Populism as an Internal Periphery of Democratic Politics

Benjamin Arditi

in Politics on the Edges of Liberalism

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625116
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652778 | DOI:
Populism as an Internal Periphery of Democratic Politics

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This chapter develops the understanding of the spectrality of populism and democracy. It reformulates the perception of populism as an aberration of political democracy and as an antithesis of liberalism, and proposes instead to conceive populism as an internal periphery of democratic politics. The chapter proceeds to develop this idea by identifying three possible modes of the populist phenomenon. The first one looks at populism as a mode of representation virtually indistinguishable from contemporary, media-enhanced modes of representation. The second possibility, populism as a symptom of democratic politics, ups the ante by looking at the tensions that push populism to the edges of democracy without necessarily stepping out of that setting. The third line of inquiry looks at the populist mobilization as a possible underside or nemesis of democracy.

Keywords: political democracy; liberalism; populist phenomenon; populist mobilization

Chapter.  14142 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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