Podemos: In the Name of the People: Inigo Errejon in Conversation with Chantal Mouffe
London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2016; 160pp; |SBN 9781919448809
As the right-wing surges around the globe, how do we constitute the counter-hegemony of left-wing populism? This book seeks an answer by analysing new political formations like the Podemos and conscripts a prose of counter-insurgency by probing into various aspects of post-politics, post-Marxism, radical democracy and the antagonism that helps us understand the unique imaginary of hope that anarcho-democratic forms like Podemos has produced. This English translation of a book originally published in Spanish in 2015, is an intense political conversation between Chantal Mouffe and Inigo Errejon--an interesting combination as Mouffe has been talking of populism and innovative political formations for a long time and Errejon was one of the front-ranking leaders of Podemos. Their conversation explores 'the political spaces opened up for the left in this new situation' by tracing the present political turmoil to the 'crisis in traditional social democracy' that has led to recent trends of polarization. Mouffe critiques the left for their 'surrender to the neo-liberal hegemony' that disabled them to imagine alternatives to laissez faire (p20).
The publication in 1985 of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (HSS) jointly written by Laclau and Mouffe provided a refreshing re-reading of the theory of hegemony, as the driving force behind that work was a political investigation of the inadequacy of both the social democratic left and traditional Marxism to understand the specificity of new movements unfolding across the globe since 1968. HSS proposed a radical socialist project that would incorporate and articulate new forms of struggle as part of the broader leftist strategy. Theirs was a clear call for a 'heterodox or even heretical position' of Marxism that visualized the struggle for hegemony in terms of 'war of position' and their primary standpoint was to 'reformulate the socialist project in terms of [the] radicalization of democracy' (p20). Today when we face a similar crisis for the global Left, this book reevaluates the HSS for a remapping of Left politics. Dismissing Giddens' and Ulrich Beck's 'Third Way Left' hypothesis, Mouffe differentiates between 'the political' (equated with antagonism) and 'politics' (that stands for order and human coexistence), and politics has to do with "collective...