Democracy and populism



Populism has become a resource to disqualify political speeches and practices or even to simply embarrass and embarrass opponents

My initial intention was to bring here a parallel between the phenomenon of demagoguery (and sophistry) in ancient democracy and the figures of modern populism, whose classic paradigm sociologists and political scientists identified in Latin American regimes of the mid-twentieth century (1930s). -50), which, later, in successive waves, would have unfolded until our present, today contaminating countries in the northern hemisphere, to the surprise and concern of intellectuals and political analysts.[I]

I intended, therefore, to begin my parallel, antiquity/current, with figures of great prominence in the intellectual and political life of classical Athens: the great sophist Protagoras – a central character in Plato's dialogues and, as Francis Wolff showed us, on a similar occasion this,[ii] the true thinker of Athenian democracy; or even figures of well-known demagogues, such as Alcibiades, son of a very rich citizen (Clíneas), educated in the family of Pericles and close to Socrates. Of him, of Alcibiades, an important historian of that period says he was “the most brilliant personality in Athens at that time”, representative of a type of politicians motivated mainly by personal prestige, a character for whom “the democracy of Athens was the stage in which he played the role of star [and that] no one was allowed to take him away from the spotlight.”[iii]

I also intended to evoke the figure of Cléon, leader of the democratic party, nouveau riche, abhorred by aristocrats and ridiculed by Aristophanes in the comic play The Knights. This character, Plutarch says was “the first to shout in speeches to the people, to tear his clothes, beat his thighs and run from one side to another talking; so that the [personal] profit and contempt for decorum which soon afterwards took hold of all political life, he inspired in other political men.” Such figures, I wanted to observe, manifest a kind of paradox of democracy: the regime of isegory (of the public word, open to all and of trust in the effectiveness of rhetorical persuasion) which, at a certain point, seems to have come to compromise equality; compromising the weight of equality of voices and deliberations through demagoguery, a congenital disease, it seems, to democracies.

But, I will not be able to develop my parallel. I must remain in the field of conceptual and appreciative clashes that populism raises, on the right and on the left.[iv] He said “appreciative”; it should say “derogatory”; because, as is known, the term, in general, enjoys an unfortunate, perhaps regrettable, reputation. Populism has become a resource to disqualify political speeches and practices or even to simply embarrass and embarrass opponents, as it has come to connote not only demagoguery, but also opportunism, delay and practices contrary to or harmful to democracy.

For common sense and political commentary, the term established itself as the counterpoint to the principles, ideals and procedures of representative democracy, which populism would distort and disfigure. On the one hand, we would have a healthy regime, respectful of market freedoms, jealous of the institutions of representation, responsible and open to international cooperation and the future. On the other hand, the indigence of backward leaders, often irresponsibly redistributive, statist (always sovereignist) and confrontationist, trapped in the old logic of “us against them” and the sovereignty of nation-states. Populism today is the threatening shadow of the good practices of liberal or neoliberal democracy.

Let us not remain, however, in this more current and ideological register of the use of the word. Let us consider some sociological and historical landmarks of this concept, especially from the moment when, from the 1950s-60s onwards, it began to be referred to political movements and regimes in Latin American countries. However, it is worth remembering preliminarily – which is not unimportant – that, in sociological literature, the word populism (after its use in different social movements since the end of the nineteenth century) initially imposes itself on North American studies related to the traits ideological and social bases of McCarthyism, in classic works of sociology, such as those by Talcott Parsons[v], Seymour Lipset[vi] and still others.

In the 1960s, populism moved to studies of political transformations in countries emerging from colonialism (colonized and underdeveloped) and gained, in the 1960s-70s, its most fertile and stable field of references in works on Latin American political movements and regimes. , which then became the great paradigms of the concept. It was in this field, as we know, that the term gained sociological consistency within the theories of modernization and dependency, largely created – it must be remembered – in our Faculty of Philosophy at USP and developed in classic works by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Octavio Ianni, Francisco Weffort, Guita Debert and others.

