Post-Foundational Political Thought: Political Difference in Nancy, Lefort, Badiou and Laclau (Anglais) Broché – 6 juillet 2007
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That essential insight is the ontic/ontological distinction and the play of difference that is revealed as a result. That distinction has its equivalent in the distinction between politics and the political that all four thinkers organize their own thought around. Marchart also uses a distinction in the thought of Arendt and Schmidt as a further thematic. In that case, the distinction is based on whether one focuses on the associative (the acting together) or the dis-associative (acting against) of the political.
I found the readings of Nancy and Laclau to be useful and clear. The one on Lefort alone is worth the book. It revealed several themes of Lefort's work on democracy that I have been blind to. The reading on Badiou is less clear but I think that has more to do with Badiou himself that with Marchart's explication. Perhaps other readers more sympathetic to Badiou's work will get more out of the discussion than I did.
The final chapter is a summing up of the readings in the form of an argument for seeing the political/politics distinction as the originary form of the ontic/ontological difference. It is an argument to accept the simultaneous impossibility of a grounding with the necessity of one to give linguistic/discursive form to our social life.
This is a challenging book. It is a bit wordy at times and occasionally the reader will want to snarl at some particular phrase. But there is too much good explication going on in this book to not read it. There are insights into Heidegger, Derrida, Ricouer, Schmidt, Arendt, Zizek, Lacan, Gramsci and Mouffe. A book that can help to clearly introduce those thinkers and to sort out their differences for us is too rare to ignore.
I also think that the subject matter of the book is timely now that we live under Trump/Bannon. We live in a time where many of our foundational institutions, behaviors and beliefs are under attack. Trump/Bannon are revealing how those institutions, behaviors, and beliefs are conventions that have no safeguards other than our common insistence that they be maintained.
Much of the philosophy explored in this book (especially those of Lefort and Laclau) are useful guides for understanding what the blazes is happening. What we do with that understanding is up to us. And isn't that really what living in a democracy it supposed to be about?