Left Radicalism And Populism In Europe 0815354177, 9780815354178, 0815354207, 9780815354208

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‘Populism is the latest political buzzword but is desperately in need of systematic evidence-based analysis and conceptual clarification. This book combines theoretical expertise with empirical case studies on European left radicalism and populism to provide a valuable resource for all those who want to join in “the great populist debate’”. – Cristina Flesher Fominaya, Excellence 100 Reader in Social Politics and Media, Loughborough University, UK. ‘Moving beyond obsolete euro-centric stereotypes, political science is gradually acknowledging the existence of left-wing populist movements and parties. The rigorous research of the complex relationship between left radicalism and populism will be greatly boosted by this volume. Charalambous and Ioannou have added an important milestone in both the synchronic and the diachronic study of this challenging topic’. – Professor Yannis Stavrakakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. ‘This is a really important collection of essays on one of the most pressing issues that confronts students of politics today: what is populism, and should we see it as a threat to democracy, or perhaps an aid to its renewal? Its importance lies in shining a light on what can otherwise be obscured or passed over in more mainstream accounts: the rise of left-wing populisms, alongside the more familiar right wing and nativist variants which tend to attract most of the scholarly and media attention. The authors provide an important corrective to mainstream accounts whilst at the same time providing an interesting and nuanced defence of populism as a potential political strategy. This is a timely intervention in debates on how we should think about and engage with populism, and essential reading for all of those interested in contemporary politics’. – Simon Tormey, Professor of Government and IR, University of Sydney, Australia.


While there has been much focus in recent times on the rise of right-wing populism in Europe, there has been surprisingly little material on the phenomenon of left-wing populism. This edited collection seeks to fill that gap with an investigation of the relationship between the radical left and populism. Featuring a broad range of historical and contemporary case studies from across Europe, this is a much-needed empirical account of this phenomenon. This book will be of considerable interest to researchers, scholars and students of left radicalism, European politics and the politics of social movements. It will also appeal to non-academic audiences, especially party and social movement activists, because of its politically salient topic and its historical and comparative focus. Giorgos Charalambous is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Governance, University of Nicosia, Cyprus. Gregoris Ioannou is a Sociologist and a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, UK.

ROUTLEDGE STUDIES IN RADICAL HISTORY AND POLITICS Series editors: Thomas Linehan, Brunel University, and John Roberts, Brunel University The series Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics has two areas of interest. Firstly, this series aims to publish books which focus on the history of movements of the radical left. ‘Movement of the radical left’ is here interpreted in its broadest sense as encompassing those past movements for radical change which operated in the mainstream political arena as with political parties, and past movements for change which operated more outside the mainstream as with millenarian movements, anarchist groups, utopian socialist communities, and trade unions. Secondly, this series aims to publish books which focus on more contemporary expressions of radical left-wing politics. Recent years have been witness to the emergence of a multitude of new radical movements adept at getting their voices in the public sphere. From those participating in the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement, community unionism, social media forums, independent media outlets, local voluntary organisations campaigning for progressive change, and so on, it seems to be the case that innovative networks of radicalism are being constructed in civil society that operate in different public forms. The series very much welcomes titles with a British focus, but is not limited to any particular national context or region. The series will encourage scholars who contribute to this series to draw on perspectives and insights from other disciplines. Contemporary Left Wing Activism Vol 1 Democracy, Participation and Dissent in a Global Context Edited John Michael Roberts and Joseph Ibrahim Contemporary Left Wing Activism Vol 2 Democracy, Participation and Dissent in a Global Context Edited Joseph Ibrahim and John Michael Roberts Cultural Protest in Journalism, Documentary Films and the Arts Between Protest and Professionalization Daniel H. Mutibwa Left Radicalism and Populism in Europe Edited by Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou For more information about this series, please visit: www.routledge.com/Routledge-Studies-in-Radical-History-and-Politics/book-series/RSRHP


Edited by Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. Book illustration: ‘Lenin Debating with the Narodnik Vorontsov (1894)’, (1939). Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Ilich Lenin (1870–1924) in debate with narodnik economist Vasily Vorontsov (1847–1918). From Stalin on Lenin. [Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1939]. Artist: Aleksandr Viktorovic Moravov. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images). British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-0-8153-5417-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-8153-5420-8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-351-13363-0 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books

To all those who ask difficult political questions and to whom easy answers do not suffice


List of illustrations Abbreviations List of contributors 1 Introducing the topic and the concepts Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou

xi xii xv 1


Left radicalism and populism across history


2 The Russian Narodniks and their relationship to Russian Marxism Richard Mullin


3 Social democracy and the temptation of populism between the world wars: France in a comparative perspective Fabien Escalona


4 Historicising the populist temptation: the case of Eurocommunism Ioannis Balampanidis


x Contents


Contemporary radical left parties and populism 5 Corbyn, Sanders and the contestation of neoliberal hegemony Owen Worth

87 89

6 ‘Make way for the people!’ Left-wing populism in the rhetoric of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s 2012 and 2017 presidential campaigns Paolo Chiocchetti


7 New left populism contesting and taking power: the cases of SYRIZA and Podemos Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgos Katsambekis


8 Hijacking the left? The populist and radical right in two post-Communist polities Vassilis Petsinis



Social movements, populism and socialist strategy


9 Mapping anti-austerity discourse: populism, sloganeering and/or realism? David J. Bailey


10 West European trade unions, labour and ‘the people’: from the golden era to the times of austerity Gregoris Ioannou and Giorgos Charalambous


11 Populism as ‘deceptive invocations of the popular’: a political approach Seraphim Seferiades


12 Conclusions: populism and left radicalism in Europe across time and space Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou






3.1 9.1 10.1 10.2 11.1

Front of the PCF headquarters, with inscription Number of anti-austerity protests per year in Britain, 2005–2016 TUC poster in the UK, May 2018 PAME banner in Greece Values, concepts, research (and phronetic social science)

59 186 215 216 225


6.1 6.2 6.3 8.1 8.2A

Quantitative analysis of key concepts Key data on the two campaigns Electoral results of the French radical left (% of valid votes) Estonian parliamentary elections (March 2015) Popularity ratings of political parties in Estonia (January 2018) 8.2B Popularity ratings of political parties in Estonia (June 2018) 8.3A Hungarian parliamentary elections (April 2014) 8.3B Hungarian parliamentary elections (April 2018) 9.1 Key slogans of the UK anti-austerity movement, 2010–2016

113 115 122 157 157 157 163 163 191




Allgemeiner Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund Alternative für Deutschland Ανεξάρτητοι Έλληνες Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori Confédération générale du travail Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses Кëммунистическая партия Сëветскëгë Сëюза Δημοκρατική Αριστερά Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond Front de Gauche La France Insoumise Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség -

German Confederation of Trade Unions Alternative for Germany American Federation of Labor Independent Greeks Italian Confederation of Trade Unions General Confederation of Labour (France) General Confederation of Portuguese Workers Communist Party of Soviet Union

Democratic Left (Greece) European Central Bank Estonian Conservative People’s Party European Trade Union Confederation European Union Left Front Untamed France Hungarian Civic Alliance Global Justice Movement

Abbreviations xiii








Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom Jugoslovenska Levica Λαϊκή Ενότητα Ligue communiste révolutionnaire -



Her Majesty Movement Against Corruption in India International Confederation of Free Trade Unions International Monetary Fund Import Substituting Industrialization Movement for a Better Hungary

Yugoslav United Left Popular Unity Communist Revolutionary League Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transexual Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer Lehet Más a Politika Politics Can Be Different (Hungary) Lands Organisationen Swedish Trade Union Confederation Member of Parliament Magyar Szocialista Párt Hungarian Socialist Party North Atlantic Treaty Organisation National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (UK) Νέα Δημοκρατία New Democracy (Greece) National Executive Committee Non-Governmental Organisation Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste New Anti-capitalist Party (France) National Union of Students Πανελλήνιο Σοσιαλιστικό Panhellenic Socialist Party Κόμμα Parti Communiste Françaism Communist Party of France Parti communiste (Section française de l’Internationale communiste) Communist Party (French Section of Communist International) Partito Comunista Italiano Communist Party of Italy Parti de Gauche Left Party Parliamentary Labour Party Prime Minister Partido Popular People’s Party (Spain)

xiv Abbreviations


Parti Ouvrier Indépendant


Partito della Rifondazione Comunista Parti Socialiste Socialistische Partij Parti Socialiste de FranceUnion Jean-Jaurès Partido Socialista Obrero Español Partido dos Trabalhadores Рëссийская сëциал-демëкратическая рабëчая партия




Sveriges socialdemokratiskaarbetare parti Sotsiaaldemokraatlik Erakond Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière Συνασπισμός Ριζοσπαστικής Αριστεράς Unión General de Trabajadores -


Les Républicains -



Independent Workers’ Party (France) Party of Communist Refoundation (Italy) Socialist Party (France) Socialist Party (Netherlands) French Socialist Party-JeanJaurès Union Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party Workers Party (Brazil) Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party

Social Democratic Party of Sweden Social Democrats (Estonia) Social Democratic Party of Germany French Section of the Workers’ International Coalition of the Radical Left

Trade Union Congress University and College Union General Union of Workers United Kingdom United Kingdom Independence Party Republicans (France) United Nations United States (of America) Union of Soviet Socialist Republics World Federation of Trade Unions World Social Forum World War II


David J. Bailey is a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Birmingham. His teaching and research focus on political economy, left parties, protest movements and the relationship between each of these, mainly within the European context. He recently co-authored a book focusing on anti-austerity movements during the European crisis, Beyond Defeat and Austerity: Disrupting the (Critical Political Economy of) Neoliberal Europe (Routledge). He has also recently published articles in New Political Economy, British Journal of Political Science and Comparative European Politics. Ioannis Balampanidis holds a PhD in Political Science and is researcher at the Centre for Political Research (Department of Political Science & History, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences). He is author of Eurocommunism. From the Communist to the Radical Left in Europe, Polis, Athens 2015 (Routledge, 2018). Giorgos Charalambous holds an Msc in European Public Policy from UCL and a BA (Hons) in Economic Studies and Government and PhD in Politics from the University of Manchester. He is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Governance, University of Nicosia. His publications have appeared in such journals as European Political Science Review, Party Politics, Government and Opposition, International Studies Review and Mobilization. He is author of European Integration and the Communist Dilemma (Ashgate, 2013) and coeditor of Party-Society Relations in the Republic of Cyprus (Routledge, 2015). Paolo Chiocchetti holds a PhD in European Studies from King’s College London. His research focuses on radical left parties, Western European politics, European governance and economic policy. He is the author of The Radical Left Party Family in Western Europe, 1989–2015 (Routledge, 2017) and the co-editor of

xvi List of contributors

Competitiveness and Solidarity in the European Union: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Routledge, 2018). Fabien Escalona is a PhD holder in political science and a journalist. He is an associate researcher of the Cevipol (Free University of Brussels). His research focuses on social democracy as a party family. He is a co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Social Democracy in the European Union. He also works on French politics and radical left parties. Gregoris Ioannou is a Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. He is a political and media sociologist and holds degrees from LSE (BSc and MSc) and Warwick (PhD). Aspects of his work have been published in international peer reviewed journals such as Mediterranean Politics, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society and Capital and Class, and as book chapters in various collective volumes. His recent publications dealt with trade unions, social movements and contentious politics, the labour market in the crisis, and media framing in southern Europe and Cyprus. He is also an external Expert for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) on ‘Working Conditions and Sustainable Work’. Giorgos Katsambekis is a lecturer in European and International Politics at Loughborough University. He is the co-editor of the volumes Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today (Ashgate, 2014) and The Populist Radical Left in Europe (Routledge, 2019). His recent work has appeared in The Political Quarterly, Constellations, Javnost–The Public, Contemporary Political Theory, Critical Discourse Studies and The Journal of Political Ideologies. Alexandros Kioupkiolis (BA Athens, MA Essex, DPhil Oxford) is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Political Theory at Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece. His research interests are focused on radical democracy, the commons, social movements and the philosophy of freedom. He is directing an ERC COG project on these topics (Heteropolitics, 2017–2020) and has published numerous relevant books and papers, including the monograph Freedom After the Critique of Foundations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), and the collective volume Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today (Ashgate, 2014). His new monograph is entitled Alternative Commons and Another Politics of Hegemony (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). Richard Mullin completed his doctorate at the University of Sussex in 2010 on the relationship between Lenin’s Iskra newspaper and the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in the period leading up to the latter’s Second Congress. Since then, he has translated a number of documents from Russian to English connected to this period in the party’s history, which were published in the collection The RSDLP, 1899–1904 (Brill, 2015). He is currently working on a monograph on the

List of contributors xvii

history of Russian Populism and Social Democracy and is employed outside academia. Vassilis Petsinis (PhD Birmingham) is a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies (University of Tartu, Estonia). His individual project is entitled: ‘Patterns and management of ethnic relations in the Baltic States and the Western Balkans’. Vassilis Petsinis has developed an expertise in ethnopolitics, nationalism and populism with a regional specialisation in Central and Eastern Europe. He has taught and conducted research in Serbia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Estonia and Latvia. Seraphim Seferiades (PhD Columbia) is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Panteion University of Social and Political Science, Athens and Life Member in Politics and History at the University of Cambridge (CLH). For several years the Secretary of the Greek Political Science Association, he has been Senior Member at the University of Oxford (St Peter’s College), Fellow and Tutor in the Arts at the University of Cambridge (CHU), Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, and Hannah Seeger Davis Fellow at Princeton University. His work spans European and Greek labour and social history, contentious politics and social science methodology. He has edited or co-edited volumes on methodology, social movements and the Greek dictatorship, and published extensively in journals such as Comparative Politics, the European Journal of Industrial Relations, the Journal of Contemporary History, the Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, the Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Actuel Marx, Pôle Sud, Partecipazione e Conflitto and the Greek Political Science Review. His latest publications include the books The Red Thread of a Decade: Analyses and Texts in the Crisis Years (Topos, 2017); On the Pathways of Historiography: Critical Overview from a Social Scientific Perspective (Themelio, 2014); and Democratic Functioning at a Crossroads: Challenges and Threats in the early 21st Century (editor) (Nissos, 2014). Owen Worth works at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick. He is the author of Hegemony, International Political Economy and Post-Communist Russia (Ashgate, 2005), Resistance in the Age of Austerity (Zed Books, 2013), Rethinking Hegemony (Palgrave, 2015) and Morbid Symptoms: The Global Rise of the Far Right (Zed Books, 2019).

1 INTRODUCING THE TOPIC AND THE CONCEPTS Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou

This edited volume investigates the relationship between left radicalism and populism through time and across space in Europe. In the absence of a systematic study of this relationship, there arises a most fundamental research question: What has been the relationship between radical left ideologies and populist rhetoric across different types of actors throughout time and in respect to specific contexts, both historical and contemporary? This question responds to a recent trend, which has increasingly associated instances of and actors embodying left radicalism with a populist logic. These are new developments, especially in the academic literature. Populism was not commonly observed as a main trait of the international communist movement throughout the 20th century.1 Neither is it to be found in communist publications and Marxist theory as a central question of concern or as a salient potential strategy for the left.2 Largely it has been the Latin American left that drew the attention of students of populist politics from the 1950s until today. Hugo Chavez and the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ he led have been considered an interesting blend of left-wing radicalism and the more traditional Latin American populism of the mid-20th century of which Argentinian Peronism constituted the most paradigmatic example (Hawkins 2010). After the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the triumph of neoliberalism in Europe, by the turn of the century, Latin America was seen as a space where the ideas of the left were still strong and capable of being diffused to broader social and political formations, building on both revolutionary and populist traditions of previous eras and re-invigorating classic demands of social justice and popular democracy. A substantive empirical association between European left radicalism and populism began (loosely) after the 2000s.3 This was not very long after populism was first applied to the far right party family in Europe.4 Apparently, the frequency of association between left radicalism and populism in Europe has increased since the onset of the 2008 global economic crisis.5

2 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

Recently, Aslanidis (2017; see also Aslanidis 2016) identified the most recent wave of anti-austerity and other social movements in the space of the left in Europe, as well as in America, as populist, based on the contradistinction between a homogeneous ‘People’ and a minority of ‘elites’. Such rhetoric was employed to incite mobilisation by promising the restoration of popular sovereignty into the hands of its rightful owners, it allowed grass roots mobilisers to frame social grievances in a way that binds (seemingly) heterogeneous positions together and projected an inclusive but anti-elitist language. While not an easy solution to all problems faced by the left, left(-wing) populism among social movements is seen as combining radical democracy and personal leadership; invoking civic patriotism; constituting a response to post-industrial class fragmentation; suited especially as a response to organic crisis; centring on the reclaiming of popular sovereignty; and pitting the People against the Oligarchy (Gerbaudo 2017). Again, these are new arguments in the corresponding literature on leftwing or left-inspired social movements, such as those of the 1960s or the wave of activism in the Global Justice Movement (GJM) that peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s (see Gerbaudo 2017; Flesher Fominaya 2014). Populism is generally understood to be ideology-dependent but is also seen as cross-ideological. In other words, populism especially in its discursive sense can manifest itself across the political spectrum. The underpinning logic here is that with populism involving an antagonistic discursive articulation of citizens’ demands against a certain power bloc that is seen as frustrating them, there is no predetermination of ‘the political belonging, the institutional status or the (religious, cultural, sexual, or other) identity of the leaders or groups and parties claiming to represent “the people” against the power bloc. It is thus perfectly possible to have politically antithetical articulations of populism’ (Stavrakakis 2016: 4). Why has there emerged this new ‘empirical reality’ in the literature? Not so much the understanding of populism as something which can influence both the left and the right, but the increasing association of radical left discourses, movements and parties in Europe with populism. As various definitions (concerning the basic structure of the term), conceptualisations (concerning the ascription of specific properties and boundaries to the term) and operationalisations (concerning methods for its measurement) have been applied to the study of populism, a number of questions arise out of the claims that the European radical left is populist. Has ‘the literature’ changed or has left radicalism changed? Is populism a trait of the more recent concrete manifestations of left radicalism – at the party as well as at the movement level? Has the frequent use of the term ‘left-wing populism’ included plenty of misuse as well? Has there been an increasing use of populism by European radical left actors? Can we find populist communists or trade unionists, today not really associated with populism, if we search into the left’s history? Has populism always characterised the radical left, if at all and if yes, in what particular ways? These are the questions we pursue through this edited collection and they concern both the fashion in which populism is expressed by European radical left actors and (at a more macro level) the degree to which these actors embody populism throughout several historical episodes.

Introducing the topic and the concepts


In the rest of this chapter we proceed with outlining a broad framework of discussion and investigation concerning the relationship between left radicalism and populism in Europe.We then outline the various chapters indicating the main research questions and analytical approaches utilised by the contributors.

Left radicalism across time and space Left radicalism underwent multiple transformations and shifts during the 19th century, during the time that the transition into political modernity was concluded in Europe. By the end of the 19th century there were two main political currents each with its own theoretical premises and conceptual tools and both connected with the emerging labour movement (Hobsbawm 1987). Social Democracy was stronger in northern and central Europe, especially Germany, whereas anarchism was stronger in Southern Europe and Russia. Both of these political currents advocated revolution and both asserted that the overthrow of the capitalist system was to be achieved by the subaltern working class taking over the means of production and reorganising the social relations of production and exchange. Both rejected the bourgeois state and nationalism as its main ideological force and supported internationalism and working-class solidarity across borders. Although Social Democracy was the bigger of the two currents, already by the first decade of the 20th century and amidst its continuing growth and entry into the emerging European parliamentary party systems, left radicalism in the sense of clashing with the national state and overthrowing the bourgeois system was pushed to its margins. Reformism had become the dominant ideology within trade unionism and Social Democracy, resulting in the collapse of the Second International with the onset of the Great War in 1914 (Geary 1989). The Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik victory in 1917 facilitated the final split of Social Democracy and the creation of the international communist movement, which became the dominant trend within left radicalism from the inter-war years until the end of the 20th century, and the axis upon which all other left radical currents had to compare and contrast themselves with. The march of European socialist and social democratic parties towards the centre, or the middle, has been gradual, but in this trajectory there have been several milestones leading up to the late 1980s, when the party family as a whole began to be typified by a strong internal trend towards neoliberal paradigms (see Moschonas 2002; Berman 2006; Lavelle 2008). Communist parties remained the main force in the left but, originally because of the fascist threat and the needs of the anti-fascist struggle as well as the Soviet Union’s geopolitical interests before and during the cold war, also followed Social Democracy in gradually becoming accommodated within the political system (Hobsbawm 1996). During the golden era of welfare capitalism after the Second World War in Western Europe the communist parties were busy consolidating their position and expanding their influence in society amidst generally rising living standards. Nevertheless, in various countries, especially but not exclusively in northern Europe, in terms of both ideas as well as participants, no clear distinction could be

4 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

made in the decades before the 1970s and 1980s depending on the country, between a centrist and a radical left. Three points are worth highlighting here. First, that in terms of economic and social policy positions only a handful of communist parties were revolutionary after the 1920s, in the sense of arguing for the subversion of the state or excluding on principle participation in the executive branch of government. Second, that communist and social democratic parties converged somewhere around Keynesianism on economic policy, often making their actual disagreements when negotiating alliances a matter of the degree of state intervention. Third, that both the communists and the social democrats had, and some of them still have, ‘orthodox’ and ‘reformist’ sections. Until today most of the social democratic parties host a number of left-wing tendencies or dissenters, ‘the usual suspects’, who are significantly more radical than the party’s politics, advocate a more radical labourism, are more involved with social movements and who have been gradually leaving their parties to join or lead other initiatives on the left.6 On the basis of constantly shifting compositional dynamics on the left of party systems, recent scholarly titles on social democracy imply that several decades into neo-liberalisation one can still allow for the possibility of re-radicalisation– as exemplified for many by the case of the Labour Party in the UK under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn (e.g. Bailey et al. 2014; Hickson 2016). The appearance of the New Left (Harman, 1998), the student and the civil rights movements which partly drew their inspiration from the anti-colonial struggles in Third World countries in the long 1960s, reshaped yet again the ideological contours of left radicalism and opened up the space for the development of the new social movements of the last quarter of the 20th century, most of which advocated a series of small revolutions rather than the Revolution that had guided the socialists for more than a hundred years. The environmental movement, second wave feminism, gay and lesbian rights movement, nuclear disarmament and the cultural and communal rights of minorities were the new forces within the field of left radicalism and most importantly beyond it (Kriesi et al. 1995). According to Meiksins-Wood (1995:30) the major and long-lasting theme that emerged in the movements of the 1960s and their manifestations during the 1970s was ‘an emphasis on the autonomy of ideological struggle and the leading role of intellectuals, in default of the working class’. Activists, intellectuals, academics and students have been more prominent actors in the initial demonstrations and more symbolically representative of the ‘new left’; in Herbert Marcuse’s (2005:146) line of thinking, they have been revolutionary subjects as ‘arising from the struggle itself’. Still, from a more orthodox perspective which drove several of the communist parties to distance themselves from or navigate carefully their relationship with the ‘new left’, class struggle by ideological proxy meant that the emancipation of the working class should not necessarily be its own act and most importantly not necessarily led by its vanguard party. This was the post-modern universe of political fragmentation, ideological pluralism, and theoretical implosion as well as of the more serious political attempts to revise the Marxist-Leninist position giving rise to Eurocommunism (Miliband

Introducing the topic and the concepts


1978; Meiksins-Wood 1983). The three main Eurocommunist parties – the Italian PCI, the French PCF and the Spanish PCE – were forced to make numerous compromises, most seen as more or less ‘historical’, depending on the case (Balampanidis 2018: 59–78). In all cases, the Eurocommunists had to enter political pacts or pact-driven governments. Cooperation with the socialists and others, especially within the context of government participation or support, made it important but also difficult for the Eurocommunists to preserve their distinctive ‘communist’ non-social democratic identity and this created tension between the parties and their base. Within the context of such tensions, ‘left-wing’ and ‘rightwing’ tendencies developed within the Eurocommunist current, with the latter applying a more liberal analysis and thus friendly approach to capitalist political institutions and other political forces. This tendency was most evidently expressed in the Italian case (Escalona 2017: 9–11). The Eurocommunists’ fate was sealed by the early 1980s. Although they emphasised the goal of electoral victory and chose strategies targeted at winning over non-communist votes, the result was far from grand electoral victories in the medium term. Shortly afterwards came the era of defeat as China shifted to a state capitalist system and the Soviet bloc collapsed. This was not only a defeat for the communist parties, who acknowledged it as such, but with hindsight we can now say that this was a defeat for left radicalism as a whole, as neoliberalism developed as a hegemonic ideology not only co-opting Social Democracy but also restraining both the euro-communist parties and the major social movements in terms of their ideological orientation and actual existing forms, resulting in both their ‘decline’ and ‘mutation’ (March and Mudde 2005). The post-1991 period has been for the radical left an epoch of high levels of fragmentation, paths of refoundation, renewal, recomposition and even transformation (Botella and Ramiro 2003; Bull and Heywood 1994; Bull 1995). Although there was a resurgence of left-wing radicalism by the early 21st century in the context of the extension of the anti-globalisation mobilisations from the global south to the global north, the contemporary radical left of the 1990s and early 2000s found it increasingly difficult to articulate a coherent and convincing discourse that went beyond the confines of the existing and often found itself blending with reformist forces that sought in various different ways a sort of return to the Keynesian good old days of the golden era. Or it focused on the politics of recognition and prioritised the demands of a cultural and identitarian nature as opposed to those of a social and political nature. These are theoretical as well as political problems that manifest themselves until today; nevertheless, in the past decade or so, mobilisation practices, rhetorical schemata, social theoretical analyses, political advances and ideological mixes have presented themselves on the radical left. The post-2008 and still ongoing economic crisis and austerity period has given rise to a ‘new’ radical left in Europe – the antiausterity left, initially with particular vibrancy in southern Europe and subsequently with manifestations in the UK under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and in France around the persona of Jean Luc Mélenchon.

6 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

Various types of ‘catch-all’ left-leaning parties, movements and strategies came into the public light, with the left now defined broadly as including a cross-fertilisation of the traditions of environmentalism, anarchism, Trotskyism, Maoism, radical ecology, ‘pure’ social democracy, communism and social liberalism even. These ideologies have somehow combined and interacted if only to the extent that they could claim a collective identity – an identity historically formed and politically marked by the anti-austerity and pro-democracy struggles of the post-2008 period. Naturally stronger in southern Europe, where successive governments in Greece, Portugal and Spain have signed memoranda agreements with the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) implementing austerity, which is unprecedented in the post-war European continent, this left has attracted both votes and media attention to a much larger extent than its recent geographical predecessors. The alleged main feature of this ‘new’ phase of left radicalism at the level of parties is not that it breaks with Keynesianism or approaches electoral politics differently than its predecessors, but rather that it has a radical democratic agenda inspired by the movements and a quasi-populist orientation that is inclusionary in character and that claims its inspiration from the Latin American left (Kioupkiolis 2016; Katsambekis 2017; Aslanidis 2016; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Gerbaudo 2017). Still, the question of whether this is a new feature of left radicalism has not been sufficiently explored: ‘newness’ is often implied but rarely considered from an elaborate historical perspective. Such a perspective would first of all require a historically informed conceptualisation of left radicalism. Left radicalism is often taken to imply a positional understanding of what it means to be radical. Growing out of party politics research, the idea that the radical left is located to the left (and not simply on the left) of social democracy has been unquestioned in recent literature – (Olsen, Koß and Hough 2010; March 2011; March and Mudde 2005; Bale and Dunphy 2011; Dunphy and Bale 2011; Chiocchetti 2016) – hence the frequent use of the term far left interchangeably with radical left parties. There is a temporality problem with this assertion, making it in part ahistorical, or, put differently, rendering the concept of left radicalism one that can only apply in the contemporary period. Although the term radical, as Chiocchetti (2016: 10) notes, ‘must be understood not as a substantive but as a predominantly relational qualifier’, there is ideational substance in what constitutes radicalism in so far as the latter bears a marked ideological difference not from social democracy, itself a shifting phenomenon across the ideological axis, but from the political mainstream. Any kind of historically informed approach to left radicalism must consider that in earlier times social democracy and its ancillary organisations were positioned on the far left of the political centre themselves because they were radical in ideological terms, not because they lacked political standing.7 Yesterday’s radical left parties have not remained such until today, still they could once be reasonably classified as advocating a radical egalitarianism in the form of systematic capitalist redistribution, underlined by a long-term commitment to a socialist state of affairs. State institutions regulating the conflict between labour and capital, the claim by

Introducing the topic and the concepts


social democrats to the representation of the working class and by extension the people as a whole, the political ties between social democratic parties and labour unions, as well as the teleological dimension of social democracy, diverged significantly from any other political project considered to be mainstream, liberal or conservative, in either Europe or the USA. With extensive state intervention in the economy, socialism’s eventuality was claimed through corporatism, which under the guidance of a social democratic party would skew capitalism in favour of labour interests. This would happen to the extent that the system’s contradictions could be resolved to the benefit of the working and middle classes. There is therefore an inherent temporal dimension to considering what constitutes left radicalism on the ground at any given point in time. Social democratic parties and their organisations still exist and attract some working-class support but beyond their social milieu becoming more economically heterogeneous and the progressive exodus of the working class from social democratic ranks, they project neither radical policy visions of left-wing principles nor a rhetoric that diverges from neoliberal paradigms (certain exceptions notwithstanding). From a two-level perspective, the fundamental characteristics highlighted for contemporary radical left parties and movements by Luke March and Cas Mudde offer a useful depiction of left radicalism’s ideational core, in spite of its unaccounted for historical evolution and internal reconfiguration (March and Mudde 2005): the radical left today is said to either reject consumerism and neoliberalism, or even fundamentally oppose capitalist profit; it advocates major redistribution and the establishment of alternative (political and economic) power structures; it identifies economic inequality as the basis of existing arrangements and espouses its elimination through the establishment of collective economic and social rights; it is more anti-capitalist and less anti-democratic but does articulate a critique of capitalist and representative democracy; it embraces international solidarity and asserts that national and regional socio-political issues have global structural causes. According to the authors, the first two characteristics denote left-wing radicalism and the latter four a left-wing identity. Indeed, this conceptualisation, which takes seriously the positional understanding of today’s radical left but moves beyond it, is useful precisely because it can be used to frame the evolution of left radicalism from its inception until today – both at the party and social movement levels. Within this context, the notion of ‘newness’ can be fruitfully applied if one allows for both the degree of enacting each characteristic and the latter’s central significance within the system of ideas to differ when being channelled as a political current on the ground from case to case and from period to period. This explains why within the same context of ideas, the radical left has diachronically incorporated diverse tendencies and currents, ‘such as Marxists and non-Marxists, reformists and revolutionaries, moderates and radicals, statists and anti-statists, and workerists and left-libertarians’ (Chiocchetti 2016: 11); in turn these generate diversified organisational forms and mobilisation tactics. With radicalism denoting root and branch systemic change of a political system, left radicalism in any conjuncture signals a radical vision of liberation so that

8 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

economic and political power shift significantly (and more equivalently) towards the marginalised, the exploited, the discriminated and the excluded. Enacting left radicalism then, either at the individual or the collective, organisational or non-organised level, means actively performing repertoires of resistance to one or more of a number of identified enemies in the form of ideas, structural problems, political practices and behaviours – inequality, oppression, exploitation, neoliberalism, exclusion, authoritarianism, racism, xenophobiaand chauvinism. From an anthropological angle, left radicalism manifests itself into practices in the widest sense of the word, namely both everyday life activities and institutionalised rituals (see Karakatsanis and Papadogiannis 2017). Both the prime goal(s) or principles and the strategy of fulfilling them may vary spatially and temporally and across types of organisations but the value substance remains a (contested) combination of liberty, fraternity and equality, ranging between a radical libertarian and a radical egalitarian perspective, involving a wide horizon of institutional and non-institutional policy options, and taking varying organisational shapes when enacted in practice. These points become evident when considering left radicalism beyond the notion of the radical left party family. The two main social and political actors found on the radical left across history and countries are political parties and various types of social and protest movement structures, whether trade unions or more decentralised, horizontal and non-labourist entities. Any endeavour towards uncovering historical parallels and differences on the left is best placed to tackle both types of left-wing political actors embodying the organisers of traditions, ideologies, and ideas into political activity. This is so since what has unfolded in the historical angle as well as the current state of affairs on the left, raises a number of points regarding both left-wing social and left-wing electoral politics. The combination of the social and electoral spheres into an analysis of this ‘new’ radical left may allow for a two-level assessment that is, for the most part, currently missing. It is argued that this two-level assessment is more appropriate for drawing historical parallels with previous eras of ‘newness’ on the radical left and thus for framing competing conceptions of what constitutes change and what constitutes continuity.

Populism as rhetorical style Populism has been conceptualised differently by scholars both in terms of the instances that define it and the properties which express it, thus making it one of the more elusive concepts that political science research has preoccupied itself with (Barr 2009; Taggart 2000). The dominant, ideational conceptualisation sees populism as an instance of a (thin) centred ideology or more generally a set or system of ideas (Pappas 2014; Kriesi and Pappas 2015; Urbinati 2014; Mudde 2007; Mudde 2004; Hawkins 2010; Stanley 2008; Abts and Rummens 2007; March 2017; March 2007). It is an ideology in the sense of a set of interrelated ideas about the nature of politics and society and it is thin because it lacks the complexity, scope and coherence of fully fledged political ideologies (see Freeden 1998; see also Freeden

Introducing the topic and the concepts


1996). Yet, no ideological coherence can be substantiated across the various identified (often as textbook) cases of populism. In essence, populism fails to meet the usual criteria of categorising traditional party families and ideologies (see Mair and Mudde 1998) since populists lack comprehensive ideological projects, they do not link up at the international level, they rely on no sacred texts, they share no universally revered populist icons and there is great historical discontinuity among populist manifestations (Aslanidis2015: 2). Therefore, populism’s chameleonic nature, that is its propensity to change face according to the situation at hand (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2013; Taggart, 2000), makes it an accompaniment of full ideologies, an attachment to the core ideas of these ideologies that add an extra ideational dimension identified foremostly with a view that sees ‘society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite”, and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people’ (Mudde 2004: 543). An alternative and more coherent perspective in the literature sees populism as discourse, or as associated instances, such as rhetoric, mode of expression or political or communication style (Laclau 1977; Laclau 2005; Aslanidis 2016; Aslanidis 2015; Moffitt 2015; Moffitt and Tormey 2014; Jagers and Walgrave 2007; Taguieff 1995; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Kioupkiolis 2016; Panizza 2005). The analysis of populism as a discourse that dichotomises the social field into two blocs (the elites vs the people), and purports to represent popular interests by constructing a hegemonic popular subjectivity, has been a major preoccupation of the Essex School (see, for example, Laclau 2005), which is often taken as a point of departure for treating populism discursively and performatively. We view populism as the articulation of a specific style of political language (or rhetoric) that revolves around the core rhetorical components (or frames) of people-centrism, otherness and crisis, thereby evoking a particular mode of expressing certain ideas, which underlie such a style but are independent of it.By definition, populism as conceptualised here is primarily a matter of degree rather than a binary concept whereby some entities can be categorised as populist and others not. Political rhetoric will entail less or more use of populist elements, rather than just populism or no populism at all. In addition, degree interacts with type, or specific populist frames: different political actors place an emphasis on different populist frames depending on context. Almost every political actor employs populist rhetoric at some time or other, therefore the key question at hand is to what extent over time, in which ways and under which circumstances the ideologies of distinct party families (and of various ideological traditions more broadly) interact with and are communicated by populist rhetoric (see also van Kessel 2014). Our conceptualisation entails three steps. First, we reject the dominant (thin) ideology paradigm, on the basis of several problems. Aslanidis (2015: 4–6) identified three problems: 1) the inadequate conceptual foundations of the notion of ‘thin-centredness’, on the basis of which ‘almost any political notion can acquire the status of a thin-centred ideology as long as it contains an alleged “small”

10 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

number of core concepts that the claimant perceives as being unable to supply a comprehensive package of policy proposals’; 2) the methodological contradictions that the ideological claim carries in the attempts of the most detailed frameworks defining populism to draw opposites for populism that exist at the same level of conceptual hierarchy as populism itself; 3) the incapacity to account for the graded nature of populism and the tendency to identify subtypes but not intra-group variation, which has already been challenged by various quantitative studies that acknowledge degrees of populism. Freeden (2017:3), who coined the term ‘thin ideology’, responded to the increasing use of his ‘product’ to populism research, by arguing that thin ideologies are, unlike populism, well-articulated and the result of reflective political thinking; and that populism needs other ideological positions to fill it in by nature of its structure (see also Moffitt and Tormey 2014: 283–284). In other words, there can be no assumption that ‘populism is first and foremost a moral set of ideas that is shared by different constituencies, who have emotional and rational motives for adhering to the Manichaean worldview inherent in populism’ (Hawkins and Kaltwasser 2017: 523). As Stavrakakis et al. (2017: 1-3) argued, attributing moralism above all, to populism, both ‘betrays substantive ideological continuities with a discredited cold war pluralism’ that essentially equalises democracy with liberalism and is ultimately inadequate to function as the central criterion for differentiating between the multiple political identifications of populism. Scholars who adopt an ideational definition have identified elitism and pluralism as two opposites, themselves adopting a binary understanding of democratic views (e.g. Hawkins 2010; Mudde 2004; Plattner 2010). Yet, the very presence of left-wing, right-wing and even centrist populism, itself suggests that neither does populism have a cosmology, nor a general belief about how the political universe operates (see, for example, Hawkins and Kaltwasser 2017: 514). Both at the level of cosmology, or worldview, and in terms of ‘general beliefs’, left-wing inclusionary populists and right-wing exclusionary populists are fundamentally different between themselves and yet they all voice populist discourse. Still, the ideational approach to populism is not to be dismissed so easily, although suffering from conceptual pitfalls. If a party adopts populist rhetoric this will also influence the development of its ideology, which will be in turn expressed in its narrative. Various definitions of ideology in the relevant literature are indeed premised on the notion that discourse is influenced by ideology because of its function expressing it (see Gerring 1997: 967; Van Dijk 2006). More generally, rhetoric is influenced by the ideas of its communicator. Indicatively, a lot of the literature has shown that populist discourse is more consonant with subversive, protest-based or oppositional political forces, who frame themselves as outsiders (Weyland 2001), and who are thus more likely to construct an in-group and an out-group. Since these two conceptualisations of populism – as rhetoric and as a system of ideas – are not mutually exclusive in the presence of a strong link between ideas and language (see Hawkins 2010), rhetorical approaches to populism are best placed to clarify that although there may not be such a thing as populist

Introducing the topic and the concepts 11

thin-ideologies or ideational systems, some sort of interaction between populist rhetoric and the realm of ideas is inevitable. Rhetoric refers to spoken or written language as the sum of and interaction between the rhetorical components or frames employed in communication. Therefore, a key step towards our conceptualisation is to justify the properties (in this case, rhetorical components) that we assign to populism. Two core characteristics stand out in the literature, independent of whether authors define populism as discourse or ideology. First, populism emphasises the central position of the people, as a sovereign agent of the moral and ethical struggle for change that is purported to be in its interests (virtually all works on populism). This is what Jagers and Walgrave (2007) called the ‘thin definition of populism’, both a necessary condition for populism to exist and a founding stone for the other features of populist discourse to emerge. In linguistic terms ‘the people’ rather than other schemata such as class, nation, nature and so on is more frequently used as a nodal point around which discourse is articulated but more generally people-centrism is the rhetorical construction of an ‘in-group’, however narrowly defined, in ethnic or racial terms, for example. In Arditi’s (2007) terms, populist discourse has a two-fold relation with ‘the people’, with the latter being both its audience and the subject it tries to ‘render present’. The populists construct the people as a homogeneous entity, that is, without significant internal divisions. This point is a natural consequence of anti-elitism and otherness more broadly; conceiving the people as homogeneous is a result of the antagonistic character of the perceived relationship between the people and ‘the others’ (Panizza 2005: 3). At the same time, populism is used and intended to create unity out of a plurality and heterogeneity of identities and demands, a process captured through Laclau’s (2005) notion of equivalences, whereby one struggle turns into the equivalent of many others. In populism there is also a parallel process of antagonism in which ‘the people’ is involved, according to which society is divided into the others, the elites or the establishment and the underdogs, the ordinary citizens who are done injustice in one way or another. Populists engage in parallel processes of otherisation, a central part of both constructing and claiming to represent ‘the people’. Populists criticise the elites, including the establishment, but they define them loosely and not only as the government or the political class. There is in fact no general populist theory about what constitutes the elite; the elite (and its ‘associates’) are defined as such as long as they are an adversary of the people and have opposite interests to it (e.g. Rooduijn 2014: 7; Betz and Johnson 2004: 313). Anti-elitism and the exclusion of out-groups can thus be seen as ‘functional equivalents that make explicit the standard to which the people are contrasted and that contribute to strengthening identification with the in-group’ (Reinemann et al. 2017: 21). In so far as both elites are opposed and minorities or other ‘petty enemies’ are denigrated, the otherisation processes inherent in some populist rhetoric can be both ‘upward’ and ‘downward’ (see Kazin 1995). The others can thus be ‘up there’, an establishment detached and ignorant of the people, or they can be of ‘a lesser kind’, collaborators or beneficiaries of the elites, a ‘burden’ on society. The latter type of otherisation is

12 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

a characteristic feature of ultranationalist forces which cast ‘the ethnic other’ as an enemy of the people and immigrants as ‘parasitical’ (see Jagers and Walgrave 2007). These two characteristics – a combination of people-centrism and otherness – constitute the core of the morphology of populism as a discursive practice; they are the concept’s primordial properties. Without these two operational criteria satisfied, one cannot claim to detect populism; if, for example only the first characteristic is present then the appropriate term to describe such discourse would be ‘peoplecentrism’. Otherness, defining, that is, those that are not part of the people and that are actually opposed to the people, informs us about the type of populism in question. Left-wing and right-wing populism for example differ in terms of which groups and under what criteria are considered as others. There is a difference between exclusionary and inclusionary populisms (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012) and there are also different conceptions of what the people and what the elite are and these may be traditional and reactionary and they may be modern and progressive (Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014). Yet, as scholarly investigations have advanced significantly, another characteristic of populism has emerged. In order to project a convincing vision of terminal decadence, populism proclaims a state of serious crisis in terms of a range of issues (Rooduijn, 2014; Taggart 2000). Crises can be constructed to be social, political, economic or national and can last in time or be more temporary constructs of populist discourse (see Moffitt 2015). And, as has been pointedly observed, populist discourse is often unrelated to actual existing experiences of crisis (Kaltwasser 2012: 188). Moffitt (2015: 195) has argued that given the ontological tensions that arise out of the study of the populist phenomenon, ‘it is productive to move away from ostensibly “objective” notions of external crisis, and instead towards a view of crisis as a phenomenon that can only be experienced through performance and mediation, whereby a systemic failure is elevated to the level of perceived “crisis”’. From this angle, references to a state of crisis are another rhetorical component of the populist style, along with people-centrism and anti-elitism. As metaphorical framing devices, crises involve a sense of shared trauma or common threat that performs the role of bringing together its victims through inciting a sense of vulnerability among ‘the people’ (Moffitt 2016: 123; see also Brassett and Clarke 2012). As Stavrakakis et al. (2017: 15) summarise the point, there is a long tradition which has differentiated between systemic failure and narratives of crisis, the latter of course being also a feature of not only classical populist actors but also the mainstream; for example, the New Right’s ‘winter of discontent’ in the UK through ‘a particular narration of state and economic failure, which prioritised neoliberal solutions’ (Stavrakakis et al. 2017: 15; for the Thatcherite narration of crisis, see Hay 1995). References to crisis are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for populist rhetoric but they do occupy a place in the periphery of the concept, as a frequent accompaniment to people-centrism and otherisation combined. The common presence of references to crisis among actors utilising populist rhetoric makes sense in so far as intense antagonisms, dividing lines in society, anti-establishment stances

Introducing the topic and the concepts 13

and calls of upturning the status quo can be more constructively legitimated through a sense of urgency, itself construed in economic, political, social or national terms depending on the context. In this vein, constructing a crisis can give populist discourse a valuable impetus within society and electorally (see Taggart 2004), as it triggers multiple social sensitivities such as aversion to instability and threat, the conviction that the wrongdoers must pay given the severity of the damage done to the people, and the sense of an emergency signalling the immediate need for a fundamental change of course. The utilisation of populist frames as key nodal points in rhetoric, are often articulated through a demagogic style, which may incorporate to a lesser or a larger degree a theoretical exploration about each of its own rhetorical components. Many treat demagoguery as another peripheral property of populism as a concept. This often includes the vulgarisation of theoretical and philosophical premises and imperatives, and crude or non-refined language that consciously aims to be understood as the language of the ‘man in the street’. Demagoguery and all that is associated with it – flattering of the audience, projecting the blame away, avoiding any sort of reflectivity and self criticism – is a central dimension of the populist discourse. Sloganeering and repetition of apparently obvious policy positions based on simple schemata again stands in the place of comprehensive, clear and articulated political standpoints and policy suggestions. This inherent feature of populism as rhetoric constitutes both its strength and its weakness, allowing it the luxury of inconsistency but at the same time inviting the accusation of superficiality and lack of sophistication. Certainly, simplification and crude language are not ideologically empty mobilising strategies although they may appear to the actor utilising them as necessary by the situation itself. Pauline Johnson (2017: 74), for example, argued that embedded in populism’s ‘demagogic reformatting of democratic justification’ are ‘key presumptions about the character of democratic justification that collude with a neoliberal political project’. Demagoguery replaces the intent to build a rational consensus about matters of social justice, often identifying ‘solutions that are easy to understand but impossible to apply’, minimising the democratic expectations invested in political institutions and sidestepping the normative investment of the public use of reason by speaking to the ‘certainties of the majority’ (Todorov 2014: 92, 144, 244, as cited in Johnson 2017: 83). This involves an element of political deception, as Seferiades (Chapter 11, this volume) notes because populism in a way promises that which it cannot or does not want to deliver – the overthrow of the existing order. By substituting radical action for radical rhetoric populism can promise social change at no cost, a revolution that sounds easy to achieve. We argue that populism constructs the understanding of social reality by rhetorically simplifying it, but it may incorporate to a lesser or a larger degree a theoretical exploration about each of its own rhetorical components and more broadly the extensive use of public reason. This may prove useful in distinguishing between demagoguery on the far left and on the far right, a point currently not taken up by existing literature. Whereas for example Mudde (2004: 546), in dealing mostly

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with far right populism in Europe argues that the people is a ‘mythical’ and fabricated section of society, an ‘imagined community’, thus rendering invalid the populist appeal to the popular will, Laclau (2006) spent several pages analysing the significance and most appropriate strategy of ‘constructing the people’ as a key political act for socialists and other progressives. Therefore, it is not a given that populism has no theory in the sense of a detailed argumentation about its own core components – people-centrism (who are the people, how can they constitute a group for and in itself?), anti-elitism (who are the elites, how do they think and act etc.?) and crisis (lacking an economic, political or social theory of crisis). The issue of whether and how the articulators of populism derive their schemas from a theoretical exploration within and even outside the philosophical inquiries of their own ideological traditions remains pending. In the search for theoretical legitimacy of populism as rhetoric, it is an answer to these above questions that would allow us to qualify further the oftpejorative use of the term, as well as to differentiate between distinct processes and strategic considerations in producing simplistic language and engaging in demagoguery. Beyond this broad framework for empirical analysis and discussion we do not adopt strict methodological guidelines to be imposed on the authors of the chapters. There is now a very highly developed discussion on how to capture populist phenomena and in which ways one is best placed to measure populism as discourse (or ideas) spatially or temporally (Aslanidis 2017, esp. Table 1: 1446–1447), or to identify the voters most likely to be attracted by populism, that is to examine the demand side for populism (Rooduijn 2018; Akkerman, Mudde and Zaslove 2014; Ivarsflaten 2008). The issue of measurement has become fundamental recently to the extent that most authors agree that populism has gradations, degrees or levels that differentiate one case or epoch from another. In this volume, the adopted position is that content analysis and discourse analysis cannot be reduced to quantification and should not be restricted to quantitative research methods and investigations. Assessing the extent of populist rhetoric employed by agents can be measured in quantitative terms (with the lack of contextual detail that this usually entails) but also evaluated in qualitative terms, especially from a macro-historical perspective as the one adopted in the book. Populist rhetoric will be presented and explained in terms of the context of its appearance, its form and its impact on the political life in different European settings.