According to these theories, populism occurs as a result of a rapid process of urbanization and industrialization in backward countries and, for dependency theorists, as a consequence of the incorporation of these peripheral countries into the international capitalist system, in a transition – both in economies and in relations. social structures and forms of authority – which produces instability and political vacuum. The fragile rearticulation of classes (both the popular ones and those emerging towards hegemony) would, at this moment, open the door for the actions of personalist leaders and for the unstable class alliances of populist regimes. They would, therefore, be transitional phenomena of a historical phase of dependent development, in which the socio-political structure would not be consolidated, in which the liberal form of civil society would not be well rooted. This would be the nature of populisms.

I will certainly not go into the broad and fierce criticisms faced by these theories here: determinism (unmediated passage from socioeconomic conditions to political consequences); reductionism (simplistic view of the masses as objects of manipulation), narrow historical demarcation of the phenomenon and so on. However, I do not want to fail to highlight the interest (and intelligence) of this approach to populism in genetic and historical-social terms, in terms of the structural relationships between classes and their political oppositions.

It is true that these theories of dependent modernization inoculated into the literature on populism the persistent idea of ​​anomaly, irrationality and political and ideological inconsistency of the targeted regimes. However, when we rightly sought to escape the economistic background of these analyses, to investigate the rationality of political action itself, the institutional features and the specific conditions of the emergence of these populist phenomena (the mobilizing discourse; its reception; the forms of organization and collective action of movements), it soon slipped, I believe, into a simple repertory of traces and analytical characteristics of their practices, until arriving at the reduction of these elements to a certain (generic) way of acquiring and conserving power. A means, among others; a characteristic (descriptively determined) way of obtaining power. In short, a type of political “method” or “strategy”.

Thus, from a concept relating to types of social formation and political regime, populism comes, in more recent literature, to designate a profile of behavior on the public scene, a “populist style”, with notable neglect regarding its historical, economic roots. and social. An emptying of the concept that allows us to say, for example, that a politician is a populist, as would a teacher or a building manager, for acting “in a populist manner”. The operation is similar to that which reduces the Príncipe from Machiavelli to a manual of political conduct, to a treatise on Machiavellianism. But, it is also true, despite such critical observation, that a fairly broad consensus was reached along this path on the most general identifying features of populisms.

I will not develop them here, but I can state them: (i) mobilization of a heterogeneous social base: the masses, the people, marginalized sectors of the population (as opposed to the elites), those excluded from visibility in the public space – they do not mobilize specific socioeconomic classes; (ii) contempt for the procedures of representative democracy and, in general, for republican institutional mediations – demand, therefore, for direct democracy, or even hyper-democracy (demonstrations, referendums, plebiscites, etc.); (iii) personalistic (and often paternalistic) leadership, generally represented by outsiders from the political scene; (iv) demagogic rhetoric: antiestablishment and anti-elitist; dualistic polarization (us/them); (v) amorphous, rarefied and inconsistent ideology; empty advertising resources.[vii]

Now, if we look closely, we will see that the reduction of the concept to such features clearly reveals that its configuration is constructed directly by antithesis in relation to the procedures of liberal-representative democracy, which populism would deform and corrupt. For the liberal, populism is the infantile disease of democracy: it presupposes its procedures (voting, majority decisions, etc.), but exacerbates them (takes the idea of ​​popular sovereignty to the extreme) or weakens and circumvents them (lashes out at Parliament, challenges Justice), and always empties them, making a “visible” people and their current will, and not the democratic procedures themselves, the instance of legitimizing power and political institutions.

Populism requires democratic procedures, but would appear impatient with democracy. It tramples, it is said, the processes (parliamentary, for example) of building unity, in favor of something like a prior and superior consensus, represented by the immediate and assertive will of a presupposed “people”. Ultimately, as Nadia Urbinati and Maria Paula Saffon conclude, populism: (a) denies differences instead of overcoming them; (b) challenges pluralism and conflicts that justify democratic proceduralism; (c) subordinates freedom to unity, which is achieved through or in the figure of a leader.[viii]

Populism, then, in the end, would be nothing more than the resort to demagoguery to cut through “the uncomfortable apparatuses of democratic consultations”, something like a fast track employed by new elites to come to power.[ix] Nothing more, therefore, than a mechanism for replacing political elites – a path that, in backward countries, deepens authoritarianism, weakens institutions and delays the construction of democracy.

