The Alternative to Occupy: Radical Politics Between Protest and Parliament

  • Emil Husted Copenhagen Business School
  • Allan Dreyer Hansen Roskilde University
Keywords: Radical Politics, Radical Movements, Radical Parties, Discourse Theory, Ernesto Laclau, Universalism, Particularism, Occupy Wall Street, The Alternative


In this paper, we compare the political anatomy of two distinct enactments of (leftist) radical politics: Occupy Wall Street and The Alternative, a recently elected political party in Denmark. Departing from Ernesto Laclau’s conceptualization of ‘the universal’ and ‘the particular’, we show how the institutionalization of radical politics (as carried out by The Alternative) entails a move from universality towards particularity. This move, however, comes with the risk of cutting-off supporters who no longer feel represented by the project. We refer to this problem as ‘the problem of particularization’. In conclusion, we use the analysis to propose a conceptual distinction between radical movements and radical parties: While the former is constituted by an infinite chain of equivalent grievances, the latter is constituted by a prioritized set of differential demands. While both are important, we argue, they must remain distinct in order to preserve the universal spirit of contemporary radical politics

Author Biographies

Emil Husted, Copenhagen Business School
PhD fellow, Department of Organization
Allan Dreyer Hansen, Roskilde University
Associate Professor, Department of Social Sciences and Business
From Global Justice to Occupy and Podemos: Mapping Three Stages of Contemporary Activism