Left-wing populism, democracy and socialist strategy As Benjamin Arditi (2007: 54) has pointedly remarked, there tends to be a lot of ‘verbal smoke’ around populism. Not only is it a contested concept but also its impact on social and political life is highly debated. This is what Pappas (2016) calls ‘normative indeterminacy’, that is, a set of fundamental normative disagreements about the significance of populism for the collective good. The volume considers two particular aspects of left-wing populism: its relationship with democracy and its

Introducing the topic and the concepts 15

potential impact on socialist strategy. Both of these aspects are crucial areas of discussion if one is to approach populism as a disputed concept and phenomenon. Through foregrounding the analysis in questions of democracy and socialist strategy, one can confront head on the considerable degree of contestation over populism, first, in relation to the collective or common good and, second, as concerns the past, present and future of the left itself. Among liberals, populism is seen as a pathology or symptom of (essentially liberal) democracy, a ‘challenge from within’ but also one of the chief agents undermining it.8 In expressing the current that was to follow her writings in the 2000s, as well as the early mid-1990s projects on populism in western academia, Urbinati (1998) approached populism as parasitical to democracy. She wrote that ‘Both the character and the practice of populism underline, and more or less consciously derive from, a vision of democracy that can become deeply inimical to political liberty insofar as it defers the political dialectics among citizens and groups, revokes the mediation of political institutions, and maintains an organic notion of the body politic that is allergic to minorities and rights’ (Urbinati 1998: 146). The literature has sometimes reached the point of associating both the far left and far right as the two poles of a problem – anti-system or illiberal behaviour – with common roots (Pappas 2016; Pappas 2014; Kriesi and Pappas 2015; Mudde 2004; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012). The argument that the radical left and far right are similar in terms of the degree of their nationalism, populism and Euroscepticism has gained ground in some parts of the empirical literature focusing on Europe (Rooduijn and Akkerman 2017; Vasilopoulou, Halikiopoulou and Exadaktylos 2014; De Vries and Edwards 2012; De Lange 2005). In parallel, the debate on populism in Latin America has revolved around the identification of populism as a problem (Weyland 2013), not least because it was allegedly used as a tool for the establishment of ‘competitive authoritarian’ regimes (Levitsky and Roberts 2011; Levitsky and Loxton 2013; Madrid 2008). Populism research is a highly ideological terrain and in this regard the concept of populism, among other uses, has been employed pejoratively to oppose the left. In summing up the debate, Arditi (2005) claims that populism represents an ‘internal periphery’ of democratic politics that is for the most part avoided by the adherents to liberalism and constitutionalism, legal detail and institutionalised minority rights. Instead they put forward, according to Arditi, a vision of a large republic marked by representation in the legislature, the separation of powers, and a complex and diverse economy, with the aim of preserving the rights of individuals and minorities without at the same time derogating from majoritarian principles (see Plattner 2010). Effectively, populism is not anti-democratic, it just represents a non-liberal version of, or approach to, democracy – what Pappas (2014) among others calls ‘democratic illiberalism’, effectively packing together ideologically opposite phenomena. Behind such scholarly axioms, however, lies a structural explanation. Socio-scientific discourse is predominantly anti-populist owing to the hegemonic role inside the social sciences of liberal approaches to the study of populism, historically rooted

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in the conjuncture of the 1950s when intellectuals were re-evaluating the phenomenon of 19th century American populism. This investigation was closely intertwined with political projects like modernisation and austerity, constituting the revisionist turn in American debates on the nature and intentions of the 1890s populists (Stavrakakis 2017). Today as well, both modernisation and austerity have been identified as the underlying motives of exposing and deconstructing populism, hence frequently used in media and political discourse across the mainstream (see Katsambekis 2016:1; see also Taguieff 1995). Hostility to populism is explained quintessentially by the mainstream status of minimal and formalised conceptions of democracy (e.g. Schmitter and Karl 1991), grounded in the Schumpeterian tradition that emphasises the institutionally mediated process whereby the people select their representatives who are to rule on their behalf; opposition is institutionalised; and there is periodic change of government (Stavrakakis 2017: 8). This approach, revised most notably by Martin Seymour Lipset (1960), expresses a narrow if not elitist view on the notion of democracy, restricting it to one of either method or procedure and more specifically competition for leadership (see McCormick 2011: Introduction; Mackie 2009; Walker 1966). At the same time, as every thesis has a counter-thesis, throughout this same time span between the 1990s and today attention has also been turned to populism as the way forward by a section of the left (Errejon and Mouffe 2016; Laclau 2006; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Gerbaudo 2017; Kioupkiolis 2016; Thomassen 2016; Prentoulis and Thomassen 2014), or at least as a potential corrective to democracy depending on the context and its nuances (Kaltwasser 2012; Canovan 1999). When considering the continual appeal to the people, the claim to empower the ‘common man’ and the documented capacity to motivate largely unpolitical individuals to participate, then as Panizza (2005: 74) remarked, populism can read ‘like a wish list for a socialist and radical-democratic agenda’. From a critical liberal perspective, Kaltwasser (2012), for example, argued that populism beyond its damage to some democratic principles can also be conceived of as a kind of democratic corrective, merely by giving voice to groups that do not feel represented by the elites and forcing them to react to the political agenda. While still having an ambivalent relationship with democracy, since populism harms public contestation by undermining its formality, it nevertheless promotes more inclusiveness in the political process rendering active in public deliberation many more social subjects than formalistic representative structures (Kaltwasser 2012). In another study, Kaltwasser (2014) investigated the legitimacy of the questions raised by populist forces and posed that current manifestations of populism are offering specific and legitimate responses to two dilemmas, as identified by Robert Dahl (1989), that do not have a clear democratic solution: the ‘boundary problem’ (how to define the people?) and the limits of self-government (how to control the controllers?). Moreover, the inclusionary populism of the left has differences in terms of its implications for democracy from the exclusionary populism of the far right. These sorts of arguments can be traced back to Margaret Canovan’s seminal

Introducing the topic and the concepts 17

contribution, which embraced a critical but reserved and careful attitude, arguing that populism emerges in the ever-present gap between the pragmatic and the redemptive faces of democracy (Canovan 1999). In his initial neo-Gramscian approach, which perhaps stands out as the most elaborate exposition of populism as discourse that can generate progressive change, Laclau (1977) conceived populism as a dimension of the popular-democratic imaginary and argued that its class-nature varies in accordance with contending discursive articulations of the concept. He later refined this perspective into identifying a number of potentialities that allowed populism to be conceived as a radical alternative equivalent to politics (Laclau 2005) and as the construction of ‘the people’ as a political force (Laclau 2006). In its Laclauian version, populism is therefore an anti-status-quo discourse and constitutes a prominent part of a struggle over hegemony and political power. Populism represents a particular type of discursive counter-hegemony that challenges existing forms of subordination and oppression and in doing so links an often heterogeneous set of objectives and manages to define and thus drive a struggle against the holders and abusers of power. Supported by the work of Chantal Mouffe, this line of argumentation outlines a new theoretical framework for the analysis of contemporary democracy, which criticises the economic determinism present in most orthodox interpretations of Marx but remains consistent with a generally left-wing adaptation of populism and radical politics more broadly (Laclau and Mouffe 1985). This is expected to reinvigorate the radical left in its counter-hegemonic struggle and at the same revitalise the democratic political process. Laclau and Mouffe emphasise the radicalism and potential momentum of ‘new’ collectivities that transcend strict class-based understandings of society. As Kaltwasser (2014) explains, these formations are new, ‘precisely because they call into question some forms of oppression that usually are not seen as such either by the ruling or by the working classes’. Examples range from the ecological and feminist discourses to those of precarious workers and sexual or ethnic minorities, necessitating for Laclau and Mouffe (1985) the articulation between different democratic struggles as an important step towards the establishment of a collective counter-hegemony. Such ‘empty signifiers’ (Laclau and Mouffe 1985; Laclau 2005) are central to constructing a new ‘people’s will’, defined by Gramsci as a common reference point through which those subordinated (in various ways) can be constituted as a political subject. Laclau and Mouffe incorporated Gramsci’s ideas of hegemony and war of position, but instead of upholding the notion of the political primacy of the working class to which Gramsci adhered, they argued that the left must build a ‘historical bloc’ (in Gramsci’s terms) out of diverse classes and diverse struggles that are not reducible to class conflict. From this very perspective, popular sovereignty is the key element of democracy not only in terms of its theoretical grounding but also in practical terms of its functioning and development. According to Müller’s (2011: 128) observations, Western European liberal democracies are ‘democracies with a distrust of popular

18 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

sovereignty’, a trend already observed in the last decades of the 20th century but rising in intensity more recently in parallel with the growing influence and independence of technocratic managerialism at the level of the elites, often transnational, and disaffection from the established political parties at the level of the masses. Democracy, and the need to revitalise it has thus become a focal point for today’s new left both at the programmatic and the communicational levels;9 and the notions of democratic, representational, political, social and economic crisis have been an integral part of discussions, as has been the case in other previous decades. This book nuances the relationship between populism as rhetoric on the one hand and democracy and socialist strategy on the other hand. First, populism is a rhetorical style that can have either a positive or a negative impact on democracy depending on how one conceptualises democracy, that is, which one(s) of the several principles underlying most beyond-minimum definitions are prioritised – representation, participation, deliberation, competition, sovereignty, majoritarianism, minority rights or decentralisation. This is indeed a point made by Canovan (1999), who subsequently framed democracy in terms of its redemptive and pragmatic faces, following Oakeshott’s distinction between ‘the politics of faith’ and ‘the politics of scepticism’. As is widely acknowledged, support for democracy as government by the people necessarily raises three issues: the nature of government, the composition and nature of the people and the nature and form of the relationship between government and the people (Jessop 1980: 55). Within the context of competing approaches to these issues and thus ‘competing democratic principles’ rendering democracy political indeterminate, Kaltwasser’s (2014) aforementioned dilemmas of democracy, as well as several others (such as how should the people govern?) are resolved essentially by how much significance or acceptance each democratic principle entails for those responding to the dilemmas. Different visions of democracy are not by definition more or less democratic but rather alternative responses to the fundamental questions of democratic theory. Second, populism can have either a positive or a negative impact on socialist strategy depending on what one expects from and how one envisions the latter. Traditionally, structuralist approaches have been opposed to the idea that populism could be meaningfully combined with socialism, since Marxism-Leninism required deep revolutionary transformation as opposed to the economic reforms pursued by the classical populists in Latin America, who retained capitalism while engaging in industrialisation policies driven by import substitution. At the same time, as Laclau (1977) suggested more than forty years ago, in a large number of historical instances in left-wing politics, including during socialist revolutionary experiences, a populist discursive strategy was used, through an antagonistic language and an appeal to the oppressed (and common) people at large. As he wrote: From the socialist point of view, the periods of greatest revolutionary confrontation are not those when class ideology presents itself in its maximum purity but when socialist ideology has fused completely with popular and democratic ideology, when proletarian ideology has succeeded in absorbing all

Introducing the topic and the concepts 19

national traditions and in presenting the anti-capitalist struggle as the culmination of democratic struggles and socialism as the common denominator in a total offensive against the dominant bloc (Laclau 1977: 117). A first issue is whether populism is compatible with Marxism or even a revolutionary spirit in theory and in historical praxis? To pose the larger question, does post-structuralism entail a softer and thus less subversive socialist strategy? Leaving the empirical answer aside, as elaborated by Seferiades in the penultimate chapter of this volume and by the editors in the conclusions, the theoretical gist here is the intersection between a populist and a socialist politics and the ideological and tactical implications that arise when a party or movement adopts left-wing populism. More specifically, if and how a shift of rhetorical and strategic centrality away from class and towards ‘common people’ or the more indeterminate ‘popular will’ inevitably dilutes radicalism and the disruptive force of mobilisation and resistance on the socialist space? The final two chapters return to these points, providing empirical insights from the case-study chapters that precede them.

Book outline: the contributions to the volume The intention of this edited volume is to study empirically the relationship between left radicalism and populism, across time in Europe, across social movements and parties, and through considering wider debates on populism and democratic politics, economic (and political) crises, and the strategic options for the left today. Each of the contributors studies the empirical relationship between left radicalism and populism through the theoretical notions of democracy and left strategy. More importantly this volume attempts to examine important currents and political strands in several European regions and specific countries asking the question as to whether, to what extent and in what ways has left radicalism met populism, and what can that tell us about both populism and the radical left. Part ONE focuses on historical trends, Part TWO on political parties and Part THREE on social movements, trade unions and socialist strategy. Chapter 2 focuses on Russia at the turn of the 20th century and the relationship between the Narodniks, the first instance of what may be defined as a left-wing populist phenomenon in Europe, and the Marxist socialists. Richard Mullin outlines the historical development of Russian Narodism and how that movement’s coexistence with Russian Social Democracy (both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks) evolved into interaction in the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. This was an uneasy relationship as the Russian Marxists viewed the Narodnik worldview as simplistic and ignorant about how capitalism divided the people on a class basis and expected that Narodism would split on class lines, its more proletarian wing merging with its own forces, whilst its base among the intelligentsia emerged as revolutionary bourgeois democrats. However, Narodism retained its coherence as a movement right up to the revolution of 1917, notwithstanding its shaky conception of Russia’s capitalist development and its transition to socialism. It was able to

20 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

maintain authority by posing as the representative of the entire peasantry rather than just its poorest part, and by celebrating the heroism of a revolutionary intelligentsia prepared to sacrifice their lives and freedom in a terrorist struggle with the tsarist state. Eventually though, Narodism did split at the moment of the Bolshevik Revolution as the slogan and policy of land distribution to the village communes was adopted by the Soviet government. Although this may be seen as the first flirtation of Lenin(ist) Marxism with populism, Mullin concludes that this convergence was a matter of conjuncture and strictly a question of revolutionary tactics and did not amount to an ideological or strategic blend of the two strands. In Chapter 3, Fabien Escalona focuses on France in the interwar period and examines the rhetoric and the strategy of the Social Democrats in the face of the economic and political crises. The French Social Democrats were in a transitional period, moving from being a protest movement into an ‘institutionalised’ political force embedded in the core of the political class. Being torn between its role as a mobilising force of the disadvantaged popular strata against the elites and its participation in the government of a capitalist state competing with other capitalist states in the international stage, French Social Democracy had to develop its rhetoric and politics accordingly. Although some populist elements can be identified in the rhetoric of the Socialist Party these cannot be said to constitute a comprehensive shift in worldview. People centrism was highly topical both for Socialists and Communists in the years before the Second World War as this was the time of ‘Popular Fronts’ and the notion of the ‘people’ was heavily debated and also spurred on by the emergence of the ‘neo-socialists’. Escalona sets the French case in comparative perspective examining other major European countries, such as Germany where the strength of populist rhetoric had been monopolised by the anti-democratic right and the United Kingdom where the Labour’s party attempt to extend its appeal was not conducted with populist means. In Sweden by contrast the Socialists were able to appropriate the concept and metaphor of the people’s home from a conservative to a social democratic signifier. The author concludes that the different outcomes can be understood only by a historical reconstitution taking account the characteristics of the political regime and the party system, as well as the structure and culture of the parties covered. Chapter 4 examines the post Second World War period and focuses on Eurocommunism as an instance of linkage between socialism and western liberal democracy. Ioannis Balampanidis discusses the transformation of West European communist parties after 1968 and their attempt to maintain radical social dynamics while abolishing the ‘Revolutionary’ paradigm in the drive towards the conquest of democratically legitimated ‘governance’. The concept of the people as historically forged in the anti-fascist resistance matrix has been for the post-war European left the idealised people of workers who suffer from capitalist exploitation. At the same time the Marxian analytic framework largely maintained by the Eurocommunists placed restrictions in a fully fledged unambiguous articulation of the ‘people’ without serious internal contradictions. However, in the search of broader social alliances and in the effort to expand, the communist political identity

Introducing the topic and the concepts 21

sustained the temptation of the populist style and its ‘magical’ features (a rejection of political complexity, a redemptive message, and an expectation for simpler and more direct forms of governance). If the interwar Popular Front legacy and the shift from class to national politics is taken into account, the Eurocommunist project of expressing a pluralist social subject through a catch-all political discourse was one step further in the same direction. However, Balampanidis explains that although the temptation was strong and ever present in the French and Italian Eurocommunist parties, ‘populism’ as defined in this volume never became a dominant element of Eurocommunist parties. It was not only their surviving Marxism that precluded the adoption of populism by the Eurocommunists; it was also their adoption of liberal principles and their pragmatic gradualist plan of state conquest both of which were incompatible with the vertical polarisations and the here and now of populist politics. Chapter 5 opens Part TWO which is dedicated to contemporary political parties and examines the very recent radical left phenomenon of Jeremy Corbyn and his conquest of the British Labour Party compared with the Berny Sanders’ unexpected appearance and campaign which brought him close to becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate in the 2016 USA presidential elections. Owen Worth analyses the Corbyn-Sanders phenomenon through a Gramscian lens of the effort made to construct the national-popular and in doing so to contest the neoliberal hegemony. The populist elements in the radical left political discourse of Corbyn and Sanders need to be seen not as empty signifiers of a post structuralist form, argues Worth, but as tools of anti-hegemonic contestation. Through their keeping an open ear and eye to the contemporary social movements and utilising the experience of previous struggles, Corbyn and Sanders were able to challenge the ‘neoliberal common sense’. Although there is a fair amount of populism at the level of rhetoric in both cases, what stands out more is their bringing back of ideology and class into the political scene rather than diluting class ideological cleavages and simplifying politics. There are, of course, limitations in both attempts to construct a fully fledged counter hegemonic vision of the ‘national-popular’ will and in Sanders’ case there was also a heightened middle class element and a question of what now after the failure to be nominated. However, they have both managed to move the radical left political discourse from the margins to the centre stage of UK and US politics and, as such, have raised new questions for the socialist strategy in the 21st century. In Chapter 6, Paolo Chiocchetti focuses on the rhetoric of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the last two presidential campaigns in France in 2012 and 2017 and discusses his discursive appeal to the people. He argues that the populist elements identified in the French radical left candidate’s communication can be explained through a number of similarities in the discursive structure between populism and left-wing radicalism. Although it can be said that a ‘populist turn’ is under way in the French radical left, this does not consist a rupture with radical left tradition. Chiocchetti suggests that Mélenchon’s ‘embrace of populism’ is an electoral strategy aiming on the one hand to expand the audience of his ‘distinctive social republic synthesis’

22 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

and also to differentiate himself from the Socialist Party. Although the notions of crisis and anti-establishment pervade Mélenchon’s rhetoric and are typical elements of populism, it is important to stress that he does not ascribe to an undifferentiated concept of the people and that concepts such as ‘workers’ and ‘humanity’ also remain central. People-centrism is in any case elastic and contextual rather than a defined and comprehensive worldview and an element of indeterminacy in identification remains dominant. Chiocchetti concludes that the results of this specific ‘left-wing populism’ were positive in terms of electoral mobilisation and emancipation of the radical left from the Socialist Party but programmatically ambivalent and organisationally problematic as internal democracy has suffered a loss. Chapter 7 focuses on the rise of SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in Greece and Podemos (We Can) in Spain as instances of a radical left and populism blend closely aligned with anti-austerity social movements. Giorgos Katsambekis and Alexandros Kioupkiolis focus on the discursive strategies and the ideologico-political development of the two parties comparing and contrasting these two cases of inclusionary and egalitarian ‘left-wing populism’ with the archetypes of left-wing populism in Latin America. Beyond the discussion about the extent to which SYRIZA and Podemos contain the classic elements of populism such as people-centrism, crisis and anti-establishment along with the key role of the leader, Katsambekis and Kioupkiolis examine also their championing of technological innovation and its utilisation for organisational purposes. The chapter offers in this endeavour empirical insights on the shift from protest to the mainstream, and on the theoretical plane illustrates the flexibility and merits of a Laclau-inspired discursive method. In Chapter 8 Vassilis Petsinis turns the lens on contemporary eastern Europe and asks the question how do right-wing populism and right-wing radicalism in Central and Eastern Europe intercede with the absence of radical left parties and movements? Focusing on Hungary and Estonia, where the interplay of identity and memory politics, neoliberal economics and the feebleness of the left allows a populist right wing to appeal successfully to the people, the chapter traces and analyses the importation of left-wing discourses by far right political forces and its implications for the social and electoral development of the far right. This, argues Petsinis, constitutes a sort of hijacking of the left with artificially anti-capitalist and pro-welfare rhetorical references especially in the Hungarian case. In Chapter 9, which opens Part THREE of this volume and moves beyond parties to consider social groups, David Bailey focuses on the anti-austerity mobilisations and movements in the UK examining the protest acts and the discourse that escorted them. In the rhetoric of the anti-austerity movements there are some clear parallels with populism both as an ideational and as a discursive phenomenon. Yet the author argues that it is uncommon to cast social movements, generally seen as a progressive force, with populism which has negative connotations. From a critical realist perspective, Bailey suggests that it might be better to approach ‘leftwing populism’ in the discursive sense with respect to its ability to grasp something which is present in social reality, and as such to view it not only on the normative plane as ‘progressive politics’ but also as a concept depicting actual frames of mind.

Introducing the topic and the concepts 23

Chapter 10 examines trade unionism in Western Europe from its appearance until today focusing on the evolution of trade unions from the golden era into the contemporary austerity times. We particularly discuss the role and function, the politics and the rhetoric of left-wing trade unions in various West European countries in the changing historical contexts of the 20th century. The main question set by this chapter is how trade unions communicated with their society in general and their social base in particular. How the notions of ‘labour’ and the ‘people’ interacted in trade union discourses especially in the recent decades when trade unions are considerably weaker. We conclude that although populist traits can be found in trade union rhetoric, trade unions as such, both traditionally and today, cannot be considered to be agents of populism. Rather, they are labour and sectional organisations, which in the appropriate socio-economic context, broaden their language through, among other things, people-centrism, in order to encapsulate the increasing social and political diversity of the interests they represent – in turn something which comes along with the impoverishment of the middle classes – and enlarge or counter-act on the decline of their members and influence. The significantly larger Chapter 11 by Seraphim Seferiades is a key text in the study of left-wing populism. It is a primarily theoretical chapter which discusses both historical and contemporary developments analysing in both the positive and the normative sense populism from the perspective of socialist strategy. Seferiades deconstructs the mainstream approaches to populism and exposes several definitional issues that derive from them. He criticises what he calls the two conceptions of left-wing populism viewing it as a threat for democracy and as a tool of the left respectively, and argues instead for approaching populism as a deceptive invocation of the popular. This perspective, both positive and normative at once, is a political stance critical of populism that opens up the discussion of the Left’s way forward. In this way a conceptual framework is constructed within which left radicalism, populism and the borders between the two can be understood. Chapter 12 is the conclusion of the volume drawing several key points from all the previous chapters and discussing their implications, both scientific and political. It does so by addressing in turn and in the light of the various contributions, the research questions articulated in the introductory chapter.

Notes 1 For example, see Bartolini (2000); Sassoon (1998); Eley (2002); Waller and Fennema (1988); Bull (1995); Bull and Heywood (1994); Bell (1993); Tannahill (1978); Blackmer and Tarrow (1975); Tarrow (1967); Almond (1954). A notable exception is Plotke’s (1980) critique focusing on early American populism, which concluded that although populism addresses the issue of broad social alliances, it didn’t have the means of understanding the dynamics of such alliances (see also Boggs 1982). Another exception, which was at the time extensively critiqued, represented a part of the cultural left’s response to the rise of the New Right, most prominently embodied in Thatcherism. Stuart Hall (1982; see also Hall 1980) for example, among other texts, attributed Thatcherism’s success to the initiatives of the New Right in constructing a new hegemonic project and

24 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou


3 4 5

6 7 8


mobilising popular support and called for the adoption of a left-wing ‘national popular’ approach to ideological and political struggle. For a critique, see Jessop et al. (1984). For general discussions of leftist and Marxist thought see McLellan (1998); Przeworski (1980); Anderson (1976). Gramsci’s ‘national–popular collective will’ and ‘counter-hegemony’ have explored the boundaries of what today is presented as populism and recently scholars of populism have drawn extensively on Gramscian thought. Since the 1970s, cultural theorists and other post-Gramscian approaches have been the only segments of the left calling for a ‘populist revival’. See March (2017); March (2010); March (2007); March and Mudde (2005); Mudde (2004); Keith (2010); Hough and Koß (2009); Albertazzi and McDonnell (2008); Deiwiks (2009); Zaslove (2008); Taggart (2000); Decker and Hartleb (2007). See Mudde (2007); Mudde (2004); Rydgren (2004); Taggart (2000); Müller-Rommel (1998); Betz (2002; 1994). See Pappas (2014); Pappas and Aslanidis (2015); Aslanidis (2016); March (2017); Otjes and Louwerse (2015); Rooduijn and Akkerman (2017); Kioupkiolis (2016); Stavrakakis and Katsambekis (2014); Katsmbekis (2017); Rooduijn et al. (2014); Pauwels (2011); Gerbaudo (2017); Ramiro and Gomez (2017). See Moschonas (2002: 255–256); Lavelle (2008); see also several chapters in Bailey et al. (2014). For an analysis of social democracy as the ‘new mainstream’, see Berman (2006:7). Among others, see Abts and Rummens (2007); Pappas (2016); Pappas (2014); Canovan (2005); Mudde (2004); Mudde (2007); Albertazzi and McDonnell (2008); Plattner (2010); Weyland (2013); Stanley (2008); Taggart (2004); Taggart (2000); Wodak (2015); Urbinati (2014); Urbinati (1998); Saffon and Urbinati (2013). Among political parties, this has been expressed most elaborately by Podemos, Spain’s recently established radical left party. The party’s leader, Pablo Inglesias, for instance, has attempted to strengthen theoretically the claim for democratic erosion, developing the concept of political caste with respect to the existing party elites and conceptualising corruption as central and structural rather than a peripheral and epiphenomenal element of actually existing Spanish liberal democracy.

References Abts, K. and Rummens, S. (2007) ‘Populism versus democracy’, Political Studies, 55(2): 405–424. Akkerman, A., Mudde, C. and Zaslove, A. (2014) ‘How populist are the people? Measuring populist attitudes in voters’, Comparative Political Studies, 47(9): 1324–1353. Albertazzi, D. and McDonnell, D. (2008) ‘Introduction: The sceptre and the spectre’. In: D. Albertazzi and D. McDonnell (eds.), Twenty-First Century Populism: The Spectre of Western European Democracy. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), pp.1–14. Almond, G. (1954) The Appeals of Communism. (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Anderson, P. (1976) Considerations on Western Marxism. (London: Verso). Arditi, B. (2005) ‘Populism as an internal periphery of democratic politics’, in F. Panizza (ed.), Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. (London: Verso), pp. 72–98. Arditi, B. (2007) Politics on the Edges of Liberalism: Difference, Populism, Revolution, Agitation. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). Aslanidis, P. (2015) ‘Is populism an ideology? A refutation and a new perspective’, Political Studies, Online First. DOI: doi:10.1111/1467–9248.12224. Aslanidis, P. (2016) ‘Populist social movements of the Great Recession’, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 21(3): 301–321. Aslanidis, P. (2017) ‘Measuring populist discourse with semantic text analysis: an application on grassroots populist mobilization’, Quality & Quantity, Online First: 1–23

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McLellan, D. (1998) Marxism after Marx: An Introduction. 3rd Edition. (London: Palgrave Mcmillan). Meiksins-Wood, E. (1983) ‘Marxism without class struggle’, Socialist Register, 20: 239–271. Meiksins-Wood, E. (1995) ‘A chronology of the new left and its successors, or: Who’s oldfashioned now?’ Socialist Register, 31: 22–49. Miliband, R. (1978) ‘Constitutionalism and revolution: Notes on Eurocommunism’, Socialist Register, 15: 158–171. Moffitt, B. (2015) ‘How to perform crisis: A model for understanding the key role of crisis in contemporary populism’, Government and Opposition, 50(2): 189–217. Moffitt, B. (2016) The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation. (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Moffitt, B. and Tormey, S. (2014) ‘Rethinking populism: politics, mediatisation and political style’, Political Studies, 62(2): 381–397. Moschonas, G. (2002), In the Name of Social Democracy. The Great Transformation: 1945 to the Present. (London: Verso). Mudde, C. (2004) ‘The populist zeitgeist’, Government and Opposition, 39(4): 541–563. Mudde, C. (2007) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Mudde, C. (2010) ‘The populist radical right: A pathological normalcy’, West European Politics, 33(6): 1167–1186. Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (eds.) (2012) Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective for Democracy? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2013) ‘Exclusionary vs. inclusionary populism: Comparing contemporary Europe and Latin America’, Government and Opposition, 48(2): 147–174. Müller, J. W. (2011) Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press). Müller-Rommel, F. (1998) ‘The new challengers: Greens and right-wing populist parties in Western Europe’, European Review, 6(2): 191–202. Olsen, J., Koß, M. and Hough, D. (eds.) (2010) Left Parties in National Governments. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). Otjes, S. and Louwerse, T. (2015) ‘Populists in parliament: Comparing left-wing and rightwing populism in the Netherlands’, Political Studies, 63(1): 60–79. Panizza, F. (2005) ‘Introduction: populism and the mirror of democracy’, in F. Panizza (ed.), Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. (London: Verso), pp. 1–31. Pappas, T. (2014) Populism and Crisis Politics in Greece. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). Pappas, T. (2016) ‘Modern populism: Research advances, conceptual and methodological pitfalls, and the minimal definition’. (Politics: Oxford Research Encyclopedias), http://p olitics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/a crefore-9780190228637-e-17. Pappas, T. and Aslanidis, P. (2015) ‘Greek populism: A political drama in five acts’, in H. Kriesi and T. S. Pappas (eds.), European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession. (Colchester: ECPR Press), pp. 181–196. Pauwels, T. (2011) ‘Measuring populism: A quantitative text analysis of party literature in Belgium’, Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 21(1): 97–119. Plattner, M.F. (2010) ‘Populism, pluralism and liberal democracy’, Journal of Democracy, 21(1): 81–92. Plotke, D. (1980) ‘Eurocommunism and the American Left’, in C. Boggs, and D. Plotke (eds.), The Political of Eurocommunism: Socialism in Transition. (Canada: South End Press), pp. 393–430.

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Prentoulis, M. and Thomassen, L. (2014) ‘Autonomy and hegemony in the squares: The 2011 protests in Greece and Spain’, in A. Kioupkiolis and G. Katsambekis (eds), Radical Democracy and Collective Movements Today: The Biopolitics of the Multitude versus the Hegemony of the People. (Farnham: Ashgate), pp. 213–234. Przeworski, A. (1980) ‘Social democracy as a historical phenomenon’, New Left Review, Ι(122): 27–58. Ramiro, L. and Gomez, R. (2017) ‘Radical left populism during the Great Recession: Podemos and its competition with the established radical left’, Political Studies, 65(1): 108–126. Reinemann, C., Aalberg, T., Esser, F., Strömbäck, J. and de Vreese, C. H. (2017) ‘Populist political communication: Towards a model of its causes, forms, and effects’, in T. Aalberg, F. Esser, C. Reinemann, J. Stromback and C. H. De Vreese (eds), Populist Political Communication in Europe. (London and New York: Routledge), pp.12–28. Rooduijn, M. (2014) ‘The nucleus of populism: In search of the lowest common denominator’, Government and Opposition, 49(4): 573–599. Rooduijn, M. (2018). ‘What unites the voters bases of populist parties? Comparing the electorates of 15 populist parties’, European Political Science Review, 10(3): 351–368. Rooduijn, M. and Akkerman, T. (2017) ‘Flank attacks: Populism and left-right radicalism Western Europe’, Party Politics, 23(3): 193–204. Rooduijn, M., de Lange, S. L. and van der Brug, W. (2014) ‘A populist zeitgeist? Programmatic contagion by populist parties in Western Europe’, Party Politics, 20(4): 563–575. Rydgren, J. (2004) The Populist Challenge: Political Protest and Ethno-nationalist Mobilization in France. (New York: Berghahn Books). Sassoon, D. (1998) A Hundred Years of Socialism. (London: I. B. Tauris). Schmitter, P. and Karl, T. (1991) ‘What democracy is … and is not’, Journal of Democracy, II(3): 75–88. Stanley, B. (2008) ‘The thin ideology of populism’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 13(1): 95–110. Stavrakakis, Y. (2016) ‘Rethinking Greece: Yannis Stavrakakis on Greek politics and populism / anti-populism’, Greek News Agenda, http://www.greeknewsagenda.gr/index.php/ interviews/rethinking-greece/6080-rethinking-greece-yannis-stavrakakis-on-greek-poli tical-culture,-populism,-and-oligarchic-anti-populism. Stavrakakis, Y. (2017) ‘How did “populism” become a pejorative concept? And why is this important today? A genealogy of double hermeneutics’, POPULISMUS Working Papers No. 6, Thessaloniki. Stavrakakis, Y. and Jager, A. (2017) ‘Accomplishments and limitations of the “new” mainstream in contemporary populism studies’, European Journal of Social theory, DOI: doi:10.1177/1368431017723337. Stavrakakis, Y. and Katsambekis, G. (2014) ‘Left-wing populism in the European periphery: The case of SYRIZA’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 19(2): 119–142. Stavrakakis, Y., Katsambekis, G., Kioupkiolis, A., Nikisianis, N. and Siomos, T. (2017) ‘Populism, anti-populism and crisis’, Contemporary Political Theory, 17(1). DOI: doi:10.1177/1368431017723337. Saffon, M. P. and Urbinati, N. (2013) ‘Procedural democracy, the bulwark of equal liberty’, Political Theory, 41(3): 441–481. Taggart, P. (2000) Populism. (Birmingham: Open University Press). Taggart, P. (2004) ‘Populism and representative politics in contemporary Europe’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 9(3): 269–288. Taguieff, P.-A. (1995) ‘Political science confronts populism: From a conceptual mirage to a real problem’, Telos, 20(103): 20–43.

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Left radicalism and populism across history


Narodism, or Russian Populism, was a non-Marxist socialist doctrine, the principles of which were first outlined by Alexander Herzen (1812‒1870) during the early 1850s. Its ideas helped shape the outlook of the Party of Socialist Revolution (the Essars) which was formed at the beginning of the 20th century and which played an important role in both the 1905–1907 and 1917 revolutions. As a European Left Populist movement, it can be regarded as unique in that it developed under extremely repressive political conditions in a society that was in the process of breaking with an economic system based on serfdom and passing over to capitalism, rather than on a mature form of the capitalist system. Denied the right to exist legally, Narodism was an inherently revolutionary movement and it lacked mass support for most of its history. During the 1880s, a section of its activists broke away to form a new Marxist trend, followers of which formed the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) in 1898. This organisation in turn split into Bolshevik and Menshevik factions in 1903, at its Second Congress. This chapter investigates the evolving relationship between Narodism and Russian Marxism, showing why they separated into two distinct trends within a common revolutionary socialist movement during the late 19th century and how they interacted with one another during the revolutionary events of 1905 and 1917 and the early Soviet period.

A brief history of Narodism Having shown sympathy towards pro-western, Hegelian and liberal ideas since his university days, Herzen was drawn towards socialist ideas during the European revolutions of 1848, especially those of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809‒1865). However, he was disappointed by these revolutions’ failure to achieve meaningful political change and began to doubt whether a future socialist transformation of European civilisation would be initiated in the developed capitalist countries of the

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West. Instead, he began to look to a force within Russian society ‒ its peasantry ‒ which he concluded was capable of initiating a new, continent-wide socialistrevolutionary wave. His doctrine was rooted in a doubtful sociological assertion based on the findings of a German agriculturalist, August von Haxthausen (1792‒1866), which had been published between 1847 and 1852 (von Haxthausen 1972). He demonstrated that most peasants in European Russia regarded the land they worked as common property, a resource which was periodically re-divided between households in proportion to their changing size. This practice was intended to deprive any household of a permanent advantage over their neighbours based on the possession of well-located plots, and it was carried out by the peasants themselves at mass meetings. Herzen saw a collective and egalitarian spirit in this arrangement that was akin to socialism, albeit one which was held back by the institution of serfdom, which affected around half the peasants of European Russia, a bureaucratic-authoritarian form of government and the large-scale private ownership of land by the gentry. In his view, this state apparatus was an alien importation, developed in imitation of a Prussian model during the 18th century. Socialism would be realised in Russia via a casting-off of this state apparatus, the result being a collection of self-governing and highly independent village communes emerging directly from serf society. Capitalism, and the division of society into bourgeoisie and proletariat would therefore not take place in Russia as it had done in Western Europe (Herzen 1954; Herzen 1956: 165‒186; Herzen 1958). The basic ideas of Narodism would acquire a small but significant layer of Russian supporters during and after the crisis which Russian society passed through during the latter part of the 1850s, which resulted in the abolition of serfdom. During this period, Herzen gave critical support to the tsar’s efforts to modernise Russia, whilst demanding bolder reforms. As editor of the banned newspaper Kolokol he unsuccessfully called for an end to censorship and the use of corporal punishment as a criminal penalty for peasant offenders. He also supported the rule of law over government officials and similar, essentially liberal reforms that had only an indirect relationship to his socialist theories (Herzen 2012a). The readers of Kolokol were simultaneously being exposed to advanced western and socialist ideas in legally permitted journals, especially through the efforts of Nikolai Chernyshevskii (1828‒1889), editor of the literary journal Sovremennik. Writing in a veiled and indirect fashion so as to not alarm the censor, Chernyshevskii published articles on the revolutionary episodes in France during the first half of the 19th century, whilst giving an account of the socialist ideas advanced by pro-worker factions in them (Chernyshevskii 1986a; Chernyshevskii 1986b). He also gave a philosophical substantiation of Herzen’s idea that Russia could avoid the development of capitalism by transitioning to a form of agrarian socialism upon the abolition of serfdom (Chernyshevskii 1983a). Such a change would require a socialist revolution in the west, whose ideas and techniques would be adopted by Russia.

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


During the early 1860s, Chernyshevskii’s more radical outlook gained the upper hand, Herzen abandoning support for the tsar against a background of rebellions in Russian-occupied Poland–Lithuania and in the Russian countryside. At the height of the crisis, Kolokol demanded an elected assembly to decide Russia’s future and gave support to the Polish–Lithuanian insurgency, losing much of its support in the process (Ogarev 1861). By 1865, the time these movements were finally suppressed, Narodism had mostly adopted a clear anti-autocratic stance, certain sections of the movement even concluding that the assassination of the tsar would serve as the catalyst for a new peasant rebellion directed against the meagre terms of the Emancipation settlement (Klevenskii 1927; Pomper 1974). These circles anticipated further discontent on the grounds that the emancipated peasants had received little land from their former owners, and had been required to purchase it at a very high price (Moon 2001: 70‒83). During the late 1860s and early 1870s, some of the earlier differences between Herzen and Chernyshevskii began to re-emerge and take on an organised form. Herzen’s agrarian socialist theories undoubtedly bore a nationalistic aspect, as he believed that the collective land tenure practised in Russia both during and after serfdom to be unique. Seeking to develop a specifically Russian brand of socialism, certain Narodnik publicists began to look towards models of anti-autocratic revolt drawn from Russian history, most notably the Cossack revolts led by Stepan Razin (1630‒1671) and Emelian Pugachev (1742‒1775) during the reigns of tsar Alexis and Catherine the Great respectively, both of which had aimed at the abolition of serfdom and autocracy. Alongside these peasant wars, the Decembrist revolt of 1825, in which liberal officers attempted a coup after the tsar died without issue, not to mention the various palace coups undertaken between 1725 and 1762, were studied as potential models of revolutionary change (Bakunin 1917; Pomper 1979: 57‒59). Supporters of these nationalist approaches included Mikhail Bakunin (1814‒1876), Sergei Nechaev (1847‒1882), and Petr Tkachev (1844‒1886). Others were more influenced by Chernyshevskii’s pro-western stance. Chernyshevskii did not view the peasant commune as a peculiarly Russian institution and did not assert that Russia’s autocratic state was based on an imported Prussian model. Moreover, in addressing the question of how an advanced form of socialism could emerge on the basis of Europe’s most undeveloped economy, he suggested that Russians would learn much from a previous transition from capitalism to socialism in the West (Chernyshevskii 1983a: 182‒183, 187‒188). Accordingly, towards the end of the 1860s, a number of Narodniks who had fled abroad to avoid arrest were drawn towards the activity of the First International, a Russian section of this organisation being established in Geneva in 1870. This section supported Marx in his faction-fight with Bakunin whilst at the same time establishing some sketchy connections with local socialist groups in Russia. However, it could not properly be regarded as Marxist. Rejecting Herzen’s romanticised view of the Russian peasantry, it placed emphasis on political propaganda in favour of producers’ co-operatives, land nationalisation and other forms of collective ownership drawn largely from the utopian socialist tradition (McClellan

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1979: 83‒108). This emphasis on proselytism implicitly recognised that the Russian narod was not inherently socialist, but at the same time, the question of class struggle, central to Marxist thought, was avoided. The story of Narodism in the 1870s was one in which the second of the two trends just mentioned was pushed aside by the first. This process was in part conditioned by the split in the First International in 1872, after which Marx and Engels played no further part in the organisation and most European sections retaining an interest in it sided with Bakunin and his followers (Stekloff 1928: 154‒ 221). However, one other factor was the growing orientation of both trends towards the industrial working class. This better-educated section of the narod had responded much more positively to socialist propaganda than the rural population, and worker-socialists were initially recruited as intermediaries who could take Narodnik ideas developed by the students and professionals to the poorest and least-literate sections of the peasantry. This plan was derailed when strikes broke out among the St Petersburg metalworkers during the early 1870s, a development which appears to have convinced many Narodniks that a general popular revolt in Russia was at hand (Troitskii 1991). Motivated by this questionable assumption, the romantic and nationalistic strain within Narodism gained the upper hand and thousands of activists, most of them university-educated, headed to the villages during the summer of 1874 with the aim of instigating an immediate peasant revolt. These efforts involved a mixture of itinerant preaching and a certain amount of more settled activity, socialists attempting to set up model communes intended to demonstrate the principles of socialism through practical example. These often-naïve efforts were notoriously unsuccessful, the participants in this Movement to the People (dvizhenie v narod) understanding poorly both the way social relations had developed in the countryside since the Emancipation and the effect this had had on the consciousness of the peasantry. Owing to the role he had played in the abolition of serfdom, the tsar was viewed positively by many peasants, notwithstanding the revolts of 1861‒1863, which had to a large degree been motivated by frustration at delays to the implementation of the land transfer and redemption scheme designed to appease the former serf-owners. Subsequently, villages opted to join this scheme at different times, the transfer of the land to the peasants only being made compulsory in the 1880s (Hardy 1970: 28‒31; Moon 2001, 101‒104). As a result, conditions in the countryside could vary widely from village to village, even before differences between ex-serf and non-serf (state-peasant) villages was taken into account. Apart from that, the conversion of serfs into tax payers and the general requirement of villages to pay cash redemption payments for their newly acquired land served as an impetus for the growth of markets in the countryside, as peasants sold their produce in order to meet these obligations. One effect of this was a growing polarisation between those successful in this new type of commercial activity and those less so, the result being a capitalist challenge to the egalitarianism of the commune (Plekhanov 1922b: 78, 82‒83). With all these divergences within the

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


peasantry, the Narodniks’ rhetoric of a peasant narod united by a socialist outlook in a struggle with a propertied elite gathered around the autocracy fell on deaf ears. Socialist activists were reported to the police and arrested in their thousands. These repressions sparked a renewed interest in terrorist tactics ‒ mainly assassinations ‒ on the part of many Narodniks, a form of activity which came to dominate the movement’s active for the next half-decade. Publicists such as Andrei Zheliabov (1851‒1881), Lev Tikhomirov (1852‒1923) and Nikolai Morozov (1854‒1946) began to argue that a campaign of assassinations could both destabilise the tsarist regime and force the tsar to concede key civil liberties of the type necessary for effective propaganda campaigns in the countryside. They believed that such a campaign would achieve its final success when the tsar either felt compelled to grant a democratic constitution in response to terrorist pressure, or when the Narodniks themselves organised an uprising against the autocracy by mobilising its sympathisers in the armed forces and in the industrial working class (Volk 1966: 86‒93). Such ideas represented a breach with traditional Narodnik thinking, representing a movement away from the anarchistic agrarian socialism advocated by Herzen and Chernyshevskii, and towards a version of socialism based on the democratic state. Though this turn towards state socialism probably had its roots in the articles by Petr Tkachev that were published in 1877, state-socialist views only gained prominence in connection with the People’s Will (Narodnaia Volia) organisation which broke away from the supporters of mainstream Narodism in the spring of 1879, taking the majority of the movement with it (Tkachev1976a; Narodnaia Volia 1983). This new organisation initially devoted a very large part of its energies to terrorist activity, specifically targeting the tsar, who was successfully killed in March 1881 after several failed attempts and dozens of unintended casualties. Repeated raids on its Executive Committee, which had spearheaded the terrorist campaign, soon reduced People’s Will to an uncoordinated network of socialist propaganda circles and though the group grew in popularity as a result of tsar’s assassination – it had as many as 8,000 members at its peak – many of its followers were confused by its inability to follow the assassination with an attempt to seize power (Volk 1966). Further terrorist plots were initiated towards the end of the 1880s but no further assassinations were completed (Spiridovich 1916: 4‒24). During the 1880s and 1890s, Narodism increasingly gave way to Marxism as the favoured doctrine among Russian socialists, and the two trends frequently co-existed within the framework of the same organisations (Orekhov 1979: 100‒116). The emergence of stormy mass strikes among Russia’s industrial proletariat during the mid-1890s gave Russia’s Marxists occasion to argue that Narodnik doctrine was outdated and that worker-Narodniks should adopt a Marxist point of view which acknowledged the existence of capitalism in Russia. However, though some groups of People’s Will supporters did eventually go over to the Marxists, then called Social Democrats, the Narodnik cause was not extinguished (Spiridovich 1916: 30‒34). Having completed lengthy terms of exile in Siberia, some of the leading activists from the pre-People’s Will period returned to European Russia during the 1890s, and sought to draw together the competing strands of Narodism into a common

38 R. Mullin

organisation (Spiridovich 1916: 33‒37). This process, which began in 1893 with the formation of the short-lived People’s Justice Party, was completed in 1902 with the formation of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Like People’s Will, this new organisation supported terrorist struggle and saw the achievement of democracy as a key prerequisite for socialism, but in comparison with this older organisation, it made greater efforts to diversify its tactics, also urging strikes, illegal street demonstrations, civil disobedience and peasant rebellions (Spiridovich 1916: 93‒118). This party, widely known as the Essars, survived for a little over 20 years, during which time it played an important role in a rapidly changing political situation. A general revolt against tsarist rule broke out in 1905, which won significant civil liberties along with the election of a parliament on a broad franchise which had the right to veto the tsar’s laws and to propose its own. These changed conditions allowed the Essars to grow from a very small, clandestine organisation into a regular political party, whose membership would reach 60,000 at the height of the revolution. Under these conditions, it became active in various mass trade-and-professional associations, notably those of peasants, teachers, posts-and-telegraph workers, railways workers, in the Union of Unions. The party also sent dozens of delegates to the short-lived Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in St Petersburg during October– November 1905 and collaborated with the Moscow Bolsheviks in failed insurrection against the tsar in December of the same year (Spiridovich 1916: 199‒213, 216). With further revolts among the armed forces also misfiring, the Essars subsequently participated in elections to the new parliament (Duma), securing the election of 34 delegates out of a total of 518 in February 1907 (Spiridovich 1916: 315). However, following a revision of the electoral law the following June which benefitted the richer classes, they boycotted further elections to the Duma (Rabinowitch 1991: 13). They never foreswore terrorism as they believed the democratic constitution first demanded by People’s Will had not been realised, even if a certain amount of political freedom had been won. The party’s Combat Organisation assassinated numerous senior civil servants and military figures during the revolutionary period but was severely discredited when its leading figure, Evno Asef (1869‒1918), was exposed as a police agent (Spiridovich 1916: 256‒80, 430‒3). This led to the replacement of a central Combat Organisation with a series of independent groups, but these were unable to carry out a terrorist campaign with any efficacy. The First World War divided the Essars into pro- and anti-war factions, figures on the left such as Victor Chernov (1873‒1952) participating in the Zimmerwald movement, which aimed to end the war via a general revolt against capitalism (Rabinowitch 1991: 14‒18). After the February Revolution of 1917, most Essars supported the dual-power arrangement whereby a government based in the Duma shared power with representatives of the Soviets (Sukhanov1962a: 163‒340). In April, Chernov joined a coalition government dominated by pro-capitalist politicians, but when this government launched a new offensive in the summer, the anti-war left of the party broke away (Sukhanov1962b: 347; Lenin 1964a: 134‒ 136). Led by Maria Spiridonova (1884‒1941) and Boris Kamkov (1885‒1938), these Left Essars initially supported the Bolshevik uprising of October 1917 which

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


placed power exclusively in the hands of the Soviets, on the grounds that the latter would bring about an immediate armistice. (Sukhanov1962b: 347, 381, 434, 654; Trotsky 1932a: 290; Trotsky 1932b). However, the failure of the Bolsheviks to recognise the Constituent Assembly convened at the beginning of 1918, along with the conclusion of a separate peace with Germany that saw Russia concede vast amounts of territory, led to a breakdown of this coalition in the summer of 1918. At this point, the Left Essar faction attempted a coup against the Bolsheviks, failed and was suppressed (Rabinowitch 2007: 283‒312). The remainder of the Essar party gave varying degrees of support to the White Armies during the Russian Civil War, as a result of which many of its leaders were brought to trial in 1922. At its conclusion, 12 received the death sentence but these penalties all appear to have been commuted to terms of imprisonment (Kautsky and Woitinsky 1922: 36‒37).

Narodism: an atypical populist movement? From the information presented, it is obvious that Russian Narodism differed sharply from European Left Populist movements that emerged later on. Narodism developed in a society which was in the process of replacing serfdom with wagelabour and commercial agriculture, this change generating new home markets for manufactured goods, which in turn stimulated Russian industry. This growing capitalism, which was far less developed than the capitalism of the countries to the West, took place within a legal and political framework originating in feudalism, one which was characterised by absolute monarchy rather than constitutional government, and a system of social estates. If feudal obligations had nearly all been abolished or monetised by the mid-1860s, participation in the affairs of the state by even the richest sections of the population was minimal and their input into the government’s decisions was non-existent.1 Given this complete absence of political rights, Narodism could only have developed as a revolutionary, illegal and at times terroristic movement which for most of its history involved just a few thousand militants, and also had very few practical connections to the mass of ordinary people – the peasantry – it claimed to represent. At the same time, the preponderance of higher-educated people within its ranks ensured that questions of theory were treated with unusual seriousness: hence the movement cannot seriously be regarded as ideologically ‘thin’. This seriousness was reflected not only in the extraordinary personal sacrifices made by both peaceful and physical-force activists, but in the recurring splits and reconciliations within the movement over questions of revolutionary strategy. This said, the ideas and rhetoric of Narodism shared certain features in common with later Left Populist movements operating in politically free regimes who obtained a mass base of support through legally permitted means. Though initially anarchistic and anti-state, the concept of popular sovereignty came to play a central role in Narodnik thinking after the development of the People’s Will faction in 1879. At first sight it might seem that Narodism’s attitude to this concept would

40 R. Mullin

differ from its western counterparts in so far as Russia had never had a liberal constitution expressing this concept, with the effect that the rhetoric of Narodism could never have revolved around a protest at the usurpation of this sovereignty by an elite. However, the reality was more nuanced. Especially among the more antiwestern strains of Narodnik thought, there was a keen awareness that the tsar’s powers had grown incrementally over the centuries at the expense of feudal institutions capable of checking this power and that the legal position of the peasants had declined markedly under the rule of the tsars.2 Reflecting this, groups such as Black Redistribution, the minority faction who refused to support the turn towards terror in 1879, came to frame their call for popular sovereignty in surprisingly traditionalist terms. Declaring ‘The Voice of the People is the Voice of God’, they called for the convocation of a zemskii sobor – a feudal parliament made up of representatives of the different social estates which had met on an irregular basis during the early years of tsarism (Plekhanov 1922c: 109, 117, 125, 134). Whilst on one level, this demand was informed by the fact that the French Revolution of the 18th century had developed out of a similar institution – the Estates General ‒ it also sought to play on the idea that Russians had lost their traditional rights unfairly. A similar attitude was taken by some ‒ notably Petr Tkachev ‒ in relation to the land which, according to popular conceptions among the peasantry, could not be owned as private property (Tkachev1976b: 164).3 In Tkachev’s view, this (legally inaccurate) conception would add fire to peasant grievances connected to the landtransfer agreements that followed the abolition of serfdom. If, according to these agreements, the land transferred to the peasants was clearly the collective property of the village, this was scarcely the case with the portions of the estates retained by the former serf-owners. These would appear to become the property of an individual for the first time and the transfer agreements could therefore be presented as a violation of traditional collective rights by a usurping elite, much in the manner of later Left Populist movements. Indeed, according to Tkachev, this usurpation posed an existential threat to the peasants’ traditional way of life, as it would lead to the development of harmful western individualism among the Russian peasantry. Another interesting point of comparison with later Left Populist movements is Narodism’s antipathy toward doctrines of class struggle in favour of the view that different classes that made up Russian society could be united around a common political programme. Both Herzen and Chernyshevskii recognised the violent nature of the conflicts between the enserfed peasantry and the landowners which had broken out both prior to and during the abolition of serfdom. However, this acknowledgement was only converted into a partisan stance by way of exception. Generally, the Narodniks believed that at least a section of the upper classes could be persuaded to support the aspirations of the narod and they took the view that the short-term economic goals of any particular class of the population had to be subordinated to the goals of a more broad-ranging revolutionary struggle. Examples of appeals to members of the ruling elite are to be found in letters addressed to the tsar counselling reform by Herzen, Chernyshevskii and even

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


People’s Will (Venturi 1960: 694, 715; Chernyshevskii 1983b: 198‒200; Herzen 2012b: 44). In such letters, failures to introduce more thoroughgoing or rapid change are sometimes blamed on unenlightened or malicious advisers in the tsar’s court rather than on an entire social and political system at risk of collapse. During the late 1870s, the Land and Freedom organisation (1876‒1879) made clear the organisations’ belief that a section of progressive landlords would welcome land redistribution, and similar documents written by People’s Will made it equally clear how much the coup this organisation had in mind would depend on its recruitment of upper-class officers in the armed forces rather than the rank-and-file, which was mostly of peasant origin (Volk 1965: 27‒33). As for class-economic interests, People’s Will also took a fairly negative attitude to workers’ strikes, regarding them as a dissipation of revolutionary energy, and made efforts to draw leading worker activists away from these sectional concerns and into the terrorist struggle for democracy. In the view of Zheliabov, strikes were significant is so far as they pitted a section of the narod against the forces of the state, revolutionising the former. However, they also had the potential to stir up divisions in the revolutionaries’ camp through the pursuit of sectional interests, and to result in the arrest of forces better preserved for a role in an eventual coup d’etat. Therefore, they had to be viewed with caution (Narodnaia Volia 1905: 841‒ 843; Plekhanov 1974a: 51). The rhetoric of crisis, so central to later Left Populist movements, was also a key feature of Narodnik thought. Narodism as an organised political trend was established during a period in which the Russian autocracy experienced quite severe problems connected to military defeat in the Crimean War, serf revolt in the countryside and an armed secessionist movement in Poland–Lithuania. The stubborn resistance of the majority of landowners to the Emancipation and landtransfer added to the regime’s difficulties. The early Narodniks dreamt of exploiting these sufficiently real problems to strike some kind of political blow against the autocracy in co-operation with the Polish–Lithuanian movement in particular, but lacked the forces to carry out the enterprise (Venturi 1960: 265‒272). As the regime began to resolve its troubles during the mid-1860s, the notion that a terminal crisis of the autocracy had simply been postponed by measures such as the Emancipation, land-transfer and the armed suppression of the Polish–Lithuanian rebellion gained ground. This perspective inspired the Movement to the People of 1874 and the activities of the People’s Will (Aksel’rod 1923: 105‒125). In reality, the mass of the population was politically stable during this period, significant movements among the peasantry only reappearing at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Russian Narodniks and Marxism Marx and Engels mostly took a sceptical attitude towards Herzen’s thinking. They viewed the highly decentralised conception of socialism advocated by him, ‘a free federation of communes’, as incompatible with a key task of the mid-19th century

42 R. Mullin

revolution, the formation of modern nation states in Central and Eastern Europe from out of the multi-national Russian, Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires. Marx and Engels viewed such bourgeois-nationalist revolts as essential precursors to a continent-wide socialist revolution, which would be brought about when the party of the urban proletariat captured power in these new democratic and constitutional regimes. Herzen’s federal doctrine, combined with his sociologically dubious assertion that communal habits were a distinguishing feature of the Slavic peasantry, invited the conclusion that small Slavic nations inhabiting the Hapsburg Empire were the true bearers of progress in this region, notwithstanding the fact that, during the revolutions of 1848–1849, most had opposed revolutionary Hungarian nationalism, having been promised greater autonomy within the Empire by the Hapsburg authorities (Engels 1977: 362‒378; Eaton 1980: 92‒93). This said, with the formation of a Russian section of the First International at the end of the 1860s, Marx and Engels were introduced to the views of Chernyshevskii, which they found much more acceptable, no doubt owing the latter’s belief that agrarian socialism in Russia could only be realised in conjunction with socialist revolution in the West. From this point on, Marx and Engels began to take a more lively interest in the activities of the Narodniks, assuming they had the potential to overthrow the tsar and thus remove a key counter-revolutionary force from European politics. By the early 1880s, they were taking a very sympathetic attitude towards the People’s Will, defending their terrorist policy in the belief that it would weaken the Russian state and open up the possibility of an armed seizure of power by the Narodniks (Zhuikov 1975: 62‒81; Eaton 1980: 100, 104). Marx and Engels’s attitude towards Russian revolutionary politics lacked nuance, and it soon became subject to criticism by those within the Narodnik movement who took Marx’s ideas most seriously. During the 1870s, followers of Bakunin had given support to striking workers, some of them even helping to create workers’ organisations that were largely independent of the intelligentsia-dominated socialist movement (Plekhanov 1922a). Recognising the futility of terrorist tactics, a minority of these activists began to discuss the idea that capitalism had already established itself in Russia, the implication of this being that Russian socialism would have to redirect its attentions away from the peasantry and towards the growing industrial proletariat, experience proving that this section of the population was much more receptive to radical socialist ideas. In this way, circles such as the Geneva-based Emancipation of Labour Group and the Party of Russian Social Democrats in St Petersburg began to move towards a Marxist position (Aksel’rod 1923: 339‒439; Karaev 1966: 32‒52). In arguing for this view, early Russian Marxists such as Georgii Plekhanov (1856‒1918) and Vladimir Lenin (1869‒1924) soon came into conflict with representatives of traditional Russian Narodism, at least on the theoretical plane. During the 1880s and 1890s, certain representatives of the Narodnik trend argued that the broad development of capitalism in Russia was impossible owing to the lack of markets (Vorontsov 1882; Nikolas‒on 1902). According to this perspective, a peasantry burdened with taxes and land-redemption payments would not be able

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


to afford the manufactured products of Russian capitalism, nor would these products be required as the peasantry were materially self-sufficient. Industrial capitalism in Russia would therefore be limited to serving the military needs of the state. Even foreign markets would be closed to it, given the more technically developed and therefore competitive character of Western capitalism. Against this, Plekhanov and Lenin argued that market relations had developed quite rapidly within the peasantry in the period after 1861. The land-redemption scheme and new taxes on the freed peasantry had of themselves generated a greater need for cash, leading to a boom in production for sale, rural moneylending and the financial ruination of a section of the peasantry. These peasant-proletarians had in some cases migrated to the cities in order to work in factories, but many had remained in the countryside in order to perform wage labour for their richer neighbours, both in the agricultural sector and in a growing variety of small-scale manufacturing enterprises (Plekhanov 1974b: 238‒274; Lenin 1960a; Lenin 1960b). In their view, the Narodnik assertion that the peasantry was self-sufficient ignored these important details. The rural proletariat, receiving cash wages was itself a growing market for consumer goods, and the competitive dynamic of petty rural capitalism ensured a much clearer division of labour in the countryside, peasant households producing a far narrower range of goods for their own consumption, selling a far greater part of their produce and buying much more from other specialist producers. In this environment, big business would always find opportunities to sell to the peasantry. Indeed, over time, larger producers would drive the greater part of peasant enterprises out of business owing to their higher level of technique, converting independent producers into their employees. This vision of the Russian countryside as a hive of small-scale capitalism marked a serious breach between Russian Narodism and Russian Marxism. According to the former, the mere fact of the land in most villages being collectively owned suggested socialism. According to the latter, the private ownership of all other means of production: draft animals, agricultural implements, money, wood and water, gave ample opportunity for capitalist exploitation. Consequently, by the end of the 1890s, two distinct trends had emerged within Russian socialism. In practice, both concentrated their organising efforts on the urban proletariat and the sections of the higher-educated population in closest contact with it: teachers, medical personnel, engineers and low-ranking officials as well as students.