Allow me to insist. Populism is here evaluated and rejected as a form of political procedure, precisely in view of an also procedural understanding of the democratic political order – the definition rooted in common sense and in the neoliberal institutions of our time – such as that conception, called “minimalist” , of democracy, understood simply as a method of collective decision-making that operates through accommodations and compromises of interest and the choice of representatives by vote, according to the majority rule; a method that would prevail in contexts of pluralism of opinions and values ​​and conflicts of antagonistic interests.

Legitimately democratic regimes would therefore be nothing more than the institutionalization of this method – I quote Joseph Schumpeter – “by which individuals gain the power to decide through a competitive struggle for the people’s vote”.[X] Or, to put it bluntly: a method for selecting political elites and, thus, producing decisions that aggregate the preferences and interests of individuals. Everything very simple!

But, it is not difficult to understand why, and in what “ideological” context, populism was reduced to a method – spurious, evidently – of replacing political elites. It is important to emphasize that in this conception of democracy, legitimacy comes from the formal equality of citizens effected by electoral and consultative procedures, those procedures that populism would despise and circumvent, evoking, in addition to this formal-electoral unity, a substantive people. This is why populism appears not only as depoliticizing; but as a counter-politician.

However, many will certainly remind me that this rigorous, sharply critical diagnosis of populism does not just come from liberals. Marilena Chaui, for example, in her acute studies on Brazilian populism, would also firmly assume this critical assessment. Yes. But, it is necessary to add: for quite different reasons. For, it digs deep into Brazilian populisms (not always, of course, attributing the term to the same characters as liberals) its historical and cultural roots in a theological-political conception of the State and in an absolutist representation of power, persistent in our history.

It shows that the State, among us, represents itself as separate from society, prior to it, thus appearing as the historical subject par excellence of the nation. We are, therefore, tied to an oligarchic, hierarchical and authoritarian social formation, in which the “owners of power” relate to society not in the form of democratic representation, but in the form of tutelage and favor. Therefore, populism, among us, is not a resource or a strategy of political agents who come to compromise the rules of the democratic game; it comes from a social formation incompatible with democratic and republican institutional mediations: personalist (in the lordly form or that of the “competence” of the specialist, the technocrat), absolutist and salvationist; therefore, the theological matrix – transformed, acclimatized, secularized, modernized – continues to underpin our social and political relations. This is why, according to Marilena Chaui, our populism is counterpolitical.[xi]

Let us now return to the theoretical clashes of current political reflection on our topic, seeking to outline an axis of orientation in this debate, which has as its horizon the logic of democracy, the conditions for realizing a government of the people (neither of one nor of many; of all) and seeks, therefore, to understand what a political people is, the one that gives name to the democracy. Because, these people do not manifest themselves as an empirical phenomenon, nor as a sociological entity; he is politically constituted. It is therefore necessary to clarify the conditions of this constitution.

The first station on our journey is certainly the minimalist, procedural conception of democracy, to which we have already referred, the conception assumed by the “market” and which is becoming increasingly widespread in our neoliberal world. Let us try to formulate, directly, your answer to our question. What is the people, from this procedural perspective – what is the democratic people?

Hans Kelsen, in Essence and value of democracy[xii] already satisfies, in the clearest terms, this question. He observes that the unity of a people is an ideal construction, without any other sociological incorporation than the submission of all citizens to the laws, created through the commitments of interest operated by voting. Because, there would be only one way to overcome the antagonisms of individuals (their interests and values) without violating their freedom: electoral competition for power, under equal conditions, according to the formal, procedural rules of the democratic game – this being understood, then, as the only possible source of the production and legitimacy of laws, which, in turn, represent the only possible sociological incorporation of the unity of a people. Let us emphasize: a people is only a people through its laws, based on its laws, and these are such as a function of the formal rules of representative democracy – the political reason that operates in democratic societies.

