Radical Democratic Ethos, or, What is an Authentic Political Act?

Research paper by Jason Glynos

Indexed on: 17 Jul '03Published on: 17 Jul '03Published in: Contemporary Political Theory


In this paper I explore some connections between two anti-essentialist approaches to democratic theory — Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's hegemonic approach and Slavoj Zizek's psychoanalytic approach. I argue that a central virtue of Laclau and Mouffe's hegemonic approach to democracy is that it clearly emphasizes the ethos of democracy, not simply the institutions of democracy. This shift transforms democracy, now conceived as radical democratic ethos, into a site of further research about how to make our understanding of its conditions more theoretically nuanced. In the main bulk of the paper, I explore how Slavoj Zizek's notion of an authentic political act seeks to develop this understanding.