Narodnik and Marxist revolutionary perspectives in the 20th century Both the Narodnik Socialist Revolutionaries and the Marxist Social Democrats were united by the view that a mass revolt against the autocracy would break out during some future political crisis, the main task of revolutionary socialists during this crisis being the convocation of a sovereign representative assembly elected on the basis of universal suffrage (Plekhanov 1922d; Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party 1978: 6; Steblev and Sakharov 1917: 16‒18). According to both

44 R. Mullin

trends, such an assembly could be achieved by means of an armed uprising carried out by clandestine working-class organisations and sympathetic units within the armed forces (Steblev and Sakharov 1917: 6, 16).4 This uprising would yield some form of provisional revolutionary government whose key task would be to destroy the old tsarist institutions and to conduct free, fair and democratic elections for the first time in Russia’s history. Within the assembly itself, both factions envisaged agitating for a new constitutional order based not only on democracy, but also on extensive civil liberties and labour rights (Spiridovich 1916: 228‒230; Lenin 1962: 23‒24; Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party 1978: 6‒8). This said, the two factions disagreed over the likely political significance of this projected democratic-revolutionary assembly. The Narodniks insisted that representatives of the peasant majority would give it a socialist character, the result being significant land reform, which would involve the transfer of the lands retained by the former serf-owners after Emancipation to the village communes. This new land would then be made available to households in the commune on an egalitarian basis, the development of inequality in the villages being countered by means of a progressive income tax or a redistributive ground rent (Spiridovich 1916: 229, 231). Conversely, the Social Democrats rejected the idea that democracy in Russia would automatically lead to socialism. In their view, an elected assembly would serve as one of several sites of struggle between representatives of the bourgeois and the proletarian classes, both competing for support among a peasant estate that was increasingly polarised, socially and economically speaking. To win support among the poorer peasants, the Social Democrats would have to offer a detailed agrarian programme which would put an end to various remnants of the serf system which had survived the Emancipation of 1861 and create a fairer and freer form of capitalism in the Russian countryside (Lenin 1961: 112‒114). These survivals included the continued private ownership of woodlands, ponds and meadows that the peasantry had traditionally relied upon during the days of serfdom. Land of this type was to be transferred to the communes owing to the exploitative manner in which emancipated peasants had been granted access to them, arrangements which had at times involved the re-introduction of statute labour (Lenin 1961: 124‒140). Feudalistic aspects of life within the commune also existed, notably the right of the commune to control the free movement of its members and the collective obligations of these members, who had been made jointly and mutually liable for direct taxes, land redemption payments and the provision of men for the armed forces upon emancipation. This meant that they could not dispose of unwanted land without the consent of their neighbours (Lenin 1961: 143‒145). The post-1861 land redemption scheme, judged by the Social Democrats to be extortionate and to have involved peasants paying not only for land but also for their freedom was a further example of this ‘neo-feudalism’, and the Social Democrats demanded a severe tax on those benefitting from this arrangement, the money raised being donated back to the communes for the purpose of public works (Lenin 1961: 142‒143).

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


The experience of the 1905–1907 revolution caused Lenin, the key agrarian thinker among the Bolshevik faction of Russian Social Democracy, to reconsider these detailed policies (Lenin 1961: 136‒138; Lenin 1978: 255‒367). They had originally been formulated with an eye to both the interests of the poorest sections of the peasantry and Russia’s future transition to socialism. The Social Democrats had hoped to resist the traditional Narodnik demand of Black Redistribution – the confiscation and breaking up of the gentry’s estates by the peasantry ‒ on the grounds that extra land would be of little use to the capital-poor and indebted majority of the peasantry, who would lack the means to properly exploit this new resource. It would therefore be farmed using primitive techniques and the rural economy would offer weaker support to the urban economy than previously. However, after the Essar-influenced Trudovik faction in the First Duma expressed support for the measure, the Bolsheviks also began to advocate a flexible policy of land nationalisation which revealed greater sympathy for the richer peasants and Black Redistribution.5 Continuing to reject the Narodnik and Socialist Revolutionary concern for equally sized plots, the ban on hired labour and other limitations on the peasants’ economic activity, this new policy aimed at the confiscation of the gentry’s estates along with a fundamental redrawing of agrarian relations within and beyond the communes by the peasantry themselves. This revision would involve the abolition of all the collective liabilities and radical land redistribution in accordance with farmers’ actual capital resources. The Mensheviks disagreed with this approach, calling instead only for the nationalisation of the big estates, which were to be converted into state farms rather than being divided up among the richer peasants. This view was criticised by Lenin on the grounds that it would make a counter-revolutionary restoration of the old agrarian system easier and because it would limit the role of the peasantry in re-defining agrarian relations (Lenin 1978: 294‒324). The demand for peasant-led land nationalisation was retained by the Bolsheviks during the revolutions of 1917. The Provisional Governments formed between February and October, in which the Essars and Mensheviks played a key role, took no concrete steps to address the agrarian question, despite initially supporting the confiscation of the gentry’s estates. Their failure to implement either a confiscation programme or anything more gradual led to widespread land seizures by the peasantry at the end of summer to which the Bolsheviks gave support (Sukhanov 1962b: 533; Lenin 1964a). The Essars split in response to this movement, its leftwing minority demanding the immediate implementation of the traditional land programme of their party, forming an uneasy alliance with the Bolsheviks and sharing power with them in the first post-October government. This government declared all private property in land to be abolished, placing privately owned estates at the disposal of local government bodies or village communes. The draft animals, buildings and farm implements on these estates were nationalised in a similar manner, but those belonging to the peasants were to be left unmolested (Sukhanov 1962b: 659). Most usable land was thus placed at the disposal of various public bodiesfor general redistribution, with every Russian citizen

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being granted the right to farm land, either individually or as part of a broader company or collective. Such measures were accompanied by certain dubious points from the point of view of earlier Bolshevik theory, but which were generally supported by the Left Essars. Most notably, Lenin’s famous decree of land included a ban on hired labour that would be hard to enforce and a clause requiring the equal distribution of the nationalised land among those choosing to farm (Sukhanov 1962b: 660; Lenin 1964b: 258‒260).

Conclusions Despite emerging in a very different kind of society from those in which later Left Populist movements emerged, Russian Narodism shared many of these groups’ key rhetorical features, most notably a sense of usurped popular agency, and a vision of a united People facing off against an anti-popular elite. They also employed rhetoric designed to amplify real or imagined political crises and could appeal to some surprisingly traditional notions connected to popular rights. For the Narodniks, the People was always equated with the peasantry, a feudal estate made up of smallholders, handicraft workers and a part, but by no means all of the country’s factory, mining and metalworking proletariat. In their world view, this mass of the population was destined to struggle against Russia’s autocratic state, drawing sections of the higher social classes to its side in a battle for political liberty and the egalitarian use of the land. In the view of most Narodniks, the key feature of this state was the growing centralisation of power around the person of the tsar, and the consequent loss of rights by other elements of the old feudal system, such as the church hierarchy, monasteries, feudal parliaments, the landowning aristocracy and the peasantry, the last of which the tsar enserfed. Government by all these forces in conjunction with the crown had been replaced by unlimited monarchical power, which was served by a pervasive bureaucratic system, whose employees doubled as exploitative serf-owners managing private landed estates. The Narodniks did not for the most part consider Russia to be possessed of a capitalist economy or a capitalist ruling class, at least until their views were challenged by Russia’s first Marxists during the 1880s. Demonstrating that Russian capitalism was not simply a feature associated with large-scale industry and urban environments, the latter showed how market relations had penetrated deep into the Russian countryside following the abolition of serfdom. More generally, they conceived the Russian state and its tsar not so much as the undisputed master of the nation, but as a figure precariously balanced between a traditional basis of support among the landlords and a new one based in a rising industrial capitalist class whose products were essential for Russia’s armed forces, if the latter were to fight with more advanced capitalist states on equal terms. The growth of capitalism in the Marxist view would lead to the fall of outdated tsarism and its replacement, via revolution, with a modern capitalist liberal society on the basis of which the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie could begin in earnest. Following the emergence of this Marxist trend, the Narodniks adapted their outlook to the reality of a rapidly growing industrial capitalism in Russia but only

The Russian Narodniks and Russian Marxism


to a limited degree. They recognised the importance of industrial workers as a revolutionary force but never accepted the Marxist’s definition of the rural economy as petty-capitalist. Conversely, the Bolshevik wing of Russia’s Marxists was prepared to be flexible in its practical appeal to the peasantry, acknowledging and adopting some Narodnik demands it regarded as theoretically incorrect in order to build temporary alliances with pro-Narodnik peasants. However, these specific compromises scarcely blurred the distinction between the two trends and did not blunt their rivalry, reflecting for the most part calculated attempts by each to draw political support away from the other rather than a significant shift in world-view.

Notes 1 Limited participation by representatives of the different social estates in local government was allowed following the reforms of the 1860s, but the sole function of these representatives was to adapt legislation to local circumstances rather than to reflect public opinion. For a critical analysis of some of these institutions see Lenin 1960c. 2 Examples of power being concentrated in the hands of the tsar at the expense of other social forces include the oprichina ‒ a system of martial law and emergency land expropriations imposed between 1565 and 1572 which was used to break the independent military power of the Russian aristocracy. Among later examples were the divisive church reforms of the 1650s, which centralised power in a Patriarch of Moscow acting in concert with the tsar, and the final administrative subordination of the church to the government between 1700 and 1721 via the abolition of this patriarchate and its replacement with a government-run Holy Synod. As tsarism progressed, the parliament representing the different social estates ‒ the zemskii sobor‒ met less frequently. Meeting 12 times in the second half of the 16th century and almost permanently between 1611 and 1622, this parliament fell into disuse after its election of Peter I as emperor in 1682 and did not meet once in the 18th or 19th century. In 1711, the Boyar Duma – the parliament of the aristocracy – was also abolished. As regards serfdom, the right of peasants to leave an estate was abolished in 1581 and the act of fleeing an estate was criminalised in the 17th century, these changes converting serfdom from a contractual to a hereditary arrangement (Trethewey 1974). 3 In this view, all the land on a feudal estate was regarded as common property even if the enserfed workforce on this estate were viewed as the property of a lord-of-the-manor (dvorianin). This always doubtful conception had absolutely no validity by the 18th century, which saw the commutation of the gentry’s own feudal obligations (military or civil service) and the conversion of estates into ordinary capitalist property, which could be inherited, bought, sold and used as collateral. 4 During the 1905–1907 revolution, the Menshevik faction of the Social Democrats broke with this position, believing that the minimal concessions towards constitutional government granted by the tsar in October 1905 rendered it obsolete. See Lenin 1962. 5 The Trudoviks were a caucus of deputies elected to the Duma who generally represented rural areas. They did not have an extra-parliamentary apparatus and some of its deputies were also members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party.

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Chernyshevskii, N. G. (1983a) ‘A critique of philosophical prejudices against communal ownership’, in T. Shanin (ed.), Late Marx and the Russian Road. (New York: Monthly Review Press), pp. 182–190. Chernyshevskii, N. G. (1983b) ‘Unaddressed letters’, in T. Shanin (ed.), Late Marx and the Russian Road. (New York: Monthly Review Press), pp.190–203. Chernyshevskii, N. G. (1986a) ‘Cavaignac’, in N. G. Chernyshevskii, Sochineniia v dvukhtomakh, 2. (Moscow: Mysl’), pp. 406–475. Chernyshevskii, N. G. (1986b) ‘Borba partii vo frantsii pri Liudovike XVIII i Karle X’, in N. G. Chernyshevskii, Sochineniia v dvukh tomakh, 2. (Moscow: Mysl’), pp. 476–567. Eaton, H. (1980) ‘Marx and the Russians’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 41(1): 89–112. Engels, F. (1977) ‘Democratic pan-Slavism’, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Collected Works, Volume 8. (London: Lawrence and Wishart), pp. 362–378. Hardy, D. (1970) ‘Tkachev and the Marxists’, Slavic Review, 29(1): 22–34. von Haxthausen, A. (1972) Studies on the Interior of Russia. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Herzen, A. (1956) From the Other Shore and The Russian People and Socialism. (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson). Herzen, A. I. (1954) ‘O razvitii revoliutsionnikh idei v Rossii’, in Sobranie sochinenii v 30 tomakh, tom 7. (Moscow: Nauka), pp. 133–266. Herzen, A. I. (1958) ‘Russkie nemtsy i nemetskie russkie’, in Sobranie sochinenii v 30 tomakh, tom 14. (Moscow: Nauka), pp. 148–189. Herzen, A. I.(2012a) A Herzen Reader. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press). Herzen, A. I. (2012b) ‘A letter to Alexander II’, in A. I. Herzen, A Herzen Reader. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press), pp. 41–45. Karaev, G. N. (1966) Blagoev v Peterburge. (Leningrad: Lenizdat). Kautsky, K. and Woitinsky, W. (1922), The Twelve Who are to Die: The Trials of the SocialistRevolutionaries in Moscow, (Berlin: Delegation of the Party of Socialist Revolutionists). Klevenskii, M. M. (1927) Ishutinskii kruzhok i pokushenie Karakazova. (Moscow: Vse soiuznoe obshchestvo politicheskikh kartozhan i ssyl’no-poselentsev). Lenin, V. I. (1960a) ‘New economic developments in peasant life’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 1. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 11–74. Lenin, V. I. (1960b) ‘What the friends of the people are and how they fight the social democrats, Part three’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 1. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 205–300. Lenin, V. I. (1960c) ‘The persecutors of the Zemstvo and the hannibals of liberalism’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 5, (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 31–80. Lenin, V.I. (1961) ‘The agrarian programme of Russian social democracy’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 6, (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 105–148. Lenin, V. I. (1962) ‘Two tactics of social democracy in the Democratic Revolution’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 9. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 15–141. Lenin, V. I. (1964a) ‘Miracles of revolutionary energy’ in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 25. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 134–136. Lenin, V. I. (1964b) ‘Second all-Russian congress of Soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies’ in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 26. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 243–263. Lenin, V. I. (1978) ‘The agrarian programme of social democracy in the First Russian Revolution, 1905‒07’, in V. I. Lenin, Complete Collected Works, Volume 13. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 217–429. McClellan, W. (1979) Revolutionary Exiles: Russians in the First International and the Paris Commune, 2nd edition. (London: Frank Cass).

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Moon, D. (2001) The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia, 1872‒1907. (London and New York: Routledge). Narodnaia Volia (1905) Literatura sotsial’no-revoliutsionnoi partii ‘Narodnoi voli’. (Tipographiia partii sotsialistov-revoliutsionerov). Narodnaia Volia (1983) ‘Programme of the Executive Committee of People’s Will’, in T. Shanin (ed.), Late Marx and the Russian Road (New York: Monthly Review Press), pp. 207–212. Nikolas‒on [Danielson, N. F.] (1902) Histoire du Développment Economique de la Russie depuis l’affranchissement des serfs. (Paris: Giard and Brière). Ogarev, N. P. (1861) ‘Chto nuzhno narody’, Kolokol, 102: 1–4. Orekhov, A. M. (1979) Pervyi marksisty v Rossii: Petersburgskii ‘RabochiiSoiuz’, 1887‒93. (Moscow: Mysl’). Plekhanov, G. V. (1922a) ‘Statei iz Zemli i Voli’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Sochineniia, Tom 1. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo), pp. 36–56. Plekhanov, G. V. (1922b), ‘Pozemel’naia obshchina i ee veroiatnoe budushchee’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Sochineniia, Tom 1 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo) pp. 75–107. Plekhanov, G. V. (1922c) ‘Statei iz Chernogo Peredela’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Sochineniia, Tom 1. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo) pp. 108–136. Plekhanov, G. V. (1922d) ‘Sovremennie zadachy russkikh rabochikh’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Sochineniia, Tom 2. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’stvo) pp. 363–372. Plekhanov, G. V. (1974a) ‘Socialism and political struggle’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume One. (Moscow: Progress Publishers), pp. 49–106. Plekhanov, G. V. (1974b) ‘Our differences’, in G. V. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Volume One. pp. 107–352. Pomper, P. (1974) ‘Nechaev and Tsaricide: The conspiracy within the conspiracy’, Russian Review, 33(2): 123–138. Pomper, P. (1979) Nechaev. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press). Rabinowitch, A. (1991) Prelude to Revolution: The Petrograd Bolsheviks and the July 1917 Uprising. (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press). Rabinowitch, A. (2007) The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd. (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press). Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (1978) Minutes of the Second Congress of the RSDLP, translated by B. Pearce. (London: New Park). Spiridovich, A. I. (1916), Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie v Rossii: Vypusk II: Partiia SocialistovRevoliutsionerov i ero predshestvenniki. (Petrograd: Tipografiia Shtaba Otdel’nago Korpusa Zhandarmov, B. Vulfova). Steblev, A. and Sakharov, I. (1917) Programmy glavneishikh politicheskikh partiakh. (Moscow: Biblioteka svobodnogo naroda). Stekloff, Iu. (1928) A History of the First International, 3rd edition. (London: Martin Lawrence). Sukhanov, N. N. (1962a) The Russian Revolution 1917: Eyewitness Account, Volume One. (New York: Harper Collins). Sukhanov, N. N. (1962b) The Russian Revolution 1917: Eyewitness Account, Volume Two. (New York: Harper Collins). Tkachev, P. N. (1976a) ‘Nabat: Programma Zhurnala’, in P. N. Tkachev, Sochineniia v dvukh tomakh, tom 2. (Moscow: Mysl’), pp. 89–102. Tkachev, P. N. (1976b) ‘Narodirevolutsii’. in P. N. Tkachev, Sochineniia v dvukhtomakh, tom 2. (Moscow: Mysl’), pp. 163–170. Trethewey, R. (1974) ‘The establishment of serfdom in Eastern Russia and Europe’, The American Economist, 18(1): 36–41.

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Troitskii, N. A. (1991) Pervyi iz blestiashchei pleiady (Bol’shoe obshchestvo propagandy 1871‒4 gg), (Saratov: Izdatel’stvo Saratovskaia universiteta). http://scepsis.net/library/id_2862.html. Trotsky, L. D. (1932a) History of the Russian Revolution, Volume Two: The Attempted CounterRevolution. (New York: Simon and Schuster). Trotsky, L. D. (1932b) History of the Russian Revolution, Volume Three: The Triumph of the Soviets. (New York: Simon and Schuster). Venturi, F. (1960) Roots of Revolution. (New York: Alfred Knopf). Volk, C. C. (ed.) (1965) Revoliutsionnoe narodnichestvo 70-khgodov XIX veka: sbornik dokumentov v dykh tomakh, tom 2. (Moscow and Leningrad: Izdatelstvo ‘Nauk’). Volk, C. C. (1966), Narodnaia Volia, 1879‒82. (Moscow and Leningrad: Nauka). Vorontsov, V. P. (1882) Sud’ba kapitalizma v Rossii. (St Peterburg: M.M. Stasiulevich). Zhuikov, G. S. (1975) Petersburgskie marksisty i gruppa ‘Osvobozhdenie Truda’. (Leningrad: Lenizdat).


This chapter looks at the question of whether or not social democrats employed a populist strategy during the 1930s. I am using the same understanding of populism as defined by the editors of this book, that is, rhetoric used with a combination of three components: elevating the idea of a sovereign people (people-centrism); criticising leaders accused of confiscating that people’s sovereignty (anti-elitism); and calling for an urgent, salutary reaction (crisis references) to the situation. I also start from the premise that populism, or at least the likelihood that it will be expressed, is directly related to a defect or an alteration in the mechanism of popular representation, in the sense that significant and/or growing parts of the population feel excluded from the traditional political scene. Here I take inspiration directly from the theoretician Ernesto Laclau (2005), who thought there was an intrinsic antagonism between populism and what he called institutionalism – in other words, the logic that pushes established power to see an existing form of government and social order as an unbridgeable barrier to demands emanating from society. In this context, it is particularly pertinent to analyse social democrats’ reactions to the economic and political crisis of the 1930s. The decade was a critical juncture in this family of parties’ historical trajectory (Horn 1996; Moschonas 2018). At the time, social democracy was in the midst of a transition from its status as a protest movement representing the interests of the subordinate classes, and more precisely, those of salaried workers, to its new role as a party of government charged with administering capitalist states that were rivals on the international scene. This decade also saw a realignment of electoral loyalties in several countries, in a context forged by the social ravages of austerity and the rise of a new type of nationalist, holistic and revolutionary extreme right – in other words, fascism (Eatwell 1996). In one of his first essays on populism, Laclau in fact dedicated several pages to fascism and the failure of the social-democratic and communist left to defeat it. However, his remarks remain extremely general and are essentially based on the

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case of Germany, where all democratic life was annihilated from 1933 (Laclau 2011: 81–142). Therefore, it is worth investigating in more detail how social democrats at the time navigated between populism and institutionalism. If they were more than ever integrated into the state apparatuses of the recently democratised West European countries, their culture remained a complex set of reformist methods, revolutionary aspirations, collective solidarities and orthodox (Marxist) doctrines not yet repudiated (Eley 2002, 235–248). Because of its exploratory nature, this contribution does not claim to provide an exhaustive analysis of European social democrats’ relationship to populism. France has been chosen as the primary case study for several reasons. The country’s socialist party, then called the SFIO (Section Française de l’Internationale Ouvrière – French Section of the Workers’ International), experienced first a split in 1933, then a rise to power in 1936. The split can be explained partly by doctrinal struggles over the relationship between socialism, the people and the nation. The party’s rise to power came about via an alliance known as the Popular Front between radicals (centrists) and communists, who had abandoned their sectarian tactic of ‘class against class’ for a tactic of antifascist alliances. This reflected a change of position by the Communist International, which had shifted from its proud isolationism from social democrats – whom they denounced for their betrayals – to defensive retreat and solidarity against the adversaries of liberal democracy. In both cases, doctrinal differences and the alliances thus forged required the SFIO, and the class-based left in general, to redefine its relationship to the people. The example of French socialism is obviously of interest to our inquiry, but it is also necessary and stimulating to identify in what ways it was similar to, and different from, other partisan configurations in the social democratic family. Among parties with equivalent political weight that represented the diversity of social democracy (Bartolini 2000), I will look in particular at Sweden and, to a lesser extent, at Germany and Great Britain.1 This comparative study will show that rhetorical components of a populist strategy can be detected in several instances in the examples I have chosen. However, these components were rarely found in tandem or articulated together to produce a truly populist position. In addition, social democrats rarely employed them over the long term, either in opposition or in government. It would therefore be risky to speak of social democracy having seen a populist period in the inter-war period. At the very most, we can say there was selective use of discursive elements characteristic of populism. Contrary to what might be assumed, this use was not due to any persistence of an ethos of protest and opposition within social democracy. Rather, where it can be identified, it accompanied or anticipated this family’s gradual move into the restricted club of major parties of government in liberal democracies. In this sense, this specific historical episode perhaps testifies to tensions inherent to – and therefore still current – in the populism of the left. Populism can be potentially useful to compensate for a narrow sociological base, or for obsolete electoral appeals and political identities that previously mobilised support, but such a strategy hardly offers a solution to the constraints state power places on forces with an official commitment to encouraging social transformation.

Social democracy and populism in France


The first sections of this chapter will examine the French example. I will look chronologically at the debates the neo-socialists engaged in right up to their defection from the SFIO, then at the significance of the experience of the Popular Front. To do this, I will use both neo-socialist writings and existing historiography of the period. The sections that follow will present other social-democratic configurations and formulate a few avenues for interpreting and understanding the similarities and differences observed. For that I will base my comments essentially on second-hand sources and my own research (Escalona 2018).

The French case It is important to bear in mind that social democracy took a very particular form in France. It never managed to build a mass party and was characterised by many recurrent doctrinal divisions. It mobilised an electorate with fairly heterogeneous sociology, but never exercised any hegemony over the workers’ movement or the left of the national political space (Escalona and Vieira 2013). Any possibility of this had been blocked by the fiercely independent tradition among French trade unions and the presence of electorally powerful communist rivals. These characteristics were also common to other parties in the ‘southern’ branch of European socialism (Seiler 2003: 125–130), but French socialism was distinguished by more specific features. In particular, the SFIO emerged as the far left of a pre-existing Republican camp at its birth. Until the 1880s this camp had faced opposition from parties on the conservative right that were dominated by royalists and Bonapartists hostile to the Third Republic, the government established on 4th September 1870 on the wreckage of Napoleon III’s Second Empire. The mantle of anti-republican opposition was then taken on by right-wing nationalist and anti-parliamentary forces up to 1940. The Third Republic was initially defended by forces with rather different leanings, from moderate dignitaries who had for a while favoured a constitutional monarchy, to anti-clerical radicals who were ready to manage economic liberalism as a means for addressing the social question (Lévêque 1994). As a result, the SFIO has continually had to arbitrate the tension between its integration with this camp and its exteriority to it. On the one hand, socialists sought to defend the French Republic and its principles against even more powerful adversaries, such as forces nostalgic for the monarchist, absolutist Ancien Régime, the Catholic Church or partisans of authoritarian rule. For example, they opposed General Boulanger’s adventure around the turn of the 1890s in trying to introduce a personalised, strong nationalist regime. They also stood against the anti-parliamentary, anti-Semitic leagues that had emerged around the Dreyfus Affair at the end of the decade. Above all, they joined forces with the radicals to obtain the separation of church and state from 1905. On the other hand, socialists advocated subversive ideas of class struggle and collectivism, which the Republic’s promise of emancipation was ultimately supposed to bring about. Indeed, a major theme of Jean Jaurès’ speeches was the intertwined destinies of the Republic and socialism (Candar and Duclert 2014).

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The neo-socialist split (1932–1933) During the 1920s and 1930s the SFIO was trying to rebuild its party apparatus and militant base, which had just been weakened by its split with the communists enacted at the Tours Congress of 25th to 30th December 1920. Over this period the party won around a fifth of all votes cast and could rely on a base of militants that varied from 100,000 to 200,000 members. One of the quarrels that would poison its internal politics was over ministerial participation in a government led by the radical party. The radicals, a central force within the Third Republic, pursued a strategy of electoral agreement with the SFIO. This allowed them to revive the memory of the glorious ‘Bloc des Gauches’ (Left Coalition, 1899–1905), when radicals and socialists allied against clericalism and obtained the separation of church and state. The problem was to translate this electoral agreement into practice in government. The radical party’s economic policy was still characterised by liberal orthodoxy and a desire not to upset business circles (Berstein 1980: 1982). Lists presented by this new coalition ‘Cartel des Gauches’ (Coalition of the Left) won elections twice, confronting socialists with the question of whether to participate in government. In 1924, SFIO deputies were prepared to give parliamentary support to centreleft governments led by the radicals. But this accord would only last two years and would stumble, predictably, over financial and budgetary policy. In 1932 the radicals opposed the policy conditions socialists set for their government participation and preferred to govern with the moderate right, which contributed to major instability in the executive branch of government. On both occasions Léon Blum, the socialist leader, took the view that party unity – which he deemed essential for building socialism and also for mounting an efficient republican defence in the event of an authoritarian threat – would have been shattered had the socialists participated in government. He held that this would have given their communist rivals much more room to criticise the socialists, and would have ruled out any possibility of forging closer links with the communists for a long time. Most militants followed this line, but in 1932 an argument erupted with a majority of socialist group deputies. Despite the party’s calls to order, they wanted to support the radicals in government, including by voting for their budget. In fact, they preferred to influence the radicals from the left, rather than allowing the right to impose its demands on a government that lacked a stable majority. After a first attempt at reconciliation at the Avignon Extraordinary Congress in 1933, a lastchance session to resolve the conflict was held at the SFIO’s 30th congress in Paris in July 1933. Members who did not accept party discipline were invited to leave. It was at this point that a novel internal opposition appeared. This new position was not given voice by all the deputies who had defied the official line imposed by the party’s central office, as only some of them specifically espoused it. Speeches by three deputies (Montagnon, Marquet and Déat 1933) made clear that the real issue in the controversy was not in fact the party’s authority over its parliamentarians, but rather the very conception of socialism. Some elements of populist rhetoric, or

Social democracy and populism in France


even populist strategy, can be identified in the speeches of these so-called ‘neosocialists’. Significantly, according to their diagnosis, there were multiple crises requiring urgent action. Besides the economic crisis, the ‘neos’ pointed to an evident disaffection with democratic regimes which were unable to meet the expectations of broad swathes of the population. According to Barthélémy Montagnon, there were revolutionary aspirations within the middle classes, young people were seeking something new and the working class, which was suffering harshly from unemployment, was prey to an overwhelming demoralisation. Marcel Déat held that fascism in fact attracted those in the middle classes who feared the risk of ‘proletarianisation’. These middle classes, who were hostile to both ‘the great plutocracy’ and the ‘anti-national Marxist revolution’, found in fascism an outlet that distanced them from parliamentarism and the respect of public liberties. In his speech, Adrien Marquet also emphasised the link between the crisis and the rise of fascism, which had been able to respond to the ‘sensation of disorder and incoherence’ prevailing in public opinion. It is important to remember that both the Avignon Congress and the Paris Congress, where neo-socialist dissidence was expressed, were held after the collapse of German social democracy in the face of Nazism: ‘Whether interpreted as lack of initiative, passivity in the face of mortal danger, or outright treachery, the (in)action of German social democrats affected socialist discourse throughout most European states’ (Horn 1996: 121). Unlike the revolutionary left wing of the SFIO, which held that the time was ripe not for parliamentary compromise but for united action by the workers’ movement, the neo-socialists were prepared to share power with ‘bourgeois’ forces. But unlike other socialists on the party’s right wing who favoured participating in government with the radicals, they sought a profound renewal of SFIO doctrine and methods. Their perspective, which was not always formulated in a precise way, was for a national socialism that could protect the unemployed and ordinary employees through a planned economy, but not a collectivised one. But the leap they called for went beyond techniques of economic management. It would also be a moral one, which for several of them flowed from nostalgia for the fraternity they had experienced in the trenches during the First World War, and more broadly from an attraction to irrational values (Burrin 1986: 149–151). The three orators mentioned above were not conservative or fatalists. They held rather that socialist parties’ ideologies were still tragically ill-adapted to these new facts. It was therefore necessary to regenerate their ideologies rapidly so as not to be outrun in the race against fascism. In order to succeed in this attempt at regeneration, the neo-socialists proposed abandoning the class character of the party. It was to become a party for the people rather than for the workers, which would give it two key advantages: it would no longer frighten off the middle classes; and would not be limited to a working class that remained a minority in demographic terms. Déat explicitly refused to back ‘working class unity at any price’, because doing so would push back any perspective of taking power. And power was what he sought, even if the proletarian revolution was out of reach, because he believed it possible to bring forth

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intermediary forms between capitalism and socialism. In the same way, Marquet called for ‘organising economic life within the national framework’, in which people spontaneously sought refuge. Such theories of economic planning, which were circulated at the time in the workers’ movement (Telò 1988) led the neosocialists to believe that a well-managed mixed economy could be orientated in the interest of the masses. Blum was deeply opposed to such ideas. To him, the neo-socialists were in fact advocating a betrayal of the party’s class roots. By disconnecting socialism from internationalism, he felt, they were emptying it of its content. And in claiming to avoid fascism, they were in fact preparing to imitate it (Berstein 2006: 369–377). In the end the SFIO national council would take sanctions against the dissidence that persisted after the Paris Congress, which resulted in around 30 deputies, seven senators and about 20,000 members leaving the party. Déat then became general secretary of the Parti Socialiste de France-Union Jean-Jaurès (French Socialist Party– Jean Jaures Union – PSdF). As we have just seen, French neo-socialists did not adhere to the ‘class reductionism’ for which Laclau reproached the German workers’ parties. They intended ‘to link the radical Jacobinism of the middle classes to socialist discourse’ (Laclau 2011: 128). Even so, their attitude in relation to the ‘people-centrism’ and ‘antielitism’ components of populism was ambivalent. On the one hand, they were obviously concerned with attracting and organising the disorientated masses, and they highlighted the bankruptcy of the political class and the socialist leaders of their time. In the PSdF manifesto, in particular, ideologies and the traditional parties were considered to be ‘obsolete and prisoners of financial oligarchies’ (Parti Socialiste de France-Union Jean-Jaurès 1933). On the other hand, the form of sovereignty the neo-socialists valued was that of the state rather than the people, whom they saw as a source of support rather than as a true protagonist. It must be said that the advocates of economic planning, whose thinking influenced the neo-socialists, did have a certain fascination with a technocratic elite’s ability to model society. For Marquet, in particular, a socialist party should bring ‘order and authority’ through strong government. In addition to this, the neo-socialists paradoxically continued to behave like ordinary politicians in supporting the existing regime. In their role as parliamentarians, they were in fact careful to back radical governments, even though these were the very incarnation of the Third Republic’s de-credibilised political class. Neo-socialists cohabited within the PSdF with former SFIO deputies who did not share their aspirations for a radical national renovation, and whose only wish was to keep the old Cartel des Gauches’ electoral alliances in power (Burrin, 1986, 153–175). In fact, although the party set very high ambitions, it was caught in a vice between socialists and radicals and never achieved the critical mass to influence France’s destiny. In 1936 the PSdF even merged with two other small formations, former dissidents on the right of the SFIO. The new party thus formed, the Union socialiste républicaine, took part in the Popular Front, then rallied to the radicals, and ultimately ceased all activity in 1940. Many of its members re-joined the SFIO when France was liberated.

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So, we can say that discursive elements typical of populism were expressed in the neo-socialists’ break with the SFIO. Nevertheless, their populism appears imperfect or contradictory. Essentially, they were guided by a Jacobin ideal of national unity. To sum up, we should also clarify that even if some veered into deference to the Nazi occupiers, or even collaboration with them – primarily the case with Déat – others swelled the ranks of the Resistance. In any case, the neo-socialist tendency did not survive the crisis of the 1930s and would remain marginal throughout the entire decade. Although its rhetoric was coloured by populism, this label cannot be used to define it, since the criteria of coherence and durability for such rhetoric are clearly absent.

The Popular Front (1936–1938) One could imagine that the formation of a popular front in France transcending class barriers was in line with neo-socialists’ initial aspirations. More generally, the reference to the people and the context of crisis in which it was constituted incite us to examine its ‘populist’ character. The dynamic for a popular front in fact arose from the events of February 6th, 1934, when an anti-parliament demonstration turned into a riot. Organised by right-wing and far-right groups as well as ex-soldiers, the demonstration came after several years of economic crisis and politicofinancial scandals, and a few months after the Nazis had taken power in Germany. Following that, radicals, socialists and communists gradually put aside their divisions in order to be able to exercise power after the 1936 elections. They were backed by numerous interest groups and human rights associations, and united around a line of defending the Republic and stimulating an economic recovery. However, the Popular Front’s characteristics and the reasons for its brief existence do not suggest that this was a populist moment for the class-based left in France. It is true that the Front’s formation was characterised by a tendency to exalt the sovereign people. The memory of the French Revolution’s finest hours and of Republican unity against reactionaries was re-activated during the large demonstrations of 1934 and 1935. For example, in 1935 radical leaders joined forced with workers’ parties in organising and promoting a vast, unified rally for the Republic, held on 14th July, the national holiday commemorating the Fête de la Fédération in 1790, which had celebrated the unity of the French people a year after the storming of the Bastille. The French Communist Party (PCF), more than the SFIO, was presented as the incarnation of a national people’s project. Communist leaders and the party’s press had changed their rhetoric in the summer of 1935. Previously there had been no question of an alliance with the radicals –the only possibility envisaged was a ‘united front’ of the workers’ movement on an explicitly proletarian class basis. But over the period that followed, references to ‘the people’ would clearly supersede references to class, and the consensual aim of providing ‘bread, peace and freedom’ would replace the perspective of revolutionary struggle (Peschanski 1988). The PCF leader, Maurice Thorez, even went as far as to try and reassure Catholic and

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nationalist voters. In line with this, the PCF’s manifesto during the election campaign promised to reconcile the French people via the ‘French flag of our fathers and the red flag of our hopes’ (Lefranc 1965: 111–119). In contrast, the SFIO presented a more traditional programme centred on sharing and controlling profits monopolised by business concerns. In fact, the freedom of debate that reigned among the socialists allowed some to express disagreement with a popular front strategy. The party’s left wing in particular had been enthusiastic when a pact for united action had been forged between the SFIO and the PCF in July 1934. The pact favoured a ‘single proletarian front’ but rejected broadening this to the middle classes and the radical party. Moreover, during negotiations on a common programme between radicals, socialists and communists (each could retain their own programme, but the coalition was committed only to the common programme), it was the radicals and the communists who sought to moderate their demands. They preferred to avoid frightening small independent firms and savers with announcements of nationalisations or currency devaluations. Caught in the middle, even socialists favourable to the Popular Front held that the common commitments were insufficient (Lefranc 1977: 381–385). The exaltation of the people quickly reached its limits following the vast social movement in the wake of the Popular Front victory in 1936. Once agreements had been signed, the bosses, political leaders and trade unions no longer saw the continuation of workers’ insubordination in a favourable light. Maurice Thorez’s quote, that ‘we must know when to end a strike’, is still famous today. To sum up, the plebeian people were called on to be calm in the name of the national people. More importantly, an anti-elitist dimension was broadly absent from the Popular Front. Its alliance of parties and intermediary bodies in fact opposed the far-right leagues that were whipping up popular passions against the political class. There again, the PCF went the furthest in this direction, calling for a ‘union of the French nation against the 200 families [the rich property-owners] and their mercenaries’ (see Figure 3.1). This expression was used to designate the major financial interests that had resisted the Coalition of the Left’s policy in the past, but the PCF criticised them less for their class allegiance than for being anti-patriotic. As we can see, this criticism was still targeted somewhat narrowly, and was never broadened to include those who had held power in previous years – for the very good reason that the radicals had been highly implicated in that exercise of power. Therefore, not all the components of a populist discourse can be found in the Popular Front’s campaign or practices. In fact, as Prime Minister, Léon Blum insisted on remaining loyal to existing institutions, as he believed he had not been given a mandate to transform them. He said that following a revolutionary path would have been a ‘fraud’. The occupation of power by socialists, according to him,should be distinguished from their conquest of power. The first is defensive and aimed at protecting the republican framework in the absence of anything better, but the second is offensive and involves building the foundations of a socialist society, in particular by changing the form of ownership (Monier 2016).

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Front of the PCF headquarters, with the inscription ‘Bread, peace, liberty. For a free, strong and happy France, vote communist. The rich have to pay. Long live the union of the French nation against the 200 families who plunder it’.

We can add that it took only two years for the Popular Front to break apart because of its members’ inability to make the interests of the middle classes, notably the self-employed, converge with those of the working class. In other words, faced with the crisis and with anti-republicans, the test of power revealed that the unity of the people was artificial. This observation echoes some criticisms against the populist theory, refusing that social identities could be constructed uniquely through language games, without any ‘objective’ basis, as if the social structure didn’t have a materiality (Bidet 2018). According to Daniel Filc and Uri Ram, ‘the main problem with Laclau’s conceptualization of the constitution of the political subject is that it is hyper-political’ (Filc and Ram 2014: 306). By assuming that ‘political subjects are always already the result of a political struggle, [this approach] cannot account for the appearance of demands in the first place’ (Filc and Ram 2014: 307). In practice, could we add, it doesn’t provide any lasting ‘glue’ to overcome the heterogeneity of the citizens mobilised thanks to a populist rhetoric. The radicals, who had broad support in the middle class, feared that a policy in favour of the working class would turn out to be electorally fatal. Already in 1936, electoral losses had been limited by a generally good showing from dissident candidates hostile to the strategy of the Popular Front. Gradually the radical party’s right wing became dominant. So, the policy of Prime Minister Édouard Daladier from 1938 was characterised by a visceral anti-Marxism and a rather authoritarian concept of exercising power (Berstein 1982). Meanwhile, Blum had been defeated when the Senate, the upper house of parliament, refused to grant him emergency powers to tackle France’s financial difficulties. He had enacted crucial reforms to improve workers’ conditions, but he lacked the institutional means to take action

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on borrowings and production. The theorists of economic planning and a mixed economy remained impotent and in a minority right up to the end of the interwar period. Certainly, the SFIO shared a common Jacobin culture that had allowed it to make alliances with parties on both its right and left, within the limits of the Republican camp. With its roots in the French Revolution, Jacobinism had always espoused a demanding conception of public morality, a near-cult of national unity, a non-negotiable attachment to political liberties, and had gradually integrated the imperative to fight economic privilege (Vovelle 2001). But this common culture did not negate either the novelty socialism represented, or resistance to the neosocialists’ desire for national fusion on the part of those who shared this doctrine. Nor did it negate radicalism’s inability to re-invent itself in a context of developed industrial capitalism, which explains its conservative drift right up to its defeat in 1940. We cannot therefore say that the SFIO succeeded in forging a new ideological and sociological bloc thanks to a novel populist line. In 1936, as in previous elections, the party recruited its support in working class bastions, strongly egalitarian and anti-clerical rural zones, and among the most progressive intellectual professions (Lévêque 1994: 199–202).

A comparison with other social-democratic configurations As we have already mentioned, Laclau (2011) pointed to the example of Germany as an illustration of the inability of workers’ parties to adopt a populist, or populistdemocratic, approach. Compared with the case of France, where more significant elements and attempts at a populist rhetoric have been identified, German social democrats had fewer possibilities. Here it is important to take into account the legacy of the country’s history and the characteristics of the party system. The German social-democratic party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) was more powerful than the SFIO in terms of both its electoral and militant bases, but barriers between it and the rest of the nation turned out to be much more hermetic. Unlike French socialists, who bathed in the culture of a Republic whose most radical potential they aspired to realise, German social democrats cut their teeth under the persecution of an authoritarian imperial regime and without help from liberal allies, who were in any case extremely weak. The result was a relatively homogenous socialdemocratic milieu, overwhelmingly male, proletarian and Protestant, which bestowed emancipation within its ranks and protection from the outside. At the same time, their wish to preserve an organisation that had been built in spite of this difficult context encouraged a cautious and conservative mentality, and therefore accommodation with the traditional elites (Berger 2000: 76–88). This party configuration alone left little space for discursive innovations of a populist type. As well as these internal and structural factors, there were also external and cyclical factors that had the same effect. Any inter-class appeal for a homogenous people would in fact have come up against the existence of other social milieux, which were also part of strong subcultures and had few interactions.

Social democracy and populism in France


On top of that, the circumstances of the SPD’s involvement in the emergence of the Weimar Republic had taken their toll. The social democrats had cooperated with moderate bourgeois forces at the expense of forces on the revolutionary left. At the same time, reactionary forces accused them of having sold out the national interest in subscribing to the humiliating Treaty of Versailles. Under such conditions, it was hard to conjure up the image of a united people and a national community. Their communist rivals would have berated their treachery even more, while the nebulous völkisch (nationalist) movement had already been using such imagery for several decades, but on a pan-Germanist, racist basis that was unacceptable for the left (Trägardh 2002). So, as a workers’ party identified with the existing regime, the SPD did not have the internal resources for rhetoric playing on the centrality of the people and on anti-elitism. Even its role in the crisis Germany was living through distanced it from a populist register. Obviously, the SPD understood this, but did not have any palliative solution in the short term. The German confederation of trade unions, the Allgemeiner Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (ADGB), put forward ideas and a plan for economic recovery, but was soon unable to make headway on these in a party where doctrinal orthodoxy had been protected for a long time. The most influential intellectual in the party, Rudolf Hilferding, defended, among other things, a theory of ‘organised capitalism’, which restricted the SPD to a passive role. In his view, the production of wealth would increasingly become socialised and would increasingly require state intervention, and this would therefore require the party to enter into the inner workings of the state. But these were long processes, and their logic implied that no concrete, autonomous and quick action could be envisaged (Berman 1998: 176–199). In the United Kingdom, both the origins of the Labour Party and the party system explain why, in this case too, we find fewer populist elements than in the example of France. Labour not only had an organic link to the trade union movement, it was also an emanation of that movement (Pelling 1965). Certainly, very early on the party had instinctively avoided giving ammunition to its opponents who caricatured it as a vehicle for vested interests. This explains the formulation ‘workers by brain and by hand’ in the famous Clause IV of Labour’s charter, which called for the collective ownership of the means of production and distribution. But the environment was hardly favourable for eulogising a homogenous people, particularly in a society as stratified as in Britain. On the other hand, Labour leaders, who were increasingly educated and were joined after 1918 by numerous liberal intellectuals, saw themselves as a progressive counter-elite. This also included a degree of respect for, or even deference to, the framework of the constitutional monarchy, as well as technocratic tendencies that were dismissive of the people’s own abilities (Elliott 1993; Desai 1994). So, over the 1930s Labour’s chief concern was to appear respectable and credible for the purpose of holding power, in particular by including Keynesian-style ideas. But as in the German example, although for different reasons, it is hard to find signs of populism, let alone its particular combination of rhetorical components.

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Unlike other countries where elections were decided on a proportional basis, Labour was protected by a single-round, majority electoral system that was much more favourable to forces already dominant on the political scene. It therefore had essentially no reason to take doctrinal risks or to take part in some kind of popular front. There had been an initiative in this direction from small left-wing and farleft forces that had managed to convince a few liberal and conservative dissidents. They were unable to overcome the handicap of their persistently marginal presence, and the initiative was disregarded by Labour, which had overtaken the Liberals from 1922 and had in any case been hegemonic on the left of the political scene since its foundation.

Sweden and the concept of ‘people’s home’ The Swedish example can be distinguished by the way social democracy (Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Arbetareparti, SAP) influenced and identified itself with national identity right from the interwar period. The social democrats went beyond class rhetoric with their concept of folkhemmet, which can be translated as ‘people’s home’, but nevertheless did not sacrifice their ideal of social transformation (Hentilä 1978). ‘The people’ was central to this metaphor, which was placed at the heart of the social-democratic worldview. This transition from klass to folk as a structuring concept was introduced from 1928, when the social democrats suffered an electoral slide. They then decided to address all the victims of the crisis, from workers to farmers. This discursive change was underpinned by a concrete economic programme that had been renewed in the proto-Keynesian spirit of the 1930s, thanks to a younger generation at the Stockholm School of Economics (Berman 1998: 150–175). However, the conservatives had initially tried to take this metaphor for themselves. But in Swedish mythology and culture, the ideals of liberty and solidarity that defined national character ‘proved hard to reconcile with the basic thrust of radical right-wing, anti-democratic nationalism along the lines familiar elsewhere in Europe’ (Trägardh 2002: 85). The SAP leader, Per Albin Hansson, therefore forged folkhemmet into a tool for promoting the democratic character of the Swedish ‘soul’ – a theme popularised by the historian and poet Geijer (1783–1847) in a mythical reconstruction that made the free peasant a figure of resistance to servitude imposed either by foreign powers or the aristocracy. In doing this, Hansson put workers and their historic function alongside a still-powerful peasantry, and the oppression to be fought was now associated with the force of capitalism. In this vein, the legislative accord that social democrats and agrarians struck in1933 was precisely a crucial pillar of the SAP’s success during the 1930s. Thanks to the accord, which brokered an exchange between protectionist measures for farmers and a system of unemployment benefits and public works for workers, Hansson in fact managed to break up the non-socialist bloc. More broadly, he was able to put forward a position that appealed to all citizens who must work to live, which defended a single ‘strong popular politics’ (Tilton 1991: 125–144).

Social democracy and populism in France


Unlike the case of Germany, Sweden’s social democrats had emerged from the very beginning inside popular movements that extended beyond the workers’ sphere, and which were porous to cross-fertilisation. When the social democrats allied with the liberals for a time, they played a driving role in democratising the country, and this was carried out in a gradual and quite peaceful fashion. With the Stockholm School, domestic intellectuals brought new ideas to a party that, unlike either the German or French examples, did not suffer from any significant competition from communists. Finally, the Swedish national imagination was more at ease with marrying into socialism’s original goals. In any case, the ideology of folkhemmet underlies the entire success of the SAP in later decades, as it was able to overcome Przeworski’s dilemma (Przeworski1985). Przeworski postulated that it was incompatible for a social-democratic party to both achieve maximum mobilisation of the working class and also broaden its electoral base beyond that class. Yet this is exactly what the SAP managed to do from the inter-war period until the 1970s, and the social groups who came under its umbrella did not see this as involving any attack on their own interests (Sainsbury 1990). Does the centrality of the folkhemmet metaphor allow us to invoke populism in the case of Sweden? In fact, the dimension of conflict is missing here, and this dimension was continually eroded during the test of holding power. The metaphor’s ability to assemble forces did indeed extend very far. Over time the notion of a ‘popular’ people, which struggled against the powerful, gradually became the ‘community of the people’, where conflict had literally been expunged. This slippage should be seen as part of the broadening of the social-democratic compromise to the business community, which happened in two complementary ways. The first was a government policy that was not hostile to the prerogatives of private property. It even encouraged capitalistic concentration in the name of productive efficiency, and was very fiscally advantageous as long as profits were re-invested. The second culminated in the Saltsjöbaden agreement signed in 1938 by LO (Landsorganisationen i Sverige, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation), and the employers’ confederation, SAF. Each party recognised that it could not dominate the opposing class and, taking on board the likely longevity of social-democratic power, formalised rules to govern labour conflicts. The result was a lasting pacification of industrial relations, and strikes and lockouts became much more rare (Telò 1988: 180–189). In any case, once the crisis of the 1930s was over, economic and social policies were managed in a highly technical manner based on regular dialogue between government officials, senior civil servants and experts from both trade union and employers’ organisations. The anti-elitist component of populist rhetoric, which was never particularly strong in the ideology of folkhemmet, had no real basis in this context. In the Swedish example, the discursive centrality of the people from the 1930s is therefore not sufficient to categorise this discourse as populist, as it was neither complete nor coherent, and was even less durable. The social democrats’ exercise of power in government was revealed to be even less conducive to such a discourse than when they were in opposition in the early 1930s.

