"That of the empty signifier"
The latest in clear writing, from University of Virginia professor Eric Lott, as he tries to sum up the work of another leftist academic:
Its most important move is to argue that the only acceptable political notion of the universal--and therefore of the organizational imperative--is that of the empty signifier, not a present, given, or essential fullness waiting for troops but an impossible ideal whose very emptiness and lack create a pluralized, difference-based competition on the part of various particularisms in a democratic social-symbolic field to assume the position of the universal organization.Um, right. Crystal.
It comes from Lott's new book, The Disappearing Liberal Intellectual, as excerpted in a review in The Nation. The book apparently argues that the current American left is not nearly far enough left.
Not that I was likely to read the book anyway--when The Nation says a book is too far left to be relevant, that's saying something--but with prose like that, is anyone going to read it?