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Marx in Kansas: A Hegemonic Diagnosis of Conservatism's Contradictions

  • Author(s): Mitchell, Mandy Erin
  • Advisor(s): Warnke, Georgia
  • et al.

Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas identifies some of the more incoherent aspects of American political conservatism, which continues to cause puzzlement among thinkers on the Left. I argue that Frank and others on the Left are attempting to understand a complex movement in terms of a simplistic version of Marxism. I explicate a contemporary alternative to orthodox Marxism: the Postmarxism of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, the centerpiece of which is their theory of hegemony. I demonstrate the explanatory value of their theory by means of two applications: first, I describe Stuart Hall's hegemonic analysis of Thatcherism in Great Britain; and second, I apply the theory to American conservatism--both to the phenomena that Frank describes, and to the recent health care debates.

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