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Conclusion It is therefore hard to identify any coherent and lasting formulation of a populist discourse within social democracy between the wars. In France, and especially in Sweden, elements of populist discourse were more present than in the other configurations. We found that this was facilitated by a pre-existing imagery of a relatively democratic form of national unity. Our case-studies thus suggest that populist discourse is not necessarily well-suited to any social formation. To be possible or effective, it could require deep-rooted cultural and ideological pre-conditions. On the one hand, the inter-war social democratic family was still heavily influenced by its class character and formed part of a powerful workers’ movement that had forged strong collective identities. This is the least surprising reason why the presence of populism on the left was insignificant during those years. But this factor does not come into play at all in the current context of a diminished workers’ movement that was overwhelmingly defeated during the 1980s. In our view, today’s context is therefore much more favourable to left-wing populism. The working classes have very little political involvement, and this translates into particularly high abstention rates among them. Young people with qualifications and the middle classes, who are less alienated from conventional political life but have been radicalised by the 2008 global crisis, are no longer satisfied with the programmes of the government parties, in particular those on the centre-left which had been their political home for a long time. Social democratic elites are now broadly integrated within a political class that takes into account many ‘masters’ besides the wishes of sovereign peoples (Papadopoulos 2013). In this context, it is entirely logical for leaders on the radical left to defend their agenda in two ways that are historically new for the workers’ movement. Firstly, they draw a clear line between themselves and the traditional government parties so as to emphasise their own separateness from the ruling class. Secondly, they deploy their discourse to be as inclusive as possible in its ‘call to the people’, for the very good reason that there is no longer a clearly identified mass political subject around which to organise. On the other hand, the social democracy of the 1920s and 1930s already had the experience of a long period within state institutions behind it. Thus, there were incentives to abandon a strict class-based appeal, especially in a period of crisis when social loyalties were destabilised. On top of that, over those two chaotic decades new economic concepts were hammered out which, in the short term, allowed the interests of the working classes to be reconciled with those of the middle classes – or even those of an entire country – without challenging the entire capitalist system. Sweden figures as the avant-garde of the social democratic compromise, or Keynesian-Fordism, that reached its zenith in the decades of the second post-war period. The attempt to address the people rather than the class is therefore part of social democracy’s move towards moderation and institutionalisation within Western political power. From this point of view, the neo-socialist current was more ambiguous but remained isolated. One may add that the responsibility of exercising state power, plus the fact that social democracy increasingly resorted to

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experts within the civil service, discouraged an anti-elite rhetoric, at least over a long period of time.

Note 1 In France, the class cleavage was weakly distinctive and inclusive, which means that the electorate was quite heterogeneous and the workers themselves quite divided in the matter of political loyalties. Contrary to this typical Latin configuration, also characterised by a chronic ideological polarisation, the other branches of the family were characterised by a much more organic link between the labour movement organisations and the social democratic parties. In the British world, the party was a direct emanation of worker syndicalism, hardly influenced by Marxist ideology. This latter, or some versions of it, proved to be more important in Germany (in the context of a strongly distinctive and moderately inclusive class cleavage) and Sweden (in the context of a strongly distinctive and inclusive class cleavage).

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Laclau, E. (2005) On Populist Reason. (London and New York: Verso). Laclau, E. (2011) Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism. (London and New York: Verso) (first published in 1977). Lefranc, G. (1965) Histoire du Front populaire. (Paris: Payot). Lefranc, G. (1977) ‘Le socialisme en France’, in J. Droz, (ed.), Histoire générale du socialisme. (Paris: PUF). Lévêque, P. (1994) Histoire des forces politiques en France, 1880–1940. (Paris: Armand Colin). Monier, F. (2016) Léon Blum. La morale et le pouvoir. (Paris: Armand Colin). Montagnon, M., Marquet, A. and Déat, M. (1933) Néo-socialisme? Ordre, autorité, nation. (Paris: Grasset). Moschonas, G. (2018) ‘European social democracy, communism, and the Erfurtian model’, in W. Outhwaite and S. Turner (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology. (London: SAGE Publications). Papadopoulos, Y. (2013) Democracy in Crisis? Politics, Governance and Policy. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). Parti Socialiste de France-Union Jean-Jaurès (1933) ‘Manifeste du PSdF’, L’Appel, 19th November. Pelling, H. (1965) The Origins of the Labour Party, 1880–1900. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Peschanski, D. (1988) Et pourtant ils tournent. Vocabulaire et stratégie du PCF (1934–1936). (Paris: Publications de l’INALF). Przeworski, A. (1985) Capitalism and Social Democracy. (Cambridge: Cambridge University). Sainsbury, D. (1990) ‘Party strategies and the electoral trade-off of class-based parties: A critique and application of the “dilemma of electoral socialism”’, European Journal of Political Research, 18(1): 29–50. Seiler, D. (2003) Les partis politiques en Occident. Sociologie historique du phénomène partisan. (Paris: Ellipses). Telò, M. (1988) Le New Deal européen. La pensée et la politique sociale-démocrates face à la crise des années trente. (Brussels: Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles). Tilton, T. (1991) The Political Theory of Swedish Social Democracy. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Trägardh, L. (2002), ‘Crisis and the politics of national community’, in N. Witosek and L. Trägardh (eds.), Culture and Crisis: The Case of Germany and Sweden. (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books). Vovelle, M. (2001) Les Jacobins. De Robespierre à Chevènement. (Paris: Éditions La Découverte).

4 HISTORICISING THE POPULIST TEMPTATION The case of Eurocommunism1 Ioannis Balampanidis

The party family which after 1989 was called post-Communist or radical left has only recently become the subject of a more intensive study (Gomez, Morales and Ramiro 2016;Escalona and Vieira 2013; de Waele and Seiler 2012).Through the global and European crisis that broke out in 2008, many of those parties achieved political visibility and sometimes electoral appeal, as against their social-democratic ‘enemy brothers’, who are in a downward spiral. The political momentum lent new impetus to the academic interest in this party family, which is now being studied from many different perspectives: programmatic positions, policies, electoral success, government participation, international collaboration and networking, stance vis à vis European integration, etc. (Fagerholm 2017; March and Rommerskirchen 2015; Ramiro 2016; Bale and Dunphy 2011;Dunphy and March 2013; Charalambous 2011).In a certain way this plethora of studies is the successor to a research wave that in the previous years had focused on the parties of the extreme/radical/populist Right. As a reflective research phenomenon, the radical left has been increasingly studied in its populist dimension, particularly in the emblematic case of SYRIZA, where the escalating association between left radicalism and populism in the literature is clearly registered (Kriesi and Pappas 2015; Rooduijn, de Lange and van der Brug 2014; Olsen, Koß and Hough 2011). Thus, within the variegated typology of the radical left parties, the ‘Populist Socialist’ type stands out, denoting those radical left parties which place an emphasis on anti-establishment discourse, but, similarly, so does the ‘Social Populist’ party type, meaning those who further develop anti-mainstream discourse by combining left-wing appeals with others that do not belong to left-wing politics (March 2011). In correlating radical left and populism the point of view alters depending on how populism is conceptualised: either a discourse strategy dividing society into two antagonistic camps (the ‘virtuous people’ against the economic/ political/bureaucratic/foreign ‘elites’) and endeavouring to represent the popular-

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democratic demands that are embraced by ‘the people’ (Laclau 1979; Laclau 2004; Laclau 2005); or a mobilising political style, which is not a self-serving ideology (or in some versions constitutes a ‘thin centred ideology’), that can achieve protean transformations by investing in political strategies over the entire Left–Right ideological spectrum (Taguieff 2004; Mudde 2007; Urbinati 2014; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2014). What is distinctive about this chapter, and the book in which it appears as a whole, is that it seeks to add to this debate the dimension of historical time. Given that the literature focuses on today’s conjuncture, the association of the Left with populism appears to acquire an historical or supra-historical dimension. Has it always been so? Has this linkage also existed at other points in the history of the European Left? If not, why not, and if yes, to what extent, in how great a dose and in what form? In the final analysis, is the link between Left politics and populism inherent or is it historically determined? Our hypothesis is that in order to deepen the investigation of the association between the Left and populism, we should historicise it. Αn appropriate case study for this is Eurocommunism, which has been a somewhat paradoxical variety of Western Communism that emerged and reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily in the Communist parties of Italy, France and Spain. It was the last attempt prior to 1989 to initiate a renewal of left-wing politics in Western Europe, an attempt for the Western communist parties to establish once again strategic cohesion and hegemony amidst the dual crisis of both the Eastern (1956 and de-Stalinisation) and Western (‘global 1968’) worlds. And most importantly, there was the crystallisation of a major strategic choice that had its root in the inter-war period and the Popular Front strategy and marked the shift from class politics to national politics. From this perspective, and at a time of destabilisation (social in 1960; economic in the 1970s), Eurocommunism attempted to translate social radicalism into a project for the conquest and exercise of power – a political synthesis codified as a ‘party of governance and struggle’ (partito di lotta e di governo). In this transition from class to nation, which also meant a transformation of communist parties into mass or even catch-all parties with governmental vocation, addressing ‘the people’ was a necessary intermediate step. At the same time, although the prospect of revolution was no longer on the agenda, the communist parties did not cease to be anti-system, historically founded on the basis of a fundamental opposition to the established political élite. If the various conceptualisations of populism converge into conviction that populism presupposes at least an interpellation of ‘the people’ and a contraposition to some ‘élite’ (which is outside the people and oppresses the people), does this lead de facto to the conclusion that the (Euro)communist parties should also have elaborated a populist discourse? Of course, traditional class-oriented communist language has ‘antibodies’ against populist rhetorical constructions, because at its core are the social classes and not the people as an undifferentiated whole. But when an anti-systemic (Eurocommunist) party shifts to a strategy of becoming a ‘national’ political power, as has

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happened in this case, does it not inevitably find itself confronted with the temptation of populism? This is a question we shall attempt to investigate here, following the parallel course of the two major Eurocommunist parties, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the French Communist Party (PCF), which have both converged and diverged over their mode of management of the populist temptation (among other matters). It is a temptation that has been present in the post-war communist movement, but it never reached the point of becoming a key feature of the Eurocommunist strategy, in either its Italian or its French variant. We shall deal with the above questions through a certain understanding of populism, drawing from different approaches in the literature. Populism is not considered hereto be a self-contained ideology but rather a specific politicalrhetorical style that can be linked to any ideology, even an ideology as coherent and resilient as the communist one. But on the other hand our view is not that populism pertains merely to a language of politics, a rhetoric or discourse built on the schema of a single, undifferentiated and in principle ‘good’ people, whether nationally homogeneous (populism of identity / identitaire) or pluralistically inclusive, against a demonised élite (populism of protest / protestataire) (Taguieff 2002; Urbinati 1998; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2013).If we remain on the plane of discourse, we leave out a number of crucial interpretative parameters: strategic manoeuvres, alliances and electoral tactics, relations of social representation, public policies and programmatic agendas. Therefore, in order to examine whether the Eurocommunist parties stood up to, resisted or succumbed to the temptation of populism, we will understand populism as a political language articulated around the minimum dual core of ‘people’/anti-establishment, which claims to politically represent the ‘people’ free from internal contradictions in a vertical polarisation against those it considers the opponents of this ‘people’; this is a mobilising political style, particularly useful in times of crisis, which promises an over-simplification of complex political problems (Taggart 2000) and which may involve an illiberal potential as a shadow of democratic politics (Arditi 2005; Muller 2016; Pappas 2014) or on the contrary comprise a potential corrective to democracy, bringing to the surface the redemptive face of democratic politics as against the banality and disenchantment of pragmatism (Kaltwasser 2012; Canovan 1999). What of all this is to be found in the specific political logic that went by the name of Eurocommunism? Eurocommunism evolved against the backdrop of a multifaceted crisis: a profound crisis of the communist world; a parallel crisis unfolding in the West, with an explosion of social radicalism but also a legitimation crisis, which in Italy took the form of questioning the conservative hegemony of Christian Democracy and in France the end of De Gaulle’s era; and last but not least, the global economic crisis of the 1970s. Thus, in a time of crisis and transition Eurocommunists seized a historic opportunity for transformation of the communist movement in Europe combining social mobilisation with the aspiration of governance. But even if people-centrism or anti-elitism were occasionally present in their rhetoric and mobilising style, the Eurocommunist way out of this state of

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crisis was one of a socially just and rather moderate supersession of the crisis based on a long-term and complex reform agenda. In what follows, we will try to show that although the populist temptation was present from the outset in this major reorientation that aspired to making the antisystemic and sometimes marginal communist parties into political forces national in range and governmental in orientation, this nevertheless never became the predominant mood in their politics. In fact, the Eurocommunist synthesis was constituted by elements that are the polar antithesis of a populist strategy.

From class to the nation A verse from the collection of poems by Louis Aragon La Diane française (1944) says: ‘Mon parti m’a rendu les couleurs de la France’ (My party gave me the colours of France). The historical lesson that the European communists drew from the interwar period was the importance of avoiding isolation. In the Second World War they learned how important it is to become a national political force (Sassoon 2010). The u-turn began in 1935, when the politics of ‘class against class’ ran out of steam. Comintern’s assumption that capitalism had entered a ‘Third period’ in which a working-class revolution was imminent was not ascertained; socialdemocracy was not the other side of fascism and this ultra-revolutionary sectarianism had led communist parties to political marginalisation. The 7th Congress of the Comintern then elaborated the concept of Popular Fronts, which attempted to reconcile two perspectives: promoting unity with the petty bourgeoisie and sections of the bourgeoisie with a view to defending a democratic and anti-fascist republic, without on the other hand renouncing the anti-capitalist prospect of armed insurrection and dictatorship of the proletariat (Amyot 1981). It was during the Popular Front period that the French communist movement resolutely embraced the national colours and the party symbolically changed its name from Communist Party of France to French Communist Party. It dipped its toe in the waters of power, but notwithstanding the invitation from socialist leader Léon Blum, PCF general secretary, Maurice Thorez, was content to extend support to the government (Platone 1985). Equally decisive was the subsequent experience of the Resistance. The case of the Italian PCI is impressive. Marginalised after the defeat of the attempted revolution of the biennio rosso (1919–1920), crushed by the Fascist regime, it nevertheless succeeded through its participation in the Resistance (1943–1945) in achieving much-needed legitimation at the national level but also in penetrating the broad popular masses: at the fall of Mussolini it had 7,000 members, in September 1943 20,000, at the end of 1945 it had 1,700,000 registered members and it reached its peak in 1947 with a membership of 2,250,000 (Lazar 1992).With Liberation the French Communist Party also became a recognised patriotic resistance mass party. Its dynamic saw a second great wave of expansion, with membership approaching 800,000 in 1947 (Dreyfus et al. 2000). Achievement of mass status was the consequence of a threefold strategy: (a) mobilisation of the masses without civil war and with preservation of national unity, (b)

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penetration of state structures (and local communities, as with the PCF in the ‘red suburbs’ of Paris) and participation in post-war governments, (c) prioritisation of reconstruction of a ‘progressive’ post-war democracy distinct from the Bolshevik model (Lazar 1992).The basic components of Eurocommunism were already there in an embryonic form. This strategy also involved the party itself as a political organisation. What Togliatti called a ‘partito nuovo’ (as opposed to Lenin’s ‘party of a new type’) was a party open to society. If fascism was a reactionary mass regime, anti-fascist post-war Italy needed a democratic mass regime, with the Communist Party as a key player. For this to happen, however, the working class, of which the party claimed to be the principal representative, would have to be, in a (Gramscian) sense, ‘nationalised’ (Spriano 1979; Natta 1973).The Italian road to socialism(via italiana) attempted to add an ‘advanced economic and social content to democracy’, with the 1947 Constitution as its frame of reference but also through ‘structural reforms’ that would leave the mark of the communists on post-war reconstruction (Napolitano 1976;Boggs 1982). This was the point of departure for the ‘aggiornamento’ of European communism, which was temporarily interrupted by the outbreak of the cold war and the creation of a sanitary zone around the Western communist parties. With the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956 and the celebrated report by Nikita Khrushchev which marked the beginning if the era of de-Stalinisation, a window of opportunity opened up for these parties to regain the space for free initiative the cold war had deprived them of since 1947 and unfold this strategy up to its furthest consequences. In 1964 Togliatti’s political testament was published in the newspaper Rinascita. The ‘Yalta Memorandum’ is a distillation of all the basic elements of the strategy the PCI had been elaborating in the previous years. First and foremost, the need to transform the Western European communist parties into an ‘effective mass movement’ linked to the ‘great masses’ of the population (such as, in the Italian case, the Catholic masses), while adopting a ‘peaceful road’ to the anticapitalist alternative (Togliatti 1988). An alternative that now evolves ‘within democratic institutions in a bourgeois state’ and is a struggle for progressive social transformation ‘from within’ (progressive trasformazione dall’intero). The ‘democratic and national [and revolutionary…]’ communist party should acquire the consciousness of a nation leading force. This means that it does not limit itself to criticism and denunciation, but ‘proposes solutions to national problems’ (Istituto Gramsci 1962). It does not gamble on impoverishment of the working class but seeks to help strengthen its political power and improve its living conditions. In the same year, the leader of the PCF Maurice Thorez died on the Black Sea in a ship that was taking him to the Soviet Union for his summer vacation. His successor, Waldeck Rochet, presented the Central Committee’s report to the 17th Congress of the PCF, under the key slogan ‘Unity of the Left in a Common Programme’ (Cahiers du communisme 1964).The French Republican tradition, together with the experience of the Popular Front, has made it easier for the PCF to move from the strict class perspective of the inter-war period to a new political language. Extending the logic of 1789, when ‘the masses rose against the aristocrats’, the PCF in the immediate wake of

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May 1968 would come to proclaim that ‘as the party of the working class, it always embodies the interests of the French nation’ (Rochet 1968).

The ‘people’ and the temptation of populism The transition from class to nation had an intermediate step: the people. Forged in the anti-fascist matrix, this ‘people’ was the idealised people of the workers and producers, the good and pure people of toil who are suffering under the capitalist exploitation. They are the people ‘from below’ against the ‘big shots’ (gros) in France, against the ‘palazzo’, as the Communist Pasolini put it, in Italy. This rhetorical trope, characteristic of the populist style, is also to be encountered in the new dialect spoken by Eurocommunists. On the other hand, the Communist language originally possessed an inherent counterweight to a totally populist style: the Marxist theoretical baggage and class analysis precluded any depiction of the people as an entirely homogenised whole, without internal (class) differentiations and conflicts. ‘The people’ could not thus become a political mélange. But the populist temptation is nevertheless always present for the Communist Left. Suffice it to recall its perennial ‘anti-systemic’ suspicion towards ‘bourgeois’ institutions of political representation (as opposed to the direct democracy and the soviets) or the cult of personality where the communist leader, like Maurice Thorez, is often represented as ‘the son of the people’ (le fils du peuple) (Lazar 2007).Contrariwise, the organisational logic of the Communist Party possessed strong intermediate levels of organisation that would have prevented the establishment of an unmediated leaderpeople relationship, which is another typical feature of populism. So even if the temptation of slipping into a typically populist rhetoric is ever present, it still never becomes predominant. It is intensified in times of expansion, such as the phase of the Popular Fronts, but it always encounters internal limits and remains subordinate to other kinds of (communist) rhetoric and political goals. The PCF has always been more vulnerable to the populist temptation because it has over time, even as early as the Popular Front period, developed a rhetoric contraposing the ‘people’ to the ‘200 families’ who rule France within the framework of state monopoly capitalism – an apparently oversimplifying and mechanistic view according to which the impoverishment of popular masses and the crisis of capitalism are inevitable, so that the monopoly system is doomed. But this rhetoric has invariably coexisted with an intense workerism (ouvrierisme) that at critical moments reserved pride of place for the working class (as in May 1968). In the PCI, for which the strong Italian workerist tradition rarely set the tone, the strategy of a national-popular hegemony in the Gramscian sense was not given a populist complexion because the memory of the quintessentially national-populist fascist experience was always present in its reflexes – fascism constructed an internally unified and externally aggressive self-identifying ‘people’. It was the same reflex that motivated the PCI’s categorical opposition to the ‘qualunquismo’ movement that developed between 1944 and 1948, praising the virtues of the ‘ordinary man’ (qualunque).

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By the same token the ambition of the Eurocommunists to achieve the status of a ‘national’ political force led them to reject the hyper-revolutionary pose that was fashionable in the 1960s. It was the New Left movements that renewed the idea of utopia, adopting radical-style variants of the polemical antithesis ‘people versus establishment’ and resorting to a revolutionary immediacy which shares with the populist style a certain ‘magical’ element: the rejection of political complexity and exogenous restraints as well as the suspicion against representative democracy go hand in hand with the aspiration for a simpler and more direct form of governance ‘here and now’ which would enable politics to emerge ‘into the daylight’ (Taggart 2000; Canovan 1981; Taguieff 2002).In contrast to that, the Eurocommunist parties chose to defend the institutions of representative democracy and, at the risk of being considered conservative, rejected the idea of a direct and unmediated revolutionary action. For the PCI the Italian working class had to assume the ‘national leading role’ in which the bourgeoisie had failed, once at the time of the destruction of the liberal-democratic state of the Risorgimento and then again with the consolidation of fascism (Berlinguer 1975). Gradually PCI acquired the profile of ‘a party of governance and struggle’ which combined radicalism and mobilisation with political realism, broader alliances and consensus (Cervetti 1977).The French case is somewhat more ambiguous. Populistic rhetoric alternates (and sometimes coexists) with workerism. So as not to forfeit the distinctive vanguard role the working class occupied historically in the Marxist tradition, the PCF resolutely refused to dissolve it into a ‘heterogeneous aggregation’ of allied social forces (PCF 1970). What it tried to do was to secure a constellation of alliances with traditional middle-class strata, youth, Catholic masses, etc. around the central pole of the working class, so as to make sure that it did not simply disappear into any fantasised uniform and homogeneous ‘people’. But this same schema contraposed the ‘financial oligarchy [to] the overwhelming majority of the population’ (albeit not of ‘the people’). As the alliance with the Socialist Party progressed, the PCF launched the slogan ‘Union of the people of France’, proclaiming a transcendence of the Popular Front (‘going beyond 1936 and 1945’), at the same time as it similarly set this union of the people against ‘a handful of feudal magnates in the industrial and financial sector’ (PCF 1974). At the peak of the Eurocommunist era the PCF also reached the high point of its ambiguity. On the one hand it pushed to the limit its rhetoric of denunciation of the ‘bosses of France’, moving on from the ‘200 families’ to the ‘25 financial and industrial groups that dominate French society’. The denunciation was accompanied by a return to the pattern of miserabilism, projection of the ‘contemporary misery’ of the people that is concealed behind the veneer of capitalist prosperity (PCF 1976) – in 1977 the PCF even organised a campaign to collect testimonies from citizens under the distinctive title of ‘Books of Misery and Hope’! (PCF 1977). But on the other hand, and given that this handful of exploiters had already ‘appropriated the state’ and monopolised it, the party contended that the Union of the People, under the leadership of the working class and with the ‘leading

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influence’ (influence dirigeante) of the PCF, must go beyond a ‘gathering of the discontented, without goals’ and undertake to free the country from its bonds, in collaboration with the Socialist Party, though for the first time since 1947 with the communists at the forefront and in government (PCF 1976). Here the temptation of a populism of protest coexisted with the aspiration of going beyond protest with the ultimate aim of securing admission to the government. The people’s absolute opposition to the ‘establishment’ went side by side with the strategic alliance with the Socialists, once considered also part of the political establishment. However, the stronger became the position of the Socialists, the greater the embarrassment of the Communists and the further their shift back towards the pole of protest.

From protest and radicalism to governance In the years of Eurocommunism, the link between left-wing politics and populism was rarely a focus for academic investigation. One exception was the functionalist approach of Georges Lavau, who posed the question ‘what is the use of the PCF?’; a party which is ‘not exactly anti-systemic, but not exactly systemic either’ (Lavau 1981). In a society with profound social divisions such as the French, with a working class that is not uncommonly tempted by revolution, the political system is inherently unstable. This is why the PCF is recognised and legitimated (fonction de légitimation), and in turn directs social protest of the ‘people’ into ‘legal’ institutional channels and even restrains potentially subversive tendencies, as it did in 1968 (fonction tribunitienne); but it nevertheless fails to become a ‘legitimate opposition’ (fonction de relève politique). In this reading the PCF chooses to preserve the imaginary of revolution, which is a great resource for fuelling mobilisations. But Lavau’s view is rather static. The communist parties have historically contributed to the integration-through-mobilisation of broad (working class) social strata into the institutions of Western democracies: from the right of criticism to the acknowledgement of political rights and then to effective political representation. The Eurocommunist parties attempted to cross the final threshold of this protracted process, that of governance (Lipset and Rokkan 1967), trying to overcome their ‘traditional’ role in the political division of labour like the one that Lavau attributes to them. This means that they had to deal with their own anti-systemic/protest profile precisely at a moment of the utmost social tension: in 1968. At this time, when the problem of revolutionary conflict, dormant since the interwar period, was being brought back onto the agenda, in Italy the Communists were emerging as the second largest party. The central problem for them was that of social and electoral alliances: linking the workers’ vote and the popular and middle class vote (Napolitano 1968; Berlinguer 1972). Though initially uneasy with the explosion in the student movement, the PCI quickly recognised the new dynamic for massive anticapitalist struggle, which the party was however called upon to translate into a ‘change in national politics’. The PCI therefore presented itself as a radical political

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force with governing vocation against the failure of the Italian centre-left governments (PSU and Christian Democracy) and the emaciated governmentalism of the Socialists (ministerialismo); a force that could turn radicalisation into permanent social transformation through structural reforms (riforme di struttura) (PCI 1968). In France the reaction of the PCF to 1968 was, as is well-known, even more uncomfortable. An eventual retreat of the party to hyper-revolutionary positions would have disrupted a strategic choice dating back to 1936. It would have removed any possibility of broader collaboration (with the Socialists, that is) and would have isolated the party from the masses (PCF 1964). In the pamphlet characteristically entitled ‘The Lessons of May–June’ the party attempted to downplay the ‘student’ aspect of the events, emphasising their implications for workers. The student movement was perceived as the expression of a social subject whose origins were bourgeois or petty-bourgeois, and therefore vulnerable to ‘opportunism’ and ‘provocation’ (Rochet 1968).The class viewpoint prevailed at precisely the moment that the insurrectional dynamic would have permitted the PCF to address to ‘the people’ a message of categorical opposition to the establishment and of political change ‘here and now’. It didn’t do this, because that would have meant conflicting with its choice to overcome the established anti-systemic protest profile. The Manifesto of Champigny (PCF 1969), published in May 1969, reappraised radicalism by associating it with this strategic choice. The May uprising was recognised as a challenge to the idea that class struggles have subsided in developed capitalist societies, but what was missing was an alignment between the parties of the left and the trade unions. De Gaulle’s resignation following the rejection of the constitutional referendum of April 1969 paved the way for the replacement of ‘Gaullist power of the monopolies’ by an ‘advanced political and economic power’ on the basis of a common programme inspired by ‘the ideas of socialism’. The time had now come for the PCF to address the Socialists from a position of strength, as a guarantor for the stability of French institutions and at the same time as the interpreter of the genuine dynamics of May. The PCF assumed the task of political guidance of the ‘spontaneous’ social movement, namely the task to represent not only the working class but also the new radicalised social strata, only now within a perspective of conquest of power. In the inter-war period, the answer that had been given by communists to the dilemma ‘revolution or reform’ was revolution. It was not possible to give the same answer now. Alongside the explosion of radicalism in the European societies of the 1960s and 1970s a ‘silent revolution’ in political values was taking place (Inglehart 1977). In this framework, revolutionary change and maintenance of the status quo were two equally minoritarian attitudes. The radical dynamic of the 1960s did not translate into a radical revolutionary choice; it nevertheless fuelled a desire for gradual change in all social classes (and even more so among working class). PCI’s reformism, by the time of the 10th Congress in 1963, took the form of the concept of ‘gradual evolution’, reminiscent of Bernstein’s social-democratic evolutionary socialism. A reformist horizon integrating the struggle against class

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inequalities with the struggle against the clientelistic politics of the Christian Democratic Italian state. PCI thus forged the profile of a modernising political force, in contrast to the ‘old-line’ Christian Democracy. The PCF was equally opposed to opting for a ‘socialist revolution without transition’ (PCF 1969), despite the pressure being exerted from its left, especially after 1968. By contrast, as the project of union with the Socialists progressed, it seemed to be developing a programme increasingly ‘transitional’ in character. The 1971 manifesto ‘Changer de cap’ declared to be ‘not a socialist programme’: socialism was not going to come from one day to the next, but ‘step by step’ (‘en marchant’, like a distant echo, once again, of Bernstein’s famous thesis that what is important is not the final goal of socialism, but the movement towards it). One logical consequence of the deep-seated reformism and the transitional character of the Eurocommunist project was, thus, a political pragmatism and moderation that clashed with the immediate, redemptive style of politics shared by both the radicalism of that time and the language of populism. The Italian Eurocommunists had replaced the slogan ‘make revolution’ with an exhortation ‘to do politics’ (fare politica), meaning that the promise of socialism had to reach an understanding with political pragmatism. Through the ‘years of lead’ that followed 1968, faced with ‘spontaneism’ (spontaneismo) and ‘extremist agitation’, fare politica became an updated amalgam of Machiavelli and Lenin: a political logic that accorded due recognition to the limits imposed by the cold war, economic structures and social dynamics, that precluded PCI from making promises it could not keep (Natta 1971). The rhetoric, but also the overall political, electoral and parliamentary strategy of the PCI, was organised around the signifier ‘structural reforms’. With this weapon it challenged the centrality (centralità) of Christian Democracy as guarantor of the stability and international position of Italy (Berlinguer1971b). PCI introduced itself as a mature governing alternative (Ingrao 1972), presenting its parliamentary credentials – around three quarters of post-war legislation was passed with its consent (Pasquino 1978). Moderation, negotiation and politics within the institutions and not outside of them: those were elements that also distanced the PCI from the temptation of populism. The French Communists were equally inclined to employ the extremism of the time as a lever for shifting to more pragmatic positions. ‘We have never believed that left-wing politics is an all-or-nothing matter,’ Marchais declared in his introduction to the Common Programme (PCF 1972). The promise of an immediate radical change in the existing order, an idea favoured by both leftists and populists, was rejected by the PCF for reasons of attachment to their goal of transcending the status of protest party and approaching that of a potential governmental alternative to the Gaullist bloc. The guarantees provided by the PCI in the parliament were promised by the PCF to local communities: ‘Our vocation for managing public affairs, our sense of state, are acknowledged by millions of French people who see the Communists at work in the communities they administer’ (Marchais 1971). This was the PCF’s way of showing that it was not motivated by some utopian

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mindset oblivious to the more humdrum aspects of everyday national and local politics. But it was PCI that brought the strategy to its climax when, in the depths of the capitalist economic crisis of the 1970s, not only did it not commit itself to the overthrow of the tottering capitalist system but, on the contrary, it announced a policy of ‘fair austerity’ (austerità giusta). It was a paradoxical choice for a communist party, and it was vehemently criticised from the left, but it reflected the ultimate ambition of the Eurocommunist project. To install, that is to say, a communist governing regime that would derive sustenance from social radicalisation and mobilisations but would also translate into a tripartite relationship analogous to the social democratic compromise: strong labour movement, close links between party and trade unions, and acceptance of the free market in exchange for reforms that would incorporate the expanded post-1968 repertoires (social protection, reduction in inequalities, redistribution and fair burden-sharing, but also demands for education, welfare, environment, social housing, quality of life in urban centres, etc.) (Bergounioux and Manin 1989; Scharpf 1990; Grisoni and Portelli 1976). The PCI tried to combine mobilisation with the strengthening of bargaining power and trade union unity. This unusual division of labour worked very well in the first half of the 1970s, a time when the PCI’s electoral strength was at its peak and significant gains were also made by the trade unions. The PCI called upon the trade union movement to adapt wage demands to the ‘objective conditions’ of economic crisis and at the same time to play an active role in economic decision making. It promoted an unconventional response to the crisis: a ‘new economic and ethical model’ that would turn austerity into an ‘opportunity for transforming Italy’ (Berlinguer1977a; Berlinguer1977b). The PCI was not about to promise anything that would be easy, but rather a period of ‘a certain austerity’ though with the greatest possible fairness in adopting the necessary measures and with a view to renewal and transformation of Italian society (PCI 1976).

Alliances, pluralism, liberalism If the core element of the Eurocommunist transformation was the shift from revolution to reform and the translation of radicalism into a programme for government, in the post-1947 cold war conditions of exclusion of communists from power this programme could not be implemented in a political landscape characterised by vertical political divisions. A populist tactics of strong polarisation and of a vividly anti-systemic profile, a partisan strategy that would claim in that way to be the unique and authentic representative of ‘the people’, would be incompatible with the Eurocommunist way. On the contrary: this is precisely the kind of profile that would be moderated through broader political and social alliances that would pave the way to power – not accidentally considered in the literature as the key to shaping Eurocommunist strategy in the critical historical conjuncture of 1960–1970 (Rand Smith 2015).

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For the Italians the alliance strategy was structured around the notion of Historic Compromise presented by Berlinguer in his three articles in Rinascita entitled ‘Thoughts on Italy after the events of Chile’ (September–October 1973). These articles comprise a definitive statement of the PCI’s acceptance that Italy belongs to the Western bloc and above all the Communist Party does not seek a ‘vertical division of the country’, that is, a civil-war-type division between a PCI-led block and a block under Christian Democracy. The PCI’s message was a ‘democratic alternative’ – and not a ‘left alternative’. Downplaying its ideological origins, the PCI strove to avoid what Allende’s Unidad Popular had not avoided: alienating not only the middle classes but also the rising new dynamic strata, particularly those of intellectual labour, as there was always the risk that rather than becoming oriented towards the working class, they would be polarised against it, just as happened with the Catholic masses in the interwar Italy. For this reason the Historic Compromise meant not only a vision of wider alliances but also the building of bridges towards the more progressive forces within the Christian democracy, in order to establish a mutual recognition that would make possible a peaceful coexistence of Italy’s two major political players, rather than vertical polarisation that would divide the country. The memory of fascism was distinctly heavy here. In France a similar logic bore the name ‘Common Programme’. In December 1969 delegations of the Communist and Socialist parties met and produced a joint statement according which ‘only the Left offers the prospect of replacing the alliance of Centre and Right conservatives’ (Cahiers du communisme 1970).Unity was being forged step by step between a dominant Communist Party that lacked the momentum and the ‘legitimacy’ to gain access to the country’s governmental power and a socialist party being rebuilt almost from scratch. Unity was a battle (Fajon 1975) to construct a hegemonic pole of the Left and at the same time a battle between its two components. The Common Programme was signed by both parties in 1972. The dominant position of the Communists’ position was evident: the document itself was almost identical in structure to that of the 1971 PCF Programme (PCF 1972). Key points of this programme, such as what had been the red line for Communists, namely nationalisation of big private enterprises, were to be the subject for continual negotiations and a barometer for the relations between the two political parties right up until the 1981 electoral victory.In the sunnier phases the PCF would openly declare that its own actions, in conjunction with popular pressures, were shifting the Socialists away from their time-honoured tendency towards conservatism and right-wing politics; in stormier times there would be a reversion to mutual denunciations. It is evident that the strategy of alliances that was at the heart of the Eurocommunist agenda, both in its Italian and in its French variant, acted as a deterrent to the allure of populism. Polarisation, division of the social and political terrain into two opposing and non-communicating camps, with one of them identifying itself with the virtuous ‘people’ and the other with the demonised ‘élite’, is an inherent feature of populist discourse. It was entirely absent, not only from the

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rhetoric but also, and above all, from the electoral logic of Eurocommunism and its strategy for the conquest of power. The PCI always operated within the framework of ‘constitutional opposition’ (Natta 1969), rejecting the perspective of an ‘alternative power from below’ (Berlinguer1971a), external to the state institutions and radically opposed to the Christian Democratic government. Drawing on the traditions of the Popular Front (frontismo), it sought to co-opt the political exponents of the ‘intermediate democratic forces’ that Togliatti did not wish to abandon to the Christian Democracy (Socialist Party, PSIUP) but also to oblige the Christian Democracy to recognise the Communist Party as a legitimate political rival and potential alternative government in a cold war Italy (Napolitano 1972). The PCF likewise sought to change the basic dividing lines on the French political scene. In the absence of a structured socialist pole it assumed the task itself of ‘uniting the Left under a common programme’, promoting a renewal of the left-hand side of the French party system. The dominant presence of the Communists was legitimised through collaboration with the Socialists, which indeed dated back to historical conjunctures that had previously linked together the fate of the communist left and the nation: the 1934 agreement for unity of action with the socialists, and the National Resistance Council in the Second World War (PCF 1973). This alliance strategy was inevitably linked to the acceptance of political pluralism, something by no means self-evident in the Communist tradition, especially in its Soviet leg. In the case of the PCF in particular it is obvious that accepting a multiplicity (pluralité) of parties and ideas (Poperen 1974) was a necessary condition for the Common Programme to proceed. There could not have been even the slightest suspicion of accepting the Soviet model that had led to the monolithic state-party identification (Marchais 1973). Against this background the Eurocommunist parties proceeded to radical ideological adjustments such as the elimination of the dictatorship of the proletariat from their ideological arsenal. The PCF was to eliminate the concept almost completely from the Champigny Manifesto, retaining only a rather vague reference to a potential ‘temporary’ and ‘defensive’ dictatorship of the proletariat however subordinated to the electoral way (PCF 1969). Its definitive removal was to come in 1976, through a spectacular surprise move by Marchais (Portelli 1976). This major rupture with the Communist tradition of decades was nevertheless based on the assumption that power belongs to the ‘vast majority of the people’, on the basis of free elections with universal suffrage (PCF 1976). Nevertheless, at the level of intra-party life, democratic centralism would be one of the last powerful strongholds of the communist tradition. Ιt was not until the 1980s that the Eurocommunist parties (both PCI and PCF) explicitly stated that internal pluralism is a primary element of party identity. The culture of pluralism was the outcome of the effective accession of the Eurocommunist parties to the freedoms and rights that had previously been regarded as ‘bourgeois’ and ‘formal’. This was a difficult ideological exercise, which had got under way in 1956 when, for example, at the 8th party Congress, Togliatti

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questioned whether the freedoms and rights that had been won through the struggle of the bourgeoisie in collaboration with the popular masses against the feudal ancien régime should be described as ‘bourgeois’. But even more so, the adoption of elements of liberalism was converted in the 1970s into an aggressive strategy against the conservative revolution of the New Right, which was considered to be leading to an erosion of the acquired rights and freedoms of the interwar ‘glorious thirty’. The ‘bourgeois’ and ‘formal’ freedoms and rights were now not just to be defended but also to be extended. The PCF had therefore imposed on the Common Programme a contemporary agenda starting from the defence of individual and collective freedoms and reaching as far as abolition of Article 16 of the French Constitution, which conferred sweeping powers on the President of the Republic, as strengthening the parliament and introducing a new generation of rights linked to decentralisation, the right to information, etc. On 15th May 1975 the PCF presented a draft declaration on individual and political freedoms (Projet de déclaration des libertés), which was intended to be added to the preamble of the French Constitution (PCF 1975). The ‘struggle for freedom’ was seen as logically inscribed in the action of the PCF within a genealogy whose roots went back to the French Revolution and passed though the administrations of the Popular Front and the first post-war governments in which communists participated (bringing to mind the new rights that they had established: extension of the suffrage to women, press freedoms, social security, etc.) This struggle was a bulwark against the grand bourgeois ‘exploiting minority’ which mounted an attack on liberties and ‘emptied them of their content.’ The draft declaration introduced innovations such as individual and collective freedoms for foreigners living in the country, provisions against racist or anti-Semitic discrimination, extension of economic and social rights (safeguarding of the right to work, equal pay for men and women, a ban on lock-outs, independence of trade unions vis-à-vis the state, the right to housing), and even new generation rights such as the right to information. This wholehearted embrace of political liberalism seems to be yet another indicator of the incompatibility between the Eurocommunist project and the populist style, to which some scholars attribute an anti-liberal character, a suspicion of the institutions of representative democracy that may go as far as authoritarianism. In this respect the French example is the most indicative, the PCF being more susceptible to the populist temptation than the PCI. But its liberal agenda would have been striking even for a non-communist party, demonstrating a clear intention to distinguish itself from the Soviet model and secure acceptance as a major player who respects basic principles in the great French tradition of liberal democracy. Even if at the same time as it advanced innovative proposals to deepen political liberalism and citizens’ rights it was launching a frontal assault on the élite and the ‘minority bourgeois exploiting class’. But in any case, this shift was not, as claimed by Giovanni Sartori, mere disguise of the anti-liberal and authoritarian genome that the communists had inherited from the October Revolution (Sartori 1978). What is important is that a communist party educated its members and voters in the

The populist temptation and Eurocommunism


‘practice of democratic life’ (Napolitano 1976) – a long-term struggle within the institutions instead of the idea of an instant redemption.

Continuities and discontinuities In the above analysis we attempted to historicise the relationship between left-wing politics and populism through the case of Eurocommunism, the last glimmering of the European Left before the onset of the post-Communist era. We accepted that populism is something more than polemical rhetoric that contraposes ‘the people’ to ‘the establishment’; it is a comprehensive style that includes a powerful aspect of social mobilisation in conditions of crisis on the basis of profound political polarisation, a redemptive horizon, and an oversimplification of complex political problems, a promise of making politics simple, transparent and unmediated. If this is the case, then the Eurocommunist project, even if it was lured by the temptation of populism, did not surrender to it. To be precise, it was largely incompatible with it. Confining oneself to the analysis of political discourse, one would probably find much evidence to suggest that Eurocommunism was also susceptible to the attractions of populism. Quite reasonably for communist parties with roots in an antisystemic historical matrix traditionally incorporating polemical opposition to the ‘establishment’ or the ‘elite’, especially in the state of multi-level social and economic crisis of the 1960s–1970s, even if usually the opposition is expressed in class terms (in the case of the PCF it was ‘the 200 families that rule France’). And at the same time, in their shift from class politics to national politics, it was inevitable that Eurocommunists would reach out to ‘the people’, the fundamental political imaginary of modernity and an integral part of every political project that wants its reach to be nation-wide. But if an interpellation to ‘the people’ was sufficient evidence to verify a populist intention, modernity as a whole could be categorised as populist. The more so if, as in the present case, the call to ‘the people’ has coexisted with a reference to the working class, because ‘the people’ have never been a single and undifferentiated entity. But above and beyond the rhetoric, at the heart of the Eurocommunist project lied a specific political and even electoral logic of political and social alliances, excluding the populist choice of vertical polarisation between a genuine representative of the popular will and all the others. Behind this logic there is a historical explanation: it was the Eurocommunists’ attempt to transcend the quarantine that had been imposed on them by the cold war. The same structural limitation characterised the innovative Eurocommunist synthesis: not an identification with the ‘here and now’ style of 60s radicalism but its translation into a pragmatist plan for conquest of power – even if it seems a paradoxical choice in the framework of the social tension and the political crisis of the times. The promise of Eurocommunism was rarely redemptive. It bore a greater resemblance to the pragmatic path of gradual emancipation, sometimes (as in ‘fair austerity’) even anti-popular in content. Even if this would be the subject for another study, it can be raised here as an open question: where does the legacy of Eurocommunism fit into the picture of

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today’s radical left? This is important, among other reasons because SYRIZA, which is the leading party in the regeneration of the European Left and at the same time an example par excellence of what the relevant bibliography identifies as the Left-populist nexus, is a descendant of the Eurocommunist KKE-esoterikou. In any case historicization of the link between populism and the Left also serves the purpose of bringing to light macro-historical continuities and discontinuities between different instances of left-wing politics. In that sense, it could be argued that – as in the Eurocommunist phase – SYRIZA attempted to translate the radicalism of an era of crisis into a powerbuilding project, moving from protest to governance. And, unlike the PCI or PCF, it managed to do so. But the strategy and style it employed was radically different. A trajectory of lightning-fast elevation into power in the wake of deep polarisation (memorandum/anti-memorandum); the ‘people’ as a universally present signifier homogenising a multitude of social demands and mobilisations; a redemptive promise evidently radical (abolition of the memoranda through a single movement), albeit not kept. These are all elements that put the populist style at the epicentre of its political logic, whereas by contrast in the Eurocommunist project it remained in the background, as a standing temptation rather than a sin committed.

Note 1 The author thanks Susan Landau for helping him to offer a proper English version of this text.

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Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2013) ‘Exclusionary vs inclusionary populism: Comparing contemporary Europe and Latin America’, Government and Opposition, 48(2): 147–174. Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2014) ‘Political Leadership and Populism’, in P. Hart and R. A. Rhodes (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Muller, J.-W. (2016) What is Populism? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press). Napolitano, G. (1968) ‘Una realtánuova’, Rinascita, 24–25-1968. Napolitano, G. (1972) ‘I tre nodi della sinistra italiana’, Rinascita, 4–2-1972. Napolitano, G. (1976) La politique du PCI. Entretien avec E. Hobsbawm, (Paris: éditions sociales). Natta, A. (1969) ‘Risposte agli interlocutori’ (debate in view of the 12th Congress of PCI, 8 February 1969), Rinascita, 3–1-1969. Natta, A. (1971) ‘Intellettuale colletivo’, Rinascita, 5–11-1971. Natta, A. (1973) Togliatti e il partito nuovo. (Istituto di studi comunisti ‘Palmiro Togliatti’). Olsen, J., Koß, M. and Hough, D. (eds.) (2010), Left Parties in National Governments. (Basingstoke: Palgrave). Pappas, T. (2014) Populism and Crisis Politics in Greece. (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan). Pasquino, G. (1978) ‘The PCI: a party with a governmental vocation’, The Johns Hopkins University, Bologna Center, Occasional Paper no. 19, February 1978. PCF (1964) ‘Report of the Central Committee of PCF, Dix-Septième congrès du PCF’, in Cahiers du communisme, numéro spécial, no. 6–7, June–July 1964. PCF (1969) Manifeste du PCF. Pour une démocratie avancée, pour une France socialiste! (Paris: éditions sociales). PCF (1970) ‘Report of the Central Committee of PCF, 19e Congrès du PCF’, in Cahiers du communisme, no. 2–3, February–March 1970. PCF (1972) Programme commun de gouvernement du parti communiste et du parti socialiste. (Paris: éditions sociales). PCF (1973) ‘20e Congrès du PCF’, in Cahiers du communisme, January–February 1973. PCF (1974) ‘Report of the Central Committee of the PCF, XXIe Congrès extraordinaire du PCF, “Union du people de France pour le changement démocratique”’, in Cahiers du communisme, no. 11, November 1974. PCF (1975) Projet de déclaration des libertés. (Paris: édition de l’Humanité). PCF (1976) ‘Report of the Central Committee of the PCF, ‘Le socialisme pour la France’, XXIIe Congres du PCF’, in Cahiers du communisme, no. 2–3, February–March 1976. PCF (1977) ‘Archives départementales de la Seine-Saint-Denis, Archives de la section de propagande et de communication du PCF, “Cahiers de la misère et de l’espoir”’, 1977, box 261 dossier J 18/ 1–114. PCI (1968) Progetto di tesi per il XII Congresso del PCI. PCI (1976) ‘Election manifesto’, in Politica ed economia, no. 2–3, June 1976. Platone, F. (1985) ‘Les communistes au gouvernement: une expérience complexe et contradictoire’, Revue politique et parlementaire, 914 Poperen, C. (1974) ‘Aspects actuels de la situation politique’, in Cahiers du communisme, no. 7–8, July–August 1974. Portelli, H. (1976) ‘La voie nationale du PCF et du PCI’, Projet, no. 106, June 1976. Ramiro, L. (2016) ‘Support for radical left parties in Western Europe: Social background, ideology and political orientations’, European Political Science Review, 8(1): 1–23. Rand Smith, W. (2015) Enemy Brothers. Socialists and Communists in France, Italy and Spain. (London: Rowman & Littlefield). Rochet, W. (1968) Les enseignements de mai-juin 1968, (Paris: éditions sociales)

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Rooduijn, M., de Lange, S. L. and van der Brug, W. (2014) ‘A populist zeitgeist? Programmatic contagion by populist parties in Western Europe’, Party Politics, 20(4): 563–575. Sartori, G. (1978) ‘Calculating the risk’, in A. Ramney and G. Sartori (eds.), Eurocommunism: The Italian Case. (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research). Sassoon, D. (2010) One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century. (London: I. B. Tauris). Scharpf, F. (1990) La Sociale démocratie européenne face à la crise. (Paris: Economica). Spriano, P. (1979) Intervista sulla Storia del Pci. (Rome-Bari: Laterza). Taggart, P. (2000) Populism. (Buckingham: Open University Press). Taguieff, P.-A. (2002) L’illusion populiste. (Paris: Berg International). Taguieff, P.-A. (ed.) (2004) Le retour du populisme. (Paris: Universalis). Togliatti, P. (1988) Il memoriale di Yalta. (Palermo: Sellerioeditore Palermo). Urbinati, N. (1998) ‘Democracy and Populism’, Constellations, 5(1): 110–124. Urbinati, N. (2014) Democracy Disfigured: Opinion, Truth and the People. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press). de Waele, J.-M. and Seiler, D.-L. (eds.) (2012) Les partis de la gauche anticapitaliste en Europe. (Paris: Economica).


Contemporary radical left parties and populism


The recent decline in the performance of social democratic parties across Europe has been coupled with a rise of new radical left-wing parties which seemingly have emerged from the new protests movements that have been prominent since the end of the cold war. The succession of the alternative globalisation campaigns that were first evident at the World Trade Organization Ministerial conference in 1999 saw a new type of politics that was not being represented in party politics. At the same time, movements such as the Zapatistas and Occupy emerged that endorsed different strategic aims and objectives previously associated with parliamentary socialism. Whilst parties such as SYRIZA and Podemos have emerged to make significant impacts on the political fabric, the campaigns of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in the UK and the US have perhaps gained more attention. In both cases, they have emerged as outsiders within their respective parties and have utilised grassroots supports which have added to their success. Both have relied upon forms of populism in the broad sense, in that they have looked for such bottom-up ‘organic’ support in order to contest the elitist and established orders within their own organisations. To a degree Sanders and Corbyn have looked to take the concerns that have resulted from this post-cold war increase in protest politics. Neither emerged from within the confines of the hierarchies of the Labour or Democratic Party, nor from within their respective influential bodies. Corbyn did not emerge from the Trade Union movement nor did he build up a prominent reputation within local government. Similarly, Sanders remained heavily committed to adopting an independence stancethroughout his political career. He firstly stood as a member of Vermont’s Liberty Union Party and then later as an Independent, endorsed by the Democratic Party as a Vermont senator. In addition, neither could lay claim to having emerged from the intellectual wing of their respective traditions. Yet, despite this, by emerging from the arena of ‘protest’ politics, their campaigns have

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perhaps more than any other, sought to place the left more strategically within a war of position against neoliberalism. This chapter will suggest that the populist strategies adopted by Corbyn and Sanders can be viewed in a manner that Gramsci understood as an attempt to try and build a‘national-popular’ collective will that is vital when looking to challenge the key principles or ‘common-sense’ of a prevailing hegemonic order (Gramsci 1971). Thus, rather than suggesting that they have emerged as spontaneous responses to certain forms of crisis and appear as ‘empty signifiers’ in the poststructuralist form (Laclau 2005; Panizza 2005), it will suggest that their campaigns have been specific ‘counter’ hegemonic responses to the dominant practices of the neoliberal post-cold war world order that has become increasingly under threat since the financial crisis (Worth 2013). Thus, rather than seeing them as posthegemonic expressions, it will argue that the forms of left populism utilised by Corbyn and Sanders should be assessed in terms of their potential for hegemonic contestation and transformations. As this chapter will show, both campaigns have looked and to an extent succeeded in de-legitimatising forms of hegemonic neoliberal principles that had previously been endorsed by both parties since the end of the cold war. It also suggests that whilst a new form of politics might be emerging on the left that looks to engage in contesting popular hegemonic attitudes, at present this process remains in its infancy. For, whilst Sanders and Corbyn have managed to engage with social movements and with a whole genre of protest politics in order to stake a claim within political and civil society, the wider strategic lack of a firm and coherent alternative has, at present, reduced its capability for wider transformation. Indeed, while both might have looked to dissect the workings and principles of the existing order, they have lacked a firm coherent programme that would build on their respective popularities.

