Buchanan vs. Mouffe
Buchanan vs. Mouffe
| Jan 14, 2022 | 0 Comments |

Replying to my previous post, Shadi cites his favorite Belgian philosopher, Chantal Mouffe, who argued that all politics is necessarily "agonistic"—that it always has this Manichean nature:

There is inevitably and "us" and a "them," it's only a question of where one draws the boundary. Is the "them" to be found within or without? All other things being equal, the latter is a better option. But all things aren't equal.

Shadi goes on to say that given the track record that externalizing the enemy has had, especially when it comes to the domestic abuses that have come along with it, he prefers the "the fractious, tense hyper-pluralism that we have today."

Sure, sounds good.

But I wonder if we don't do a disservice to ourselves if we let words like "disagreement" and "fractious, tense hyper-pluralism" stand in for some of the passions that actually are roiling beneath the surface.

Here's Pat Buchanan speaking at the Republican National Convention in 1992:

My friends, this election is about more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe, and what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side.

It's a little less cuddly when it's less theoretical—when it's obvious that for some, domestic "agonism" is literally about "the enemy within".