In clear opposition to this conception, we see that of the Argentine philosopher, Ernesto Laclau – former professor in Essex and interlocutor of many Brazilian intellectuals, who died a few years ago; today best known as an important reference for the French left group Insubordinate France. He proposes another democratic political reason – precisely called “populist”. Here the unity of the people is no longer a formal extraction (coming from the procedures for determining a collective will); it is symbolic. Let us therefore try to understand this mode of political constitution. And let us dare, recklessly, to bypass the Lacanian and linguistic references of the theory to outline what the Lacanian answer to our question would be.

For our author, there is no given, substantive people, like the one usually alleged in populism. Its unity comes, according to Ernesto Laclau, from the act of its constitution as a historical actor, as a political subject of a demand[xiii], of a demand for universal extension (of all, popular), which would incorporate a plurality of heterogeneous socioeconomic demands (“primordial and irreducible”), thus becoming political, by overcoming the particularity of these elementary demands. Thus, for him, the whole point is to understand this process of transformation, or better yet, of synthesizing the constellation of particular demands into this demand of universal, political scope, the engine of a properly popular action.

Now, strictly speaking, there does not seem to be much mystery in this transformation (in this “transubstantiation”, as Žižek ironizes[xiv]). It is necessary, observes Ernesto Laclau, that a certain particular demand (of a group, of a social sector, of a class) assumes the role, or takes the place, of the universal, that figures the set of particular demands, naming the universal, giving it discursive presence. For, the universal can only manifest itself through the mediation of a particular: “the incarnation in the concrete [in the particularity of a symbol of the whole] is the only way by which the plenitude of the universal can be achieved”, since, “lacking the universal a means of direct representation, he can only obtain a 'borrowed' presence, through the biased means of his investment in a certain particular.”[xv]. Therefore, he also concludes that the “incarnation of the universal in the particular is inherent to the construction of every political identity”[xvi] (and furthermore, “every political identity is necessarily popular”[xvii]).

But, how does this operation of identification (or fusion) of the particular and the totality occur? Or, to put it another way (since everything happens in the register of language): how does the energy shift from particular demands to the universal one, in which social identity is committed, happen? This is the question that takes us to the core of Ernesto Laclau's theory, to his main concepts (“equivalence”, “hegemony” and others, for those who know his thinking). Let's see then! How does the transition from particular to universal demands occur, the process of unifying primary, socioeconomic demands into a properly political demand?

The process is due, says Ernesto Laclau, to the occurrence of frustration of a series of specific demands, causing the weakening of their strength, the attenuation of their positive affirmation, creating, then, between such demands, “equivalence relations” (if you want the laclaunese: “metonymic equivalent relations of contiguity”[xviii]), equivalences produced above all by their common opposition to an antagonistic pole, identified as the cause of frustrations and, thus, invested as an enemy.

It is the production of this “equivalence” between demands in the face of an opponent that allows one of them – due to contingent, historical events – to become hegemonic and rise to the position of “general equivalent”, or universal equivalent, of all of them (pars totalis), bringing symbolic nomination or figuration to a political universal in which all demands are identified, thus forging a general, popular political subject.

It is necessary to emphasize that this process of building a “popular” identity, symbolized by a specific demand, is inseparable, according to Ernesto Laclau, from the building of an enemy (the Jew, international financial capital, immigrants, whatever) , the enemy upon whom responsibility for the plurality of frustrations is projected. On the other hand, this process is also inseparable from the identifying function of a leader, a “new prince” (here the Machiavelo-Gramscian basis of Ernesto Laclau), whose leadership emerges identified with the hegemonic demand, which he figures and vocalizes, thus promoting , a heterogeneous mass of social groups to their affirmation (demanding, demanding) as “people”.

Paradigmatic case for Ernesto Laclau: the “Polish people” who, in 1980, suddenly emerge under the symbols of the Gdansk dockers, led by Lech Wałęsa – all gathered around the signifier “Solidarity”, emptied of their particularity (the primary demands, dockers) and made a “universal equivalent” of all the frustrated demands of the Poles. The symbol “Solidarity” shows the (absent) plenitude of the Polish people in the 1980s[xx]. In these populist movements, according to Ernesto Laclau, we see, through magnifying glasses, what happens in all forms of politics. All politics, he believes, can be subsumed by this populist paradigm: “populism is the way to understand something about the ontological construction of politics as such”[xx]. Populism is the royal road to understand its logic: all politics, after all, is populist.

