The Global Rise of Populism

28 Sep 2018

Van Klink, Bart

As part of the course Globalisation and Transnational Law, Prof. Bart van Klink will give a seminar on the global rise of populism. First, he will give a short introduction to the concept of populism. What is populism, how does it manifest itself in political discourse, and to what extent is it a threat to democracy? Subsequently, he will discuss with the students Laclau's formal conception of populism and Žižek's critique thereof. According to Laclau, populism is not a specific political ideology or strategy, but the general political logic through which a "people" is constituted. As such, populism is not a threat to democracy; it is an essential part of it. Žižek criticises Laclau's formal conception of populism, because it fails to distinguish democracy from populism: whereas populism is opposed to antagonism in society and seeks to destroy it by excluding the enemy, democracy thrives on antagonism, invites and institutionalises it. Finally, the practical implications of these divergent views will be discussed for today's Europe.