Friday, 8 October 2010

RIP Claude Lefort 1924-2010

Perhaps one of the lesser known of French poststructuralists, Claude Lefort utilised both phenomenology and Maussian sociology in the service of political theory. He was particularly known for his analysis of totalitarianism. This was effected by the famous Socialism or Barbarism journal, along with JF Lyotard, which analyzed the relationship between corporatism and state. Lefort was also noted for his critique of Soviet beuareaucratic style socialism, particularly in left-wing French thought. Put in the bluntest terms, Lefort's most basic point is that fascism elides the distinction between the state and the company in an organistic unity. Lefort was one of the progenitors of the agonistic conception of democracy, which would be taken up by Laclau and Mouffe in different contexts. Lefort theorised that democracy worked best when it was founded on argument, dissensus and a multiplicity of opinions. He also, following Ernst Kantorowicz analysis of the kings two bodies, theorised the idea that democracy operates through an 'empty sovereignty' after the transition from monarchism to democracy.

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