It can be seen, therefore, as we have already pointed out, that in this Laclaunian station of our journey, we move to a constitution of the unity of the people, no longer of a formal and procedural nature, but symbolic. Unity/identity manifests itself in the particularity of a (discursive) symbol made capable of naming the political universal, due to an emptying of its own, particular energy, and its elevation to a hegemonic position among frustrated particular demands.

I quote Ernesto Laclau himself: “My entire analysis is based on the assertion that any discursive political field is always structured through a reciprocal process whereby emptiness weakens the particularity of a concrete signifier, but, in return, particularity reacts by giving to universality a body, necessarily incarnated”[xxx] – embodied in the symbol, but also in the figure of the leader who gives it voice, who vocalizes the “universal demand” of a “people”. People-One invested in this demand, without distance from itself, incarnated and fully named by its hegemonic signifier and its leader.

Here, therefore, power does not emanate from any transcendent foundation (God, Nature, Reason) of which the leader would be representative, nor does it emanate from a people presupposed, substantiated or even legally constituted by their submission to positive laws. For Ernesto Laclau, it is effectively produced as “immanent popular power”, as it coincides with the people’s own political institution. Perhaps we could more precisely say: because it coincides with the imaginary institution of these people, vocalized by the leader and identified by a “symbolic” demand.

However, my intention is not to expose or debate Ernesto Laclau's thoughts, but only, as I said initially, to share a path of investigation with him. So, let's move on to the final station of our route. As one could perhaps predict, we finally move on to Lefort's conception of democracy and his understanding of the conditions of social identity, also thought of as “symbolic”. And we can take as a starting point for Claude Lefort's considerations precisely the statement of the impossibility of figuring social unity and identity in the register of the positive, his denunciation of the illusion of giving this “place of the universal” a positive determination.

However, Claude Lefort makes us see that, if such a “place” cannot be determined and filled (it remains empty), if it is “unoccupable”, it is, “in such a way that this impossibility of occupying it reveals itself constitutive of the socialization process. It [the place of the universal] is absent from our [social] field, but it is an absence that counts, that organizes it”[xxiii]. Ultimately, its absence — the emptiness of the universal, of the Law — precisely has the virtue of marking out, beyond the multiplicity of interests, a common space, which would be fully social, the “realized” social.

And it is through power that this “common”, the feeling of men of belonging to the same collective, is manifested: “it is through power [that] this place outside is indicated. as absent".[xxiii] In another formulation: “the establishment of a radical transcendence of the Law, of the Universal [in which the unity of a people would be realized], is a correlate of the position taken (…) undertaken[xxv] for the power under their emblems”[xxiv]. In democracies, political power marks this “place” of social unity, the place of the universal, without being able to properly occupy it, without being able to incorporate it, always remaining at a distance; keeping it empty.

Thus, this symbolic, indeterminate presence of Law and Law, through which a social space is produced and exists, prevents the imaginary identification and fixation of society with its positive laws and also with established powers and opens political life to indetermination, for an always open questioning of Law and Law, for the work of time and history. Claude Lefort shows us that this symbolic dimension of Law and Law is clearly marked and evident in the democratic-electoral procedures that regulate the temporary and alternating occupation of the place of power and the place of society's knowledge about itself, the procedures that precisely point out this place of Power and Law as empty – emptied each time, with each election, to be occupied by another, indefinitely, since this division of society in relation to Law and Law, in relation to “itself” , is insurmountable.

Thus, according to Claude Lefort, through their electoral rituals, modern democratic societies stage their distance in relation to themselves, in relation to their identity, in relation to a Law highlighted from every particular point of view, which would be capable of harmonizing and unite its members into the same and entire community. Finally, the periodic democratic electoral ritual marks the place of Law and Power and gives it a provisional occupant, tacitly stating that it is impossible to “occupy” the place of social identity, keeping it empty, marking its symbolic status.