Left populism and the ‘national-popular’ As the many chapters within this collection have shown, the emergence of populism has been seen as a key strategic expression within recent new left parties and organisations. The success of the Zapatistas, coupled with the so-called ‘Pink Tide’ in Latin America, has seen elements of populism apparent within the horizontalism1 that emerged with the explosion of social movements that complement this left turn on the continent. (Holloway 2002; Aslanides 2016; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014). As a result, bodies such as the World Social Forum (WSF), with its slogan of ‘another world is possible’ emerged as a space where such movements could converge and develop. Later, and to some extent more problematically, populism has become synonymous with the re-emergence of cult popular leaders, perhaps best reflected with Hugo Chavez and the process of Chavismo in Venezuela (Castaneda 2006;Weyland 2013). In Europe, such horizontalism also developed from the alternative globalisation movement protests in the early part of the century but took on more relevance in the aftermath of the global financial

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crisis and the emergence of austerity. It has been protests emerging from this that has led to the label of ‘populism’ being applied to new radical parties that have gained traction across the continent and especially in Southern Europe. In both the European and Latin American cases, populism has been seen to be evident within these movements as they appear as ‘outsiders’ to the political process, look to attack established forms of politics and often follow certain popular figures and/or single issues (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017). Whilst populism is usually identified with the right and particularly with forms of populist nationalism (Worth 2013), the very appearance of it within left politics has led to many condemnations. Like populist-nationalism of the right and far-right, it engages on emotion and irrationality as opposed to rationalism and the utilisation of traditional political bases for mobilisation (Mudde 2004). For me, recent so-called forms of left populism should be understood in terms of their means to an end as opposed to their specific content. In this case, I believe Gramsci’s term of the ‘national-popular’ becomes important. Writing from prison in the early 1930s, Gramsci argued that a party needed to be constructed that understood the organic demands of the people and one that could culturally engage with wider society in a manner which would provide a unity capable of challenging and transforming existing social relations (Gramsci 1971: 1987–192; Gramsci 1985: 208–109). As argued by Mark McNally, in his excellent critique of the ‘Alternative Globalisation Movement’, the idea of the national-popular is one that is driven by anti-elitism and anti-bureaucracy yet is also one driven by firm political objectives and not by wholly ideals (McNally 2009). The extension of McNally’s argument is that the form taken by the alternative globalisation movements, at least in the early part of the 21st century, was that of abstract idealism as opposed to strategic class emancipation. In addition, this seemed to emerge from positions of middle-class elitism, whether from the academy, from NGOs or from elsewhere, rather than from an organic reflection of national and international society (McNally 2009: 67–70, see also Chandler 2004 for a wider critique on the elitism inherent within NGOs). Certainly, organisations such as the WSF, which was set up as an expression of the sum of radical global civil society in opposition to the World Economic Forum in Davos, have been seen as being criticised and being ineffective and elitist in appearance (Worth and Buckley 2009). Despite this, the WSF did provide a vehicle for the very left-populist movements that appeared in South America in the first decade of the 21st century. Brazil’s Workers’ Party initiated the idea of the WSF to provide a platform for mobilisation, which resulted in the success of Lula. Likewise, many of the South America leaders used the forum as an instrument to utilise popular support and also, in the case of leaders such as Chavez, to build up their cult status (Worth and Buckley 2009). There it became an instrument for support that, contra to the wider alternative globalisation movement, provided a basis for national-popular consciousness within current countries as a means to counter neoliberalism. Likewise – and indeed vindicating the argument made by McNally – both the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns were nationally specific in nature. Whilst both had been

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heavily influenced by the alternative globalisation movements and indeed attracted much support from international onlookers, they have been built specifically within their national contexts and been forged from national electoral campaigns. Gramsci’s concept of the construction of the national-popular was utilised in terms of its metaphorical cohesion as a body to yield transformation in society. Yet, for this to be successful, it needs to situate itself within a war of position and be able to contest the hegemonic principles that make up the prevailing order. For Gramsci, a war of position was one which was not geared upon obtaining formal or institutional power as such (which was defined as a war of movement or manoeuvre), but one that looks to win the ideological hearts and minds of a specific society (Gramsci 1971: 107–110; 237–240; 419–420). The method used in order to achieve this goal is the ability to consistently contest and challenge the fabric of an order by de-legitimising the corner-stones of its governing assumptions. Or, to be more specific, to challenge its forms of ‘common-sense’ that are implicit within it (Gramsci 1971: 420–424). In order for this to occur, a collection of counter-narratives or alternative assumptions (sometimes referred to as ‘counter-hegemonic’) need to be mobilised in a manner which reflects some form of consistency and popular support across all levels of society. For a contestation to be both organic and reflect the interests of the working classes or the ‘people’ in contemporary terms, progressive movements need to be mobilised in a manner that can contest what the late Stuart Hall termed as ‘neoliberal common-sense’ (Hall 2011; Hall and O’Shea 2013). Here he identified what a popular movement needs to do in order for a war of position to be constructed so that the main tenets of neoliberalism can be contested within the terrain of political and civil society. Contesting conventional neoliberal beliefs such as private investment into key areas of the economy, private ownership, the necessity of austerity, and debt alleviation and tax cuts for multinational corporations need to take centre stage and such contestation requires attrition across all levels of political society (Hall 2011) Yet for some, who at least proclaim to still belong to the left, such an organic populism based upon the wishes of the working class has already developed with the election of Trump and the Brexit result. The Revolutionary Communist Party in the UK, which existed until 1997, argued in its journal Living Marxism that the main goal in the constructing of socialism lies with the working class taking control over society. Living Marxism was replaced by Spiked Online and saw its previous members, such as Brendon O’Neill, Frank Furedi and Claire Fox, take up a strictly anti-elitist position that has praised reactionary anti-establishment campaigns as being indicative of workingclass advancement. Thus, despite maintaining commitments towards open borders, the Spiked Online tradition and Brendan O’Neill in particular have dismissed the global justice, alternative globalisation and more recently the campaigns of Corbyn and Sanders as ‘bourgeoisie’ and have welcomed Brexit, and anti-environmental campaigns as being more representative of working class struggles against elitism (O’Neill 2007; O’Neill 2015; O’Neill 2016).

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From a less confrontational position, these definitions of populism are also compatible with those made previously by authors publishing in the journal Telos, who expressed similar anti-elitist libertarianism despite many of these elements endorsing reactionary nationalist principles (for an example, Piccone 1995). Gramsci’s own concerns with the engagement of such reactionary movements, however, could be seen with his own detailed illustrations of how the working classes in Italy were co-opted into supporting fascism. His own understanding of the national-popular was distinctive as it looked to use diverse cultural traditions in order to unite them to construct a popular form of working-class emancipation. In this sense, the anti-elitism is facilitating a means to an end as it looked towards wider forms of transformation, rather than ones entrenched within national cultures. Therefore, building a national-popular discourse that would look to contest capitalism through international solidary was one that was favoured (McNally 2009; Ives and Short 2013). As a result, any forms of racism sentiment that promotes xenophobia, racism and inward-looking nationalism needs to be opposed and worked against. As both the rise of Corbyn and Sanders have occurred in the midst of the rise of this more conventional right-wing populism, alternative strategies put forward by them have looked to distinguish their own visions from those associated with the anti-immigration rhetoric which has emerged strongly in the US and the UK (Worth 2018). That said, as we shall see below, both have not perhaps been as explicit as they might in looking to distance themselves from instances of such reactionary entanglement within their campaigns. What has certainly been noticeable in the campaigns of Sanders and Corbyn is that a new left has emerged which has had its roots in the various civil protests against global capitalism in the 1990s and in the years following 2000. Both have followed the trend that has emerged with the success of new (or previously marginalised) radical left parties at the expense of established social democratic parties. Both have also appeared as outsiders but have looked to exploit the wave of ‘antielitism’ from within the structure of such established parties. They have both also benefited from the development of protest politics and from radical social movements that have mobilised in light of the financial crisis. Finally, they have utilised forms of new media and have populised soundbites in order to contest traditional forms of political communications. From this we can tentatively analyse both Sanders and Corbyn campaigns by assessing whether they have been successful in establishing signs of a national-popular movement capable of providing a significant challenge to established neoliberal forces. From this we can also assess whether they provide a coherent alternative hegemonic project that might contribute to the potential of transformation within the wider global economy (Worth 2018).

Corbyn and Momentum Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the 2015 Labour leadership sent shockwaves through both the Party and the political establishment at Westminster. Before his election, Jeremy Corbyn made his name as a left-wing Bennite,2 who had campaigned

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against trade with apartheid South Africa and British involvement in war in the Middle East and for the reunification of Ireland and self-autonomy for Palestine. The leadership election itself saw Corbyn managing to just gain the minimum of endorsements required from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) (36 votes), aided by some, who publicly stated that they only endorsed him to provide a leftwing candidate for genuine debate within the party.3 He then presented himself as a rank outsider and fought off the other three conventional candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. The ideological difference between Corbyn and the other candidates over the economy was seen from the onset of the campaign. As Corbyn looked to attack the notion of austerity, Cooper and Kendall went so far as to argue that the Labour Party needed to accept some responsibility for the fallout on Britain of the global economic crisis in 2008/9, due to their ‘over spending’ whilst in power. The leadership contest saw an unprecedented number join the party in order to vote and despite the condemnation of Corbyn by central figures in the Labour Party that included Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Jack Straw and David Miliband, Corbyn won a landslide by gaining 59.5% of the votes, a full 40% ahead of Burnham, his nearest challenger. As leader, Corbyn found that the PLP’s resistance to him meant that he would find it increasingly difficult to gain legitimacy as a leader (Richards 2016). Aligned with elements that appeared outside of the Party, organisation Momentum was founded as a catch-all civil society body that encompassed those that backed Corbyn in the leadership race. It would provide both a voice with society at large, by campaigning within constituencies as a separate unit to the Labour Party, and more significantly as a counterweight to the PLP. As a result, Momentum members have increasingly found success in elections to the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the governing body within the Labour Party. By 2018 Momentum had attracted a membership of around 35,000, which numbered approximately a quarter of those in the Conservative Party. Labour Party membership, since Corbyn’s election, had increased from around 250,000–300,000 to over 550,000. This has formed a significant base for the development of a radical form of politics, but the first year saw Corbyn fight off a number of obstacles, largely from inside the PLP. The initial difficulty to finding willing MPs to form an opposition – particularly when he named leftwing colleagues John McDonnell and Diane Abbott as his main protagonists – was compounded by the Brexit campaign where he was criticised for not going far enough in campaigning for a remain vote (Johnson 2016). Subsequently, Corbyn was to fight off another challenge in the vote’s aftermath with Owen Smith taking him to another leadership contest. As with his first leadership contest, it was in campaigning where Corbyn seemed to come into his own. The snap general election in 2017 was called by Prime Minister Theresa May as a means of strengthening her majority in light of the Brexit negotiations. At the time of calling the election, the Conservative Party was polling 15–20 points ahead of the Labour Party (UK Polling Report 2018). Labour’s campaign, coupled with the most significant mobilisation of Momentum, saw the Labour Party gain enough seats to leave the Conservative Party without a

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majority in parliament. In a space of six weeks, the campaign saw the Labour Party move to gain over 40% of the vote and to come within 2% of the Conservatives. The campaign itself looked to contest the necessity of austerity by questioning its very purpose, nature, logic and reasoning (McDonnell 2017). In this sense, to quote from the journalist Paul Mason, it did look to explicitly contest the ‘common-sense’ inherent within wider neoliberalism (Mason 2015). The campaign also looked to counter the mainstream print media who overwhelmingly favoured the continuity of austerity and May’s position and leadership over Brexit. The ‘tabloid’ press has been seen as a source of (right-wing) populist mobilisation within British society and has also been one where the majority of its outlets have historically backed the winning party (Hardy 2014). The use of social media and of online material by Momentum thus looked to compete not just in terms of content but also in terms of populist content. To a degree, the 2017 election could be somewhat of a watershed moment in the recent relationship between the mass media and general elections in Britain as the tactic of demonising the Labour Party, which was a favoured tactic when Labour was in opposition during the 1980s and 1990s prior to the election of Blair, did not seem to have an effect (see for example, Crewe and Gosschalk 1995).This was despite Corbyn being subjected to some of the worst personal attacks in modern electoral history (Temple 2017). As a result, the growth and increasing reliance of social media has arguably broken down one of the major barriers (or at least its myth) to the potential for left-wing success in Britain as the emergence of social media and access to the internet has served to neutralise its former influence (Beckett 2017). Momentum’s mobilisation over social media might have provided the catalyst for the overwhelming registrations of the youth vote, with the turn-out for those under 25 increasing from 43% in 2015 to 59% in 2017 (The Guardian 2017). The surge, coupled with estimates that over 60% of that age range voted for Corbyn, demonstrated that what was emerging appeared to resemble a form of ‘nationalpopular’ mobilisation in a manner than had not been seen in the post-cold war. The fact that Corbyn’s campaign was identified having the hallmarks of being ‘anti-establishment’ and as a clear opposition to the status-quo also indicated that this appeared more than merely a political contest but more of a wider clash of ideology (Rustin 2017). The indication that the election seemed more about the beginnings of a popular movement than a mere party contest could also be seen with the Labour Party’s actual manifesto. Despite tabloid press claims that the manifesto was ‘radical’, ‘Marxist’ and the ‘blueprint for economic disaster’ (for example, Tapsfield and Groves 2017; The Sun 2017), the document itself was far from radical and rather vague in much of its orientation. For example, spending programmes within the Manifesto rest on a largely standard Keynesian alternatives to austerity (Labour Party 2017: 8–9), whilst initiatives such as increases in higher ends of income and corporation tax and in the scope of stamp duty on City shares are progressive in nature but largely in line with centre-left initiatives across Europe (Labour Party 2017: 9–10).

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Indeed, one could also point to the manifesto and to claims that Corbyn has not provided enough clarity in his objective of developing a post-austerity, post-neoliberal programme. Certainly, both his leadership manifesto and the election manifesto do not compare in its radicalism to the Bennite one in 1983. Here, one could suggest that the Corbyn leadership and the Momentum movement provide popular protest without offering specific alternatives. Indeed, before the election, he and McDonnell put together a taskforce that included Joseph Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and Richard Murphy that looked to develop post-neoliberal strategies. This, however, was to split due to poor leadership within a year (Cowburn 2016). In addition, little attention has been given since the election to the post-capitalist literature that Mason and others have argued (Mason 2015; Srnicek and Williams 2015). From a Gramscian perspective, it is one thing to suggest that a movement can emerge that can contest the logistics and the common-sense of a specific order, but another to construct the foundations of an alternative hegemonic project. Indeed, without an array of intellectuals spread across the contours of civil society both complementing and constructing such a hegemonic challenge then such a movement appears shallow and redundant (Gramsci 1971: 14–23). Momentum itself has also come in for criticisms here. Whilst promising to return to the Labour Party’s ‘working class roots’, it has come in for criticisms for adopting radical ideas that it believes are in the interests of the lower classes, but are not necessarily favoured by individuals within such classes themselves (Wolkenstein 2016). As stated above, one of the main objectives in developing a national-popular framework is that the main demands and concerns are driven from the bottom up and come from those which the party itself is geared towards representing. It is also difficult to fully realise how significant Momentum was in the 2017 election and how far its brand of left populism had in influencing the result. For example, many have pointed to the fallibility of the Conservative campaign as a reason for the increase of Corbyn support. The campaign was seen as unprecedented in the way it contributed to the Party’s own decline in the polls, characterised by gaffes, u-turns and Theresa May’s own inability to lead it in any meaningful direction (Gamble 2017). The fall-out from Brexit also contributed to an extent to May’s failure to increase her share of the vote, particularly in urban middle class areas which voted to remain in the 2016 referendum (Heath and Goodwin 2017). Thus, it can be possible to overestimate the extent that Momentum and the Corbyn effect had in gaining this increased support. Yet, despite these observations, it must be said that the Corbyn ‘revolution’ is still in its infancy (Rustin 2017). It also has contained some of the more classical elements of populism particularly around the cult of leadership. In line with his past experience of campaigning for specific causes, Corbyn’s populism has generally been seen through his addressing of large crowds and cultural events. This was perhaps best exhibited by his appearance at Glastonbury. Momentum have taken this to another level, with the construction of a football chant – ‘Oi Jeremy Corbyn’ – that is chanted whenever he addresses the crowd. Corbyn supporters – who have been popularly dubbed ‘Corbynistas’ – have also been derided for

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aggressive behaviour in confronting opponents, in attacking individuals who do not follow the ‘Corbyn line’ and in using threatening language online to MPs (most notably women MPs) who have either challenged Corbyn or are identified as opponents (Nunns 2017). As a result, they have been condemned as being ‘thugs’ by MPs Ben Bradshaw and Angela Eagle,4 labelled ‘idiots’ by journalists and roundly attacked by other groups within the party as propelling Labour towards a left-wing form of Trumpism (Pope 2017; McTernan 2016). For members of Momentum, these accusations appear as distortions, which naturally emerge as attacks from varying sources of the establishment. On the contrary, many in Momentum suggest that the diverse activities within group meetings include the establishment of reading groups and development within political debate (Reidy 2016). This would indeed suggest the building of organic intellectuals and the development of education within forms of civil society in the manner that Gramsci had outlined (Gramsci 1971: 5–52). The success of Momentum has also drawn explicitly from the surge in social protest movements which had had some roots in the anti-war movement that Corbyn along with Tony Benn led. The anti-austerity movements, aided to some degree by the Occupy movement, but built alongside race and gender equality groups, LGBT groups and anti-corporate groups formed a new form of politicisation that Momentum could develop (Pickard, 2017; Pickard 2018). This has indeed been a wider feature of the appeal of the populist left. Indeed, as Donatella della Porta and others have recently suggested and indeed as David Bailey has shown in his chapter in this collection, anti-austerity protests have facilitated a new type of radical politics of the form that Momentum and Corbyn have exploited (see della Porta et al. 2017). This new form of politics has also been fused alongside the wider Bennite tradition within the Labour Party. How much this might be seen to be ‘counterhegemonic’ or one that offers a hegemonic challenge to neoliberalism is far more debatable as, at present, there has been little significant substance on how a politics might emerge that serves to transcend neoliberalism. The term ‘left populism’ can also be seen as problematic when looking at Corbyn’s campaigns (as opposed to Momentum). As Luke March points out, if populism is understood by its core principles of anti-elitism, people-centrism and popular sovereignty, then there is a lack of evidence of such language in any recent Labour Party document or Manifesto, including the one for the 2017 General Election (March 2017a; March 2017b). If, however, we can look to understand it through the lens of the ‘national-popular’ there is evidence to suggest that such a development has been – at least – in some stage of development.

Sanders and the re-invention of socialism For large parts of the US presidential primaries, Sanders was depicted as the ‘left’ version of Trump, within a wider populist tide that had emerged within US politics (Oliver and Rahn 2016; Judis 2016). As a riposte to this, some have suggested

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that the term seems to indeed be applied lazily, suggesting that Sanders does not embody the explicit anti-pluralist, autocratic nature that the term implies (Muller 2015; Muller 2017). Here, Trump goes some way in embodying such a populism due to his dismissal of the relevance of institutions that have been democratically and multilaterally built up over time. Sanders, in general, adopted a largely positive position on international organisations and indeed a reformist one to those that appeared to leave too much power in the hands of few actors. Indeed, in his bestselling political statement ‘Our Revolution’, he argues for the necessity of the US to take the lead in developing an international environment regime (Sanders 2016). On the other hand, libertarian political philosopher Jason Brennan suggested that Sanders adopted not just a similar populist approach to Trump but similar policies to him in the area of economic protection and immigration (Brennan 2017). For him, the depiction of the slide towards populism perhaps had not been stressed enough. Like Corbyn to an extent, Sanders did succeed in bringing back ideological debate into the political mainstream, which had previously been marginalised. As an Independent who had distance himself from the traditions of the Democratic Party, Sanders was always likely to bring in a vision that would contrast to any conventional candidate. An example of this was his use of the term ‘democratic socialism’ throughout his campaign. As a country that has received significant attention over its lack of organised socialism, (see, for example, the classical studies of Sombart 1976; and also of Laslett and Lipset 1984) Sanders appeared keen to centralise the term for his platform. Indeed, in terms of semantics this provided a novel departure point especially when the term is favoured over the (ambiguous) term ‘liberal’ that the American left are traditionally associated with. Whilst previous campaigns on the left, such as Jesse Jackson’s in the 1980s, might have gained endorsements from groups such as the Democratic Socialists and a variety of fringe Trotskyist and Marxist–Leninist groups,5 Jackson rooted himself firmly within the traditions of the civil rights movement. For Sanders, the use of the term ‘democratic socialism’ was both symbolic – in the sense that it brought the term back into the realm of American politics – and strategic. In terms of the mobilisation of support, Sanders was seen as having gained from the Occupy Wall Street movement that appeared in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Sanders did much to gain a positive reputation by supporters of the movement by making a passionate speech in December 2010 at the US Senate condemning the corporate power inherent within US capitalism (Sanders 2016). It was here also where a fashioning of a type of national-popular could be seen. Increasingly, both Occupy and other social movements – particular those positioned around inequality and environmental causes – looked to add weight to populise his cause. At Democratic Party internal sessions during the primaries, supporters from Occupy looked to use disruptive tactics as a means to gain an advantage for Sanders (Heaney 2016). In this sense Sanders’ supporters adopted an ‘outsider’ like position which is both consistent with anti-establishment populism and consistent with establishing a counter-hegemonic position. As with Corbyn, Sanders’s ability to

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engage with and gain huge popularity as a leader – for example, Corbyn’s ‘Oi Jeremy Corby’ chant – Sanders’ campaign became synonymous with the phrase‘feel the Bern’. The outsider anti-establishment factor was also evident with the super-delegate endorsements as Clinton took votes from all the 20 governors, 45 out of 47 Senators and 177 of the 191 Representations, and it was that that was always ultimately to be Sanders’ undoing. Again, like Corbyn, Sanders’ support and poll rating subsequently increased as the campaign went on, preferring the campaign trail to internal party politics. As with Corbyn, Sanders’ rise to prominence has also heavily been supported by the new wave of protest movements and radical social movements that I have mentioned above. In the case with Sanders, the anti-corporate campaigns that had emerged from the alternative globalisation movements and the American Social Forum provided a foundation for this, with the anti-war movement particular important given Hilary Clinton’s support for military intervention in the Middle East (Gautney 2018). It was the substance of these protest moves, who themselves appear as ‘outsider’ pressure groups in their essence, that provided the impetus for the Sanders campaign. In terms of the management of mobilisation, the Sanders’ campaign also looked to engage with social media in a manner that maximised support horizontally and allowed the movement to gain traction with grassroots networks. As those in Communication Studies have suggested, there is a correlation between the intensity of social media participation in elections with a mobilisation of grassroots activist enablement (Chadwick and Stromer-Galley 2016; Penney 2017b). The Sanders team looked to engage with this by adopting a hybrid model of political communication that focused on combining the necessary traditional top-down form of engagement with one that provided space for grassroots participation via the medium of social media. The snowballing of this participation has seen such a model being heralded as a recent success given the obscurity of Sanders prior to the campaign (Penney 2017a). In testament to this, Sanders entered the national Democratic primary with around 5.5% of the vote but finished up on over 45% and had closed the gap with Clinton (Real Clear Politics 2016). Indeed, it has been this hybrid top-down, bottom-up campaign that featured in both Corbyn’s 2015 and 2017 campaigns but also previously with both Ron Paul and the Brexit Leave Campaign.6 To a degree this would suggest that new forms of politics that rely on populism or popular engagement would have an advantage over traditional media outlets, a factor that was telling with Corbyn’s 2017 election campaign. In terms of policy, Sanders spelt out the contours of his ‘political revolution’ throughout the campaign. His key objectives included the ‘reforming of Wall Street’, the reform of finance, greater welfare spending, reversing climate change and ‘dealing’ with inequality (Sanders 2016: 122–126). Whilst certainly radical in outlook the content lacks any firm ideas on how this might be achieved or facilitated. From this, one might also follow Brennan’s arguments that such rhetoric displays standard signs of populism, as they merely promote grand popular ideas that cannot rationally be fulfilled without strategic planning (Brennan 2017: 2–3).

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To a degree it might also resemble Laclau’s understanding of the ‘empty signifier’ (Laclau, 2005). Yet, like Corbyn, Sanders seeks to create a movement that looks to challenge the key understandings and principals that tie the dominant practices of (what Sanders terms) corporate power. Again, here there is tentative evidence of what might be conceived as some form of the emergence of a construction of the ‘national-popular’. However, there are also parts of the Sanders’ campaign which would suggest that if a movement of some type did emerge, it was more middle-class and racially white, rather in any way ‘organic’, than might first appear. In terms of race, whilst Sanders did narrow the gap of non-white voters under the age of 45, he still was overwhelmingly beaten by Clinton. Similarly, there was no clear indication of any class support (in terms of income) between the two (Jordon 2016). The race issue was indeed illustrated by several incidents with groups such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ during rallies throughout the course of the campaign. Indeed, despite being one of the more substantial grassroots movements that has emerged in the US in recent years, he did not manage to gain the backing one might expect. Sanders is also not perhaps the model of anti-establishmentism that is often expressed.The notion that, like Trump, Sanders had emerged as an outsider to Capitol Hill is false when considering his lengthy journey from the Mayor of Burlington up to the House of Representatives and then to the Senate. Here, at least, he has the impression of appearing as a political insider and journeyman. Here, also, he could be considered as a professional career politician. Both these features point to the same elements of elitism that were earlier present in the WSF, and to radical social movements/civil society (outlined above). On closer inspection the Sanders’ projects might appear more suburban and middle-class in orientation and less ‘organic’ than it might appear. Despite these observations there can be no doubt that the Sanders’ campaign allowed for a genuine left voice to gain traction within mainstream politics.It is difficult to say at this moment whether the arrival of such a campaign like Sanders’ represents a wholescale destruction of what Nancy Fraser terms the end of the ‘progressive neoliberal’ era, that was fashioned by Clinton and built upon by Obama. For Fraser, the Sanders’ campaign not only ‘exploded the reigning neoliberal common-sense’ but was also on a parallel with Trump in terms of its significance and was only halted by the apparatchiks that control every level of power in the Democratic Party (Fraser 2017a; Fraser 2017b). Certainly, in endorsing social democratic ideals and an alternative programme, we can see the emergence of a potential hegemonic challenge from the left to the common principles and assumptions of neoliberalism. By utilising the support of certain social movements, such as elements of Occupy, and in doing so making an attempt at stimulating a grass-roots movement beyond the 2016 campaign, we can see some resemblance of the beginnings of a ‘national-popular’ mass. There are two points to consider over what the implementations might be for building such a movement, particularly in order to make the most of any potential hegemonic disintegration in the manner that Fraser suggests. Firstly, it remains to

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be seen whether Sanders appears as a one-off or whether his campaign can develop an expansion of a left alternative. To a degree, this would show whether the Sanders’ campaign extends beyond the man himself when sustaining a movement. As is implicit within many standard definitions of populism, individuals and the cult of the ‘leadership’ often becomes a key feature, thus limiting any potential sustainability in a political project (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017; Abts and Rummens 2007). In contrast, if such left-populism is fuelled towards the construction of a ‘national-popular’ movement, then such leadership becomes less relevant as a collective will develops (Gramsci 1971: 130–131). Secondly, questions about the ethnic, class and generational support for Sanders might come under more scrutiny if this impetus for ‘democratic socialism’ does not attract more black working class and less metropolitan supporters. If it is serious in looking to sustain a movement from ‘below’ that can put up a challenge both to the populism of Trump and the wider US neoliberal regime that appears under threat, then this needs to be addressed.

Conclusion: Sanders and Corbyn This chapter has suggested that the recent Sanders and Corbyn campaigns, evident with the former’s campaign for Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016 and the latter’s period as leader of the Labour Party from 2015, are consistent with the types of leftpopulism that are outlined in this book. It also argues that for such forms of populism to be useful, they need to be placed within the wider context of their potential for transformation. Thus, rather than condemn such populism as being shallow, spontaneous and lacking in rational thought, or understanding it as an ‘empty signifier’ within a wider process that might lead to progressive/feasible outcomes, this chapter prefers to define their significance within the Gramscian understanding of the national-popular. From this, it has looked at whether the respective campaigns have planted the foundations for such an organic collective capable to challenge the ideas of the contemporary neoliberal order. To answer this, it must be acknowledged that both campaigns have had a seismic effect on oppositional politics in the Lockian heartland.7 It can also be suggested that both campaigns have indeed explicitly attacked the nature and form of global capitalism, whether by dismissing the ‘necessity’ of austerity (in the case of Corbyn) or by attacking the financial governance inherent within political society (in the case of Sanders). Here, we have seen forms of ideological contestation that have not been seen at the centre of political debate since the end of the cold war. Despite this, there remains significant caution when looking to proclaim that forms of organic movements are emerging at the centre of civil and political society in a manner that Gramsci sought to outline. For one, both campaigns remain open to elements of elitism in certain forms. The observation that Momentum and the Sanders’ supporters are largely defined by their metropolitan, educated, ‘white middleclass’ status, is one that has been used by several opponents (as outlined above). Whilst there is some leverage in this, particularly in terms of supporter participation, there is evidence certainly in the case of Corbyn that suggests it is in the middle B and C range of social classes that support appears less forthcoming (Curtis 2017). However, both

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metropolitan and generation (the so-called ‘youth quake’) dominated support for both campaigns were evident. This polarisation would certainly question whether an organic movement of the sort that Gramsci understood in his ‘national-popular’ will of the people is indeed developing in any form (Gramsci 1985: 209–210). Secondly, both campaigns have yet to construct a wider alternative hegemonic vision for any national-popular framework to fit around a wider war of position. Both Sanders and Corbyn have not constructed a coherent set of frameworks that would substantially provide the left with a clear post-neoliberal socialist set of programmes. Whilst both their programmes point to the need to construct a brand of radical politics for the 21st century (Labour Party 2017; Sanders 2016), they do not have a model in the form of the 20th century version of national social democracy. Indeed, this has remained a fundamental flaw of the left since the demise of that form of ‘left-nationalist’ post-war social democracy (Worth 2013). Finally, there is still a concern with both movements, over their respective longevity. Returning to Stuart Hall, the whole process of contestation is one that is based upon the ability to maintain a war of position, by its ability to adapt and respond to its changing environment (Hall 1986). For a movement to build it therefore needs to both expand its focal points of contestation and defend these against those that look to contain them. This is certainly the concern with Sanders, as it appears unclear at present where the momentum he picked up from his campaign goes from here. Despite these points, it should certainly be acknowledged that both seem to represent the beginnings of a political challenge that had hitherto existed within the politics of protest and in the fringes of mainstream political debate.

Notes 1 The term ‘horizontalism’ comes from the Spanish term horizontalidad and is attributed to look to contest political hierarchies through the construction of direct democratic space at all levels of civil society. 2 A name taken to mean supporters of the radical labour politician Tony Benn. Corbyn led Benn’s Labour leadership challenge to (the next leader) Neil Kinnock in 1988. 3 The two who publicly stated this were Margaret Beckett, a veteran Blairite, and the right-wing Frank Fields, who has long attracted resentment with the left of the party for his membership of the right-wing think-tank ‘Reform’ and with interviews that place Margaret Thatcher as a one of his political ‘heroes’ (Independent 2008). 4 Angela Eagle initially contested Corbyn in the second leadership race but pulled out due to threats and abuse. 5 For example, the US League of Revolutionary Struggle and the Maoist ‘Line of March’. 6 Trump’s own particular brand of personal social media usage would discount him from this. 7 This was a term coined by Kees van der Pijl, when looking at the spread of AngloAmerican capitalism (van der Pijl 1998).

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Beckett, C. (2017) ‘Did broadcast stage management create a vacuum for social media’, in E. Thorsen, D. Jackson and D. Lillekar (eds.), UK Election Analysis: Voters, Media and the Campaign: Early Reflections from Leading Academics. (Bournemouth: Bournemouth University). Brennan, J. (2017) Against Democracy. (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Castaneda, J. (2006) ‘Latin America’s left turn’, Foreign Affairs, 85(3): 28–43. Chadwick, A. and Stromer-Galley, J. (2016) ‘Digital media, power and democracy in parties and elections: Party decline or party renewal?’ The International Journal of Press/Politics, 21(3): 283–293. Chandler, D. (2004) Constructing Global Society: Morality and Power in International Relations. (London: Palgrave). Cowburn, A. (2016) ‘Thomas Piketty, leading left-wing economist, resigns from Labour Party role’, Independent, June 29. Crewe, I. and Gosschalk, B. (1995) Political Communications: The General Election Campaign of 1992. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Curtis, C. (2017) ‘How Britain voted at the 2017 general election’, YouGov, https:// yougov.co.uk/news/2017/06/13/how-britain-voted-2017-general-election/. Della Porta, D., Fernández, J., Kouki, H. and Mosca, L. (2017) Movement Parties against Austerity. (London: Polity). Fraser, N. (2017a) ‘The end of progressive neoliberalism’, Dissent, January 2. Fraser, N. (2017b) ‘From progressive neoliberalism to Trump’, American Affairs, 1(4): 46–64. Gamble, A. (2017) ‘The botched election outcome’, Quadrant, 61(6/7): 22–24. Gautney, H. (2018) Crashing the Party: From the Bernie Sanders Campaign to a Progressive Movement. (London: Verso). Gramsci, A. (1971) Selections from the Prison Notebooks. (London: Lawrence). Gramsci, A. (1985) Selections from the Cultural Notebooks. (London: Lawrence). The Guardian (2017) ‘Young voters, class and turnout: How Britain voted in 2017’, The Guardian, June 20. Hall, S. (1986) ‘The problem with ideology: Marxism without guarantees’, Journal of Communication Inquiry, 10(2): 28–44. Hall, S. (2011) ‘The neoliberal revolution’ Soundings, 48: 9–28 Hall, S. and O’Shea, A. (2013) ‘Common sense neoliberalism’, Soundings, 55: 8–24. Hardy, J. (2014) Critical Political Economy of the Media: An Introduction. (London: Routledge). Heaney, M. (2016) ‘Bernie Sanders and the Occupy Wall Street Wing of the Democratic Party’ Mobilizing Ideas, September 26, https://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/2016/09/ 29/bernie-sanders-and-the-occupy-wall-street-wing-of-the-democratic-party/. Heath, O. and Goodwin, M. (2017) ‘The 2017 General Election, Brexit and the return to two‐party politics: An aggregate‐level analysis of the result’, The Political Quarterly, 88(3): 345–358. Holloway, J. (2002) Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today. (London: Pluto Press). Independent (2008) ‘Frank Fields: Frank & dash; but so sorry’, Independent, 18 May 2008 Ives, P. and Short, N. (2013) ‘On Gramsci and the international: A textual analysis’ Review of International Studies, 39(3): 621–624. Johnson, A. (2016) ‘Letter to PLP’ June 2016 Jordon, W. (2016) ‘Age and race in the 2016 Democratic Primary’, YouGov, https://today. yougov.com/news/2016/06/07/age-and-race-democratic-primary/. Judis, J.-B. (2016) The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics. (Columbia Global Reports).

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Labour Party (2017) For the Many, not the Few: Labour Party Manifesto, 2017, (London: Labour Party). Laclau, E. (2005) On Populist Reason. (London: Verso). Laslett, J. and Lipset, S.-M. (1984) Failure of a Dream? Essays in the History of American Socialism (Berkeley: University of California Press). March, L. (2017a) ‘The left and right compared: The British case’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 19(2): 282–303. March, L. (2017b) ‘Contrary to popular opinion there is no populist upsurge in Britain’, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/populisms-in-britain/. Mason, P. (2015) Post-Capitalism: Our Guide to the Future. (London: Allen Lane). McDonnell, J. (2017) ‘Labour is the only anti-Austerity party’, Scottish Left Review, http:// www.scottishleftreview.org/article/labour-is-the-only-britain-wide-anti-austerity-pa rty-now/. McNally, M. (2009) ‘Gramsci’s internationalism, the national-popular and the Alternative Globalisation Movement’, in M. McNally and J. Schwarzmantel (eds.), Gramsci and Global Politics: Hegemony and Resistance. (London: Routledge). McTernan, J. (2016) ‘The idiots in Momentum will destroy themselves before they destroy Labour’, Daily Telegraph, February 8. Mudde, C. (2004) ‘The populist zeitgeist’, Government and Opposition, 39(4): 541–563. Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017) Populism: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Muller, J.-W. (2015) ‘Parsing populism: Who is and who is not a populist these days’ Progressive Review, 22(2): 80–89. Muller, J.-W. (2017) What is Populism. (London: Penguin). Nunns, A. (2017) The Candidate: Jeremy Corbyn’s Improbable Path to Power. (London: OR Books). Oliver, J.-E. and Rahn, W. (2016) ‘Rise of the Trumpenvolk: Populism in the 2016 Election’, The Annuals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 667(1): 189–206. O’Neill, B. (2007) ‘Help I’m a Marxist that defends capitalism’, Spectator, November 28. O’Neill, B. (2015) ‘Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a man of the people. He’s a man against the people’ Spectator, September 25. O’Neill, B. (2016) ‘Brexit: A brilliant revolt against the political class’ Spiked Online, http:// www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/brexit-a-brilliant-revolt-against-the-political-cla ss-eu-referendum/18490#.WoYBp4PFLIU Panizza, F. (ed.) (2005) Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. (London: Verso). Penney, J. (2017a) The Citizen Marketer: Promoting Public Opinion in the Social Media Age. (Oxford: Oxford University Press) Penney, J. (2017b) ‘Social media and citizen participation in “official” and “unofficial” electoral promotion: A structural analysis of the 2016 Bernie Sanders digital campaign’, Journal of Communication, 87(3): 402–423. Piccone, P. (1995) ‘Postmodern populism’, Telos, 103: 45–86. Pickard, S. (2017) ‘How Momentum got Britain’s young interested in politics’, https:// blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/how-momentum-got-young-people-interested-in-forma l-politics/. Pickard, S. (2018) Politics, Protest and Young People. Political Participation and Dissent in Britain in the 21st Century. (Basingstoke: Palgrave). van der Pijl, K. (1998) Transnational Classes and International Relations. (London: Routledge). Pope, C. (2017) ‘How populism took hold’, Progress, http://www.progressonline.org.uk/ 2017/06/27/how-left-populism-took-hold/.

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Real Clear Politics (2016) ‘2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination’ YouGov, https:// www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/2016_democratic_presidential_nom ination-3824.html. Reidy, T. (2016) ‘Is Momentum a cult of dangerous thugs?’, https://www.vice.com/en_ uk/article/pp4vdn/momentum-corbyn-a-cult-of-dangerous-thugs. Richards, S. (2016) ‘Leadership, loyalty and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn’, The Political Quarterly, 87(1): 12–17. Rustin, M. (2017) ‘Are real changes now possible? Where next for Corbyn and Labour?’, Soundings, 66: 7–22. Sanders, B. (2016) Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in. (London: Profile Press). Sombart, W. (1976) Why is there No Socialism in the United States. (London: Palgrave). Srnicek, N. and Williams, A. (2015) Inventing the Future: Post-capitalism and a World Without Work. (London: Verso). Stavrakakis, Y. and Katsambekis, G. (2014) ‘Left-wing populism in the European periphery: The case of SYRIZA’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 19(2): 119–142. The Sun (2017) ‘Labour’s leaked manifesto is a blueprint for economic failure and domestic impoverishment’. The Sun, May 12. Tapsfield, J. and Groves, J. (2017) ‘The new longest suicide note’, Daily Mail, May 11. Temple, M. (2017) ‘It’s the Sun who lost it’, in E. Thorsen, D. Jackson and D. Lillekar (eds.), UK Election Analysis: Voters, Media and the Campaign: Early Reflections from Leading Academics. (Bournemouth: Bournemouth University). UK Polling Report (2018) ‘UK Polling Intension 2010–2018’, http://ukpollingreport.co. uk/voting-intention-2. Weyland, K. (2013) ‘The threat from the populist left’, Journal of Democracy, 24(3): 18–32. Wolkenstein, F. (2016) ‘The Labour Party, Momentum and the problem with intra-party democracy’, Democratic Audit, http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/80538/1/democraticaudit.com-The %20Labour%20party%20Momentum%20and%20the%20problem%20with%20intra-party %20democracy.pdf. Worth, O. (2013) Resistance in the Age of Austerity: Nationalism, the Failure of the Left and the Return of God. (London: Zed Books). Worth, O. (2018) ‘The battle for hegemony: Resistance and neoliberal restructuring in postcrisis Europe’, Comparative European Politics, 16(1): 126–142. Worth, O. and Buckley, K. (2009) ‘The World Social Forum: Post-modern prince or court jester’, Third World Quarterly, 30(4): 641–661.


Introduction Over the last decade, scholars and other observers throughout Western Europe have been associating left-wing radicalism and populism with increasing frequency (Laclau 2005; March 2007; Mudde 2017; Rooduijn and Akkerman 2017). This discovery of the phenomenon of left-wing populism has several grounds. First, it provides a useful, sometimes neutral but often derogatory, label to reclassify parties which cannot be called anti-systemic or extremist but retain important traits differentiating them from the centrist mainstream. Secondly, it points to real and important features of their ideas, discourse, programmes and organisation, no matter if new or simply more visible than in the past. Finally, it simply reflects the popularity and fashionable character of the concept of populism, which has spawned both a huge scholarly literature and a pervasive use in the mass media and beyond (Cambridge Words 2017; Bale, van Kessel and Taggart 2011; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017). In France, as in the rest of Western Europe, the populist label has until recently been used almost exclusively with reference to radical right movement such as the ones led by Boulanger, Poujade and Le Pen (Winock 1997). Populist elements were implicitly identified at the core of radical left politics by scholars but were not labelled as such. Some examples of this practice are Lavau’s (1968) analysis of the function tribunitienne of the French Communist Party (Parti communiste français, PCF), Birnbaum’s (1979) depiction of the myth of the tiny exploitative elite in French history and Martelli’s (1995) essay on the efforts of the PCF to merge ‘red and blue’, communism and the nation. Works explicitly associating populism and leftwing radicalism started to appear in the mid-1990s (Lazar 1997) but remained relatively isolated. A systematic association in the media and in the scholarly

Left-wing populism and Jean-Luc Mélenchon 107

literature starts only around 2010 and is tightly linked to the political activity of a single individual: Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Birnbaum 2012; Fassin 2017; Fassin 2012). A former minor politician of the left wing of the Socialist Party (Parti socialiste, PS), Mélenchon left in 2008 in dissent with the European and social policies of his former party to become the leading personality of the French radical left. In his two presidential campaigns of 2012 (with the Left Front, Front de gauche, FdG) and 2017 (with the Unbowed France, France insoumise, FI), he turned around the fortunes of this enfeebled party family, totalling respectively 11.1 per cent (4 million) and 19.6 per cent (7.1 million) of valid votes. This feat was accompanied by a strongly populist discourse attacking a greedy and malign oligarchy, urging the people to take back control of their society through a civic revolution and promising the creation of a Sixth Republic marked by a major democratisation of political institutions and social relations. The 2017 campaign marked a further populist shift from the point of view of rhetoric and organisation, as the left/right divide was completely eclipsed by the opposition between people and oligarchy and a fluid personal movement replaced the more structured coalition of parties of the FdG. This chapter is devoted to an analysis of the discourse of Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the two presidential campaigns of 2012 and 2017, with the aim of contributing to answering the four key questions put forward by the introduction of this volume (see Chapter 1): the newness of left-wing populism; its concrete content; its consequences on the radical left; and its democratic implications. France is one of the most interesting case studies in this respect, as it features both a long, strong tradition of left-wing radicalism and the recent emergence of a powerful left-populist movement. In the first section, I discuss the relationship between populism and left-wing radicalism, putting forward an interpretation that sees them sharing a similar discursive structure except for the identification with the people, which may or may not overlap depending on the context. In the second section, I provide an overview of the use of populist rhetoric in the history of the French radical left. In the third section, I carry out a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Mélenchon’s discourse in the 2012 and 2017 campaigns, fleshing out the precise features of his use of populist rhetoric. In the fourth section, I discuss the broader consequences of the ‘populist turn’ for the French radical left and French democracy. The main findings and their implications are summarised in the concluding section.

Populism and left-wing radicalism: similar structure, elastic peoplecentrism Populism can be classified in various ways (Chiocchetti 2017c), the most important of which are the ‘thin-centred ideology’ and the ‘discourse’ view. The former (Mudde 2004) is clearly predominant in the literature, but the features of populist ‘ideology’ seem too ‘thin’ indeed to constitute an ideology at all (Freeden 2017). The latter, famously expounded by the Essex School of discourse analysis (Laclau 2005), makes less demanding assumptions. In practice, both approaches are largely

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complementary, broadly agreeing on the main features of populism which they treat respectively as ideological or discursive. In my analysis, I follow the approach proposed by the editors of the present book, treating populism as a discourse and as a ‘rhetorical style’ (see Chapter 1). This is compatible with an emphasis on the radical indeterminacy of the structure of the populist discourse, which can point to widely different definitions of ‘the people’ and diametrically opposed programmatic and strategic implications (Stavrakakis et al. 2018). To avoid misunderstandings, however, it is important to stress that analysing a given discourse through the lenses of populism theory does not imply: any identity judgement (assuming that actors identify as populists), any salience judgement (acknowledging populism as the fundamental element of the discourse), any amalgamation judgement (conceptualising left-wing and right-wing populism as variants of a common extremist genus) nor any value judgement (positing populism as a regressive and anti-democratic ideology). The politological literature has reached a near-consensus on the definition of the fundamental premises of populist rhetoric (Akkerman, Mudde and Zaslove 2014; Mudde 2004; Rooduijn 2014; Rooduijn and Akkerman 2017). These are often summarised as people-centrism and anti-elitism; in fact, they also include the belief of the separation of societies in two camps (dualism) and the claim of a fundamental antagonism between them. Three other key elements, such as the advocacy of ‘democratic extremism’ or of anti-liberal forms of ‘populist democracy’ (Canovan 1999; Lucardie 2016; Riker 1982), the conception of the people as homogeneous and the proclamation of a crisis, seem to be rather corollaries of the basic definition than autonomous components. Further elements, such as exclusionary views of the people, conspiracist paranoia, the use of simplistic language and direct communication techniques, the presence of charismatic leadership and loose organisational mediations, are present in several populist movements but not in all of them. Conversely, non-populist theories reject some or all the basic premises. Mudde (2004) identifies two main alternatives: elitism, which sticks to the distinction between people and elite but takes sides for the latter, and pluralism, which claim that societies are divided in a plurality of not necessarily antagonistic groups. Stavrakakis et al. (2018) prefer to define the former as (elitist) anti-populism. These, however, are clearly not the only alternatives. On the one hand, the relationship between people and elite may be acknowledged but deemed to be mutually beneficial. On the other hand, antagonistic world views may exist which are based on different cleavages, such as ethnicity, nation, religion, class, ideology and so on. What is the connection between populism and left-wing radicalism? I argue that the structure of radical left discourse largely shares the main premises of populism, but its identification with ‘the people’ is elastic and contextual. Left-wing radicalism normally embraces the idea of a binary division of society, an antagonistic conception of politics and a radical anti-elitism based on the pursuit of political and social equality. The main difference lies in the precise identification of the camp opposed to the elite. This is traditionally assumed to be, based on an abstract Marxist reading, not ‘the people’ but ‘the working class’. However, this claim does

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not fully reflect the actual historical practice of radical left thinkers and movements, where a variety of friend-enemy frames based on socio-economic, socio-political and ideological criteria coexist. Left-wing radicals indeed predominantly see their own struggle as a socio-economic one, identifying with an economically exploited mass fighting against an exploitative and irrational system (capitalism) and its associated social group (the bourgeoisie, the capitalists). This camp, however, has been variously designated as the working class (the proletariat, the workers), the plebs (the masses, the popular classes, the common people), the non-elite (the historic bloc, the multitude, the people, the nation), and even humanity (Gramsci, 1975; Hardt and Negri 2000; Lenin 1902; Lenin 1921; Mao 1957; Marx 1844; Marx 1848). In addition, left-wing radicals often perceive their own activism in socio-political terms, identifying with the oppressed (the ruled, the dominated) against an oppressive political system and its associated social group (oppressors, ruling class, elite) (Lenin 1902; Marx 1848; Therborn 1978). This socio-political oppression has been variously understood as a mere consequence of economic exploitation, as grounded in but relatively autonomous from capitalist relations, or as deriving from a multiplicity of independent causes (for example, capitalism, political domination, patriarchy, racism and international relations). Finally, left-wing radicals also inevitably identify in ideological terms as supporters of a specific worldview against supporters of opposing worldviews. Such a camp has been variously designated as communism (socialism, revolution), the left, emancipation, progress and humanism. Empirically, each of the above-mentioned terms may refer to narrower or broader social groups: a minority of the people, a majority of the people or an overwhelming majority of the people. Discursively, each group so defined may be designated as ‘the people’ (for example, the exploited people, the oppressed people, the people of the left) or with other terms, which in turn may be intended as synonymic with the people or as different from it (usually smaller). Finally, the option for populist or non-populist terminologies is generally non-exclusive and highly contextual. From this follows that radical left discourse is intrinsically open to an identification of the in-group as ‘the people’ and to the use of a populist terminology, but the choice to do so varies according to traditions, contexts and strategic purposes. What matters most, therefore, is not the abstract use of populist rhetoric, but its precise content and implications.

Populist rhetoric in the history of the French radical left The history of French left-wing radicalism shows that no sharp separation between populist and non-populist rhetoric exists. French left-wing radicals have regularly defined their in-group in opposition to an oppressive elite, but the content, size and designations of the latter have varied and coexisted over time. Drawing from a wide range of ideological and discursive resources such as utopian socialism, Marxism, anarchism, syndicalism, social republicanism, plebeian populism and radical humanism, they have variously appealed to communism, socialism, the working class, the left, the oppressed, the people, the nation and humanity.

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Empirically, these terms may have referred to very similar or very different social groups. Discursively, the choice of ‘communists’ and ‘workers’ frequently – but not always – signalled radicalism and isolation while the remaining terms signalled the pursuit of broader audiences. At the same time, the adoption of a populist rhetoric was compatible with diametrically opposed political strategies: either a strategy of ideological moderation and cross-class alliances (for example, during the Popular Fronts) or a strategy geared at radicalising broad social strata against the social and political establishment (for example, during the Paris Commune). In the French revolution, Jacobins, Cordeliers, Enragés and Babouvists vied for the leadership of the radical wing of Republicanism (Soboul 1984). To different degrees, they all identified simultaneously as radical republicans, patriotic representatives of the nation against an oppressive ruling class and friends of the common people exploited by the rich and by particular interests. The discursive appeal to ‘the people’ was predominant in all three cases (Anonymous 1792; Landeux 2013; Maréchal 1796). In the 19th century, radical left activity expanded to a multiplicity of arenas, ranging from open class struggle on the workplace, the patient building of working-class organisations, general propaganda, great plebeian insurrections (1830, 1848, 1871) and sporadic electoral activity (Becker and Candar 2005a). Left-wing radicals developed a more specific understanding of the socio-economic roots of oppression (capitalism) and identification with the ‘workers’ (ouvriers, travailleurs). At the same time, they continued to champion the cause of the Republic (now a ‘social Republic’), of popular sovereignty and of the common people (Huard and Mazauric 2010). Empirically, radical authors all broadly identified with a politically oppressed, economically exploited and revolutionary majority of the population rising against a small elite of aristocrats and bourgeois. Discursively, this group was designated indifferently as ‘the workers’, ‘the people’, ‘the masses’ or other terms (Blanqui 1832; Pottier 1871; Proudhon 1848; Vallès 1871). In the Third Republic, under the influx of Marxist, anarchist and syndicalist ideas, a tighter identification of the radical left with ‘the workers’ and with ‘socialism’ took the upper hand (Becker and Candar 2005a). The post-World War I Communist Party, similarly, initially expounded an intransigent workerist and communist rhetoric (Parti communiste – Section française de l’Internationale communiste 1921). References to the people, the republic, the nation and the left tended to be associated with the moderate wing of the socialist movement pursuing cross-class alliances with bourgeois forces, such as the Waldeck-Rousseau government of 1899–1902, the union sacrée of 1914–1919 and the cartel des gauches of 1924–1934. This centrality of industrial and rural proletariat notwithstanding, the radical left simultaneously appealed to a broader audience, with a particular attention to the small peasantry and female homemakers. Discursively, this broader camp was sometimes subsumed within working class and sometimes designated as ‘masses’, ‘working people’ or simply ‘people’. Around 1934, the Communist Party spectacularly reconciled itself with the categories of the people, the nation, the left and the republic. These then became

Left-wing populism and Jean-Luc Mélenchon 111

permanent elements of the communist discourse, albeit accompanied by a continued emphasis on alternative categories such as the working class, the international proletariat, communism and Soviet ‘democracy’ (Becker and Candar 2005b; Labbé 1980; Martelli 2010). Frequently, the use of populist and patriotic rhetoric was linked to the pursuit of political alliances including moderate socialist and bourgeois forces: notably, the Popular Front government of 1936–1938, the Resistance of 1940–1944, the anti-fascist governments of 1944–1947, the Union of the Left alliance of the 1970s, the Mitterrand government of 1981–1986 and the Jospin government of 1997–2002. In other cases, however, it simply served to underscore a commonality of interests of the overwhelming majority of the population against a tiny capitalist elite, fascism or American imperialism, accentuating the divide between the only true friend of the people (the PCF) and the parties conniving with its enemies. Radical left groups outside of the PCF, in turn, were divided in their attitudes. Trotskyists were normally very critical toward appeals to the people and the nation, equating them with an ideological capitulation to the bourgeoisie and an accommodation to chauvinism (Trotsky 1936). Maoists, Stalinists and ‘soft Maoists’ were instead favourable, but this embrace did not entail any programmatic or relational moderation: for them, the interests of the people and of the nation required a violent opposition to capitalism and all capitalist and revisionist parties (Étienne 2003). In the 1990s, finally, the discourse of the radical left parties – Communists, Trotskyists and left-Republicans – continued to mix narrower and broader terms, but the emphasis gradually shifted in favour of the latter (Besancenot 2002; Laguiller 2002; Nouveau parti anticapitaliste 2009; Parti communiste français 2007; Parti de gauche 2013; Parti ouvrier indépendant 2008; Verrier 2013). All parties broadly identified with the interests of the many against the few, although they variously designated the former as ‘the workers’, ‘the popular classes’, ‘the people’ or ‘human beings’. Ideological references to communism, socialism and the revolution were often toned down in favour of vaguer replacements (anti-neoliberalism, the left, democracy, ‘alternative’). These objective trends, however, did not entail univocal political consequences: for the PCF, they reflected a course of moderation; for the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR) and the Parti de gauche (PG), in turn, they represented a strategy to conquer a broader audience to a more radical perspective.

