Liberty, equality, receptive generosity: Neo-nietzschean reflections on the ethics and politics of coalition

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Recently there has been a movement to embrace coalition politics both as an historically fundamental mode of action and as ethically desirable. Yet, as Bernice Johnson Reagon illustrates, coalition politics presents many profound difficulties, both in terms of its possible directions and the type of self capable of engaging in such activity. Laclau and Mouffe, embracing an open-ended development of equality and liberty, expand and clarify the possibilities that a radically democratic liberalism has available for envisioning and sustaining coalition politics. Yet, they illustrate the limits of such a project insofar as they are unable to address adequately the problems posed by Reagon. I argue that only by supplementing (and transfiguring) equality and liberty with an ethic of receptive generosity, suggested by an idiosyncratic reading of Nietzsche's gift-giving virtue, would coalition politics likely be sustainable and ethically desirable. The gift-giving virtue allows us to formulate a vision of the possible grandness of plurality that is ethically more compelling than the logics of identity and difference offered by Laclau and Mouffe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-388
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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