Therefore, democracy appears here, as that social formation that conceives its unity (and the Law that would achieve it) as a purely symbolic reference, the reference that establishes it as a social interrogation about the Law, which raises and sustains the movement of creation history of laws and rights. Without such a symbolic reference, social conflicts would not reach their political dimension; they would remain in the arena of mere confrontation/opposition and possible composition of interests, comforting liberal interpretations of democracy (as a simple method of bringing together interests and resolving conflicts).

Let us observe, however, the enormous difference between the status and function of the symbolic in Laclau's political populism and in this Lefortian conception of democracy. In Ernesto Laclau, the symbolic is the element of the fusion of particular demands into a universal demand; it is the place and means of identifying the particular occupant of power with the universal represented by “popular demand” (politics), the demand made hegemonic and symbolic of the heterogeneous set of socioeconomic demands. The “Solidarity” symbol, for example, is the element of identification between the Polish people, the Gdansk union and Lech Wałęsa, which then occupies the place of Power. In Lefort, the symbolic status of Law, on the contrary, is precisely what makes it possible to block this imaginary identification of the occupant of power with the universal, with Law and Law; it is the antidote to the temptation that surrounds at every step the provisional occupants of the place of power to represent the universal themselves, to embody a single and undivided society against their enemies.

Finally, here, the symbolic is not the promoter of the identification of power and the people; it is the driving force behind the denial of the claim of historical powers and their laws to represent the universal, the “people”, to act as guarantors or representatives of Truth, Law and Law – which, thus, remain indeterminate, “absent” , irreducible to any positivity, purely symbolic. Claude Lefort's passage through the critique of totalitarianism eliminates any illusion of identification of the people with a party or its leader.

On the other hand, precisely this symbolic dimension also distances Lefortian democracy from the confinement of liberal democracy within the narrow limits of the positive legality of a “rule of law”. Procedural democracy, as it does not recognize any element of transcendence, any distance between Law and the formal clauses of its operation, gives positive laws a non-derogable authority. Thus, everything concedes to positive laws and the power of the State, which guarantees the establishment and compliance with these laws and the maintenance of the legal order (which is seen as the very element of the unity of society).

For Claude Lefort, there are people through symbolic Law, sought by social movements and the rituals of democracy. For the liberal, there are only people through positive laws, established by the procedures of democracy. Now, this democratic formalism – the superior form of politics in these neoliberal times –, in fact, removes the idea of ​​the people (there are, in effect, individuals and their own desires and values) and disdains the demanding and “contestatory” popular citizenship (founded on common aspiration for Law); it reduces citizens to a heterogeneous mass of conflicting interests, to be accommodated solely through electoral commitments and representative procedures. This formalism tends to disqualify any “popular” demonstration for rights that goes beyond voting as political irrationalism (almost always supported by inconsistent ideologies or demagogic populism), as we know well.

What I have to say is that we cannot let this procedural conception prevail as the natural form of democracy; We cannot let her usurp, as she has done, her name. Democracy is not a regime of positive laws and formal order. It is not an ingenious political method and procedure of agency and aggregation of interests, to be operated by honorable and honest men, under the surveillance and watchful eye of the individuals concerned. Democracy – I make myself a Lefortian – is a historical social formation that is invented and reinvented in the movements that emerge on the surface of society every day, in the struggles for rights and values, against the oppression of the particular interests of the “big ones”, in societies who discovered that not everything can be reduced to conflicts of interests, that Power and Law have no owners, that Law is not fixed (by God, by nature or by the Reason of the wise or sensible), that it is the object of a historical interrogation -continuous social.

Dear students, note that the clashes of politics and ideologies also involve our daily intellectual battles, like the one I tried to bring to you, regarding the concept of popular power, populism and democracy, regarding the debate surrounding the nature of the political subject of democracies. See that among the people-voters of the liberals, the people-debaters of the Habermasians (which, due to the limits of our time, I bypassed on my route), the people-combatants and mobilized imaginatively by populist demands and leaders, or the people who contest and claim from the seething activism of social and political movements for rights, that of the democratic invention of the Lefortians (and others), thinking is ongoing and, even more decisively, our history is at stake and is being written.

