Extract from the “Democracy Revisited” by Chantal Mouffe / Markus Miessen

Posted on September 28, 2011 by


The following text is an answer from Chantal Mouffe to Markus Miessen published in The Nightmare of Participation. It is an extract from the discussion titled “Democracy Revisited” in which both actors exchange their visions on democracy and participation.


Markus Miessen – The question is: What are the possible perspectives and alternatives?

Chantal Mouffe – First, to think that this is the final crisis of capitalism, as some Marxists would believe, is obviously a mistake. It might be a crisis of a certain form of capitalism’ but I am no longer even sure of this. So far, no radical measures have been taken, and the state has only intervened to save the banks. The banks themselves do not seem to have learned their lesson, and have quickly returned to their previous ways of operating. In fact, it is possible that the crisis is not as deep as we thought, except, of course, for the masses of people who have lost their jobs, their savings, and their homes. For the multinationals and the banks, however, things could soon be back to the way they were before. What was interesting, and could have opened a possible alternative, was that suddenly the state was again seen as having an important role to play, whereas before, we had been told that the market was everything. The state was demonized, and the motto was: the less state, the better. And then, suddenly, the state was really important. Some people, in fact, were optimistic, and predicted a return to neo-Keynesian policies. There has been some rehabilitation of the role of the state, that’s for sure. But for what?


Chantal Mouffe is a political theorist educated at the universities of Louvain, Paris, and Essex, Chantal Mouffe is Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster. She has taught at many universities in Europe, North America and Latin America, and has held research positions at Harvard, Cornell, the University of California, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Between 1989 and 1995 she was Directrice de Programme at the College International de Philosophie in Paris.

Markus Miessen (1978) MRes AADipl(Hons) B.Arch is a London- and Berlin- based architect, researcher, educator, and writer. In 2002, he set up Studio Miessen, a platform for spatial strategy and critical cultural analysis. As an architect, Miessen is a partner in nOffice. Their site-specific architecture titled The Violence of Participation was on show at the Lyon Biennial 2007.


The Nightmare of Participation, Markus Miessen, Sternberg Press, October 2010

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