HIS330H5 Chapter Notes -Antonio Gramsci
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Ernesto Laclau’s and Chantal Mouffe’s Appendix ‘Why Call Some Demands ‘Democratic’?’
from On Populist Reason appears to have set out to explain the category “democratic demands”. In
other words why some demands are termed democratic and how is it that they came upon this.
The appendix immediately starts to clarify that the word democratic in ‘democratic demands’ is not
related in anyways to the democratic regime or to any of its particular ways. This is reaffirmed later on
when it is stated that the democratic part is “not because of any nostalgic attachment to the Marxian
tradition”. That said, it is argued that there are some aspect of democracy that are used: Firstly that
demands are brought up by an “underdog of sorts” to a system (in the Posthegemony book by Beasley-
Murray it is specified that the demands are brought to the system that is in power). Secondly the
demand comes from what he calls a “deficient being” that represents some sort of difference that
results in some having more than others or simply that there is inequality. These demands appear, to
me, to be an egalitarian demand (demand for equality).
He provides examples to support his points. These examples include the Bolshevik revolution,
the anti-fascist struggles, and most of all he draws on the 'bourgeois-democratic revolution'. Gramsci is
then used as a reference point (a common theme through every online reading thus far is how all the
works draw something from Gramsci).
Laclau continues to discuss what happens when such demands are fulfilled and when they are
not. When demands are fulfilled then they simply go away. But if a demand is ignored or simply
unfulfilled it allows for the up rise of a new system (drawing from Beasley-Murray’sPosthegemony) to
replace the old. Laclau finishes this section by quickly bringing to our attention the difficulty of
separating popular and democratic demands.
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