*Sergio Cardoso He is a professor at the Department of Philosophy at USP. Author, among other books, of Machiavellian: lessons in republican politics (ed. 34). []

Originally published on Pink Magazine.


[I] The following text was written for oral presentation in an inaugural class traditionally aimed at those entering the Philosophy course. This destination led me, at times, to dispense with more precise bibliographical indications and to gloss certain passages from works by the authors discussed in order to make the arguments more direct and clear. I ask the reader to highlight these procedures, due to which I have hesitated until now to allow the publication of this text.

[ii] E. N.: Sérgio refers to the article Greek philosophy and democracy, title given to the revised text of the inaugural class taught by Wolff to new students in the Philosophy department, in 1982. See Francis Wolff, Greek Philosophy and Democracy, Speech, no. 14, p. 7-48, 1983.

[iii] Peter V. Jones, The world of Athens, São Paulo, Martins Fontes, 1997 [1984], p. 34.

[iv] Also due to the length of the current dossier, to which this text is attached.

[v] Talcott Parsons, Social strains in America, in: Daniel Bell (ed.), the radical right, New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, p. 209-30, 2008 [1955].

[vi] Seymour Martin Lipset, Political man: the social basis of politics, New York, Doubleday and Company, 1960.

[vii] See, among others, Cas Mudde & Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: a very short introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017; and Jan-Werner Müller, What is populism?, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

[viii] See Maria Paula Saffon & Nadia Urbinati, Procedural democracy: the bulwark of equal liberty, Political Theory, v. 41, no. 3, 2013, p. 441.

[ix] Idem, ibidem, p. 454. See also Jean Comaroff, Populism and late liberalism: a special affinity?, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, v. 637, p. 99-111, 2011.

[X] Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, socialism and democracy, New York, Harper and Row, 1972 [1942], p. 269.

[xi] See Marilena Chaui, Theological roots of populism in Brazil: theocracy of the dominant, messianism of the dominated, in: Evelina Dagnino, The 90s: politics and society in Brazil, São Paulo, Brasiliense, 1994; and, more recently, About populism in Brazil, Ethics and Political Philosophy Notebooks, no. 32, p. 54-74, 2018.

[xii] See Hans Kelsen, Essence and value of democracy [1929], in: ______, democracy, São Paulo, Martins Fontes, 2000, p. 23-108.

[xiii] The term “demand” used here, as we know, is the subject of controversy: it would insinuate passivity on the part of the people, who should precisely be the political actor. But, it is necessary to take the verb, in its original sense of “re-claim”, protest, shout against (complain, complain).

[xiv] Slavoj Žižek, Against the populist temptation, Critical Inquiry, v. 32, no. 3, 2006, p. 554.

[xv] Ernesto Laclau, Why constructing a people is the main task of radical politics, Critical Inquiry, v. 32, no. 4, 2006, p. 648.

[xvi] Idem, ibidem, p. 650.

[xvii] Idem, ibidem, p. 677.

[xviii] Idem, The return of the “people”: populist reason, antagonism and collective identities, Politics & Work: social science magazine, no. 23, 2005, p. 12.

[xx] See Ernesto Laclau, Why constructing a people…, p. 652-3; and The return of the “people”…, p. 11.

[xx] Ernesto Laclau, the populist reason, São Paulo, Três Estrelas, 2013 [2005], p. 115.

[xxx] Idem, Why constructing a people…, p. 647.

[xxiii] Claude Lefort & Marcel Gauchet, Sur la démocratie: le politique et l'institution du social, Textures, v. 71, no. 2-3, Du politique, 1972, p. 17.

[xxiii] Same, same.

[xxv] N. do E.: Here the authors seem to play with the meaning of French words. Read in the original position enterprise, something that would literally be translated as “position company”; an unconventional expression, devoid of a deeper meaning (both in Portuguese and French). However, stand, (an expression phonetically very close to the previous one) literally translates as “taking a position”. In such a way that what the authors seem to want to say would concern a position that is, at the same time, a company, or an enterprise, of whoever takes it (in this case, power). This is why we translate the expression as “taking a position (…) undertaken”.

[xxiv] Claude Lefort & Marcel Gauchet, Sur la démocratie…, p. 18.

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  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis