The Democratic Paradox is Chantal Mouffe’s most accessible and illuminating study of democracy’s sharp edges, fractures, and incongruities. Orienting her discussion within the debates over modern liberal democracy, Mouffe takes aim at John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, and the consensus building of “third way” politics to show how their conceptions of democracy fall victim to paralyzing contradictions. Against this background, Mouffe develops a rich conception of “agonistic pluralism” that draws on Wittgenstein, Derrida, and the provocative theses of Carl Schmitt, attempting to reclaim the antagonism and conflict of radical democracy as its most vital, abiding feature.
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