The Machiavellian Moment Re-Theorized: Claude Lefort

Oliver Marchart

in Post-Foundational Political Thought

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780748624973
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672066 | DOI:
The Machiavellian Moment Re-Theorized: Claude Lefort

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Claude Lefort has elaborated one of the most powerful theorisations of the political, of democracy and totalitarianism, which can help us to grasp better the primacy of political thought in relation both to science and to the ‘pure’ thought of philosophism. His theory is invaluable for a thorough analysis of the political difference because, apart from an ‘ontologic’ theory of the political, Lefort offers a historical genealogy of the Machiavellian moment — the moment of society's ungrounding and political regrounding. This chapter shows why and how Lefort's theory is located within the post-foundational paradigm, to what extent it is centred around a strong notion of antagonism (as originary division), and how the difference he makes between politics and the political — ties in with his post-foundationalism. It explores the way in which this difference is an indication or ‘symptom’ of the groundless nature of society. The way Lefort defines the political — as distinguished from politics — is closely related to his idea of philosophy as distinguished from science.

Keywords: Claude Lefort; Machiavellian moment; democracy; totalitarianism; political thought; philosophy; political difference; politics; political; post-foundationalism

Chapter.  9941 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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