The left-wing populism of Jean-Luc Mélenchon: a discursive analysis Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s life has been explored in two biographies (Alemagna and Alliès 2012; Mélenchon 2016) and his political thought is well documented (Mélenchon 2010; Mélenchon 2013; Mélenchon 2016a; Mélenchon 2016b; Mélenchon 2016c). Intellectually, Mélenchon drew from a variety of radical and progressive traditions: classical Marxism, French socialism, French communism, left-wing republicanism, alter-globalisation, Latin American socialism, radical ecology and techno-futurism. These ideas, often only loosely defined and constantly

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evolving, were blended in a peculiar but effective mix, kept together by a coherent humanist perspective and an inspiring rhetoric. Altogether, they form a whole which is partly a radicalisation of common themes of the contemporary radical left culture, partly distinctive of the tradition of French left republicanism and partly idiosyncratic. The present section explores the content and evolution of Mélenchon’s discourse through an analysis of his pronouncements during the 2012 and 2017 presidential campaigns. The texts selected are the two election manifestos and the transcriptions of the twelve most important campaign speeches. References to the speeches will be indicated in the text with a code (for example, S2012/1 = first included speech of the 2012 campaign). Four key aspects of Mélenchon’s discourse are retained for analysis: its general structure, its definition of the ingroup, its definition of the out-group and its key goals and principles. The methodology combines a quantitative analysis of the overall frequency and evolution of relevant concepts, assisted by the WordSmith Tools 7 software, with a qualitative analysis of their actual meaning and interaction. Relevant lemmas were manually identified, cleaned and clustered into semantic groups (henceforth concepts). The occurrence of each concept every thousand words is provided in Table 6.1.

Structure The discursive structure of Mélenchon’s discourse is a textbook example of populist rhetoric. All key elements of populism identified in the literature (dualism, antagonism, people-centrism and anti-elitism) are prominent. Both manifestos (Front de gauche 2011; France insoumise 2016) depict the same basic scenario: the people is oppressed by the ‘tyranny of the financial oligarchy’ and by ‘a caste which has captured power’; this situation is unacceptable and it is necessary to ‘give the power, all the power, to the people’; to reach this goal, the people must rise up in a ‘civic revolution’, a process of radical socio-political transformation through peaceful and electoral means and under constant popular participation (Mélenchon 2010: 12–14). The people is constantly presented as a virtuous, hard-working and oppressed majority which should impose its will at the political and social level; the elite, conversely, is described as an immoral, idle and exploitative minority whose dominance will soon end. The civic revolution will first sweep away the established political class (the ‘caste’) through democratic elections – the so-called dégagisme (Mélenchon 2016c: 278) – and then use the nation-state to curtain the power of the oligarchy (Mélenchon 2016b: 95–98). The logical corollaries of populism are also to a large extent present, but with some specificities. The proclamation of a crisis pervades Mélenchon’s discourse: a dramatic crisis of civilisation – ‘the ecological emergency, the social disaster and the decay of democracy are the three faces of a same reality. We suffocate under the reign of finance’ (France insoumise 2016:13) – whose urgency requires immediate

TABLE 6.1 Quantitative analysis of key concepts

2012 Manifesto Total words Documents Minutes We The nation The people The workers Humanity The left States and int. org. Finance Capitalism The oligarchy Neoliberalism The right The rich Liberty Republic Equality Peace Revolution General interest Sharing Democracy Sovereignty Progress Brotherhood Solidarity Ecological planning Future Social justice Emancipation

2017 Manifesto

2012 Speeches

2017 Speeches

21,315 21,309 34,118 50,528 1 1 6 6 320 444 In-group concepts (frequency per 1,000 words) 16.7 6.2 25.4 16.2 4.8 6.4 7.1 4.9 2.7 2.4 3.5 2.5 2.1 2.2 2.1 0.4 0.8 1.8 0.6 1.6 0.7 0.0 2.7 0.1 Out-group concepts (frequency per 1,000 words) 2.5 1.8 1.1 0.8 2.4 1.5 0.9 0.3 1.6 0.9 0.8 0.4 0.3 0.6 0.4 0.3 1.3 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.6 0.0 0.7 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.4 Goals/principles concepts (frequency per 1,000 words) 0.2 0.5 1.0 1.8 0.6 1.1 1.3 0.5 1.3 1.0 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.8 0.1 0.8 0.1 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.8 0.8 0.1 0.1

Total 127,270 14 764 17.1 5.7 2.8 1.4 1.2 0.9 1.3 1.0 0.8 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.3 1.1 0.8 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.3

0.2 0.4 0.7 0.5 0.0 0.5 0.1

0.3 0.3 0.4 0.8 0.0 0.3 0.3

0.3 0.2 0.4 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.2

0.2 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.2 0.0 0.2

0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1 0.3

0.4 0.1 0.1

0.2 0.0 0.0

0.2 0.0 0.1

0.2 0.1 0.1

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radical measures to liberate the people and to save the ecosystem. The advocacy of radical democratic reforms is also a central plank of his programme, summarised under the demand of a ‘6th Republic’. The assertion of a homogeneity of the people, instead, is not part of Mélenchon’s discourse: the people indeed shares common interests and may be ‘federated’ in the course of its struggle against the oligarchy, but it is made up of groups and individuals with different characteristics and preferences. Finally, non-universal features of populism are only partially present, confirming the claims of Rooduijn (2014). The preference for unmediated communication between leader and supporters is beyond doubt. Exclusionism is emphatically rejected, welcoming internal minorities and migrants in the national community and repudiating national chauvinism and aggressive foreign policy. A direct and simplistic language is often employed but coexists with a marked pedagogical intent and a refined rhetoric. A polarising style and an ‘outsider image’ are also very present but were complemented in 2017 by the cultivation of a reassuring, avuncular, and experienced profile. The embrace of populist organisational solutions, finally, was not prominent in 2012 but emerged forcefully in 2017, as the traditional parties of the French radical left were marginalised in favour of a loose movement (the Unbowed France) based on the immediate online relation between an unelected centre led by the charismatic Mélenchon on the one hand, and non-fee-paying, web-based individual supporters and ‘support groups’ on the other hand. This ‘populist turn’ is not entirely new: as shown in the previous section, the French radical left has often relied on populist frames and many elements of Mélenchon’s populist rhetoric are already present in the presidential campaigns of previous radical left candidates (Besancenot 2002; Buffet 2007). Nevertheless, three features clearly differentiate him from his predecessors (Table 6.2). First, Mélenchon relentlessly mobilises the terminology and symbology of the people, the nation and the republic, which in the past had been used with less outspokenness and intensity. This emphasis, and the aura it lends to the overall image of the campaigns, is best expressed by the mass meetings of the campaign, where the people is physically staged before the candidate, often in highly symbolic places and dates (for example, the meetings at the Bastille square on 18 March, the day of the Paris Commune insurrection), waving French flags and singing the Marseillaise (in 2012, these were complemented by red flags and the Internationale). Secondly, Mélenchon’s populism was constructed from the start as a revolt of the people against both traditional wings of the political system, les Républicains (LR) and the Parti socialiste (PS); with some ambiguities in 2012 but very clearly in 2017. This had already been the case for the far left but not for the PCF, whose populism was therefore widely perceived as insincere. Thirdly, the claim to actually represent the people was largely rhetoric in the post-1981 French radical left but started to acquire a different credibility in the case of Mélenchon, where both the dynamic of the two campaigns (meeting participants, media buzz, opinion polls) and the final election results suggested a sizeable and growing popular support. If Mélenchon’s approach has a clearly left-wing populist structure and content, he does not automatically identify with the populist label. Mélenchon frequently

Left-wing populism and Jean-Luc Mélenchon 115

TABLE 6.2 Key data on the two campaigns

Presidential candidate Party Slogan Colours Songs Manifesto Manifesto’s table of contents

Presidential votes % Legislative votes % Legislative seats %



Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Jean-Luc Mélenchon

Left Front (Front de gauche) Take the power (Prenez le pouvoir) Red L’Internationale and La Marseillaise Humanity first! (L’humain d’abord!) Introduction 1 Sharing the wealth and abolishing social insecurity 2 Retaking the power from the banks and the financial markets 3 Ecological planning 4 Producing differently 5 The Republic, for real 6 Convening the Constituent Assembly of the 6th Republic 7 Freeing ourselves from the Lisbon Treaty and building another Europe 8 France to change the course of globalisation 9 Human emancipation in our minds Conclusion 3,984,822 11.10% 1,793,192 6.91% 10 1.73%

Unbowed France (France insoumise) The strength of the people (La force du people) Red, white, blue La Marseillaise The future in common (L’avenir en commun) Introduction A programme in constant evolution 1 The democratic emergency. The 6th Republic 2 The social emergency. Protecting and sharing 3 The ecological emergency. Ecological planning 4 Europe in question. Withdrawing from the European treaties 5 The peace in question. For the independence of France 6 Facing the great regression. Human progress first 7 Facing declinism. France at the frontiers of humanity

7,059,951 19.58% 2,497,622 11.03% 17 2.95%

mentions and meets with avowed theoreticians of left populism, such as Chantal Mouffe and the leaders of the Spanish Podemos (Errejón 2015; Mélenchon et al. 2016; Mouffe 2018). At the same time, his few pronouncements on the topic actually reject the categorisation of populist as a derogatory accusation moved by the fear and hate of the people (Mélenchon 2016b). His preference is for the term

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‘popular’ rather than ‘populist’, although the latter is occasionally accepted as a sign of defiance against the journalists and the elite (Mélenchon 2010b).

The in-group: the people and its polysemy The definition of the in-group, that is the groups that Mélenchon directly identifies with or which he wishes to win over, revolves around six main semantic groups. These are: we (we, Left Front, Unbowed France) with 17.1 occurrences every thousand words; the nation (France, country, citizen, French, nation, fatherland), with 5.7 per thousand occurrences; the people (people, popular), with 2.8 per thousand occurrences; the workers (wage-workers, workers, working), with 1.4 per thousand occurrences; humanity (humanity, human), with 1.2 per thousand occurrences; and the left (left), with 0.9 per thousand occurrences. More ideologically connotated traditional categories such as socialists or communists are virtually absent. The concepts point to partly different empirical referents, but largely converge around the centrality of ‘the people’. The variation of their frequency from 2012 to 2017 is usually small or little significant. The concept of ‘we’ may indicate four different empirical entities: Mélenchon’s own movement; the potential constituency that this movement aspires to represent, that is ‘the left’ and ‘the people’ in 2012, and ‘the people’ only in 2017 (S2012/6; S2017/3); a trans-historical progressive camp including philosophers and humanists, revolutionaries and the workers’ movements (S2017/5); and, especially in 2017, ‘the French people’ in its entirety (S2017/4). The concept of the nation indicates for Mélenchon, in essentially Jacobin fashion, the French people conscious of its general interest and exercising its full sovereignty within the Republic. For Mélenchon, France is less an empirical reality than an eternal ideal based on ‘liberty, equality, freedom’ and ‘sharing’ (Front de gauche 2011; S2017/6). France is, therefore, ‘the beautiful and rebellious’ France (S2012/2), ‘the unbowed’ France, ‘that of its own people’ (S2017/5), ‘that of the Universal Declaration […], elder daughter of the welfare state and secular education’ (S2017/3); ‘its name is revolution’ (S2017/5); and ‘the France of sharing, the France of the grand motto: liberty, equality and freedom’ (S2017/6). The betrayal of republican principles, social injustices and inequality ‘disfigure’ the fatherland and even make it disappear (S2012/2). This view has important consequences. First, the elite and the enemies of the republic are not really part of the nation. Secondly, the people must continuously weigh up the institutions of the really existing republic against the ideal Republic, changing the former if they contradict the latter. Thirdly, Frenchness must be consistently anti-racist and welcoming, based not on any ascriptive or group characteristic but only on the adherence to the ideal republican principles (S2012/2; S2017/3). More concretely, Mélenchon regularly extols the ‘mixed-race’ and ‘colourful’ nature of France (S2012/5; S2017/4), and both campaign manifestos support automatic citizenship for children born in France, a quicker path toward naturalisation for foreigners and a more welcoming immigration policy. This fundamental attitude did not change

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between 2012 and 2017, but some concessions to rising public xenophobia were made by shifting the emphasis from unconditional support of immigration to a focus on fighting its causes (France insoumise 2016: 93–95). Finally, Frenchness does not stand in opposition to other nationalities: France is a ‘universalist nation’ (S2012/4; S2017/5) which will open a ‘breach’ in the neo-liberal system for other peoples to follow (S2012/4) and will pursue universal goals. At some level of abstraction, all human beings belong to the same people (S2012/5), the people is the human community (France insoumise 2016), and all lovers of republican principles are in fact French (S2012/2). At a less abstract level, Mélenchon envisions a multi-lateral world of sovereign and self-determining nations (even admitting, to some extent, the right to secession) cooperating toward the common good of humanity. The people is the main addressee of Mélenchon’s discourse. Throughout the campaigns, references to ‘make way for the people!’ (Front de gauche 2011), ‘the strength of the people’ (2017 slogan), people’s power (France insoumise 2016), ‘popular sovereignty’ (S2012/4) and a coming ‘era of the people’ (Mélenchon 2016b) are omnipresent. But who is the people? The people is not the generic whole of the French population: it is the oppressed nation revolting against the elite in the name of democracy. This notwithstanding, as in all populist and democratic discourses, the notion of people remains quite polysemic. Socio-economically, it may refer both to the overwhelming majority of the population and to its middle-lower section only. In a 2012 speech, it is explicitly identified as ‘the working class’, ‘an immense people made up of 13 million persons’, 6 million workers and 7 million employees (S2012/6). More commonly, however, the people is identified as a new urban ‘multitude’ composed of the traditional working class, ‘the poor and the precariat’, other non-employed middle-lower strata and parts of the so-called ‘middle classes’, which ‘may easily identify with the people as events unfold’ (Mélenchon 2016b: 82–89). Politically, it may likewise indicate the citizenry as a whole, its institutionally expressed majority will and even the emancipatory minority only. Spatially, the people may be specifically French or be equated with a universal ‘human community’ (France insoumise 2016). The concepts of workers and humanity are used less frequently but are nevertheless key. Workers (ouvriers, travailleurs or salariés) are not a class like all others: on the one hand, human work and creativity represents the source of a society’s wealth and the basis of all social progress, including the central task of ‘ecological planning’ (Front de gauche 2011; S2012/5; S2017/6); on the other hand, wageworkers remain the empirical and functional core of the people, the first victims of the system, and the bastion of resistance and rebellion (S2012/3; S2017/6). Humanity, in turn, is at the centre of both campaign manifestos. The fundamental goals of the programme are explicitly conceived as universal: ‘humanity first!’ (Front de gauche 2011), ‘human progress’ (France insoumise 2016), ‘human emancipation’ (Front de gauche 2011; S2017/4) and ‘human general interest’ (S2012/1; S2017/6). This choice derives both from a general philosophical stance

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and from the assessment that most challenges, first and foremost those caused by climate change, are global in nature (Mélenchon 2016b). Finally, the reference to the left experienced a remarkable evolution over time: proudly embraced in 2012, it was entirely abandoned in 2017. This change did not imply a major programmatic shift: the 2017 programme remained indisputably and radically left-wing and was perceived as such by voters and observers. The reasons behind it were not programmatic, but pragmatic and strategic. On the one hand, the embrace of populism over leftism was driven by the desire to project a more open image, particularly among little politicised voters. On the other hand, it underpinned the strategic choice of clearly distancing the Unbowed France from the toxic neo-liberal legacy of the Socialist Party, denounced as a mere wing of a larger capitalist establishment. This attitude has been coherently pursued since 2016, from the initial choice not to participate in the ‘left primaries’ of 2016–2017, through the subsequent coldness toward potential deals with the PCF or with the left-wing PS candidate Benoît Hamon, to the final refusal to openly endorse Macron in the second round of the 2017 presidential election. In Mélenchon’s mind, both aspects were vital to bolster his appeal and enlarge his potential electorate. For similar reasons, self-definitions as communists and socialists were completely absent in both campaigns: the supporters of the FI are identified simply as ‘rebels’ (insoumis).

The out-group: the oligarchy between capitalism, power and ideology The identification of the out-group, that is the groups Mélenchon directly opposes, revolves around seven broad semantic group: states and international organisations (EU, USA, Germany, NATO, FMI, WTO, WB, G8), with 1.3 occurrences per thousand words; finance (banks, finance, financial markets), with 1.0 per thousand occurrences; capitalism (capital, capitalists, capitalism, profit, capitalism, the bosses), with 0.8 per thousand occurrences; the oligarchy (the powerful, caste, oligarchy, tyrants), with 0.4 per thousand occurrences; neoliberalism (liberal/ism, neoliberal/ ism), with 0.4 per thousand occurrences; the rich (rich, millionaires, billionaires), with 0.4 per thousand occurrences; and the right, with 0.3 per thousand occurrences. The concepts designate partly different out-groups, but all converge in identifying an exploitative and oppressive elite monopolising social and political power. Interestingly, the frequency of most concepts somewhat declines between 2012 and 2017: this derives from a precise communication strategy that, without toning down the anti-elitist message, complemented it with a greater stress on positive goals such as liberty, peace, social progress, national independence, ecology and technological development. The most important, albeit parsimoniously used, concept is that of oligarchy. While often designated with politically sounding terms (for example, ruling, the powerful, the important ones), the ‘oligarchy’ is actually defined in largely socioeconomic terms to include financial operators, owners and managers of large companies, large property owners and more generally the rich, both foreign and

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domestic (Mélenchon 2016b: 41–42, 94). It is assisted by a ‘caste’ of subservient politicians and media operators (Mélenchon 2016: 12). The concept of finance includes banks, other financial institutions, large corporations, and individual investors and speculators. For Mélenchon, most of the world’s problems derive from the absolute rule of finance (Front de gauche 2011; France insoumise 2016), which prevents a rational development compatible with general economic, social and ecological goals by exerting a tyrannical control over the economy and public policy, either through the direct collusion of politicians or through the blackmailing of recalcitrant states. The concept of capitalism is mentioned less frequently in 2017, probably because of its clear ideological connotations, but remains prominent in both campaigns. In classic Marxist fashion, the power of the elite is traced back to the development of a new phase of capitalism: globalised and financialised capitalism (Mélenchon 2016b: 39–40). Capitalism is criticised on three main grounds. First, global capital flows disrupt national economic policy, increase the danger of financial crises, lead to the accumulation of foreign debt (and, later, austerity), and favour tax avoidance. Secondly, the pursuit of financial profits and dividends perverts the functioning of the real economy, slowing down investment and growth and increasing the exploitation of wage-workers. Thirdly, accumulation is blind to social, environmental and ethical considerations, leading to the destruction of the planet (under the form of ‘productivism’) and other social ills. The explicit reference to neoliberalism is very prominent in the 2012 programme but much less developed in the other three sets of documents, where it nevertheless remains implicit in the critique of dominant policies. This is understood as an ideology and set of policies carried out by right-wing and centre-left politicians in the interests of the financial elite. Criticism of the rich is regularly mentioned throughout the campaign. They are defined as the main beneficiaries and supporters of financialisation, as egotistical individuals putting their boundless accumulation of wealth above the general interest and as perverters of the political system through their indirect control over political parties and the media (S2012/3; S2017/6). This criticism of accumulation is both pragmatic and ethical: on the one hand, the state needs to curtail it to free resources for investment and redistribution and to nurture the political preconditions of republican democracy; on the other hand, its pursuit is presented as a pathological aberration contrasting with the solidary enjoyment of individual and collective life (S2012/2; S2017/4). References to the right, just like those to the left, are frequent in 2012 but virtually disappear in 2017. This shift derives partly from the changed political context (from Nicolas Sarkozy to François Hollande) but mostly from the general strategy emphasising the insurgence of the people against both wings of the political establishment. Finally, among the enemies of Mélenchon can be counted several foreign states (their governments, not their people) and international organisations, which are deemed to be controlled by the financial oligarchy and to enthusiastically support neoliberal policies. These include the EU institutions (EU, European Commission,

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ECB), the United States and the military alliances it controls (NATO) and international institutions such as the IMF, WB, WTO and G8. Hostility is also voiced against Germany, considered to be the main pillar of European financialisation, neoliberalism and Atlanticism (Mélenchon 2016a).

Goals and values: between social republicanism and human emancipation The struggle of the people against the oppressive elite is geared not only at satisfying immediate and partial grievances, but at establishing an alternative kind of society. In this, Mélenchon’s populism is perfectly in line with the tradition of the French and European radical left, which always stressed the need for a palingenetic transformation in the organisation of production, distribution, decision-making and social interaction at large. The content of this transformation essentially takes up, with some idiosyncrasies and innovations, the broad ‘anti-neoliberal programme’ developed by the European radical left over the last few decades (Chiocchetti 2017a). Shared common themes are: the criticism of neo-liberal capitalism, financialisation and globalisation; the support for social equality, redistribution and social protection, particularly through the welfare state and labour legislation; the advocacy of a more activist (Keynesian, regulatory and developmental) state intervention in the economy, either in France and the EU (in 2012) or predominantly in France (in 2017); the theme of a democratisation of society, understood in both procedural and substantial terms; and the endorsement of cultural left-libertarianism and a host of related progressive causes. Two themes are developed in radical and original ways in both campaigns. The discussion of democracy is framed in terms of a ‘civic revolution’ (révolution citoyenne) and the creation of a Sixth Republic (Sixième République) through a constituent assembly. The discussion of ecology, in turn, is framed in terms of ‘ecological planning’ (planification écologique), putting direct state intervention at the forefront of the process (France insoumise 2017; Mélenchon 2013; Parti de gauche 2013). Finally, the 2017 campaign marks two important innovations. First, the discussion of foreign policy shifts from a supranational to a nation-centred (national/ international) perspective, a rising but minority option among European radical left parties and intellectuals. On the European Union, the idea of ‘building a different Europe’ (Front de gauche 2011) is replaced by ‘Europe: either we change it, or we leave it’ (France insoumise 2016), expounding a Plan A/Plan B strategy aiming at changing the treaties but contemplating the possibility of a unilateral suspension of French participation to the Eurozone and the EU. On globalisation, the initial alter-globalist perspective becomes more openly de-globalist (‘solidary protectionism’). On foreign policy, opposition to the USA, the exit from the NATO and support for a multilateral order with the UN at its top remain unchanged in both programmes, but ‘French independentism’ is openly advocated in 2017. Secondly, the theme of the ‘new frontiers of humanity’ (sea, space and virtual reality) is

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introduced as a central issue of the campaign, giving a techno-enthusiastic bent to the discussion of sustainable development. While many contemporary radical left parties explicitly or implicitly differentiate a medium-term ‘anti-neoliberal’ stage from a vaguer long-term socialist/communist alternative, no such distinction is present in the campaign material. This fact is difficult to interpret. While explicit references to socialism are absent, key formulations obliquely allude to it (for example, ‘planning’, ‘future in common’, ‘emancipation’). More importantly, the proposed measures seem to primarily point to the perspective of a humanised capitalism, but some of them (particularly the critique of accumulation and the theme of ecologic reconversion) rather suggest a state capitalist or post-capitalist future. Altogether, the perspective is one of continuous transformation, but its ultimate end (anti-neoliberal or anti-capitalist) remains unclear. This ‘ideology’ has yet to find a precise descriptor. Outside of the electoral campaigns, both the Left Party and Mélenchon explicitly defined their programme as ecosocialist (Parti de gauche 2013; Mélenchon 2016b), but references to ecosocialism, socialism or communism are absent from the programmes and speeches of 2012 and 2017. Mélenchon himself never defines his programme with a single term, but merely points to a variety of vague principles. These are listed in Table 6.2 and include much of the traditional French left-wing terminology, with the notable exclusion of explicitly socialist terms: the republic (0.8 occurrences per thousand words); its guiding values of liberty (1.1), equality (0.5) and brotherhood (0.2); peace (0.5); revolution (0.4); the general interest (0.3); sharing, sovereignty, progress, solidarity, ecological planning, and future (all 0.2); social justice and emancipation (both 0.1); as well as cooperation. From the exterior, it may indifferently be defined as ecosocialism, radical republicanism or radical humanism.

Left-wing populism: danger or resource? In the preceding section, I have examined the discursive and ideational content of Mélenchon’s left-wing populism. While it did not represent a drastic innovation in the history of French left-wing radicalism, its elaboration in 2012 and further radicalisation in 2017 certainly produced important communicative, programmatic, strategic and organisational changes. Should they be assessed as a danger or as a positive resource for the French radical left and French democracy? The effects on the French radical left were generally positive, but with some negative aspects. From an electoral point of view, Mélenchon achieved an extraordinary feat, ending the historical fragmentation of the contemporary radical left and lifting its fortunes to the levels of the mid-1980s, in the first phases of the long crisis of the PCF (Cautrès 2017; Chiocchetti 2017b). The evolution is summarised in Table 6.3. In presidential elections, starting from the feeble legacy of the PCF in 2007 (Buffet, 1.9 per cent), he drained the electorate of far left and alternative candidates and rose to 11.1 per cent in 2012 and 19.6 per cent in 2017, markedly higher than Marchais in 1981. In legislative



24.7 21.4

Legislative elections

Total radical left First party

17.5 16.1


First candidate

23.9 20.6


Total radical left



Presidential elections

11.3 9.5





11.7 11.3





TABLE 6.3 Electoral results of the French radical left (% of valid votes)

11.0 8.9





12.5 9.6





7.6 4.8





8.0 4.3





7.9 6.9





14.5 11.0





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elections, the evolution was less impressive but moved in the same direction: from a PCF vote of 4.3 per cent in 2007, to a FdG vote of 6.9 per cent in 2012, to a FI vote of 11.0 per cent in 2017 (generally facing competing communist candidates), higher than the PCF in 1986. While other factors contributed to these successes, particularly the boost received from preceding left-wing mass mobilisations (against the crisis and a pension reform in 2009–2010 and against a labour reform in 2015) and the 2017 collapse of the PS, there is no doubt that the charismatic personality and populist discourse of Mélenchon were essential in bridging the gap between the bitterly divided communist and far left electorates and in reaching out to the youth, disappointed socialist voters and abstentionists. From a strategic point of view, the embrace of left-wing populism marked a long-awaited emancipation of the French radical left from its subordination to the Socialist Party. Far left organisations had already attempted this in the past, particularly in 1995–2002, but without success. Mélenchon, on the contrary, managed both to gradually solidify the whole radical left electorate on a position of intransigence in relation to the PS and to win over new layers, performing a historical electoral overtaking. From a programmatic point of view, populism had both positive and negative consequences. The progressive drift from a left-wing to a populist rhetoric did not lead to moderation. The programme remained resolutely anchored to the left and, to some extent, populism even strengthened its coherence and radicalism, as it lent to each policy plank the image not of a modest and negotiable reform, subject to the good will of moderate left parties and international institutions, but rather that of the first step in a palingenetic struggle. Thus, the advocacy of ‘ecological planning’ evoked a radical transformation of production which went beyond the generic protection of the environment, and the ‘Plan A/Plan B’ strategy in relation to the EU showed the resolve to avoid the fate of SYRIZA and other European radical left parties and to reconquer the space for an autonomous economic policymaking beyond the constraints of the European Treaties. The embrace of the nation and of its symbols was more ambivalent. While shocking for many leftists, it did not mean any fundamental concession to class compromise, chauvinism, racism and homogeneity, contrary to Marlière’s (2016) assertion: the nation was explicitly constructed as revolutionary, internationalist, anti-racist and pluralistic. However, it is true that such discourse is potentially liable to the danger of flattening the divide between ‘people-nation’ and ‘state-nation’ (Martelli 2016) and of disregarding the value of diversity, as shown by Mélenchon’s historically vacillating attitude towards Islamophobia and by his recent rhetorical (but not policy) shift on immigration. From an organisational point of view, finally, populism offered a short-term boost of openness and electoral effectiveness to the price of a loss of internal democracy and structuration. In the Left Front coalition, decisions were taken through top-level bargains between the leaders of the member parties. In the Unbowed France, whose organisation resembles that of the Spanish Podemos (Kioupkiolis 2016) but without internal elections, a self-proclaimed leadership around Mélenchon acts beyond any grassroot control. The power of the ‘members’

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of the movement, essentially online profiles without duties nor rights, is essentially limited to advisory votes and comments. Without physical structures, intermediate cadres and democratic procedures, the initial wave of interest (about 330,000 online supporters in March 2017 and about 550,000 in November 2017) is unlikely to translate into actual long-term commitment, to produce legitimate internal decisions, to nurture the development of well-trained activists and to gain influence within social movements and civil society organisations. Furthermore, the success of the movement remains dramatically dependent on its charismatic leader, and therefore at the mercy of his individual idiosyncrasies, mistakes or death. With regard to the effects of the populist turn on French democracy, it is too early to formulate a reasoned assessment. The content of the 2012 and 2017 programmes, if implemented, would have led to a substantial enlargement of social and civil rights, of policy freedom for the state and of the avenues of democratic participation and control, while strengthening the safeguards against illiberal and plebiscitary ruling (proportional representation, representative recall, media pluralism and a strong independent judiciary). Nevertheless, the uncompromising spirit of populism is likely to make the pursuit of balanced compromises more difficult after a possible future victory. The discourse of the Unbowed France has not lowered the level of citizen sophistication and it has somewhat strengthened the influence of left-wing ideas in the public sphere. Its capacity to mobilise politically inactive and underprivileged strata is not clear, except for young voters. Its effect on extra-parliamentary forms of political participation is positive but probably small. Finally, the Unbowed France has carried out an adequate opposition against Macron but has failed to spark a major social movement against his labour reforms and struggled to benefit from the subsequent rise of the gilets jaunes.

Conclusion The detailed analysis of the discourse of Mélenchon’s 2012 and 2017 campaigns, as well as the brief examination of the discourse of the French radical left since the 1789 revolution, has shown that left-wing radicalism shares a very similar discursive structure with populism but that its people-centrism is elastic and contextual. The argument of Rooduijn and Akkerman (2017), who find a strong association between populism and left-wing radicalism over the 1989–2008 period, is to some extent corroborated. Populist (such as the people, the nation, the plebs) and nonpopulist (such as socialism, the left, the workers, or the oppressed) references are not mutually exclusive: they generally coexist and alternate depending on traditions, contexts and strategies. Furthermore, the political implications of adopting a populist rhetoric are essentially indeterminate: they may signal ideological moderation or radicalisation, relational conciliation or intransigence. In other words, they may represent an accommodation to the current ideas of the people, or a strategy to win it over to a radical left-wing perspective.

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Mélenchon’s discourse is an original synthesis of deep-rooted traditions of French left-wing radicalism. His populism is not new, although the specific way in which he constructs it is. The growing public and scholarly perception of Mélenchon as a populist derives both from these concrete specificities and from a strategy of delegitimation, which disqualifies his programme as demagogic and amalgamates his approach with that of the radical right. Concretely, what we can designate as the ‘populist turn’ of Mélenchon represents an attempt to win over a political and social majority to a radical ecosocialist, republican and humanist project. This is done by emphasising the antagonism between the people and the oligarchy, by intensifying the political and moral attacks against a political ‘caste’ encompassing all major parties, by celebrating the force of the people, by embracing the mythology of the French revolutionary nation, by putting forward the vision of a renewed ecosocial republic, by toning down explicit ideological identifications (such as socialism or the left) and by forging a personalistic and ‘liquid’ political movement. The resulting synthesis remains programmatically radical left (without daring to speak its own name), but simultaneously succeeds in reaching out beyond the traditional radical left electorate. The impact on the radical left was largely positive, but with an important drawback: the democratic deficit, organisational fragility and dependence on the leader of Mélenchon’s movement. The impact on French democracy, instead, is still negligible, as the Unbowed France has failed to win the 2017 elections and has yet to devise effective extra-parliamentary mobilisation strategies. Altogether, Mélenchon’s wager to use populist rhetoric to federate the people against the socio-economic elite and the established neo-liberal parties represented a major step forward for the French radical left. Its further development, however, depends on its capacity to solve the riddle of reinventing effective mechanisms enabling the actual people to be the actor of its own emancipation, rather than a passive spectator of discursive struggles.

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Proudhon, P.-J. (1848) Manifeste du peuple. https://comptoir.org/2016/01/18/manifes te-du-peuple-de-proudhon/. Riker, W. H. (1982) Liberalism against Populism. (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman). Rooduijn, M. (2014) ‘The nucleus of populism: In search of the lowest common denominator’, Government and Opposition, 49(4): 573–599. Rooduijn, M. and Akkerman, T. (2017) ‘Flank attacks: Populism and left-right radicalism in Western Europe’, Party Politics, 23(3): 193–2014. S2012/1 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Paris, Place de Stalingrad, 29/06/2011 S2012/2 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Paris, Place de la Bastille, 18/03/2012 S2012/3 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Lille, 27/03/2012 S2012/4 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Toulouse, 05/04/2012 S2012/5 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Marseille, 14/04/2012 S2012/6 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Paris, Porte de Versailles, 19/04/2012 S2017/1 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Paris, Place de Stalingrad, 05/06/2016 S2017/2 ‘‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Lyon & Paris (hologram), 05/02/2017 S2017/3 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Paris, Place de la Bastille, 18/03/2017 S2017/4 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Marseille, 09/04/2017 S2017/5 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Toulouse, 16/04/2017 S2017/6 ‘Speech of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’, Dijon and six cities (hologram), 18/04/2017 Soboul, A. (1984) La Révolution française. (Paris: Gallimard). Stavrakakis, Y., Katsambekis, G., Kioupkiolis, A., Nikisianis, N. and Siomos, T. (2018) ‘Populism, anti-populism and crisis’, Contemporary Political Theory, 17(1): 4–27. Therborn, G. (1978) What Does the Ruling Class Do When It Rules? (London: Verso). Trotsky, L. (1936) ‘La France à un tournant’, https://www.marxists.org/francais/trotsky/ livres/ouvalafrance/ovlf5.htm Vallès, J.et al. (1871) ‘Au peuple de Paris’, https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiche_Rouge_( 1871) Verrier, B. (2003) ‘Loyauté militante et fragmentation des partis : du CERED au MDC’ [PhD thesis]. Université Robert Schuman, Strasbourg. Winock, M. (1997) ‘Populismes français’, Vingtième Siècle, 56: 77–91.

7 NEW LEFT POPULISM CONTESTING AND TAKING POWER The cases of SYRIZA and Podemos1 Alexandros Kioupkiolis and Giorgos Katsambekis

Introduction It is often suggested that western democracies are living today their ‘populist moment’. Especially in Europe, the media nowadays are flooded with images of radical right or idiosyncratic populists, from Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache and the leaders of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to Italy’s Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini. But just a few years ago it was figures of the left and radical left that gave the tone to the populist media frenzy. SYRIZA’s leader Alexis Tsipras, once described as ‘the most dangerous man in Europe’ (Baboulias and Trilling 2013), was elected Prime Minister of Greece in January 2015. Pablo Iglesias in Spain led his party to a series of impressive electoral results between 2014 and 2016, quickly establishing Podemos as the second largest political party in Spain in terms of membership. Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn in the UK has been often seen as belonging to this new wave of left-wing populism and he has been treated with similar vitriolic attacks by his opponents and a significant part of the media. Along with a series of other smaller leftist initiatives (for example, the Left in Slovenia; see Toplišek and Thomassen 2017), this ‘new wave’ of left-wing politics has sparked a renewed attention among media and academics seeking to understand their distinctive character and dynamic in crisis-ridden Europe. They have also sparked hopes among leftists that their parties can effectively challenge established political forces of the centre-right and centre-left and even make it to power. Those parties display strong populist characteristics, they maintained ties with social movements and grassroots protests, initially at least, and they are directed by charismatic leaders. This chapter focuses on two cases that we consider exemplary of this new leftwing populism in today’s Europe: SYRIZA and Podemos. Our aim is to highlight their discursive strategies and ideological-political development, while remaining alert to the transformations they have undergone since they consolidated their

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presence in the political scenes of Greece and Spain. We will also introduce the case of Venezuela’s Chavismo into the discussion, as this shows that left-wing populism is an international political phenomenon from the 1990s onwards. Despite the many disparities of the Latin American and the European context, there are structural convergences and significant affinities in their politics of populism. Adding a cross-regional perspective to our analysis can lead to interesting findings. These disclose both the perils and the democratising potentials of a certain brand of ‘progressive’ populism which combines vertical leadership and connections with social movements, while drawing attention to the relationship between left-wing populism and institutional constraints and resources. In what follows, we will first briefly spell out our theoretical understanding of populist politics, taking our cues from the tradition of the ‘Essex School’ discourse theory and the work of Ernesto Laclau (Laclau and Mouffe 1985; Panizza 2005; Laclau 2005; Stavrakakis 2017). Second, we will pause to reflect on the main similarities and differences among the two aforementioned parties, and then Chávez’s political project, focusing on their conditions of emergence, as well as on the way that they have constructed the popular subject (‘the people’) and its political opponent (‘the establishment,’ ‘la casta,’ etc.). Third, we will critically assess the evolution of these parties and their populism as they consolidated their position and came to power or close to it (SYRIZA gained power in January 2015, while Podemos has now established itself as a major party in Spain). Our aim is to highlight and explore the impact of ‘institutionalisation’ on left-wing populism, whether this comes as a result of its ascent to power or as a consequence of a pronounced office-seeking strategy, as opposed to the adoption of the role of a fighting opposition. We thus look into their relations to the state, as well as their transformations on the level of party organisation and leadership, which become evident in internal procedures and public discourse. Overall, through this comparison we seek to offer constructive insights into the specificities and varieties of left-wing populism in Europe and beyond, but also to reflect upon the transformation of left-wing populism when it moves from the margins of the political system to the mainstream and from there to power. In the cases of SYRIZA and Podemos, we have witnessed a gradual moderation of their discourse and politics, a move to the centre-left, the empowerment of leadership and vertical structures. The trajectory of Chavismo involved, by contrast, a gradual radicalisation of discourse and praxis of the leadership in government. But the directive force of the leader equally spawned explosive contradictions, which partly account for the miscarriage of the project’s democratising potential.

Framing populism Despite the particularly rich bibliography on populism, scholars still seem to disagree over the definition of the phenomenon (Moffitt 2016; de la Torre 2015; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012; Panizza 2005). Notwithstanding these dissonances,

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there are today indications of an emerging consensus on the basic characteristics of populism, which are usually identified as people-centrism and anti-elitism (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017: 5–6; Stavrakakis 2017: 528; also see Charalambous and Ioannou Chapter 1, this volume). In our analysis, we draw on studies produced by discourse-oriented scholars and we broach populism as a form of discourse, a distinctive way of doing politics (Katsambekis 2017a; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014). We take our bearings from Laclau’s formal-structural approach which stresses: (1) ‘the formation of an internal antagonistic frontier separating “the people” from power,’ (Laclau 2005: 74); (2) the creation of a chain of equivalence among popular demands that are left unsatisfied by those in power (an ‘unresponsive elite’ or ‘establishment’), this equivalence being produced through common ‘empty signifiers’ which unify and represent the series of demands; and (3) the representation of ‘the people’ of populism as an excluded and underprivileged plebs, which claims to be the legitimate community of the people and the democratic sovereign (Laclau 2005: 74, 81, 94, 98). The merits of operationalising Laclau’s approach in order to conduct empirical and comparative research on populist parties and movements have already been appraised at length elsewhere (Kioupkiolis 2016; Katsambekis 2016a; Stavrakakis et al. 2017; De Cleen, Mondon and Glynos 2018). One such merit is that through a ‘formal’ discursive approach we can avoid a priori assumptions about the specific contents and ideological/programmatic features of a given populist mobilisation. The way that ‘the people’ of populism is constructed, as well as the meaning that is conferred on the antagonistic divide between people and elites are here questions to be inquired into. In fact, our responses to those questions will bring out the specific character of a populist project and its possible impact on democratic and representative institutions. Also, even though this formal understanding of populism dwells on discursive practices, it however incorporates the socio-political preconditions for the success of a populist project: the element of ‘crisis,’ or dislocation in Laclau’s jargon, which facilitates the emergence of horizontal links between different groups and individuals (Stavrakakis et al. 2018). We agree with the editors of this volume that ‘crisis’ is a crucial – although not necessary or sufficient by itself – condition for the emergence and success of a populist project. Indeed, ‘the emergence of populism’, Laclau noted back in the 1970s, ‘is historically linked to a crisis of the dominant ideological discourse which is in turn part of a more general social crisis’ (Laclau 1977: 175). However, we need to stress here that we do not understand crisis merely as an ‘external’ factor or an objective condition similarly understood by different political actors and social subjects. As it has been argued, the notion of crisis has two distinct dimensions: (1) an objective one, which refers to an external ‘shock’ or some sort of systemic failure that destabilises a given system; (2) a subjective one, which refers to the elevation of such systemic failures to the level of a serious ‘crisis’ through the discursive practices of specific political actors (Hay 1999; Moffitt 2016; Stavrakakis et al. 2018). Hence, as Benjamin Moffitt shows, ‘crisis’ can be seen as an integral element of populism, as populist actors construct their own versions of crisis, which serve as a point of

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justification for the diagnosis of the need for mobilisation and immediate action in order to ‘save the people,’ but also as a tool for blame attribution against their opponents (Moffitt 2016: Chapter 7). As the editors of the volume add, ‘populist discourse is often unrelated to actual existing experiences of crisis’, however, ‘constructing a crisis can give populist discourse a valuable impetus within society and electorally, as it triggers multiple social sensitivities’ (Charalambous and Ioannou, Chapter 1, this volume). Summing up, our understanding of populism as a discursive logic that puts ‘the people’ at the centre, while dividing society between ‘the people’ and an ‘establishment’, is at its core very similar and indeed compatible with the definition proposed by the editors of this volume. We also share their reservations against the ideational approach (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017) which is currently the most popular among political scientists and especially comparativists. However, we do not share the view of the editors that populist appeals are necessarily expressed through a ‘demagogic style’, for two main reasons: (1) demagoguery is an ambiguous notion with no clear terms of operationalisation (how are we to assess the ‘true’ intentions of political actors or their sincerity when they address their audiences?); (2) demagoguery is not specific to populism. Another point where we differentiate from the editors’ understanding of populism is their assumption that populists construct ‘the people’ as a homogeneous entity. As shown in recent studies, populist movements are perfectly compatible with pluralism, acknowledging and nurturing ‘the people’s’ heterogeneity (see Gerbaudo 2017; Grattan 2016). Indeed, this is something that we also encounter in the cases studied here, as both SYRIZA and Podemos put forth a rather pluralist vision of ‘the people’, stressing the value of the individual and advocating minority rights.

Post-democracy and populism: Europe and Latin America To make sense of the resurgence of left-leaning populism over the last fifteen years, which is widely attested in Latin America, Europe and other regions of the world, we must situate it in the context of a chronic crisis of liberal democracies (Crouch 2004; Mouffe 2005; Mair 2013; Philip and Panizza 2011; de la Torre 2015). Populist politicians and movements cash in on widespread civic discontent with the current state of democracy, promising to restore power to the people and to force the political system to address social demands. In this sense, a crisis of political representation, as Kenneth Roberts describes it, may work as a triggering mechanism for successful populist mobilisations (Roberts 2015: 140–158). Over the last decade, the trajectory of democratic politics in Spain and Greece evinces affinities with critical conditions and socio-political developments in Latin American and other European contexts within which populist actors have emerged. We argue that ‘post-democracy’ is the common critical background of leftist populism from the 1990s onwards. This concept captures an impoverished figure of liberal democracy that has emerged across a variety of constitutional regimes from the late 1980s, under the impact of neoliberal hegemony and the

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gradual dissolution of programmatic and ideological differences between mainstream parties of the centre-left and centre-right alternating in power. According to Colin Crouch, in a post-democratic condition, the formal shell of liberal and democratic institutions is still in place, but sovereign power slips into the hands of corporate and political elites or actors with little or no democratic legitimation as in non-democratic polities. Material and political inequalities rise to the detriment of ordinary people, favouring large corporations, rich oligarchs and leading establishment politicians (Crouch 2004). Popular disaffection with the political system is on the rise, but social discontent cannot find its way through formal, political institutions (Mouffe 2005: 48–51; Crouch 2004: 4, 59–60, 103). This was precisely the context in which Chávez rose to prominence and power. Towards the end of the 1980s, the established liberal-democratic regime in Venezuela had become overly corrupt, elitist, exclusionary and unresponsive to popular demands. In 1989, a spontaneous mass revolt by poor people from the ‘barrios’ and working-class districts in Caracas burst out against the elites, and was bloodily repressed (Cannon 2009: 36–37; Ciccariello-Maher 2013: 88–103). The demand for effective political representation in the existing political system was acutely felt but remained unmet. Chávez, a former military officer who had staged a ‘popular’ coup against the regime in 1992 and posed as a radical outsider promised to fulfil this demand from 1992 onwards. He appeared in public as a charismatic leader committed to vindicate the will of popular majorities, to put an end to the corrupt oligarchy and to advance a social and participatory democracy that would empower the people (Buxton 2009: 57–90; Lander 2008: 69–98; Cannon 2009: 77–82; Hawkins 2010: 16–18). Coming forward as the representative of the ‘hidden majority’, Chávez and his ‘Patriotic Pole’ alliance managed to win this game of representation in the 1998 presidential elections by offering a vitriolic expression to social outrage and the deep divisions running through Venezuelan society (Buxton 2009: 59–60; Gottberg 2013; López Maya 2008: 62–63). Since 2009–2010, Spanish society has likewise been hit by a severe crisis of the liberal-democratic consensus that had prevailed in the previous two decades. The regime that was instituted after the fall of Franco’s dictatorship in 1978 has undergone a further ‘post-democratic’ shift, which reinforced already dominant tendencies of civic demobilisation and the two-party system. The ‘post-democratic’ crisis was fuelled by the programmatic convergence of the centre-left and the centreright party on neoliberalism, the increasing irresponsiveness of political elites and institutions to social demands, the widespread corruption, and the growing discontent of citizens with representative democracy and the entire ‘1978 regime’. These phenomena have been exacerbating in recent years as a consequence of the way ruling elites have managed the economic crisis since 2008 (Sampedro and Lobera 2014; Podemos 2014a; Monedero, San Juan et al. 2014). The situation seems strikingly similar in Greece, where the outbreak of the recent crisis marked a rupture with the so-called metapolitefsi era,2 which initially saw the formation of a strong polarised two-party system, with centre-right and centre-left parties (New Democracy (ND) and Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK)) rotating in

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power for more than thirty-five years. The two parties converged in their programmatic agendas after the mid-1990s and they even collaborated in government after 2011, under conditions of severe crisis and rising social tensions. While their emergence and consolidation in the 1970s and 1980s enabled the transition to a stable party democracy, expanding social and democratic rights and building the foundations of a generous welfare state, the two parties soon became self-serving and alienated from popular concerns. They were also beset with several other evils, including clientelism, corruption and cronyism (Katsambekis 2016b; Lyrintzis 2005; Vernardakis 2011). The consolidation of a ‘culture of consensus’ from the mid-1990s onwards and the adoption of similar neoliberal programmes exemplified Greece’s post-democratic mutation (Kioupkiolis 2014), which was pushed to its extreme in the context of the economic crisis that led Greece to implement a series of harsh austerity measures with devastating effects to the majority of society (Katsambekis 2016b). In this context, the outbreak of the economic crisis in the European periphery after 2008 did not only challenge the dominance of a post-political consensus (Mouffe 2005), bringing socio-political antagonisms back to the forefront. It also seemed to act as a catalyst for the escalation of the underlying crisis of representation into an outright crisis of legitimation of the political system in Greece and Spain.3 In other words, this was the moment of dislocation, which saw hegemonic narratives collapse and large segments of the population become alienated from their previous party loyalties, generating a favourable opportunity structure for the rise of new actors (see Stavrakakis et al. 2018). This dislocation would soon unleash massive grassroots social movements, which were subsequently linked with specific challenger parties: SYRIZA and Podemos respectively.

The populism of the radical left as a challenge to the postdemocratic ‘mainstream’ The first of such massive social-popular uprising against the elites in crisis-ridden Europe was the ‘15 M’ movement which spread across Spain in May 2011 and voiced the popular outrage at austerity policies, unemployment and the hollowingout of democracy, leaving a strong imprint on political culture. The movement failed however to effectively reshuffle power relations and the main economic and political institutions. As a result, since 2011, various social actors started looking for new means of political representation that would overcome fragmentation and the political impotence of mobilisations. Podemos emerged straight out from this quest and intended to weld together a wider ‘popular unity’ by reaching out to social majorities who agree with the narrative and the demands of the movements but are eager to delegate political responsibility (Sampedro and Lobera 2014; Delclos 2014). The Greek squares movement, the so-called Aganaktismenoi (outraged citizens) followed the same path as the ‘15 M’ movement and organised similar rallies in late May and throughout the summer of 2011. The basic claim of the movement was of a populist nature: ‘the people’ had been betrayed by the political elites, which were held responsible for the socio-economic collapse and the hollowing out of

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democratic institutions in the country. Thus, they could no longer represent the ‘people,’ their grievances, demands and aspirations. As a response, the movement demanded immediate and radical change. One of the central slogans was ‘real democracy,’ which was soon recast as ‘direct democracy’ (Prentoulis and Thomassen 2013: 175), reflecting the accent that the movement placed on direct democratic participation and popular accountability as well as their frustration with the representative institutions. The squares movement in both Greece and Spain transfigured the political ‘common sense’, pitting the majority of the citizens against the political and financial elites, calling the political ‘oligarchy’ to account for the crisis and debunking political representation. They demanded, instead, effective popular control over democratic government. However, the situation regarding the political representation of the squares movement in Greece was different compared to Spain. SYRIZA, a coalition of radical left parties and groups formed in 2004, was the only parliamentary political party to openly advocate for the Aganaktismenoi and their demands. So, while Podemos literally arose from the squares, SYRIZA was already an established political actor that managed to address the movement and to capitalise on its dynamic. For Tsipras, the then young leader of SYRIZA, the Aganaktismenoi prefigured a new social majority that was starting to take shape, consisting mainly of frustrated voters of the mainstream centre-left, but also of the right (Tsipras 2011). The objective of SYRIZA was to offer political voice to this social majority and to work towards transforming it into a political majority that would effectively counter the policies of austerity. Hence, SYRIZA initially chose to interact ‘horizontally’ with the protests, motivating its members and supporters to become part of them as individuals. The second step was to represent the movement within parliamentary politics, thus taking a crucial step from identification to representation (Katsambekis 2016a). The ultimate goal was the formation of a wider ‘popular unity’, which would topple the ‘old’ two-party system of Greece, paving the way towards a radical break with austerity and neoliberal policies as well as an overall renewal of the political system. In this sense, both Podemos and SYRIZA, just like Chávez in the late 1990s, seem to have risen as responses to a severe crisis of political representation (Roberts 2015). The two parties illustrate a particular ‘scenario for the rise of populism’, whereby established ‘cartel parties […] appear to form a closed, self-interested and self-reproducing governing caste that is insulated from popular needs and concerns […] [and is attached to a] technocratic consensus behind market liberalization policies’ (Roberts 2015: 149, 155). Podemos and SYRIZA managed to effectively express and represent such popular grievances and concerns against entrenched elites, articulating a plurality of demands and identities in their discourses. At the same time, they actively crafted their own crisis narratives (see Moffitt 2016: 45), attributing blame to the political ‘establishment’ for the economic collapse, the unravelling of democracy and rampant corruption in Greece and Spain, and calling for a radical and immediate change. Indeed, a sense of urgency played a crucial role in all three cases discussed here.

