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On the Political (Thinking in Action) Paperback – 15 Apr 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (15 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415305217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415305211
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Clear, direct and accessible...Mouffe represents a position that every serious student of of contemporary political thought must acknowledge and come to terms.' - The Philosophers' Magazine

'An excellent book. It is very clear, straight to the point and with a minimum amount of jargon. Its succinctness, clarity and contemporary relevance should ensure its success.' - Donald Sassoon, Queen Mary and Westfield College

'Carries a clear, relevant and provocative message. It is likely to stir up an important debate.' - Jacob Torfing, Roskilde University

'On the Political is a thought-provoking book tackling urgent domestic and international political problems  trhough a disputatious engagement with various contemporary domestic theory. Mouffe succeeds in presenting these problems and disputes in an accessible  language.' - Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

About the Author

University of Westminster

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Sutter on 30 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be refreshing, both for being relatively light on jargon and for questioning the prevailing "governance" talk of our times -- talk that is no less intense in the current Obama era than it was in the Blair era when this book was first published. The author's (CM's) point is that some sort of we/they distinction is fundamental to human nature, and that attempts to wish it away -- such as by approaching politics as a set of problems to be solved through consensus-based governance -- will backfire, and even create extreme reaction (the "extreme right," fundamentalism, etc.). The problem facing modern democracy is how to allow healthy we-they distinctions, without having them degenerate into friend-enemy ones.

I was skeptical at first of CM's use of the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt, for whom the friend-enemy dichotomy was the essence of the political, in a leftist cause; but she manages to invoke him mainly as an object lesson of what to avoid. At the same time, she does a good job of pointing out the weaknesses of thinkers like Giddens, Habermas, and Hardt & Negri, among others, and how they negate the political. She also helped me to understand the point of writers who speak of "reflexive democracy," an often-invoked but rarely-explained term in recent political philosophy. I was a little surprised, though, that CM mentions Machiavelli only once in passing, citing to "The Prince". In his other major work, the "Discourses," he had made a very similar point to CM's: he emphasized that the strength of the Roman republic was in creating institutions that allowed a healthy political conflict in society (in that case, between the poorer masses and the wealthy few). The book perhaps owes him more than CM acknowledges.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. I. Precious VINE VOICE on 20 Oct. 2006
Format: Paperback
In this work, Chantal Mouffe, half of the greatest political theoretical team in the world today,takes brilliant issue with the myth-making and fatuous intellectual basis of so-called neoliberalism and globalisation,critiquing their ability to create - and even the basis on which they fantasise about- a world in which a social consensus emerges in which we all rise up in a rapture over the triumph of global cut-throat capitalism,forgetting the political themes of the past which were, and indeed are, the site of many antagonisms ,such as everything from the concept of national sovereignty to local water rights in Africa.

In particular, Mouffe takes issue with the concept that we can create some illusory 'consensus' in the absence of the very thing which makes any consensus possible: antagonism and politics.

So this book is an amplification and more empirical exploration of issues touched on in the grand theoretical narrative (such as it can be!!) of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy.As such it is a concretisation of that more abstract work, and a key exploration of the present world situation.
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0 of 22 people found the following review helpful By guill46 on 18 July 2008
Format: Paperback
I had a look at Ms Mouffe's book because apparently she and her husband are inspirational to the government of Argentina (where I was born), that abuses the Constitution, is openly corrupt, and politically inept. Ms Mouffe's pretentious, meaningless and ultimately malign drivel (since the kind of emotional politics she encourages is the sleep of reason) helped me understand the mentality behind such ineptitude.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Clear and timely (4.5 stars) 30 April 2012
By A. J. Sutter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be refreshing, both for being relatively light on jargon and for questioning the prevailing "governance" talk of our times -- talk that is no less intense in the current Obama era than it was in the Blair era when this book was first published. The author's (CM's) point is that some sort of we/they distinction is fundamental to human nature, and that attempts to wish it away -- such as by approaching politics as a set of problems to be solved through consensus-based governance -- will backfire, and even create extreme reaction (the "extreme right," fundamentalism, etc.). The problem facing modern democracy is how to allow healthy we-they distinctions, without having them degenerate into friend-enemy ones.

I was skeptical at first of CM's use of the Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt, for whom the friend-enemy dichotomy was the essence of the political, in a leftist cause; but she manages to invoke him mainly as an object lesson of what to avoid. At the same time, she does a good job of pointing out the weaknesses of thinkers like Giddens, Habermas, and Hardt & Negri, among others, and how they negate the political. She also helped me to understand the point of writers who speak of "reflexive democracy," an often-invoked but rarely-explained term in recent political philosophy. I was a little surprised, though, that CM mentions Machiavelli only once in passing, citing to "The Prince". In his other major work, the "Discourses," he had made a very similar point to CM's: he emphasized that the strength of the Roman republic was in creating institutions that allowed a healthy political conflict in society (in that case, between the poorer masses and the wealthy few). The book perhaps owes him more than CM acknowledges. Moreover, Machiavelli's theme has been revived in recent decades by Philip Pettit, Quentin Skinner, Maurizio Viroli and others, but unfortunately their contemporary "civic republicanism" isn't discussed in this book at all.

CM's prose is for the most part remarkably clear, so much so that I plan to assign at least a chunk of the book in a politics class I'm teaching to non-native speakers of English in Japan. A satisfying and relatively easy read, in both respects unlike much other political theory floating around these days.
Five Stars 30 Mar. 2015
By Pen Name - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great!
2 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Unimpressed 14 Oct. 2007
By Marita - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A lot of people in my class thought she had some good stuff to say, but I felt like she was kicking down an open door. I just was not that impressed.
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