The Archaeology of a Silence: Hegemony and Socialist Strategy

Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Chapter 1 “Hegemony: the Genealogy of a Concept”

Monday Sept. 23 6-8 pm

Harold Washington Library

6th Floor North Study Room

For this night’s discussion, please read the first chapter available here.

Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe published Hegemony and  Socialist Strategy in 1985 with the aim of addressing crossroads and crises and gaps in Leftist thought and its classical Marxist ideas that arguably had difficulty working with the new specific social movements of the 20th century.

To understand where we are or are going, Mouffe and Laclau take us through the history of Marxist thought and the emergency of “Hegemony” towards, well… they can speak for themselves:

 “We will start by tracing the genealogy of the concept of ‘hegemony’. It should be stressed that this will not be the genealogy of a concept endowed from the beginning with full positivity. In fact, using somewhat freely an expression of Foucault, we could say that our aim is to establish the ‘archaeology of a silence’. The concept of hegemony did not emerge to define a new type of relation in its specific identity, but to fill a hiatus that had opened in the chain of historical necessity. ‘Hegemony’ will allude to an absent totality, and to the diverse attempts at recomposition and rearticulation which, in overcoming this original absence, made it possible for struggles to be given a meaning and for historical forces to be endowed with full positivity. The contexts in which the concept appear will be those of fault (in the geological sense), of a fissure that had to be filled up, of a contingency that had to be overcome. ‘Hegemony’ will be not the majestic unfolding of an identity but the response to a crisis”

 –Hegemony and Socialist Strategy Chp. 1

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