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Podemos’ discourse has been populist from its inception in 2014, insofar as it placed at its centre the antagonistic divide between the social majority and a privileged minority. This displaced the divide between left and right. The social majority, interpellated variously as ‘el pueblo’, ‘la gente’, ‘la mayoria social’, ‘la ciudadania’, was portrayed as suffering from impoverishment and exclusion in a democracy which is ‘hijacked’ by elites. The ‘casta’, which rules the regime, comprises mainly financial interests and the two parties that have been alternating in power since 1978: PP and PSOE (Podemos 2014a: 10–12; Fort Apache 2014). A plurality of social demands emerging from the economic crisis and the neoliberal policies of the state – the defence of social welfare, the end of austerity policies, popular sovereignty – are brought together in a chain of equivalence revolving around the ‘empty signifier’ of ‘democracy’ (‘construir la democracia’) and the charismatic figure of Pablo Iglesias (Podemos 2014b; Iglesias in Fort Apache 2014). Moreover, Podemos’ discourse sought to connect with popular sentiments and common notions. It has offered a diagnosis for the present crisis and has put forward policy alternatives by uttering a plain, ‘ordinary’ language to which people can easily relate, in terms which are not those of the conventional left but are shared across large social strata. It represents, also, party activists as ‘ordinary people’ (Flesher Fominaya 2014: 4). In order to break into a wider audience, the spokespersons of Podemos have made, moreover, intensive use of popular media outlets, including traditional TV channels. Furthermore, the party has been deeply steeped in new digital networks through which it seeks to echo and reconfigure public opinion (Flesher Fominaya 2014: 6; Sánchez 2014: 3; Iglesias 2014; Kioupkiolis 2016). This populist strategy turned out to be very successful for at least one year since the May 2014 European elections, resonating powerfully with the youngest voters, the students, the unemployed, and urban and educated citizens (Sanz 2015; Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas 2015a; Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas 2015b). Podemos’ populism has been effectively left-leaning, since its original programme incorporated most contemporary demands of the social-democratic left. Moreover, in contrast to right-wing populism, the feelings of anger and fear nourished by precarity have been projected onto the domestic ‘casta’ rather than on immigrants. Crucially, the anti-establishment sentiment is directed not only against corrupt political oligarchies, but also against economic elites, and it is wedded to a project of social justice. More recently, in June 2016, Podemos formed an electoral coalition with Izquierda Unida, gaining thus the third position right behind PSOE. Since 2015, in effect, Podemos’ leadership has increasingly recycled the old opposition left vs. right, in a marked diversion from the transversal and cross-ideological approach which had been advocated by the party’s strategist Íñigo Errejón, who has been critical of the convergence with Izquierda Unida (Podemos 2014b; Zabala 2014; Rodríguez 2016; Antentas 2016). SYRIZA’s discourse has followed a similar pattern, as the party consistently sought to articulate a series of movements, demands and identities in a social-popular ‘unitary front’ which clashed with the traditional political forces that are

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portrayed as the ‘establishment’. For example, its main slogan for the campaign of the May 2012 election, in which SYRIZA made its electoral breakthrough, was ‘They decided without us, we’re moving on without them.’ The second key slogan for the same campaign expressed this antagonistic logic in its purest form: ‘It is either us, or them. Together we can overthrow them’ (Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014). SYRIZA’s 2012 campaign aimed to capture popular sentiments of frustration and anger against austerity and the way in which mainstream parties had chosen to manage the crisis. At the same time, it sought to point to an alternative path, tapping into popular hope for a way out of the impasse through collective action and mobilisation. In practice, it constructed ‘chains of equivalence’ among heterogeneous frustrated subjects, identities and demands by highlighting their opposition to a common ‘other’: the ‘old party establishment’, the ‘pro-austerity forces’, the ‘memorandum’, the ‘troika’ and so on (Katsambekis 2016a). These forces, also organised through an equivalential logic, were presented as distinct but interrelated moments of an ‘establishment’ that should be opposed and defeated. SYRIZA’s discourse thus divided society into two opposing camps: ‘them’ (the ‘establishment’) and ‘us’ (‘the people’); power and the underdog. During the long campaign leading to the election of January 2015, SYRIZA further developed its call to restore ‘the people’ as sovereign against the established ‘oligarchy’, staging a sharp antagonism between the vast majority of the people and a privileged minority that was profiting from the crisis; a crisis that they had caused in the first place. The programme leaflet of SYRIZA in January 2015 opened with the words of Tsipras: ‘We are counting on you. Not on the oligarchy. […] On [you] the sovereign people’ (SYRIZA 2015). The inclusivity and universality of this appeal was often stressed through the use of the most characteristic slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement: ‘We represent the interests of the 99% of the people that are paying taxes, New Democracy [represents] the 1% that hides, that has high incomes and evades tax’ (Tsipras 2015a). SYRIZA’s populism has also been left-leaning. Its programmatic platform for the 2012 elections embraced most of the demands of the anti-austerity movements and relevant local struggles. It was based on an alternative mix of economic and social policies, entailing a rupture with austerity and a renegotiation of the Greek public debt. SYRIZA claimed that they would raise taxes on big business and the rich, place the banking sector under social control, call a moratorium on debt repayment until the Greek economy starts to grow, provide universal access to welfare, and scrap salary cuts and emergency taxes. At the same time, they pushed a robust rights agenda that advocated equal rights for immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ people and other minorities (Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Katsourides 2016). Lastly, it is crucial to stress that the anti-establishment sentiments in SYRIZA’s discourse were mostly directed against the political and economic elites of Greece (and Europe) in socio-economic terms, contrasting the logics of equality and social justice to that of profit, exploitation and deregulation. References to ‘corruption’ were always there, similarly to all other political forces in Greece, but they did not define the party’s public presence. However, moral divisions became more

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pronounced in SYRIZA’s discourse during the campaign leading to the 2015 election and especially after the party rose to power (Katsambekis 2016a; Katsambekis 2017b). A notable difference between Podemos and SYRIZA is that the latter had started configuring its specific kind of movement-based populism long before the crisis hit Greece. What marked off SYRIZA’s strategy from its creation in 2004 up to the outbreak of the crisis in 2009–2010 was an effort to carve out a political space that would underpin linkages between various movements (comprising youth initiatives, civil disobedience, environmental struggles, anti-war movements, etc.) and could produce an equivalential chain against the ‘two-party neoliberal establishment’ of PASOK and ND. Initially, this strategy did not amass significant support for the party. But it proved increasingly successful after 2010, as Greece was entering the spiral of the crisis, especially after the emergence of the squares movement in 2011, which brought the underlying crisis of representation to surface. Another key development in SYRIZA’s strategy came in 2012, when the party did not limit itself to the formation of a more powerful fighting opposition and declared that it was ready to claim government responsibility in the name of an ‘alliance of the Left’ (Katsambekis 2016a: 397; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014: 126; Tsakatika 2016).

Relation with social movements and direct collective participation The rise of Podemos has been facilitated by the 15 M movement and the shifts in political culture that it brought about: the critique against the elites, the protagonism of the people, the displacement of the left/right divide with an antagonism between citizens and the establishment. These critical elements accounted for the initial form and the language of Podemos’ politics as well as for its resonance with the population. The 15 M movement had been seen by Podemos’ main theoretical brain, Íñigo Errejón, as a ‘populist moment’ that opened up a window of opportunity in which a politicised minority could represent and create a new popular majority (Stobart 2014a; Kioupkiolis 2016). Moreover, Podemos originally also partly imitated the direct democratic practice of the 15 M movement by fostering the participation of ‘lay people’ in its grassroots at the time of its foundation in early 2014. The new party set up local and sectorial ‘circles’ of members and sympathisers, who debated politics and formulated policy proposals, it facilitated ‘on-line’ forms of involvement accessible to all and it undertook a collective construction of its programme and its electoral lists for the European Elections in May 2014 (Espinoza Pino 2014; Tenhunen and Rodriguez 2014). On the other hand, Podemos was launched from the top, at the initiative of a ‘leading figure’ – Pablo Iglesias – and an affiliated group of intellectuals and activists, who have always maintained their grip over the politics of the new formation. Second, against the anti-electoral animus of 15 M, the leadership of Podemos has highlighted the importance of the electoral route and it set out to ‘conquer the state’ (Espinoza Pino 2014; Delclos 2014). The persistence of hierarchy, hegemonic

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representation, state politics and ‘traditional’ mass media communication attests to the survival of ‘old-style’ representative politics and a strong ‘vertical’ dimension in the midst of Podemos. This clashes with the ‘horizontal’ layer of egalitarian participation and the 15 M spirit, leading social activists to denounce Podemos as old politics in a new garb (Flesher Fominaya 2014; Taibo 2015). SYRIZA’s connection with social movements can be traced back to the very name of the party which took the initiative for its formation in 2004 and which was all along the dominant constituent within the SYRIZA coalition: Synaspismos (SYN), whose acronym meant Coalition of Left, Movements and Ecology. The party of SYN had its roots in the Eurocommunist tradition (Kalyvas and Marantzidis 2002; Balabanidis 2015), which relied on a reformist agenda aimed at the ‘progressive modernisation’ of society, and emphasised post-materialist values and rights.4 But it often found itself in an uncomfortable position, squeezed between the orthodox communist left (Communist Party of Greece, KKE) and the centreleft (PASOK) (Katsourides 2016: 51–53). The foundation of SYRIZA came as a response to the party’s long crisis of identity and its stagnating (often disappointing) electoral results. Through this coalition, SYN sought to broaden its outreach to the youth and to social and political activists, with a view to reshaping its profile. This transformation was also highlighted by SYN’s choice to abandon its selfcharacterisation as ‘renewal left’ and to adopt the self-characterisation ‘radical left’, aspiring thereby to express the newest social movements against neoliberalism. SYRIZA’s strategy as a coalition formation was marked from the beginning by its effort to cultivate links with a series of youth movements. The most decisive moments were: (i) the counter-globalisation movement and the ‘Social Forums’; (ii) the massive student protests in 2006–2007 against the constitutional amendment that would allow for the establishment of private universities in Greece; (iii) the youth anti-authoritarian uprising in December 2008, after the killing of a 15-yearold boy by a police officer in the centre of Athens. These movements became constant themes in SYRIZA’s discourse. They turned into symbols of a broad antineoliberal struggle that the party considered necessary for the emancipation of society. SYRIZA’s strategy was to call on its members to actively participate in the movements not from a vanguardist position, but as individuals who respect the movements’ autonomous dynamic. This is why SYRIZA has also been described as a ‘mass connective party’. In contrast to the working-class ‘mass party’, whose main aim was vanguardism and unification, SYRIZA now sought ‘to connect in a flexible way the diverse actions, initiatives and movements that embody […] social, ideological and cultural anticapitalist expressions’ into a stable federation, fostering new forms of political agency and subversive action (Spourdalakis 2013: 103). The ‘mass connective party’ model had indeed shaped SYRIZA’s political action up until its electoral breakthrough and up until the coalition was transformed into a properly unified party in 2012– 2013. As the possibility of seizing power became increasingly high, SYRIZA would focus more on parliamentary procedures and the representation of social struggles in its discourse. The political strategy gradually shifted from a logic of

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direct/individual participation in the movements and a horizontal articulation of the party with the movements towards a logic of top-down representation. The party came to present itself as the political voice of the movements. In the context of the crisis, SYRIZA’s address to ‘the people’ and its opposition to the ‘old party establishment’ was combined with an emphasis on particular struggles. Τhese were held to constitute a political front against austerity, state repression and neoliberalism. They were highlighted as intensified moments of a broader antagonism, and were thus linked in a broad social/popular front against austerity and the governments that had supported it. These struggles and movements involved national strikes and demonstrations against salary/pension cuts, labour deregulation and cuts in social security and healthcare; local environmental and social disobedience movements against rising road tolls on Greece’s national roads, but also against other forms of debt that were considered unfair; and struggles of public servants who were either fired in mass lay-offs or were placed in a state of ‘mobility’ (Katsambekis 2016a). SYRIZA implemented thus a strategy similar to the one it had deployed in the past, trying to link and to represent various particular struggles in a broader popular/social bloc of forces against austerity and the political ‘establishment.’ On the other hand, as in the case of Podemos, there are also clear limits to SYRIZA’s identification with social movements and grassroots activity. The party has never managed to effectively promote grassroots democracy and civic participation within it. Moreover, SYRIZA has gradually foregone its direct links and ‘horizontal’ relationship with the movements since the time when the aim of seizing power replaced its ‘fighting opposition’ strategy. What is more, after the turning point in SYRIZA’s policies in the summer of 2015, the party, again like Podemos, has become more centralised and dominated by its leadership. At the same time, social movements have been demobilised and disaffected at the choice of the SYRIZA government to back down and to accept and enforce a new bailout programme. In a parallel fashion, after the launch of Podemos, which was followed by the growth of horizontal grassroots involvement, the Citizens’ Assembly in November 2014 marked a vertical turn in the actual workings and the constitution of Podemos which was laid down in this convention (Jurado 2014). In contrast with the open primaries and the participatory framing of the programme for the May 2014 European elections, the tactic of voting for pre-drafted lists and programmes in the constituent assembly of Podemos seemed to enact a plebiscitary relationship between the leader and his followers, who were invited to simply ratify his decisions (Espinoza Pino 2014). Since early 2015, verticalism and bureaucratisation may have taken their toll on Podemos’ popularity. No doubt, the increased centralisation has significantly demobilised party supporters and the Circulos voluntary, open citizen groupings (Casero-Ripollés, Feenstra and Tormey 2016: 12). Iglesias’ style of leadership could be hardly compared with Chávez, who had staged a coup, connected with the mass of the poor ‘mestizo’ people from the barrios, concentrated power in his hands while in office and assumed dimensions of a messianic figure. However, they have shared the intent to empower the people

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and democratise an elitist, corrupt regime by means of a populist politics that is centred around the leader and brings together ‘verticalism’ and ‘horizontalism’. The sinister effects of the preponderance of vertical hierarchies and centralised leadership are also common, but much more dramatic and illuminating in the case of Chávez. Here, the combination of ‘vertical’ power with ‘horizontal’ grassroots self-organisation in a political front directed by a strong leader has been tested in power for some time. Chávez provides, in effect, a unique opportunity for a critical appreciation of the functions of leaders in instances of contemporary populism which raise radical democratic claims. In the eminently political process of bringing together different social sectors to vie for hegemony, the agency of Chávez acted as a catalyst for the unification of heterogeneous groups who had divergent demands and no common organisation. This catalytic-unifying function, which was enabled by Chávez’s charisma, his inflammatory and visionary discourse and his identification with the ‘people’, can be seen as a key contribution of leadership to the construction of a new political bloc which can embark on a project of socio-political transformation (Philip and Panizza 2011: 94–96; Ciccariello-Maher 2015: 6–8; López Μaya 2008: 56–59; Lander 2008: 75–78). Moreover, Chávez made the promotion of popular ‘protagonistic’ democracy a nodal point of his discourse and practice. This was first pursued in the social welfare programmes of the ‘misiones’ and cognate projects to co-manage basic infrastructure in low-income districts. He promoted a ‘state-sponsored participatory democracy’ (Smilde 2011: 25) by passing, among others, the Law for the Communal Councils and the Communes (‘Consejos Comunales’ and ‘Comunas’), new units of direct selfadministration in the localities, which are entitled to use state funding for local projects. These new structures were put forward as the fundamental cell of a new, communal state structure, in which power would flow from the bottom-up (Azzellini and Sitrin 2014: 219–221; Ciccariello-Maher 2013: 244–252). On the other hand, when the cohesive function in political organisation is focused on an individual leader two grave risks arise for the democratic empowerment of the people, all of which came true in the case of Chávez. The first risk is that an effective concentration of power in the person of the leader and an authoritative direction of the bloc of forces coalescing around him may undermine social self-organisation and an egalitarian emancipation of the people. Throughout his term in office, from 1998 to 2013, Chávez performed a style of directive leadership which was centralised around the figure of the leader. He amplified the official powers of the president and determined the fundamental directions of the entire ‘Bolivarian project’ of social transformation without consulting with the government or the movement. The conflict between top-down rule, personalism, centralism and autonomous grassroots mobilisation has been considered thus the core contradiction of Chavista populism, preventing the development of popular self-direction and empowerment (López Maya 2015, 386–397; Philip and Panizza 2011, 96–97; Panizza 2009: 202; Cannon 2009: 67; Azzellini 2015; Arenas 2006; Lander 2008: 82). The other risk for the prospects of democratic change is the dissolution of the popular-democratic front into rival factions once the leader that holds it together has vanished, if no organic links have developed meanwhile among the various

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constituents of the bloc. Such a dispersion and a consequent unravelling of the ‘Bolivarian process’ have indeed occurred in the aftermath of Chávez’s death and the assumption of leadership by the less charismatic Nicolas Maduro (Gottberg 2013; Cooper, Samet and Schiller 2015; Ciccariello-Maher 2015). Chávez’s eclipse, in tandem with a dramatic economic crisis, brought about the dissolution of his hegemonic bloc, the collapse of the ‘Bolivarian’ process of democratisation and the onset an explosive socio-economic crisis, a galloping inflation, the shortage of basic goods and the ongoing expansion of contraband and the black market.

Technopolitics and reflexivity There are two elements which clearly demarcate Podemos’ populist politics and are not matched by SYRIZA’s politics. First, the ‘technopolitical’ aspect, which is a distinctive innovation of Podemos’ populism. Social media and new digital technologies were massively deployed by 15 M activists. Podemos’ organisers did not simply endorse this technopolitics, but they further enhanced digital participation with new tools (Rubiño 2015; Pizarro and Labuske 2015). Podemos built its own platforms and technologies, through which thousands of members could ‘do politics’ by proposing, debating and voting on party policies (Pizarro and Labuske 2015: 98–99). Podemos instituted thus a permanent online ‘agora’, called ‘Plaza Podemos’, a reddit channel through which all party members could take part in its life. By adopting new software for anonymous online voting (Agora Voting), thousands of people managed to participate in Podemos’ primaries for the May 2014 European elections and in the Citizens’ Assembly in November 2014, which decided the party’s structure (Clavell 2015: 115; Pizarro and Labuske 2015: 101–102; Kioupkiolis 2016). Podemos has manufactured thus a ‘machine of political communication’ which ‘hacks’ public opinion and refashions it, multiplying its social impact through diffuse networks and thousands of connections. The embrace of digital media to facilitate information, mobilisation and interaction results in a hybrid party structure which displays features of digital networks and social movements. Hence, Podemos has given rise to a new brand of ‘technopopulism’ whereby the people could construct itself in and through new social media and more conventional modes of participatory party politics.5 While Podemos’ active use of Twitter related with the youth, their frequent appearances at TV talk shows made their leaders uniformly known across Spanish geography in record time. Podemos’ effective use of diverse media to communicate its own political messages challenges a media-centric thesis which overemphasises the role of the media themselves in the making of political discourse (Casero-Ripollés, Feenstra and Tormey 2016). Second, Podemos’ populism evinces a reflexivity without known precedent in populist politics. Ernesto Laclau’s theory of populism is not merely an apt framework for analysing Podemos’ politics. Along with the 15 M political culture and the Latin American experiences of left-wing populism in the last fifteen years, it has been one of the key intellectual influences on the political project of Podemos

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leadership (Alemán 2015; Martínez Alier 2014; Stobart 2014b; Errejón and Mouffe 2015). Podemos leaders, the academics based in the Department of Politics at the Complutense University of Madrid, are true believers in the performative power of language, in the ability of new linguistic framings to effect social change. Podemos can be seen to this extent as an implementation of Laclau’s theory of populism (Stobart 2014b; Errejón Galván 2014). Laclau’s influence comes clearly into sight in Errejón’s own exegesis of Podemos campaign strategy in the 2014 European elections. The campaign was informed, as he puts it, by a ‘constructivist vision of political discourse’ which articulates discourse around ‘dichotomies’, opposing the ‘people’ to the ‘elites’ (Errejón Galván 2014). Laclau’s theoretico-political imprint has been also visible in Pablo Iglesias’ conception of politics and his understanding of the role of leadership (see Iglesias in Fort Apache 2014). This acquaintance with, and endorsement of, populist theory by Podemos’ leaders – something that we also see in France Insoumise and JeanLuc Mélenchon – contrasts sharply with other contemporary leftist politics, such as those of Die Linke and SYRIZA, who tend to dismiss the designation ‘populist’ as a smear and do not evince comparable Laclauian leanings. Τhe Gramscian conception of hegemony and Laclau’s recasting of it through ‘discourse theory’ accord a decisive role to political communication, the construction of (new) meanings and the struggle to influence and reform the ‘common sense’, which enables a political force to gain hegemony. This can account for the concern with discourse, mass media communication and the interaction with ‘common sense’ which has informed the strategy of Podemos from the outset, leading critics to claim that it has worked to the detriment of specific programmatic proposals. Programmatic vagueness and volatility can be associated with Laclau’s interest in ‘empty signifiers’, that is, words and symbols which facilitate convergences and the making of collective identities (Antentas 2016). Empty signifiers, such as ‘democracy’, ‘justice’, ‘change’, are relatively divested of specific content, and this ‘emptiness’ enables various constituencies to identify with them beyond their differences. The most interesting implication seems to be, rather, that a certain reading of Laclau’s thought is likely to have fed into the vertical and centralising tendencies in Podemos that we noted above. A reception of Laclau’s hegemony which underscores the catalytic role of individual leadership (see Iglesias in Fort Apache 2014) is likely to have been affirmed by the experience of Latin American left-wing populism, which also weighs heavily on the political directors of Podemos (Machado 2014): ‘the ‘symbolic unification of the group around an individuality […] is inherent to the formation of a “people”’ (Laclau 2005: 100).

The ‘institutionalisation’ of radical left populism Both SYRIZA and Podemos have undergone significant transformations after their first electoral breakthrough. These shifts may be linked to their office seeking strategy, which led to programmatic moderation. In the case of SYRIZA, the

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party’s moderation was more rapid and serious compared to that of Podemos because it ascended to power under conditions of severe crisis and immense external constraints and pressures. In the May 2015 local and regional elections, Podemos did not run its own candidates, but participated in broad-based, heterogeneous coalitions with other leftist parties and citizens’ platforms. These emerged victorious in various major cities, including Barcelona and Madrid (Rodon and Hierro 2016: 7–9). In the December 2015 general elections, Podemos ranked third, after the ruling PP and the social-democratic PSOE, with 20.7% of the vote (Medina and Correa 2016: 9). In the repeat general elections in June 2016, Podemos’ electoral coalition with Izquierda Unida again gained the third position, falling right behind PSOE. The results reinstated PP in power. But they have also confirmed a new, fragmented, fluid and unpredictable political landscape in Spain. Instead of a two-party system, where the centre-left is represented by a social democratic party alternating with a right-wing party in power, there are now three or four major political forces in parliament and the political system at large. Podemos has ‘integrated’ the traditional left of Izquierda Unida and, at the same time, it challenges PSOE’s grip on the centre-left (Rodon and Hierro 2016: 1–2, 15). However, Unidos Podemos did not only fail to achieve its stated objective of surpassing PSOE. It also lost 1.1 million votes from the combined votes of the two parties in December 2015. Several critics have attributed this miscarriage to the gradual bureaucratisation of Podemos in its various respects: the absence of civic participation and mobilisation; the lack of an organised territorial base of the party; its highly hierarchical and conventional party structure; the moderation of Podemos’ anti-establishment and anti-casta discourse; its ideological ambiguity and political opportunism; the attendant lack of a convincing and specific political program; the embrace of ‘social democracy’ since late 2015; the electoral coalition with the traditional left; and the gradual shift away from a radical democratic populism. In effect, over the last months, Podemos’ leadership has rehearsed the old antithesis left vs. right, giving up on the populist antagonism people vs. the ‘casta’ (Franzé, 2015; Antentas 2016). This was a marked diversion from the transversal and cross-ideological approach extolled by the movement’s main theoretician and campaign strategist, Íñigo Errejón, who was not supportive of joining the post-Communist left of Izquierda Unida in an electoral coalition. All these mutations can be traced back to Podemos’ institutionalisation, which has stripped Podemos of the aura of novelty and the appeal of the ‘outsider’ in a corrupt and unresponsive political system (Rubiño 2015: 90; Lamant 2015: 85). On the other hand, the party leadership has ascribed the disappointing results to a ‘campaign of fear’ on the part of the establishment as well as to Podemos’ failure to convince moderate voters that it deserves more than a protest vote, as a responsible political party that is also capable of governing. A new party strategy and action were laid down in ‘Vistalegre II’, the second general congress of the party that took place in Madrid, on 11–12 February 2017. The general assembly of the party would resolve the public infighting that had broken out between the two

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party leaders, Iglesias and Errejón. This quarrel was intensely personalised but it appeared to pit two different strategies against each other. Errejón championed his ‘big-tent’ idea of Podemos. The party should transcend the left-right dichotomies, tone down its discourse, becomes more versed in parliamentary politics, appeal even to right-wing voters and put an end to the collaboration with the traditional left. Iglesias upheld his version of Podemos as a ‘historical bloc of change’ that remains radical, confrontational, away from today’s PSOE and allied instead with the left, grassroots militants and protests (Fernández and López 2017). Iglesias and his line triumphed in the party congress. He won an absolute majority in the vote on the four main party documents on organisation, politics, ethics and gender equality, and his candidates gained most seats in the State Citizen Council. According to critics, the ‘caesarist’ or ‘Bonapartist’ tendencies of the party were reinforced. The ‘militant masses’ of the party which gathered in the congress gave their enthusiastic backing to the leader. This plebiscitarian populism had been rehearsed several times in the recent past when Iglesias resorted to popular consultations with party members in order to resolve strategic dilemmas. And, of course, plebiscitarianism could thrive on the lack of real political debate in Vistalegre II and the frailties of political analysis and strategic thought in Podemos. The hegemony of ‘Pablismo’ in the party was further bolstered by a voting system which enables the majority to be overrepresented in the party organs (Rodríguez 2017). Almost nothing has remained in place from the meaningful participation of the grassroots in the Circulos of the early days of Podemos (Alabao 2017). Far from dealing a death blow to Podemos’ populist brand, Vistalegre II staged, thus, a battle between two versions of populism, in which one carried the day. Errejón pleaded for a middle-class populism, more moderate, pragmatic and institutionalised. Iglesias, by contrast, championed a more left-leaning, confrontational and pro-movement variant, with a patina of radical rhetoric and street activism. Iglesias’ current take on populism can be described, thus, as ‘neochavismo’ insofar as it mirrors the leftist, radical and plebiscitarian populism of Chávez (Fernández and López 2017; Nichols 2017). Chávez exercised a strong personalist leadership and communicated directly with the ‘masses’ of the urban poor, without the mediations of an organised party (Lander 2008; López Maya 2008). No doubt, the degree of personal cult and massive followership has been much higher in the case of Venezuela. But Podemos contrasted with the leftist populism of SYRIZA until the beginning of 2015. The longer history of SYRIZA, its consolidated organisation and the vivid political debate and dissent amid its ranks held in check the power of the leader, Alexis Tsipras. This state of affairs has changed, however, after Tsipras’ coming to power in 2015. ‘Technopopulism’, of the more spectacular and personalist kind, has also remained in full swing since Vistalegre I. Back then, in Podemos’ constituent assembly in November 2014, Iglesias and the faction around him prevailed over internal opponents and alternative political projects through a plebiscitary relation between the leader and his mass constituency. This directive power of the personal leader had been facilitated by the looseness of a political organisation that lacked

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solid political structures between the leaders, the rank and file and the broader electorate, which could mediate these relationships and hold the leaders in check. Technopopulism has been crucial in this respect, from the very birth of Podemos. Party membership though digital networks can attract a mass of ‘virtual’ members and ‘clickactivists’ who are separated from party militants and organised grassroots. Such digital followers tend to be minimally involved in party politics and debates, but they still participate by means of online voting, ratifying thus the choices of the leaders and conferring on them a semblance of plebiscitary democratic legitimacy. Moreover, reliance on digital technologies for decision-making increases the risks of manipulation from the top, especially when the software is run by a ‘technical’ group attached to the leadership. Critics have claimed, in effect, that the leadership indirectly manipulated the voting procedures in the party’s constituent assembly in Vistalegre I by resorting to devices such as ‘slate voting’ by clicking on complete lists of candidates (see García 2015; Pérez 2014; for a response to such criticisms and a defence of online deliberation as a bulwark against oligarchic domination, see Pizarro and Labuske 2015: 106–107). In Vistalegre II, public competition for positions of power in the party was still waged in front of a rather passive mass of party ‘inscritos’, the 450,000 people who had registered effortlessly as party members without having any pre-existing connections with Podemos or any active participation afterwards. As a result, appearing in the media and accumulating followers in social networks is a strategic priority for any aspirant to higher party echelons and influence (Camargo 2017). In SYRIZA’s case, the ‘institutionalisation’ and ‘verticalisation’ of the party has been more violent. It was significantly accelerated by its rise to power and the confrontation with EU’s limitations and constraints, but had already started earlier. Faced with the possibility of entering government for the first time in 2012, and in a bid to reinforce organisational consolidation, SYRIZA had decided to transform from a coalition of distinct parties and groups (called constituents or components) into a ‘proper’ unified party. The ‘self-dissolution’ of the constituent parties and groups and their collapse into a unified party was officially decided during SYRIZA’s first Congress in 2013. From this point onwards, the SYRIZA would adopt an office-seeking strategy, further reinforcing its centralisation and vertical structures. Something that was intensified after the election that brought the party to power in early 2015. Indeed, having to deal with a state apparatus that had crystallised its own typical and atypical structures in the span of four decades, under the rule of the mainstream forces of the centre-right and centre-left, was a serious challenge itself. The rather hostile and often aggressive stance of key institutional and political players on the EU level made things even more complicated. This explains, perhaps, why the SYRIZA-led government initially chose to pursue some strategic alliances with representatives of systemic and more moderate political forces. Such was the choice of Tsipras to nominate Prokopis Pavlopoulos, a rightwinger and former Minister of the Interior with ND (2004–2009), as the President of the Republic in February 2015, as well as the appointment of rather conservative ministers and alternate ministers in key ministries. These choices are also

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related to the delicate balance that SYRIZA has to maintain with its junior partner in government, ANEL (Independent Greeks), a right-wing populist breakaway from ND, involving MPs that opposed austerity in 2012. Despite the noted limitations and constraints, as well as the grim situation with the country’s finances, SYRIZA’s discourse during the first term in office remained defiant and at times aggressive towards the domestic and international ‘establishment’ (Greece’s lenders). However, things changed after SYRIZA’s leadership decided to accept a new bailout agreement, a new ‘memorandum’, right after the referendum of July 2015. This decision led to serious internal tensions and strife in SYRIZA, with 43 MPs of the party not supporting it in parliament in August 2015. Under these circumstances, Tsipras decided to call new snap elections that were held in September 2015. The result was a major split in SYRIZA, with around twenty-five MPs and almost half of the Central Political Committee members leaving the party. This also led to the formation of two novel parties led by former prominent figures of SYRIZA (Popular Unity / LAE, under Panagiotis Lafazanis and Course of Freedom, under Zoe Konstantopoulou), which are both currently stagnating below the 3% threshold for entering parliament. The desertion also meant that Tsipras now had to deal with a more coherent and unified party, on which he has established a much stronger grip. Moreover, the new memorandum itself and the constraints it enforced, as well as the constantly looming threat of bankruptcy significantly reduced polyphony within the party and government, with no one challenging Tsipras’ leadership as this would compromise the government’s stability. The party’s campaign leading to the snap election of September 2015 was significantly different from the one that had brought it to power only six months ago. In January 2015, SYRIZA rallied the people around the promise of a radical break with austerity, the reinvigoration of social welfare and a restarting of the economy. In September 2015, it had to campaign after having just signed a new bailout agreement which furthered austerity. Declaring that the new ‘memorandum’ was signed unwillingly, under pressure or even blackmail, and in order to ward off the risks of ‘Grexit’ and a complete economic collapse, SYRIZA’s campaign put at the forefront the antagonism between the ‘old’ (represented by ND) and the ‘new’ (represented by SYRIZA). The main slogan for the new campaign read: ‘We are getting rid of the old. We are winning tomorrow.’ In this context, Tsipras went on to set the basic dilemma for the electorate: [Will you side] with ND and their allies, that devastated the country? Or with SYRIZA and their allies, that bled to get Greece out of the impasse? […] We decide with our hand on our heart and our minds on tomorrow. Not on who is going to sit on the chair. But on whom has stood, whom is standing and will keep standing straight, next to the people, with the people and for the people. (Tsipras 2015b) During the second term in office, SYRIZA’s discourse – especially when it comes from cabinet members – became more managerial and attached to state functions,

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in an effort to justify the new austerity measures and the need for the Left to remain in power so that it can implement austerity in a socially ‘sensitive’ way, while managing public administration in a more efficient and transparent manner. In this context, SYRIZA stressed that despite the limitations of the new ‘memorandum’ the government would pursue a ‘parallel programme’. This comprised a series of measures that would help ease the pains of austerity, protect the most vulnerable segments of the Greek society, and expand social rights. But the implementation of the ‘parallel programme’ was again met with hostility by Greece’s European partners, leading the Greek government to yet another retreat. Thus, after having to forgo a significant part of the ‘parallel programme’, SYRIZA chose to focus on issues like tackling corruption and fighting tax-evasion (Katsourides 2016: 126), something that led to an increasingly moralising discourse, stressing the government’s ‘war on corruption’. After seriously retreating on the level of applied policies, especially economic and social ones, SYRIZA needed to focus on a field on which it could better pick its battles with its main rival, ND, but also PASOK; the two traditional parties of the post-authoritarian era that are notorious for their clientelistic and corrupt practices in recent history (Lyrintzis 2011). But ‘corruption’ was not the only field were SYRIZA chose to pick their fights while in office, as the party has pushed forward a robust rights agenda that could set it apart from its conservative opponents. To be more specific, SYRIZA has passed a series of relevant reforms through the parliament, the most significant among which are: (1) a law granting citizenship to second generation immigrants; (2) the recognition of civil partnership for same-sex couples; (3) the recognition of the right to change sex identity to citizens over the age of 15; (4) allowing samesex couples to foster children. These laws were not supported by SYRIZA’s partner in government, ANEL, with MPs of the latter often adopting anti-immigrant and homophobic rhetoric. However, they were voted by MPs of the centre and centre-left (PASOK and Potami), something which further highlights the importance of the ‘host ideology’ in populist parties’ parliamentary behaviour and policy impact (March 2017; Otjes and Louwerse 2015). In terms of leadership, Tsipras himself has played a role akin to Iglesias’, becoming all the more powerful as the party was advancing towards power. It is quite characteristic, in this sense, that while SYRIZA used to stress collectivity, plurality and internal democracy in its campaigns, avoiding a focus on the leader, in September 2015 it built its campaign almost solely around Tsipras himself, with one of the campaign slogans reading ‘On 20 September we vote for a Prime Minister’, while using Tsipras’ face in almost every TV spot.6 It is important to stress, however, that SYRIZA had a culture that systematically undermined the role of a strong leader up until that point. This contrasts sharply with Iglesias’ central role in Podemos right from the outset. Indeed, SYRIZA had been a polyphonic and pluralistic political alliance from its foundation in 2004 until it evolved into a properly unified party in 2013 (Spourdalakis 2013; Tsakatika and Eleftheriou 2013). Till then, SYRIZA had fashioned an organisational model that recognised and respected different orientations within it, enacting processes of

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collective decision-making and harbouring organs that held the leadership accountable. It had even briefly experimented with collective leadership, in the national election of 2009, when all the constituents of the coalition participated as equals without the tutelage of a single leader (Tsatsis 2009). Things started to change after the electoral breakthrough of the party in May/June 2012, as the possibility of rising to power was increasing (Eleftheriou 2015: 69–71). The shift was even more dramatic after the election of January 2015 and the heated negotiations of Tsipras’ government with Greece’s European partners, which resulted in a new bailout programme and a major party split. Ever since, and as long as the government’s stability is not seriously threatened, Tsipras’ leadership of SYRIZA seems rather undisputed.

Conclusion In this chapter, we have traced out the evolving trajectories of two signal instances of left-wing populism in crisis-ridden Europe: SYRIZA and Podemos. In order to better grasp their conditions of emergence, but also to identify the peculiarities of left-wing populism in a cross-regional perspective, we have introduced in our discussion the case of Chavismo in Venezuela. In all three sites, a major crisis of political representation and the post-democratic mutation of the political system furnished the structural conditions under which their populist appeal could win over broad sections of the population which were marginalised, impoverished and alienated. Crucially, the appearance of massive social movements preceded the breakthrough of the populist parties and leaders, who acted as outlets for a plurality of grievances and demands against the ‘establishment’. In Europe, both SYRIZA and Podemos have steadily moderated their political and programmatic positions as they consolidated their electoral bases. By contrast, in Venezuela we have witnessed the opposite trajectory. Chavismo became more radical and decisive in terms of its policies and reforms from 1998 onwards, as it secured its electoral appeal and its grip on state power. This marked divergence can be imputed to differences in the political systems of the three countries, to Venezuela’s presidentialism, deep post-colonial divisions, and so on. Perhaps more decisive, however, were the limitations foisted by the European Union and the lack of economic resources in the case of Greece, mainly, and Spain to a lesser extent. Chávez could still bank on his country’s rich oil reserves to finance robust social programmes, even if this strategy backfired in the long run. The Greek and the Spanish economy are more closely integrated with the EU and they are heavily reliant on EU funding – Greece, in particular. As both Podemos and SYRIZA are essentially ‘Europeanist forces’, the immediate consequence of this situation was a ‘pragmatist turn’, which was needed in order to avert a break with the EU and an economic collapse. Another common feature which is worth highlighting is the transition from grassroots politics and massive social movements (horizontality) to centralised political parties and strong leaders (verticality). Iglesias and Tsipras are not nearly as

150 A. Kioupkiolis and G. Katsambekis

charismatic and dominating as Chávez was. But they have managed to maintain a firm hold over their parties, effectively neutralising any challenges to their leadership and the strategy they have advanced. To be sure, their hegemonic position remains precarious. Currently (September 2018), both SYRIZA and Podemos perform poorly in opinion polls, and future failures could spawn further internal strife in their parties.

Notes 1 This is an updated and enhanced version of our chapter ‘Radical Left Populism from the Margins to the Mainstream: A Comparison of Syriza and Podemos’, see Kioupkiolis and Katsambekis 2018: 201–226. It also draws on parts of Stavrakakis et al. 2016: 51-76. 2 ‘Metapolitefsi’ is a word used in Greek to signify both the moment of the fall of the sevenyear military dictatorship and the transition to democracy in 1974, but also the whole era that was initiated at that moment. 3 We have also seen similar developments in Italy, with the crucial difference that no political force of the left, populist or non-populist, has managed to rise in prominence. In that case, it was the populist radical right League (Lega) and the idiosyncratic populist 5 Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle), that have managed to channel popular frustration and even make it to office in a ‘populist-populist’ coalition. 4 Interestingly, the Eurocommunist currents within SYRIZA had historically faced similar dilemmas with the ones the party had to face in recent years. The possibility and challenge of exercising government and entering a coalition with other political forces are the most obvious here. Programmatic moderation is another one. However, the Eurocommunist currents at SYRIZA’s roots have been consistently anti-populist, something which partly explains a major split in SYN (the core component of SYRIZA) in 2010 and the formation of a new party, the Democratic Left (DIMAR) that soon entered a coalition government with ND and PASOK in 2012. 5 For an earlier, critical account of ‘technopopulism’ in contemporary parties, see Lipow & Seyd 1995. 6 http://www.syriza.gr/page/video.html [in Greek] (accessed 20 September 2018).

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Introduction The main bulk of the academic literature on populist and radical right-wing parties remains focused on Western Europe (Mudde 2007; Mudde 2010). This highlights the necessity for the inclusion of more case studies, as well as comparative studies, from the eastern part of the Continent (Pirro 2013; Pytlas 2015). Taking into account the low political appeal of the left across Central and Eastern Europe, since the democratic transition from Communism in the 1990s, there is a specific aspect that needs to be addressed in greater detail and depth by academic experts: How do right-wing populism and right-wing radicalism in Central and Eastern Europe intercede with the absence of radical left parties and movements? In regards to the country-cases nominated for this piece, there is a common denominator which makes the political landscapes of Hungary and Estonia largely comparable: the idiosyncratic interplay among identity & memory politics, neoliberal economics and the marginalisation of the left. In both countries, a potent radical right (Hungary) and an increasingly appealing populist right (Estonia) combine in space with the absence of a radical left from the two party landscapes. The political parties nominated for this piece are the Eesti Konservatiivne Rahvaerakond/ Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) and Jobbik (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom /Movement for a Better Hungary). EKRE, a populist right-wing party that was set up in 2012, delivered an impressive performance in the last parliamentary elections garnering 8.1% of the vote and seven seats. According to a series of surveys, EKRE’s public appeal has been on the rise since 2015 and it stood as the third most popular party in Estonia in 2018 (see Table 8.1, Table 8.2a and Table 8.2b).2

TABLE 8.1 Estonian parliamentary elections (March 2015)

Political parties

Percentages (%) and seats

Reform Party Centre Party Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL Social Democrats (SDE) Green Party EKRE Free Party Others

27.7 (30 seats) 24.8 (27 seats) 13.7 (14 seats) 15.2 (15 seats) 0.9 (0 seats) 8.1 (7 seats) 8.7 (8 seats) 0.9 (0 seats)

TABLE 8.2A Popularity ratings of political parties in Estonia (January 2018)

Political parties

Rate of popularity (%)

Reform Party


Centre Party




Social Democrats (SDE)


Free Party


Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL


Green Party


TABLE 8.2B Popularity ratings of political parties in Estonia (June 2018)

Political parties

Rate of popularity (%)

Reform Party


Centre Party




Social Democrats (SDE)


Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL


Green Party


Free Party


158 V. Petsinis

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his FIDESZ (Hungarian Civic Alliance) have consolidated their status as preponderant political actors in Hungary. However, further along the right angle of the political spectrum, Jobbik stands as the second most popular party in the country after the 2018 elections.3 The party manifesto of Jobbik dedicates an entire section to the platform of ‘Eco-social National Economics’ which, amongst others, provides for the nationalisation of the most vital sectors in the Hungarian economy. On the other hand, EKRE has been issuing calls for the protection of small agricultural producers and the restriction of the activities of foreign investors in Estonia. The main questions here are: Why and how have these two parties appropriated and incorporated ‘quasi-leftist’ standpoints into their political agendas? Has this assisted these two parties in enhancing their appeal to the respective electorates? In the outset, this chapter provides a historical and theoretical overview on the feeble political appeal of the left across Central and Eastern Europe since the 1990s, with case-specific references to Hungary and Estonia. Then, it sets in context the different trajectories via which Jobbik and EKRE have been employing ‘quasi-leftist’ rhetoric as part of their engagement into the political landscapes of Hungary and Estonia. This chapter demonstrates that the ‘anti-capitalist’/anti-globalisation components in the agendas of both parties are employed in a situationally adaptive manner and they are solidly cushioned inside a nativist and ethno-nationalist frame. Furthermore, the electorates of these and other populist and radical right-wing parties across Central and Eastern Europe opt for these parties primarily on the basis of identity politics. Meanwhile, the minuscule forces of the radical left do not seem able to project a convincing alternative to the systematic appropriation of ‘older’ and ‘newer’ identity politics (namely LGBT issues and the refugee question) by the populist and radical right throughout the region. This chapter is embedded in theoretical and scholarly literature in the thematic areas of Nationalism, Populism, and Political Culture. Within the context of a retrospective overview, reference is also made to theoretical approaches to democratic transition from Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. This chapter has relied on a qualitative and discourse analysis of EKRE’s and Jobbik’s public statements, the two parties’ political programmes, and selected interviews with partyaffiliates and academic experts. Sources such as public surveys and articles from the Hungarian, Estonian and international press have been of complementary importance.

Democratic transition from Communism in Central and Eastern Europe: General features Of particular importance for this overview is to rely on the work by Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan and their approaches to the models of democratic transition in Latin America, Southern, and post-Communist Europe (Linz and Stepan 1996). From a wider perspective, the authors outline two major types of non-democratic governance in the contemporary world: authoritarian and totalitarian. According to

The populist and radical right


Linz and Stepan, authoritarian regimes differ from totalitarian in regard to four focal dimensions: pluralism, ideology, leadership and mobilisation. Along these lines, authoritarian regimes might be defined as: political systems with limited, not responsible, political pluralism without elaborate and guiding ideology, but with distinctive mentalities, without extensive nor intensive political mobilization, except at some points in their development, and in which a leader or occasionally a small group exercises power within formally ill-defined limits but actually quite predictable ones. (Linz 1970) By contrast, totalitarianism consists in the elimination of all sorts of pre-existing political, economic and social structures. The three key dimensions typical of totalitarian rule are: (a) a concrete, thoroughly defined and preponderant state ideology; (b) intensive and extensive mobilising potential; and (c) a charismatic leadership with boundaries of action which are not clearly defined and a frequently unpredictable behaviour towards elites and non-elites (Linz and Stepan 1996). Inside the boundaries of this terminological distinction, Hungary throughout the 1960s and the 1970s to 1980s, as well as Czechoslovakia since the suppression of the Prague Spring (1968), can be classified as authoritarian regimes (Musil 1995). On the other hand, Bulgaria under Todor Zhivkov’s regime represents an appropriate example of totalitarian governance (Spirova 2008). In practice, these two categories are not static but rather malleable, shifting and situationally adaptive fields (Linz and Stepan 1996). In the case of authoritarian rule, interim transitions from ‘proper authoritarianism’ to soft authoritarianism may frequently occur. These can assume the form of a compromise between regime moderates and opposition moderates. This is always conditional upon the function of a democratic opposition in civic society and, most of all, the extent to which this civic society actually exists. This may eventually pave the way for the transition from soft authoritarianism towards democratisation. Democratic transition from totalitarianism may be enacted as result of one or more of the following processes from within the governing structures: (a) deliberate policies of the ruling elites to soften or reform the totalitarian system; (b) erosion of the cadres’ commitment to the regime’s ideological pillars; (c) emergence of social, cultural and economic pluralism. By contrast to authoritarian governance, the transition from totalitarian rule to democracy may be impeded or delayed because of the post-totalitarian leadership’s recruitment from party-members, bureaucrats and the technocratic apparatus associated with the former regime; the persistence of ideology as part of social reality, despite its eroding appeal; or the domination of associational life by the mass-mobilisation mechanisms that operated under the totalitarian regime. A brief comparison between the patterns of democratic transition in Southern Europe (late 1970s/early 1980s) and those in Central and Eastern Europe (1990s) would help signpost the reader more accurately towards the objectives of this chapter. In spite of the differentiations per country-case, one might schematically

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isolate the following features which distinguish transitional processes within the former context from those in the latter (Elster, Offe and Preuss 1998; Wiarda 2002). First of all, by contrast to Central and Eastern Europe, democratisation in Southern Europe replaced military dictatorships of a rightist political orientation that relied on variations of corporatist authoritarian rule. Furthermore, it focused principally on political and, only to a secondary extent, on economic reforms. Apart from the ‘historical nationalities’ question in Spain, disputes with ethnic implications did not form a major component of the transitional processes in Southern Europe. With the exception of Romania, the early stage of democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe was generally peaceful with no popular upheavals comparable to those that broke out in Portugal or Greece (1974). Processes of political and socioeconomic transition in Central and Eastern Europe have been conditional upon the geopolitical concurrences, the political infrastructure, as well as the patterns of social stratification inherited from the previous era. One may schematically isolate a set of commonalities among post-Communist polities undergoing transition: (a) establishment of a multiparty system and free elections; (b) a political landscape dominated by reform Socialist and ‘new’ political parties (Agh 1995); (c) increasing differentiation between elite and grass-roots politics (Baylis 1994); (d) establishment of Western-style constitutional courts (McGregor 1996); and (e) large-scale replacement of top administrative cadres with powerful links to the old regime (for example, the practice of lustration in Poland) (Petsinis 2010; Bernhard 1996). Many, sometimes most, of these features have been characteristic of several transitional processes in post-Communist Europe. Nevertheless, the diversity among the patterns of governance in the Central and East European states under Communism hints that these states were likely to pursue more case-specific trajectories towards transition than they actually did. The early transitional era was marked by various processes throughout the left angle of the emerging party-spectrums. Despite the multifaceted landscape of post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe going through transition, one common denominator was the transformation of the former Communist parties and their umbrella organisations (for example, youth groupings, smaller workers’ associations, etc.) into consolidated and single-party actors with a centre-left/Social Democrat profile. On certain occasions (for example, the ‘Visegrad Four’ states and Slovenia),the new parties subscribed to the liberalisation of the economy through various adaptations of a ‘gradualist’ strategy with the objective not to imperil the socioeconomic standing of the most vulnerable social layers. On other occasions, some of the new, nominally Social Democrat, parties had been either accused of obstructing the transitional processes (for example, the case of Ion Iliescu and the Romanian Socialists) or, under the pressure of the geopolitical circumstances, incorporated a powerful nationalist component into their agendas (for example, the case of Slobodan Miloševic´ and the Socialist Party of Serbia). To these, one should add the emergence of parties, not easy to allocate precisely along the ‘western’ left-right axis, with ‘quasi-leftist’ outlooks on the privatisation of the economy and the welfare state (for example, Vladimir Mecˇ iar’s People’s Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia).

The populist and radical right


Post-Communist Hungary and Estonia: Why the feebleness of the left Within the context of political transformation across Central and Eastern Europe, the political spectrum to the left of Social Democrat parties either atrophied or became irrelevant. By stark contrast to the high appeal of the left in, say, Greece or Portugal during their early stages of democratisation, the younger and politically active individuals who pioneered the transition from Communism threw their support behind liberal initiatives (for example, the early FIDESZ in Hungary). In line with the rapid individualisation of the society, this was the case with the politically active youth in various societies undergoing political transition (for example, the cases of the liberal/conservative DEPOS and DEMOS coalitions in Serbia and Slovenia during the early 1990s) (Agh 1999; Alexander 2008). Meanwhile, the almost disciplined endorsement of ‘Third Way’ prerogatives, by most centre-left parties throughout the region, brought about the long-term identitycrisis as well as the dramatic decline of these parties’ popularity during the 2010s. The case of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) in Serbia (mid-late 1990s) most certainly does not qualify for a genuine radical left initiative since it was spearheaded by Miloševic´’s wife, Mira Markovic´, and it was solidly embedded into the ruling apparatus. It was not prior to the last decade that radical left initiatives with a more articulate profile entered the fore. Two representative examples are the Slovenian United Left (nowadays ‘The Left’) and Poland’s ‘Razem’ (‘Together’). Having evolved out of the anti-corruption protests in 2014, the former opposed neoliberalism, endorsed an anticorruption/anti-austerity platform, adopted a ‘horizontal’ intra-party structure and called for a, bottom-up, democratic socialism (Toplišek 2017). Although it won nine seats in the 2018 parliamentary elections (9.29%), this party does not yet stand as one of the major actors in the Slovenian political arena. ‘Razem’, on the other hand, was formed in March 2015. This party equally espouses an anti-austerity agenda, opposes the promotion of national conservatism in Polish politics and maintains steady contacts with Yanis Varoufakis’ DiEM25 pan-European Movement. Nevertheless, ‘Razem’ has not yet managed to pass the 5% threshold and enter the parliament. Overall, it might not be a sweeping generalisation to contend that, politically, Central and Eastern Europe keeps on swinging towards the right.

