Politics and Passions: the Stakes of Democracy

Chantal Mouffe
Content Type
Working Paper
Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster
For some time I have been concerned with what I see as our growing inability to envisage in political terms the problems facing our societies: that is, to see them as problems the solutions to which entail not just technical but political decisions. These decisions would be made between real alternatives, the existence of which implied the presence of conflicting but legitimate projects of how to organize our common life. We appear to be witnessing not the end of history but the end of politics. Is this not the message of recent trends in political theory and sociology, as well as of the practices of mainstream political parties? They all claim that the adversarial model of politics has become obsolete and that we have entered a new phase of reflexive modernity, one in which an inclusive consensus can be built around a 'radical centre'. All those who disagree with this consensus are dismissed as archaic or condemned as evil. Morality has been promoted to the position of a master narrative; as such, it replaces discredited political and social discourses as a framework for collective action. Morality is rapidly becoming the only legitimate vocabulary: we are now urged to think not in terms of right and left, but of right and wrong.
Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics, Religion