What is at stake in what I call the ‘agonistic’ struggle,[4] which I see as the core of a vibrant democracy, is the very configuration of power relations around which. The Belgian political theorist Chantal Mouffe, on the other hand, arrived at Mouffe called this kind of respectful conflict “agonistic pluralism” in contrast to both. Agonistic. Pluralism? / BY CHANTAL MOUFFE l’s testified by the increasing success of the extreme right in sev- eral countries, western societies are witnessing.

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According to Arendt, to think politically is to develop the ability to see things from a multiplicity of perspectives. What has happened under neo-liberal hegemony is that the liberal component has become so dominant that the democratic values have been eviscerated.

Cornell University Press,Honig criticises liberal conceptions for being too consensual and she advances the emancipatory potential of political contestation, which enables established practices to be questioned. A pluralist democratic society cannot exist without representation. It is a confrontation between opposing hegemonic projects that can never be reconciled rationally. It would be a serious mistake to believe that artistic activism could, on its own, bring about the end of neo-liberal hegemony.

When representation is seen as the problem the aim cannot be to engage with current institutions to make them more representative and more accountable, but to discard them entirely. This requires the moment of decision to be confronted and necessarily implies a form of closure.

This paper examines the most recent paradigm of liberal democracy: If the political – understood in its hegemonic sense- involves the visibility of the acts of social institution, it is impossible to determine a priori what is social and what is political independently of any contextual reference. Both approaches, albeit in a different way, posit the availability of a consensus reached through rational procedures: An agonistic conception of democracy acknowledges the contingent character of the hegemonic politico-economic articulations which determine the specific configuration of a society at a given moment.


In my view, it is the incapacity of democratic parties to provide distinctive forms of identifications around possible alternatives that has created the terrain for the current flourishing of right-wing populism. Volume 9 There are those for whom the political refers to a space of liberty and common action, while others view it as a site of conflict and antagonism.

Too much emphasis on consensus, together with aversion toward confrontation, leads to apathy and to disaffection with political participation. I also want to insist moouffe a second important point.

For Colaguori, “the agon is literally the arena of competition, the scene of contest, and the locus of adversarial conflict. Verso,chapter 4. The objective should be to undermine the imaginary environment necessary for its reproduction.

Chantal Mouffe: Agonistic Democracy and Radical Politics

Especially during the s and s, many people, academics included, subscribed to a roughly Marxist analysis. The capacity, for instance, of Jean-Luc Melenchon—the candidate of the Front de gauchea coalition of several left parties—to mobilize the youth in the presidential elections was really remarkable. He conceives this ethos as one of permanent engagement in agonistic contestation that would make all attempts to bring closure to debate impossible.

Despite significant differences between their respective approaches, Arendt, like Habermas, ends up envisaging the public space in a consensual way. This does not mean, though, as some seem to believe, that they could alone realize the transformations needed for the establishment of a new hegemony.

On the contrary, the other vision of the political, the one from which my work proceeds, recognises the constitutive character of social division and the impossibility of a final reconciliation. Whereas agonishic right-wing populism the adversary is identified with the immigrants or the Muslims, the adversary for a left-wing populist movement should be constituted by the configuration of forces mohffe sustain neo-liberal hegemony.

If the protest movements refuse to establish alliances with traditional channels, deemed as intrinsically impervious to democratic transformation, their radical potential will be lost. I have spoken so far of the public space, but I need to specify straight away that, we are not dealing here with one single space.


Pluralismin political science, the view that in liberal democracies power is or should be dispersed among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and is not or should not be held by a single elite or group of elites. Despite the differences in their respective approaches, I therefore believe that Arendt, like Habermas, envisages the public sphere as a place where consensus can be established.

Until recently, it was mainly through right-wing populist parties that people were able to vent their agonistuc against such a post-political situation. Routledge,pluralist democracy is characterised by the introduction of a distinction between the categories of enemy and adversary.

What is the best way to envisage democratic politics? I am afraid that this is what could happen if representative institutions become the main moffe of the protests.

Chantal Mouffe: Agonistic Democracy and Radical Politics | Pavilion Journal

No keywords specified fix it. An Agonistic Approach to the Recent Protest Movements Alongside allowing us to grasp the reasons for the growing success of right-wing populism, the agonistic approach can also shed light on recent protest movements in liberal-democratic societies. Every order is therefore susceptible of being challenged by counter-hegemonic practices that attempt to disarticulate it in order to install another form of hegemony.

Antagonisms can take many forms and it is illusory to believe that they could be eradicated. Agonismphilosophical outlook emphasizing the importance of conflict to politics.

The democratic process should supply that arena.