Min Seong Kim (PhD) is a Lecturer in the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is the chief editor of Retorik, an interdisciplinary humanities journal. His works on topics in contemporary European philosophy, cultural studies, and Indonesian society have been published in South East Asia Research, Problemos, Symposion, and Soundings. Among his most recent publications is a co-authored chapter on the pluriverse of the Anthropocene for the edited book Environmental Governance in Indonesia (Springer 2023). He holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Essex. E-mail: minseong.kim@outlook.com


Post-Marxism and the Pluriverse: Antagonism and Universality Across More-than-human Worlds

Abstract: In recent years, theorists such as Mario Blaser, Marisol de la Cadena, and Arturo Escobar have pointed to “ontological politics” as the mode of politics called for by the condition of the pluriverse, that is, the Anthropocene considered as composed of “many worlds” in contradistinction to the unitary world imposed by a Western-centric modernity. Although the aspirations of ontological politics for more inclusive and less hierarchical relations between humans as well as between humans and nonhuman beings appear commendable, it has received criticism for both its theoretical underpinnings and its political implications. For instance, Kate Soper and Saito Kohei have questioned the aim of posthumanist theorizations and “flat” ontologies—versions of which tend to inform pluriversal thought—to overcome subject/object and culture/nature dichotomies, while a series of interventions by Erik Swyngedouw, who draws from Badiou and Rancière, has highlighted potentially depoliticizing implications of the notion of the “more-than-human” pluriverse. Largely absent from the debates around ontological politics has been the post-Marxist thought initiated by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe—a surprising absence, given that post-Marxist theorists have been the most consistent proponents of an “ontology of the political.” This paper seeks to bring post-Marxism and ontological politics into dialogue. It will show that, although post-Marxism’s emphasis on discursive articulation and the construction of hegemonic universality may seem incompatible with the ethical and theoretical presuppositions of ontological politics, certain Laclauian notions—including antagonism and heterogeneity—do allow for a more productive encounter between the two.
Keywords: post-Marxism, pluriverse, ontological politics, antagonism, hegemonic universality