Unfortunately this short book by political theorist Chantal Mouffe falls between two stools. Only 93 pages long including introduction and appendix, it assumes too much in regard to the theory, and fails to present much of any empirical detail to illustrate and support the argument.
When Laclau & Mouffe's influential Hegemony and Socialist Strategy appeared in 1985, I was skeptical. Their proposal for a radical democratic strategy, based of course on Gramsci's concept of hegemony, seemed like a retreat to liberalism. As prospects for the Left have receded since then, I have been won over to Mouffe's approach, as put forth in Agonistics (2013), which I find to be brilliant.
I had high hopes, then, for this new book. Clearly right-wing populism is ascendant from the U.S. (Trumpism) to the U.K. (Brexit) to Germany (the AfD) to Italy (the 5-Star Movement) and elsewhere. Mouffe's argument is that traditional liberalism and social democracy are not effective in the face of this new moment (conjuncture), and that what we need is a left populism, which would also challenge the institutional status quo.
So far so good, but if you want to understand Mouffe's updated political philosophy you need to read "Agonistics." And she does not offer any details of the programs or campaigns of the various left populist movements to illustrate how her proposed strategy can be implemented. She only lists them: Podemos (Spain), Syriza (Greece), Die Linke (Germany), Bloco de Esquerda (Portugal), Le France Insoumise led by Melanchon (France), the British Labour Party led by Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders' campaign and organization in the U.S. (p. 21).
I recommend reading "Agonistics," and using it as a guide to political practice. "For a Left Populism" adds little of use -- we have to study the various left populist movements on our own and come to relevant conclusions for action in our own societies.
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