist thought such as Derrida, Foucault, etc; and Marxists where Gramsci' notion of hegemony becomes a important point of departure. There are at least two main intervention in this book: the author question the supposedly `leading role' of the working class given traditionally by the Left, and the link of socialism with democracy (or as they see it, radical democracy).
The first two chapters reconstruct the emergence of the concept of hegemony going back all the way to the Second and Third Internationals. They look at the work of Rosa Luxemburg, Kautsky, among other to demonstrate how the social fragmentation was continually repressed by the classist paradigm of the orthodox Marxism. For the authors, the problem was the belief that economic relations are somehow more `real' than other political conditions. They aim at essentialist reasoning behind such belief, and how subjective identities are overdetermined by various relations that partly overlap one another.
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