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On Populist Reason

Major analysis of the forces that drive populism and their relation to democracy.
In this highly original work Ernesto Laclau continues the philosophical and political exploration initiated in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Here he focuses on the construction of popular identities and how "the people" emerge as a collective actor. Skillfully combining theoretical analysis with a myriad of empirical references from numerous historical and geographical contexts he offers a critical reading of the existing literature on populism, demonstrating its dependency on the theorists of "mass psychology" such as Taine and Freud. He demonstrates the relation of populism to democracy and to the logic of representation, and differentiates his approach from the work of Zizek, Hardt and Negri, and Ranciere. This book is essential reading for all those interested in the question of political identities in present-day societies.

Reviews

  • “What needs to be politically articulated at the present time is the possibility of a leftist populism. This is what makes Laclau's long-awaited book so important. Arguably, populism has always been the governing concept in Laclau's work and in On Populist Reason, he lays out his position with great power and analytical clarity.”

Blog

  • Stuart Hall: Gramsci and Us

    On this day in 1891 one of the most influential Marxists of the 21st Century, Antonio Gramsci, was born in the small town of Ales in Sardinia. Gramsci's work transformed how we think about a Marxist politics. Whereas the Russian Revolution occured in the "backward" Russia, and as such was as much a revolution against the "old regime" as against capital, Gramsci attempted to wrestle with the question of how we build a revolutionary movement in the developed areas of Western Europe. In particular it was his development of the concept of "hegemony" which was to prove the most influential. In this piece, from the great Stuart Hall and published in The Hard Road to Renewal, Hall attempts to expand these insights of Gramsci's to analyse the "regressive modernisation" of Thatcher. In an age where many are tackling the question of how to build a new left modernity, Gramsci and Hall are as relevant as ever.



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  • Negri on Hegemony: Gramsci, Togliatti, Laclau

    In light of recent developments in Europe that have brought questions of hegemony, populism and organisation to the foreground, Toni Negri asks: where does the thought of Ernesto Laclau leave us on this score? The following talk was given at Maison de l’Amerique Latine in Paris, 27 May 2015. Translated by David Broder; see the original French text here.

    By Toni Negri

    I would like to talk very schematically about what Ernesto Laclau’s work has meant to me, and the dialogue that the two of us had, particularly in recent years. This was a simultaneously close and critical dialogue, marked by evident differences, but it was also characterised by very great respect; and again today I would like to emphasise my esteem for Laclau.

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  • Pablo Iglesias: For a new democratic Transition

    The coming elections will not only mean a new set of MPs, but perhaps also the beginning of a different political system. Podemos wants the fundamental protagonists of these changes to be citizens, and not economic and political elites. By Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias, 19 July 2015. Translated by David Broder; read the original Spanish-language article here


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Other books by Ernesto Laclau