Agonism

'A vibrant democracy needs agonistic confrontation' - An interview with Chantal Mouffe

Agonism

My view is that what democracy should try to do is to create the institutions which allows for conflict - when it emerges - to take an agonistic form, a form of adversarial confrontation instead of antagonism between enemies. But when antagonisms already exist to transform them is of course is much more difficult but it's not impossible and I think one of the good examples is Northern Ireland. Because in Northern Ireland we had for a long time an antagonistic conflict between Protestants and Catholics. They were treating each other as enemies. Now since the Good Friday Agreement and with the institutions that have been created there is no more antagonism, there is an agonism. It doesn't mean that these people agree, they do disagree but they disagree in a way that they no longer see the other community as an enemy to be destroyed.

Chantal Mouffe is a Belgian political theorist well known for her conception of radical and agonistic democracy. She is currently Professor of Political Theory at Westminster University where she also directs the Centre for the Study of Democracy.

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