In Memory of Ernesto Laclau

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In Memory of Ernesto Laclau

I first met Ernesto Laclau in 1992, in Johannesburg. I was an MA student, studying politics intent on changing the world not merely interpreting it. I struggled though, with party lines, with party discipline, with Marxist theory, and with party hacks who refused even to ask, never mind address, the difficult questions. In the context of apartheid Marxism was the only political discourse which provided both a revolutionary rejection of, and a serious conceptualisation of, the apartheid regime. Knowledge and power fused all too easily in the language of student activists. Those who asked awkward questions were re-educated against residual bourgeois prejudices. In 1989 I read Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It made sense of my groping attempts to fuse a commitment to the left, with a language and a politics bereft of the politics of certainty, a certainty which rendered so much of the Marxism…

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