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Against The Populist Ressentiment

Marneros, Christos (2021) Against The Populist Ressentiment. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism, 2 . pp. 100-112. ISSN 2672-8370. (KAR id:92705)

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Abstract

Populist discourses, despite their multiple differences and often oppositional political agendas, share a common feature. This feature is the construction of a notion of “the people” as “the underdog” that stands against the essentialist politics of “the elites.” In this article, I argue that this construction of “the people” is fundamentally problematic due to two, interconnected reasons. First, the primacy which is given to “the people” as a political agent, who is the rightful holder of a notion of “common good,” leads to the formation of politics that are essentialist and exclusionary. Drawing from Max Stirner’s notion of the “spook” or “phantasm,” I argue that “the people” become such and thus, the political demands of populist discourses remain “haunted” by this moral primacy of “the people.” Secondly, the construction of “the people” as “the underdog” suggests that their construction is based on negative feelings of envy and revenge, what Friedrich Nietzsche diagnosed as the feeling of ressentiment. This feeling of ressentiment renders the political demands of populism incapable of producing an affirmative version of politics. As a result, populist discourses not only are incapable of becoming a threat to the fatalistic, neoliberal politics of the capitalist market but at worse they become their accomplices.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: The people, Spooks, Ressentiment, Nietzsche, Stirner
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Christos Marneros
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2022 00:40 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2022 12:27 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/92705 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Marneros, Christos: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4667-2454
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