Hungary: The Trianon trauma and the delegitimisation of the centre-left Under the leadership of János Kádár, a civic society had been acquiring shape in Hungary, during the 1980s, prior to the formal end of Communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. This transition from ‘proper’ to softer authoritarianism facilitated the compromise between the regime moderates and the emerging opposition to a more conclusive extent than it was the case elsewhere within the Warsaw pact (Bozoki, Korosenyi and Schopflin 1992).The gradual establishment of the new political order in Hungary signalled a swift and decisive break from the country’s Communist past (Bozoki 1990). As early as 1989, regime moderates as well as the opposition leadership

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could publicly declare the events of 1956 no longer as a ‘counter-revolution’ but as a ‘national uprising’. As a result of this drastic, but peaceful, process the societal demands to lustrate former members of the nomenklatura and the Communist establishment remained less intense in Hungary. Nevertheless, the question of the ethnic Hungarian minorities in neighbouring states (Romania, Slovakia and Serbia) soon became a major area of concern in foreign policy and it frequently engendered nationalistic sentiments in the intelligentsia and the society (Szabo 1994). Until the consolidation of PM Viktor Orbán as the paramount figure within the Hungarian party landscape in the national elections of 2010 and 2014, the country’s political life had been dominated by two principal actors: the MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party) and FIDESZ. Having evolved out of the structures of the old Communist party organisation, the Socialists did not object to the liberalisation of the economy. However, they also stressed the necessity for a more gradualist approach to the economic reforms so that the situation of the more vulnerable segments within the society would not be imperilled. In the long run, this greater emphasis on social welfare rendered MSZP the party of choice among pensioners and the urban proletariat (Bunce and Csanadi 1993). Meanwhile, its leadership followed acutely the developments in European Social Democracy and the MSZP’s political identity crystallised into that of a centre-left party. In foreign policy, the Socialists pursued the path of appeasement vis-à-vis the neighbouring states on the collective rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities. A leaked speech which the party-chairman and then Premier, Ferenc Gyurcsány, had given in the presence of Magyar Rádio (Hungarian Radio) journalists turned out to be a watershed for MSZP (September 2006). The derogatory expressions used over the situation of the Hungarian economy, and the ensuing charges of widespread corruption, triggered countrywide riots and resulted in the irreversible decline of the party’s popularity.4 FIDESZ commenced its engagement in politics as an anti-establishment umbrella-initiative that hosted a wide range of conservative as well as liberal currents in 1998 (Fowler 2004). Since the mid-2000s, though, the party started to concretise its conservative orientation more solidly. On the economy, FIDESZ advocated speedy liberalisation and prioritised the question of ethnic Hungarians outside Hungary in foreign policy. Following the delegitimisation of their Socialist arch-rivals, Orbán put under way FIDESZ’s further shift towards the conservative right. The Hungarian Prime Minister formulated his concept of illiberal democracy and, in light of the refugee crisis, defended his decision to erect a barbwire fence along the Serbian-Hungarian border on the basis that ‘European and Christian values must be safeguarded […] Hungary must be free to defend its borders’ (September 2015).5 Moreover, the FIDESZ government has been under severe critique over its alleged attempts to restrict media and academic freedom. Prior to the dynamic emergence of Jobbik, the Hungarian Party of Life and Justice (MIÉP), under the leadership of conspiracy theorist István Csurka, occupied the far right angle of the political spectrum.6 However, no noteworthy initiatives ever made their

The populist and radical right


appearance to the left of MSZP. This phenomenon can be comprehended on the basis of the previously discussed political realities that were specific not solely to Hungary but to post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe as a whole. Although calls for lustration were not very vocal, spreading rumours over, either real or fictional, links to the Communist regime has been a commonplace tactic to delegitimise rivals across the Hungarian political spectrum. Jobbik intensified and systematised this practice. In this light, pondering on a leftist rhetoric akin to that of the Podemos (Spain) or SYRIZA (Greece) might not win hearts and minds or pave the path to success for any political actor in Hungary. This persisted through the outbreak of Hungary’s economic crisis in 2008. Even the, still marginal, ‘Politics Can Be Different’/LMP party (founded in 2009) has been assuming the identity of a green instead of a leftist initiative. Furthermore, the politicisation of the ‘Trianon Trauma’ and the necessity to defend the collective rights of ethnic Hungarian minorities across the Carpathian basin has been constantly exerting a powerful mobilising appeal in domestic politics (Auer 2000).7 At different stages, nearly all ruling parties have capitalised, one way or another, on the traumatic legacies of the Trianon Treaty and this has often diverted the attention of the electorate away from socioeconomic issues even under the austerity policies that were implemented after the end of Communist rule. As an aggregate of these political circumstances, Hungary is a country where right-wing preferences (FIDESZ and Jobbik) overwhelmingly prevail in the electorate, as became manifest in the national elections of 2014 and 2018 (see Table 8.3a and Table 8.3b). TABLE 8.3A Hungarian parliamentary elections (April 2014)

Political parties FIDESZ MSZP and Unity coalition Jobbik LMP Independent MPs

Percentages (%) 44.87 25.57 20.22 5.34 4.00

Seats 131 28 24 6 10

TABLE 8.3B Hungarian parliamentary elections (April 2018)

Political parties

Percentages (%)


FIDESZ Jobbik MSZP (Dialogue for Hungary) LMP Democratic Coalition

49.27 19.06 11.91 7.06 5.07

133 26 12 7 6

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Estonia: Restoration nationalism and the neoliberal consensus The reformation process (glasnost) that commenced during Mikhail Gorbachev’s tenure in office culminated in the negotiated dissolution of the Soviet Union. This was a multifaceted and complex process which considerably varied across the federation. For the purposes of this piece, the focus is mainly cast on the specificities of the transitional process in the Baltic States and Estonia in particular. Of paramount importance is to illustrate how this transitional process impacted upon the low appeal of the left in Estonian politics. By contrast to Hungary, the fall of Communist rule here coincided with the declaration of Estonian independence (1991). More importantly, by contrast to other contested (for example, Croatia) or negotiated (for example, Slovakia) acquisitions of independent statehood, the Baltic States perceived their independence as the restoration of their interwar statehoods that were suppressed after their annexation by Stalin. This restoration aspect has endowed Estonian nationalism with an essence of symbolic ‘decolonization’ (Arter 1996; Hallik 2002: 71; Peiker 2016: 120–123). The removal of any vestiges of the Soviet past and the construction of a firmer continuity between the interwar and the contemporary Estonian statehood emerged as a top necessity. On the one hand, this would help consolidate the ‘new’ Estonian identity and demarcate it from the post-Soviet/Russian exterior (Mole 2012: 83; Smith 1998). On the other hand, this project resonated with the urgency to reverse the collective trauma of Soviet annexation and the subtle imposition not solely of the Russian language but also Russian cultural, political and economic interests (Kreindler 1998: 11, 13). On the institutional level, the post-Communist Latvian and Estonian polities have been structured in accordance to the model of ethnic democracy (Agarin 2016; Aalto 2003). In other words, the state institutions have been fashioned in such a way as to mirror the ‘ethnic state of the Latvians/Estonians’, finally restored after its suppression by the Soviets, with an overriding emphasis on the primacy of the Latvian/Estonian languages in the state bureaucracy and the public sector (Budryte 2005). The securitisation of bilateral relations between Estonia and Russia triggered the necessity to project a cordon sanitaire vis-à-vis ‘unreliable’ parties, with allegedly proKremlin leanings, in domestic politics. This was mainly the case with Eesti Keskerakond/Centre Party (Saarts 2015; Sikk 2015). Formed during the early transitional era, this party has been led throughout most of its span by Edgar Savisaar – a veteran politician and entrepreneur. Nominally a centrist/centre-left party, Eesti Keskerakond fits the model of these post-Communist parties which cannot be accurately placed within the ‘western’ left-right party axis. In short, whereas the party maintains pro-welfare stances in the economy, it can be rather conservative over other policy-areas and its social values. For instance, the Centre Party recently voiced its reservation over the Estonian Cohabitation Act and its provisions for LGBT rights. Earlier, in 2015, the party proposed a referendum with the objective to set the maximum number of refugees that Estonia can accept.8

The populist and radical right


It is precisely this idiosyncratic interplay between social conservatism and pro-welfare orientation which appears to have attracted the lesser privileged cohorts of voters (for example, pensioners) towards the party.9 In particular, Edgar Savisaar’s successful networking with interest groups within the ethnic Russian community has made the party particularly popular among Estonia’s Russophones.10 This popularity has reflected itself on the party’s platform of appeasement vis-à-vis Russia as well as the memorandum of cooperation with Vladimir Putin’s United Russia which was signed in 2004. This agreement concentrated on cooperation and exchange of information over the economic management and other policy-areas but was never actually implemented since then.11 Nevertheless, this has sufficed for rival parties to capitalise on the memorandum as a major indicator of unreliability on the Centre Party’s behalf until nowadays. Another distinctive feature of Estonian politics, since the 1990s, is the neoliberal consensus on the privatisation of the economy across the party spectrum. This has been spearheaded by centre-right parties of a conservative/liberal orientation such as the Reform Party and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL. Until very recently, neither the Centre Party nor the Social Democrats (SDE) actively contested this consensus. Nevertheless, autumn 2016 saw the dissolution of the previous government coalition which consisted of the (neoliberal-orientated) Reformists, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL and the Social Democrats. The steering wheel behind this development was the disagreements between the Reform Party and the SDE over the increase of taxation and the extension of welfare provisions that was proposed by the latter. Their shared pro-welfare disposition seems to have provided the essential common ground for the formation of the new coalition between the Centre Party and the Social Democrats (also comprising the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL). Moreover, the Centre Party is currently undergoing an intra-party ‘split’ between the representatives of the older, early post-Soviet, generation and a younger generation of cadres who would desire the reformation of the party’s profile into that of a ‘proper’ Social Democrat one (for example, the party-leader and Estonia’s Prime Minister, JüriRatas). This greater stress on socioeconomic issues and the relative swing of Estonian politics towards the left has not been accompanied by any initiatives further to the left of the Centre Party and the SDE. The salience of identity & memory politics and the ‘knee-jerk’ association between the Soviet legacies and acculturation/Russification, as well as the ongoing securitisation of Estonian–Russian relations, still eliminates any prospects for the emergence of a radical left. Meanwhile, in a comparable vein to Hungary, the public apprehension towards the EU refugee quotas has witnessed the emergence of a, however weak, cultural Euroscepticism within certain segments in the society. It is the right-wing populists of EKRE who have been trying to capitalise on these sentiments.

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Hijacking the left? Jobbik and EKRE in a thematic comparison Right-wing populism and right-wing radicalism In democratic societies, populism can be broadly defined as an appeal to ‘the people’ against the established structures of power and/or the dominant ideas and values of the society (Canovan 1999). The political operation of populist actors consists of a revolt against the establishment in the name of the people ( Canovan 1999). A basic component of this antagonistic outlook on politics is the moral distinction between the (usually ‘virtuous’, ‘ordinary’ and ‘industrious’) people and the (frequently ‘inadequate’, ‘alienated’ and ‘corrupt’) elite (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012). A common denominator between left-wing and right-wing populists alike seems to be their calls for more extensive popular involvement in decision making (for example, the institutionalisation of direct democracy procedures such as referendums). In the international media and press, there has been a widespread trend to lump together parties as diverse as France’s Front National, Greece’s Golden Dawn and the Sweden Democrats under the single label of ‘populist and radical right’. In the academic literature, there is no universally agreed definition of what, precisely, constitutes populist and radical right-wing parties (Mudde 2007). However, if, only schematically, one might isolate the following recurrent themes in the agendas of most populist and radical right-wing parties across Europe: varying shades of Euroscepticism; nativism and insistence on the hard borders principle (Szczerbiak and Taggart 2008); anti-establishment and ‘law and order’ rhetoric; and the overriding distinction between the people and the elite (Betz and Johnson 2004; Mudde 2010). For the purposes of this chapter, I would opt for a schematic categorisation between populist and radical (or identitarian/extremist) right-wing parties; one that principally concentrates on the significance of political origins, evolutionary trajectories and patterns of (active) political engagement. This theoretical discussion is of pivotal importance for the classification of Jobbik and EKRE and setting in context why and how these two parties have incorporated ‘quasi-leftist’ components into their agendas. Furthermore, a more extensive theoretical discussion of right-wing radicalism would facilitate the objectives of this chapter, always considering that many of the right-wing parties that operate across Central and Eastern Europe fall under the ‘radical’ category. In this light, one might sketch out the following categories: On the one hand, populist right-wing parties usually are by-products of toplevel formation processes (that is, ‘cadre’ parties) and they have come into being after the reformation or merger of already existing parties. These parties strive to promote their political cause(s) primarily via the parliamentary and other democratic institutions and procedures (for example, the Nordic right-wing populists such as the Sweden Democrats, the Finns Party and the Danish People’s Party). On some occasions, populist right-wing parties have entered the halls of power

The populist and radical right


through their participation in government coalitions (for example, the Finns Party in Finland, the National Alliance in Latvia and the Independent Greeks in Greece). From a broader theoretical angle, whereas left-wing populists opt for wide-reaching coalitions with the aim to accommodate a broad range of social interests (Laclau 2005), right-wing populists restrict the criteria over ‘who belongs to the people’ via the principle of nativism. On the other hand, radical/identitarian right-wing parties represent the culmination of ‘bottom-up’ formation processes. These parties have usually come into being as result of processes spearheaded by a grass-roots nucleus often aided by semi-paramilitary groupings, therefore regularly opting for a more militant engagement. As consequence of unresolved controversies with security implications (for example, ethnic minorities and their collective statuses), parties of this sub-group are to be found more frequently across Central and Southeast Europe (for example, parties such as ‘Our Slovakia’, Bulgaria’s Ataka and Golden Dawn). The political operation of parties that belong to this sub-category tends to converge along the following premises: preoccupation over regional geopolitics; high emphasis on identity and memory politics; and activism and intensive mobilisation of popular bases of support (for example, against the latest influx of refugees). Harder brands of Euroscepticism, explicitly exclusionary agendas (for example, on the Roma question), historical revisionism and the firm rejection of LGBT rights form additional themes in the agendas of these parties. Their anti-democratic inclinations and militant engagement has occasionally resulted in an overt clash between radical/identitarian right-wing parties and the state authorities (for example, the ongoing court-case against Golden Dawn and the Slovak High Prosecutor’s lawsuit against ‘Our Slovakia’ in May 2017).

Jobbik and EKRE: Political origins, evolutionary trajectory and fundamental principles Jobbik was officially launched in October 2003. Under the leadership of Gábor Vona, an aspiring politician and History graduate (2003–2004), the early Jobbik had brought under its auspices initiatives as diverse as an aggregate of nationalist student groupings (the JobboldaliIfjúsági Közösség, Right-Wing Students Association) and a nucleus of political activists that later evolved, at least partially, into the (unarmed) semi-structured militia of the Magyar Gárda (‘Hungarian Guard’). These multi-level and horizontal arrangements differentiate Jobbik from the oligarchic and/or leader-centred structures that one would normally associate parties of the far right with. One might even detect certain commonalities with the pluralist structures encountered among parties of the radical left across Europe (for example, SYRIZA and its synistoses/‘premises’ system). Instead of intra-party pluralism, the early Jobbik leadership saw this arrangement as the vehicle via which to address timely social issues (for example, crime and corruption) and approach a wide range of target-groups within the electorate. In 2010, the party concretised its standpoints in Radical Change: A Guide to Jobbik’s Parliamentary Electoral Manifesto for National Self-Determination and Social Justice (Jobbik 2010).

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Anti-establishment rhetoric immediately formed a major component of Jobbik’s agenda. As early as 2008, Gábor Vona had warned that ‘neither the political crimes of the carnation (i.e. the MSZP badge), nor the orange (i.e. the FIDESZ badge) […] can remain without an answer for any longer’ (Bíró, Nagy and Varga 2012: 4). Jobbik pledged to enhance the principle of accountability by lifting the immunity of MPs and introducing ‘political crime’ as a separate category. In an additional endeavour to delegitimise the two mainstream parties, the Jobbik leadership has been arguing that, since 1990, former Communists simply fused with extreme liberals and established a new nomenklatura, thus betraying the Hungarian people’s desire for a decisive rift from the past. In a wording reminiscent of Polish-style lustration, the party programme pledges that it will: (a) reveal the names of former agents and informants; and (b) readdress the pension claims of certain individuals who held leading positions in Kádár’s government (Jobbik 2010: 9 and 18). In its political programme, Jobbik espouses an ethno-nationalist instead of a civic agenda and specifies that its political scope is ‘not defined by the borders of our country but by the borders of our nation’ (Jobbik 2010: 15). Moreover, it is made clear that one of the party’s main objectives is the reversal of the Trianon trauma and ‘the incorporation into the national body of both Western and Carpathian-basin Hungarians’ (Jobbik 2010: 20). In the same text, Hungary is referred to as ‘the territorially maimed, mother-country’ and Hungarian minorities as the ‘ethnic kin’. As a complementary function to the employment of ethno-nationalism, the party-programme explicitly excludes the Roma minority and dedicates an entire section to ‘Gypsy issues’. In the party’s own words ‘the coexistence of Magyar and Gypsy is one of the severest problems facing Hungarian society […] a potential time-bomb’ (Jobbik 2010: 11). ‘Gypsy crime’ is introduced as a separate category and the programme acknowledges that ‘certain criminological phenomena are predominantly and overwhelmingly associated with this minority’. Further along the text, the party equates ‘Gypsy integration’ with the ‘assimilation into societyat-large’ through ‘work and not welfare’. Jobbik largely matches the profile of a radical right-wing party: a ‘bottom-up’ formation process; high preoccupation with regional geopolitics and identity & memory politics; anti-establishment rhetoric and an exclusionary agenda; and militant mobilisation of popular bases of support and persistent links to semi-paramilitary grass-roots groupings.12 EKRE, established in 2012, is the by-product of a ‘top-level’ formation process. It is the evolution of the merger between the erstwhile, centre-right, People’s Union of Estonia (Eestimaa Rahvaliit) and the, more nationalistic and Eurosceptic, pressure-group Estonian Patriotic Movement (Eesti Rahvuslik Liikumine). EKRE has set three primary areas of concern: securing Estonia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; safeguarding the Estonian way of life and preserving the national culture; and upholding traditional marriage and family values.13 Just as in Jobbik, anti-establishment rhetoric makes up a key component of EKRE’s agenda. The party contends that the current state of political affairs in Estonia favours the interests of specific segments within the society in a one-sided manner and that it is characterised by an excessive, often undemocratic,

The populist and radical right


centralisation of power with no independent vision of development (see the ‘Konservatiivne Manifest’ in EKRE 2012). EKRE has frequently levied charges of opportunism and corruption against the ‘old’ parties (Auers and Kasekamp 2013; Auers and Kasekamp 2015). Certain specificities of the political landscape have, if only by default, facilitated the party’s campaign. Despite the more tangible impact of the politics of consensus, in comparison to other post-Communist polities, Estonian politics have been revolving around a party system which is subject to fluidity and shifting loyalties. Parties with conflicting standpoints (for example, the Social Democrats and the Reform Party on the welfare state) have often watered down their disagreements in order to form fragile and short-lived coalitions (Petsinis 2016). It is this intersection between malleability in policymaking and perceived corruption which has enabled EKRE to build its image as ‘the only true anti-establishment party in Estonia’.14 EKRE’s Euroscepticism comprises three dimensions (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014): geopolitical, economic and sociocultural. EKRE deplores the way that the core states within the EU allegedly underestimate the threat which Russia represents for the Baltic States. The party contends that by contrast to (former President) Toomas Hendrik Ilves’ expectations, membership of the EU did not enhance Estonia’s security status vis-à-vis Russia (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). As far as the party’s economic grievances are concerned, these mainly revolve around the EU’s pressures on Estonia to participate in the bailout packages for richer member-states with troubled economies within the Eurozone (Greece, in particular). In regard to the sociocultural dimension, EKRE interpreted the introduction of the Cohabitation Act (2016)15 and its implications for LGBT rights as another intrusive endeavour on the part of Brussels towards the imposition of ‘alien’ gender norms in the society.16 Most recently, EKRE’s campaign against the admission of refugees interlinks the collective memories of ‘colonization’ under the Soviets with the collective fears of becoming ‘colonized’ again by others in the future. Apart from the influx of war refugees from the Middle East, the party remains equally concerned over the ‘(East) Slavic immigration to Estonia’ (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014) because this may allegedly result in ‘a new colonization and the demographic prevalence of Russophones over Estonians in the next 30 years’.17 Under this light, it is no coincidence that allusions to the Soviet era and the Russification campaign interweave in EKRE’s rhetoric with references to the threat that immigration allegedly poses to national survival. EKRE largely fits the profile of a populist right-wing party: a ‘top-level’ formation process; Euroscepticism and nativism; anti-establishment rhetoric and a predominantly civic pattern of engagement into politics. Nevertheless, as result of Estonia’s historical and sociocultural specifics, the party also places great importance on regional geopolitics as well as identity & memory politics. One might argue that this higher stress on Estonian identity politics situates EKRE, more precisely, along a continuum between the populist right and more radical rightwing parties such as Jobbik.

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Jobbik and artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ Jobbik’s electoral manifesto dedicates an entire section to the concept of ‘Eco-social National Economics’. This more articulate emphasis on socioeconomic issues signifies one of the major points of departure from MIÉP and older initiatives of the Hungarian far right. As a preamble, the party sets in context the negative toll that the crisis of global capitalism has been taking on national economies (Jobbik 2010: 2). Later in the text, Jobbik outlines the fundamental pillars of its economic philosophy which revolve around: (a) a renewed stress on state-interventionism; (b) the renegotiation of Hungary’s foreign debt; (c) the consolidation of a sovereign national banking system; and (d) restrictions on privatisation as well as the engagement of multinational corporations in Hungary. Jobbik pledges to reverse the damage allegedly inflicted on the Hungarian economy as result of the ‘Liberal-Left free-for-all privatisation process’ through the initiation of ‘legislation designed to protect state assets, which will result in those seeking to disown the nation of its property facing punishments of up to life imprisonment’ (Jobbik 2010). As a complementary note, the party underlines the fact that one of its main aims is ‘a comprehensive review of privatisation contracts, the punishment of the felonious, and the prevention and removal of secrecy over issues that concern national assets’ (Jobbik 2010: 4). Furthermore, Jobbik accuses multinational corporations of coming to Hungary with the primary objective to ‘take advantage of cheap labour […] in many sectors they have ended up terminating twice as many jobs as they have created’ (Jobbik 2010). The party pledges to reassess the taxation breaks for foreign multinationals while simultaneously ‘strengthening organisations which lobby for domestic manufacturers and opening markets which will allow local producers to reach consumers directly, thereby bypassing commercial chains’ (Jobbik 2010: 3). Calls for enhancing state interventionism in a robust manner and halting privatisation are also issued in regards to the management of the energy and the agricultural sectors (Jobbik 2010: 8 and 6). Meanwhile, Jobbik staunchly rejects ‘the privatisation of the National Insurance System, and any efforts to accomplish this by stealth’ (Jobbik 2010: 13). Jobbik holds that it is compulsory to conduct a thorough investigation over the management of the national bank since 1987 in order to ‘name, and hold to account the responsible leaders and directors who profited from any conflicts of interest’ (Jobbik 2010: 4). In regard to the foreign debt, Jobbik adopts a tone which is highly reminiscent of, say, Greece’s SYRIZA during its term in the opposition and opts for ‘initiating negotiations aimed at restructuring the repayment conditions’ (Jobbik 2010: 4). Elsewhere in the electoral manifesto, the party calls for the nationalisation of the private pension funds, the creation of employment opportunities for the youth and the labour market protection for child-rearing parents (Jobbik 2010: 3, 10 and 11). Moreover, the party demands that trade unions obligatorily participate in the negotiations with multinational corporations (Jobbik 2010: 12). Jobbik’s phase of consolidation as a potent actor in the country’s political scene (2008–2010) coincided with the outbreak of the financial crisis in Hungary. By that time, the over-reliance of the Hungarian economy on the German (also

The populist and radical right


Austrian) banking system had already backfired as soon as these banks started sensing the impact of the global crisis. The austerity measures prescribed by the European Commission and the IMF were soon met with public discontent and generated intense scepticism over the side effects of globalisation as well as the state’s capacity to regulate questions with direct repercussions on the citizens’ lives. It was precisely within this background that the absence of a potent rival to the left of the delegitimised Socialists started to acquire pivotal importance for Jobbik’s technology of mass mobilisation (Bíró-Nagy and Boros 2016: 256). These political circumstances facilitated the party to successfully interlink the artificial anti-capitalism of ‘Eco-social National Economics’ with its simultaneous calls for combating ‘political crime’ (for example, on crony capitalism and the privatisation of the economy) as well as its Euroscepticism,. In a representative excerpt, the party leadership contended that ‘the vast majority of EU subsidies to Hungary end up in the coffers of multinational corporations that operate here, while most of the remainder is lost to the bottomless pit of political corruption’ (Jobbik 2010: 21). Quantitative evidence from public surveys, conducted shortly before and after the 2010 national elections, hints that Jobbik’s systematic capitalisation of socioeconomic issues did succeed in touching a sensitive cord among the party’s target-groups. The spectrum of economic stagnation and unemployment featured as two of the main sources of anxiety for Jobbik’s voters in the public survey carried out by the DEMOS think-tank throughout 2011(Bartlett et al. 2012: 38). The same study reveals that, during the same period, Jobbik affiliates and ordinary supporters were pessimistic about their country’s future and highly uncertain over Hungary’s state-sovereignty in a globalised world (Bartlett et al. 2012: 41–42). Furthermore, the IPSOS polling agency (Hungary) detected an increase in Jobbik’s popularity shortly before the mid-2009 European parliament elections, and, again, before the national elections of 2010 when Gábor Vona had heightened the Eurosceptic, anti-corruption and anti-globalisation components of his rhetoric (Varga 2014: 800–801). Moreover, in terms of electoral demographics, Jobbik has been particularly appealing among the countryside voters as well as the lumpen proletariat resident in the average-size and/or small urban centres. Especially in the northeast, the party succeeded in diverting a non-negligible percentage of former MSZP voters in the 2010 as well as the 2014 elections (Bíró-Nagy and Boros 2016). Nevertheless, far from remotely resembling a party of the broader left instead of the radical right, Jobbik clearly subjugates its platform of ‘Eco-social National Economics’ to an ethno-nationalist and exclusivist narrative. For a start, Jobbik defines this very term as ‘tailoring the economy through controls which would lead it to serve the national interests of Hungarians’ (Jobbik 2010: 3). More explicitly, the party specifies that it considers ‘Hungarian populated territories beyond the border to be part of a unified protected Hungarian economic zone’. Most importantly, perhaps, Jobbik’s activism and strategy of grass-roots mobilisation has long been centring primarily on identity politics. Between 2007 and 2011, the party deployed the Magyar Gárda in a string of ‘patrolling operations’ throughout areas seen as threatened by ‘Gypsy crime’. This militia displayed identical uniforms, the Árpád Stripes coat of arms and certain

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paraphernalia that have been associated with the Horthy regime, which had allied Hungary to Nazi Germany. The Magyar Gárda (later the New Hungarian Guard Movement) concentrated its activities in Miskolc, Debrecen and elsewhere in the northeast of Hungary (Varga 2014; Karácsony and Róna 2010; Feischmidt and Szombati 2012). This is one of the least developed parts of the country, with a long history of tensions between the local population and the Roma minority. Apart from ‘patrolling operations’, the Hungarian Guard’s activism consisted in blood-donation and other charity work. In the long run, Jobbik’s extra-institutional engagement resonated with the grievances of locals who consider themselves alienated from the remote, or even absent, state. Consequently, the party succeeded in building and maintaining its electoral stronghold in the northeast of the country up to date (Havlík and Mares 2016; Petsinis 2015:13). Coming back to the survey by DEMOS, the Roma question topped the social concerns of more than onequarter (i.e. 28%) among the party’s virtual followers on Facebook (Bartlett et al. 2012: 38; Karácsony and Róna 2010: 42). Moreover, 20% of the 16–20-year-olds, who were questioned in that survey, stated that the main stimulant that prompted them to join Jobbik’s Facebook community was their anxieties over ‘Gypsy criminality’ (Bartlett et al. 2012: 38). Empirical research demonstrates that party-affiliates are still seeking to extract political capital out of the cleavage between locals and Roma in those localities under Jobbik’s control (for example, the western locality of Devecser and the north-eastern localities of Tiszavasvári and Ózd) (Kovarek et al. 2017). Most recently, and in light of the refugee crisis, Jobbik has been systematically incorporating the ‘virtual politics of anti-immigration’ into its identity politics discourse. Although until recently the party leadership denounced any charges of Islamophobia and/or Eurocentrism, since 2015, calls for the urgency to defend Hungary from the ‘impending Islamic invasion’ have dominated Jobbik’s rhetoric. In spite of the minuscule presence, or even absence, of Middle Eastern refugees, Jobbikaffiliated mayors have issued proposals for banning the entry of Muslim migrants as well as the public display of Islamic religiosity in their localities. On certain occasions, and in line with the party’s electoral manifesto, local Gendarmerie/rural police units have also been set up with the alleged objective to protect citizens from (‘Gypsy’ and migrant) criminality more efficiently (Kovarek et al. 2017: 72, 73–74, 77; Jobbik 2010: 11). In brief, it would be plausible to argue that Jobbik’s more coherent stress on socioeconomic issues enabled the party to: (a) enhance its appeal among the most vulnerable segments of the electorate, especially during the turbulent outbreak of Hungary’s economic crisis (2008–2010); and (b) take full advantage of the delegitimisation of the centre-left as well as the vacuum further towards the left angle of the political spectrum. However, one can comprehend the political function of the party’s ostensible ‘anti-capitalism’ only if this is viewed inside the matrix of a malleable and situationally adaptive strategy. As part of this ongoing strategy-shift, Jobbik has, since 2016, also been watering down the anti-Roma and the hard Eurosceptic tones of its rhetoric in an endeavour to establish a more solid foothold

The populist and radical right


among the electoral mainstream and contest the ruling FIDESZ (Bíró-Nagy and Boros 2016: 249–251). Nevertheless, the platform of ‘Eco-social National Economics’ remains firmly anchored inside an ethno-nationalist, exclusivist and nativist matrix which grants primacy to the political rights and interests of the Hungarian ethnos (inside and outside the Hungarian borders) on a collectivist basis. Along the same lines, Jobbik’s grass-roots activism has been primarily revolving around persistent grievances (for example, the social integration of Roma) as well as new controversies (that is, the latest influx of refugees) in identity politics. Consequently, Jobbik retains the essential features of a radical right-wing party which employs artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ in a loose, opportunistic and situationally adaptive fashion.

EKRE and artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ By contrast to Jobbik, EKRE’s platform on the economy and social welfare is not so extensively developed. On the one hand, the party-programme (see ‘Konservatiivne Programm’ in EKRE 2015a), specifies that ‘the state pension must ensure a decent life’ and pledges to ‘raise the income tax-free minimum and minimum wages’ (see ‘Riigikogu 2015’ in EKRE 2015b). In addition, EKRE insists that ‘social benefits and pensions must be paid through a stateowned credit institution’. On the other hand, though, the party contends that ‘the welfare of the people should rely on economic development and not (solely) on social benefits’ and pledges to restrict ‘unjustified special and personal pensions as well as special benefits’. Along these lines and at a first instance, EKRE does not seem to drastically contest the neoliberal consensus across Estonia’s party-spectrum. Of particular interest is the party’s financial protectionism as well as their outlook on the Euro. EKRE insists that foreign nationals and companies must not be allowed to purchase land property in Estonia (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). As a complementary note, the party deplores the way that ‘Estonia has been partially transformed into an area representing the interests of the EU, foreign capital and career advocacy functionaries’ (see the ‘Konservatiivne Manifest’ in EKRE 2012) and demands the taxation of tax-free foreign capital (see ‘Riigikogu 2015’ in EKRE 2015b). Furthermore, the party-programme calls for the enhancement of state-interventionism and stipulates that ‘the state must be a strategic partner in energy, communications, ports, railways, shipping, forestry and natural resources management’. The establishment of a National Commercial Bank, under the auspices of the National Bank of Estonia, is also being envisaged (see ‘Riigikogu 2015’ in EKRE 2015b). EKRE remains sceptical over liberalising certain sectors of the market and assesses that opening up the electricity market has made this commodity particularly expensive for Estonian consumers (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). With regard to energy management, the party is orientated towards Estonia’s energy independence and vows to ‘reduce Estonia’s dependence on energy imported from abroad’.

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EKRE has never overtly demanded Estonia’s exit from the Eurozone. Nevertheless, party-affiliates have frequently hinted at how the introduction of the Euro has allegedly made life in the country (also across the Eurozone) more expensive and facilitated the almost limitless engagement of transnational capital. In regard to the Greek crisis, for instance, Martin Helme had stated that ‘the only thing that would help Greece now is to exit the Eurozone and restructure, that is partially write off, its debt’ (August 2015).18 Nevertheless, far from remotely being a gesture of solidarity, EKRE’s vice-chairman’s suggestion for partially writing off Greece’s debt was solidly entrenched in the party’s staunch opposition to Estonia’s participation in the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). In EKRE’s own words, Estonia’s ‘forced’ participation in the ESM is ‘unfair, immoral and undemocratic at the same time, yet it does not guarantee the stability and credibility of the Euro’ (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). EKRE has been issuing calls for the protection of domestic agricultural producers and the prioritisation of their products in the market. In a complementary note, the party-programme pledges to provide incentives for new small-scale jobs in the periphery and strengthen the decision-making capacities of municipalities and localities. Along these lines, EKRE has also been protesting against the allegedly insufficient EU-subsidies for the development of Estonian agriculture (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). These policy principles are not coincidental and clearly resonate with the party’s objective to consolidate its high appeal along the western coastline and the rural constituencies of southern Estonia.19 In a somewhat comparable vein to Jobbik, EKRE has been particularly popular among the countryside residents in small/average-size towns.20 In a similar light, EKRE is rather vocal over the protection of the rural environment and expresses its concern over EU-funded infrastructure projects (Rail Baltica, in particular) with a potentially detrimental impact on nature (see ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’ in EKRE 2014). The party-programme dedicates a separate section on family issues. EKRE pledges to improve the parental benefit system as well as social security for parents on leave and increase benefits that would facilitate young families (including single parents) to rear their children. Instead of social welfare per se, EKRE’s standpoints on the family mostly revolve around the party’s concerns over national survival and the overriding aim to provide incentives for the increase of Estonia’s birth rate. In Martin Helme’s own words, ‘the low birth rate in combination with the outward migration of Estonians creates a state of alert for national survival’.21 With specific regard to the new Cohabitation Act (2016) and its provisions for LGBT rights, the party-leadership protested that the government must work precisely towards the opposite direction and grant incentives for boosting the birth rate because ‘the man’s natural role is to be a father and the woman’s natural role is to be a mother […] children must be exposed to both parental roles’.22 Overall, EKRE’s employment of anti-globalisation and artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ seems feebler and less systematic in comparison to Jobbik. The party’s ultimate objective is to consolidate its appeal among the rural bases of support and, to a

The populist and radical right


secondary extent, capitalise on additional grievances over the cost of living after the adoption of the Euro as well as the privatisation of national assets to foreign entrepreneurs. The main component of EKRE’s critique on globalisation pertains more emphatically to the sphere of identity politics rather than the economy. In the text of the ‘Bauska Declaration’ (which the party signed jointly with Latvia’s National Alliance and Lithuania’s Nationalists Union in 2013),23 the signatories interlink national survival with the economy and stress that ‘we are ready to combat the foreign financial influence in our countries and we see only Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian capital as a basis of our national prosperity’. Nevertheless, the essential pillar of their critique on globalisation centres on ‘the detrimental impact of the looming ideas of cultural Marxism, postmodern multiculturalism and destructive liberalism’ and the three partners add that ‘our honour and love for our homelands will not let us walk the path of cosmopolitanism’. On a comparable note, the security-related and sociocultural components of EKRE’s Euroscepticism gain precedence over the party’s economic grievances. EKRE’s objections primarily revolve around the EU’s alleged insensitivity towards the security threat from Russia; the EU immigration policies (the refugee question, in particular); and LGBT rights (Auers and Kasekamp 2015).24 Empirical research demonstrates that the capitalisation on identity politics has aided EKRE more consistently towards augmenting its public appeal. The survey conducted by the Turu-Uuringute AS agency in March 2016 detected a clear link between EKRE’s capitalisation on anti-refugee rhetoric (especially after the Brussels terrorist attacks on March 22, 2016) and the party’s increase of popularity.25 These observations correspond to the findings of the Erakonnad monitoring service26 (hosted by the TNS Emor AS agency) which equally hint at the correlation among EKRE’s increasing public appeal, the intensification of the refugee quotas debate and certain incidents across Europe during the first half of 2016 (the sexual assaults in Cologne and the terrorist attacks in Brussels, in particular). Furthermore, quantitative data from opinion polls, conducted shortly after the March 2015 parliamentary elections, further substantiates the link between the dominant social values among EKRE’s target-groups and the party’s campaigning along the lines of opposition to LGBT rights. One week after the national elections, political scientists from the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies (University of Tartu) carried out a countrywide public survey for the Saar Poll agency.27 The poll sample comprised 62 EKRE-voters (8% of the respondents). Question 65 enquired, amongst others, whether the legalisation of same-sex partnerships might be the right decision. The fraction of the sample that had opted for EKRE uniformly disagreed with this suggestion followed closely by the voters of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union-IRL.

Conclusions Since the fall of Communism, the trajectories to political transition have been highly diverse across Central and Eastern Europe. One common denominator was the idiosyncratic and varying interplay among the following catalysts: identity and

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memory politics; liberalisation of the economy; and the marginalisation of the broader left. Hungary and Estonia are two representative examples where all three ingredients largely combine in space. In the former case, the politicisation of the Trianon trauma has been interceding, throughout the post-Communist era, with privatisation policies and attempts at the delegitimisation of political rivals on the grounds of, either real or fictional, links to the Communist regime. The ostensibly irreversible decline of the MSZP’s popularity soon emerged as an additional factor which contributed to the overwhelming predominance of right-wing preferences in Hungary’s political landscape. In the latter case, restoration nationalism and the symbolic ‘decolonisation’ from the Soviet era combined in space with the securitisation of Estonian–Russian relations as well as the neoliberal consensus across the party-spectrum. Most recently, the greater stress on socioeconomic issues and the relative swing of Estonian politics towards the left has not been accompanied by any initiatives further to the left of the Centre Party and the SDE. The absence of potent rivals to the left of Social Democrat parties has provided the populist and radical right across Central and Eastern Europe with plenty of room for political manoeuvring. On typological grounds, Jobbik and EKRE differ from each other in that the former matches more accurately the profile of a radical right-wing party whereas the latter mostly resembles a populist one. Nevertheless, in the absence of a radical left, both parties incorporated anti-globalisation and artificially ‘anti-capitalist’ components into their agendas. Especially Jobbik has developed an extensive platform on ‘Eco-social National Economics’ which calls for (a) renewed stress on state-interventionism; (b) the renegotiation of Hungary’s foreign debt; (c) the consolidation of a sovereign national banking system; and (d) restrictions on privatisation as well as the engagement of multinational corporations in Hungary. In light of Hungary’s economic stagnation (2008–2010), Jobbik’s systematic capitalisation on socioeconomic issues did succeed in touching a sensitive cord among the social strata mostly imperilled by the crisis. Meanwhile, EKRE’s employment of anti-globalisation and artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ seems feebler and less systematic in comparison to Jobbik. Nevertheless, the party’s stress on financial protectionism, state-interventionism and the necessity for safeguarding small agricultural producers has helped EKRE consolidate its appeal among the rural bases of support and capitalise on additional grievances over the cost of living after the adoption of the Euro as well as the privatisation of national assets to foreign entrepreneurs. In all of this, though, the employment of anti-globalisation and artificial ‘anticapitalism’ by both parties remains firmly anchored inside an ethno-nationalist, culturally essentialist and nativist matrix. Moreover, their grass-roots engagement mainly pertains to the sphere of identity politics. In the case of Jobbik, its grassroots activism has been primarily revolving around persistent grievances (for example, the social integration of the Roma) as well as new controversies (that is, the latest influx of refugees) in identity politics. In the case of EKRE, three standard themes are the EU’s alleged insensitivity towards the security threat from Russia; the EU immigration policies (the refugee question, in particular); and opposition to LGBT rights. Empirical research also demonstrates that the

The populist and radical right


electorates of these and other populist and radical right-wing parties across Central and Eastern Europe opt for these parties primarily on the basis of identity politics. This means that it would be precarious to argue that the situationally adaptive employment of artificial ‘anti-capitalism’ by populist and radical rightwing parties either substitutes or compensates for the absence of a strong radical left in Central and East European polities. This, in turn, also remains subject to the ‘Pasokification’ of a considerable chunk among the centre-left and its future prospects, if any, to project new and convincing alternatives to the voters. Until then, and in light of the limited opportunity structures towards the drastic emergence of a radical left, the artificially ‘anti-capitalist’ and identity politics agendas of the populist and radical right will keep on capitalising on a series of social grievances across the region.

Notes 1 This piece has been authored courtesy of an individual research fellowship, as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (Horizon 2020). 2 On EKRE’s popularity ratings in 2017, see: https://news.err.ee/603178/june-party-ra tings-ekre-now-third-most-popular-party-in-estonia and https://news.err.ee/614623/a ugust-party-ratings-center-party-ahead-at-29-percent (accessed 17 September 2018). 3 Jobbik won 19.06% of the vote and 26 seats. It should be borne in mind that the bulk of this chapter was authored prior to the Hungarian parliamentary elections of April 2018. 4 An English-language summary of this speech can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/ hi/europe/5359546.stm (accessed 6 November 2017). 5 On this issue see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/03/migration-cri sis-hungary-pm-victor-orban-europe-response-madness (accessed 17 January 2018). 6 On Istvan Csurka’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, see: The Independent http://www. independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/curtain-comes-down-on-liberal-hunga ry-6286332.html, (accessed November 6, 2017) 7 The Trianon Treaty (1921) dissolved the old Hungarian kingdom and placed ethnic Hungarian populations within the territories of the newly established states. 8 http://news.err.ee/v/179f0f5d-0a10-459c-b26e-4c714e38ba7b. (accessed 17 September 2018) 9 For further information over these issues, see the observations of the following public survey: ‘Estonian Internet Voting Survey 2015’ (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies 2015). 10 The ethnic Russian minority makes up almost one quarter of the Estonian population. 11 On this issue, see: http://news.err.ee/119629/overview-center-party-s-cooperation-p rotocol-with-putin-s-united-russia (accessed April 17, 2018). 12 On December 16, 2008, the Metropolitan Court of Budapest (Fo˝városi Bíróság), banned the Magyar Gárdaon the grounds of transgressing the state legislation on minority rights. Since then, the militia has been regrouping itself in various forms and under new names (e.g. the New Hungarian Guard Movement). 13 http://www.riigikogu.ee/en/parliament-of-estonia/factions/conservative-peoples-pa rty-estonia-faction// (accessed 17 September 2018). 14 Author’s interview with a political sociologist at Tallinn University (July 8, 2016). 15 https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/116102014001 (accessed 17 September 2018). 16 Author’s interview with the Vice-chairman of EKRE (October 12, 2016). 17 Author’s interview with the Vice-chairman of EKRE (October 12, 2016). 18 https://news.err.ee/116513/parliament-approves-greek-bailout-plan (accessed 18 January 2018).

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19 In the 2015 elections, EKRE was the third strongest party in the western district of Pärnumaa. On this issue, see: http://rk2015.vvk.ee/voting-results-12.html (accessed 19 January 2018). 20 By contrast to the case of Jobbik, Estonia’s lumpen proletariat still regards the Centre Party’s pro-welfare prerogatives as a more reliable option in comparison to EKRE. 21 Interview with the Vice-chairman of EKRE (October 12, 2016). 22 http://uudised.err.ee/v/eesti/7b88fde5-ae2c-45c8-9b64-7f22fee78113 (accessed 19 January 2018). 23 A full text-version in English can be accessed on: http://tautininkas.blogspot.com.ee/ (accessed January 19, 2018). 24 Author’s interview with the Vice-chairman of EKRE (October 12, 2016). 25 http://www.postimees.ee/3637703/uuring-bruesseli-terroriruennak-tostis-ekre-toetu se-reformierakonna-kannule (accessed 19 January 2018). See also the complementary data for EKRE’s popularity rating during the same period from the Institute for Society Research (Tallinn) at: http://www.inst.ee/erakondade-reiting (accessed 17 April 2018). 26 https://www.erakonnad.info/reiting.html 27 ‘Estonian Internet Voting Survey 2015’, (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies 2015).

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BíróA., Nagy, T. and Varga, A. (2012) Right Wing Extremism in Hungary (Berlin: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung). Bozoki, A. (1990) ‘Post-Communist transition: Political tendencies in Hungary’ East European Politics and Societies, 4(2): 211–230. Bozoki, A., Korosenyi, A. and Schopflin, G. (eds.) (1992) Post-Communist Transition: Emerging Pluralism in Hungary. (London: Pinter Publishers). Budryte, D. (2005) Taming Nationalism? Political Community Building in the Post-Soviet Baltic States. (Aldershot: Ashgate). Bunce, V. and Csanadi, M. (1993) ‘Uncertainty in the transition: Post-Communism in Hungary’, East European Politics and Societies, 7(2): 240–275. Canovan, M. (1999) ‘Trust the people! Populism and the two faces of democracy’, Political Studies, 47(1): 2–16. EKRE (2012) ‘Konservatiivne Manifest’, https://ekre.ee/konservatiivne-manifest/ (accessed 17 September 2018). EKRE (2014) ‘Eurovalimiste Platvorm’, https://ekre.ee/eurovalimiste-platvorm/ (accessed 17 September 2018). EKRE (2015a) ‘Konservatiivne Programm’, https://ekre.ee/konservatiivne-programm/ (accessed 17 September 2018). EKRE (2015b) ‘Riigikogu 2015’, https://ekre.ee/riigikogu-2015/ (accessed 17 September 2018). Elster, J., Offe, C. and Preuss, U. K. (1998) Institutional Design in Post-Communist Societies: Rebuilding the Ship at Sea. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Feischmidt, M. and Szombati, K. (2012) Gyöngöspata 2011: The Laboratory of the Hungarian Far-Right. (Budapest: Ecopolis). Fowler, B. (2004) ‘Hungary: Unpicking the permissive consensus’, West European Politics, 27(4): 624–651. Hallik, K. (2002) ‘Nationalizing policies and integration challenges’, in M. Lauristin and M. Heidmets (eds.), The Challenge of the Russian Minority: Emerging Multicultural Democracy in Estonia, (Tartu: Tartu University Press) pp. 65–88. Havlík, V. and Mares, M. (2016) ‘Jobbik’s successes: An analysis of its success in the comparative context of the V4 countries’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 49: 323–333. Jobbik (2010) Radical Change: A Guide to Jobbik’s Parliamentary Electoral Manifesto for National Self-determination and Social Justice. (Budapest: Jobbik Press). Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies (2015) ‘Estonian internet voting survey 2015’, (University of Tartu) (March 2015). Karácsony, G. and RónaD. (2010) ‘A Jobbik titka: A szélso˝jobb magyarországi megero˝södésének lehetséges okairól’, [The secret of Jobbik: The possible causes of the strengthening of the extreme right in Hungary] Politika tudományi Szemle, 19(1): 94–123. Kovarek, D., RónaD., HunyadiB. and Krekó, P. (2017) ‘Scapegoat-based policy making in Hungary: Qualitative evidence for how Jobbik and its mayors govern municipalities’, Intersections, 3(3): 63–87. Kreindler, I. (1998) ‘Baltic area languages in the Soviet Union: A sociolinguistic perspective’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 19(1): 5–20. Laclau, E. (2005) On Populist Reason. (New York: Verso Books). Linz, J. J. (1970) ‘An authoritarian regime: The case of Spain’, in: E. Allardt and S. Rokkan (eds.), Mass Politics: Studies in Political Sociology, (New York: Free Press). Linz, J. J. and Stepan, A. (1996) Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America and Post-Communist Europe. (London: Johns Hopkins University Press). McGregor, J. P. (1996) ‘Constitutional factors in politics in post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe’ Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 29(2): 147–166.

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Mole, R. (2012) The Baltic States from the Soviet Union to the European Union: Identity, Discourse and Power in the Post-Communist Transition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. (London: Routledge). Mudde, C. (2010) ‘The populist radical right: A pathological normalcy’, West European Politics, 33(6): 1167–1186. Mudde, C. (2007) Populist Radical Parties in Europe. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2012) ‘Populism and (liberal) democracy: A framework for analysis’, in C. Mudde and C. R. Kaltwasser (eds.), Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective for Democracy? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Musil, J. (ed.) (1995) The End of Czechoslovakia. (Budapest: Central European University Press). Peiker, P. (2016) ‘Estonian nationalism through the postcolonial lens’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 47(1): 113–132. Petsinis, V. (2010) ‘Twenty years after 1989: moving on from transitology’, Contemporary Politics, 16(3): 301–319. Petsinis, V. (2015) ‘The “new” far right in Hungary. A political psychologist’s perspective’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 23(2), 272–287. Petsinis, V. (2016) ‘Contentious politics in the Baltics: the “new” wave of right-wing populism in Estonia’, Open Democracy, 28/04/16 (https://www.opendemocracy.net/a uthor/vassilis-petsinis). Pirro, A. L. (2013) ‘Populist radical right parties in Central and Eastern Europe: The different context and issues of the prophets of the Patria’, Government and Opposition, doi: doi:10.1017/gov.2013.32,1–30. Pytlas, B. (2015) The Populist Radical Right in Central and Eastern Europe: Ideology, Impact, and Electoral Performance. (London: Routledge). Saarts, T. (2015) ‘Persistence and decline of political parties: the case of Estonia’, East European Politics, 31(2): 208–228. Szczerbiak, A. and P. Taggart (eds.) (2008) Opposing Europe? The Comparative Party Politics of Euroscepticism. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Sikk, A. (2015) ‘Estonia’, Political Data Yearbook, 54(1): 94–100. Smith, D. (1998) ‘Russia, Estonia and the search for a stable ethno-politics’, Journal of Baltic Studies, 29(1): 3–18. Spirova, M. (2008) ‘The Bulgarian Socialist Party: The long road to Europe’, Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 41(4): 481–495. Szabo, M. (1994) ‘Nation-state, nationalism and the prospects for democratization in East Central Europe’, Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 27(4): 377–399. Toplišek, A. (2017) ‘The Slovenian United Left: From protest to movement and from movement to party’, Open Democracy, 19/01/2017https://www.opendemocracy.net/a uthor/alen-toplišek, (accessed 17 September 2018). Varga, M. (2014) ‘Hungary’s anti-capitalist far-right: Jobbik and the Hungarian Guard’, Nationalities Papers, 42(5): 791–807. Wiarda, H. J. (2002) ‘Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and comparative politics: Transitology and the need for new theory’, East European Politics and Societies, 15(3): 485–501.


Social movements, populism and socialist strategy

9 MAPPING ANTI-AUSTERITY DISCOURSE Populism, sloganeering and/or realism?1 David J. Bailey

Can social and protest movements be ‘populist’, or is this a term reserved for political parties? On one hand, it seems appropriate to consider the rhetoric of social movements through the lens of the concept, ‘populism’ (Roberts 2015). Indeed, the common definition of populism, adopted by both the mainstream, ‘ideational’, approach, and the discursive approach, considers populism in terms of its appeal to the ‘pure’ people and denunciation of a ‘corrupt’ elite, alongside an expression of the ‘general will’, typically with sympathies for mechanisms of direct (rather than representative) democracy. As such, populism seems appropriate as a concept used to consider the actions of social and protest movements. Social movements also commonly share a concern that the elite does not adequately represent the people, and that citizens therefore need to resort to direct action in order to rectify the resulting problems with which they are faced. Yet such a discussion of social movements, in terms of whether or not they are populist, also risks unearthing a secondary aspect of populism, specifically as developed within the ‘ideational’ approach to the term. This is the somewhat pejorative or dismissive connotation associated with the way in which the concept is typically used. This observation has perhaps most commonly been made by those who, following Laclau, have developed the more positive, discursive approach to populism, considering it to be an attempt to use discourse in such a way that has the potential to ‘re-democratise’ democracy through an articulation that has the potential to incorporate, and construct an identity for, those who are excluded (Laclau 2005; Laclau 2006; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014; Griggs and Howarth 2013). Indeed, for those within the ‘ideational’ camp, populism is not often a concept used as a compliment. To be populist is to simplify, to negate the nuances of social reality, and to resort to caricatures instead of sophisticated and balanced reasoning. As Stavrakakis (2018: 50) puts it, ‘“populism” is most often presented as illustrating all that is

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abnormal: It is invariably seen as violating or transgressing a natural order of how politics is properly, rationally, and professionally done’. It is this tension – between the apparent complementarity that the discourse of social movements has with the common definition of populism, on the one hand, and the apparently dismissive connotations associated with such an application of the concept by those adopting an ‘ideational’ approach to the concept, that the present chapter seeks to explore. In order to do so, the chapter focuses especially on the antiausterity movement that has emerged since around 2010 (for a similar discussion of the interaction between anti-austerity and populism, see also Aslanidis 2016). We focus here, especially, on how this has developed in the UK context, where the rhetoric adopted by the anti-austerity movement provides us with an opportunity to consider the question of populist social movements in a concrete context.

Mapping the UK anti-austerity movement, 2010–2016 In seeking to outline the contours of the UK anti-austerity movement, we can draw on the archive, ‘Political Protest in Britain, 1985–2016’, (Left Parties and Protest Movements) which charts reported protest events over the past three decades. This archive reports the actor, type of actor, type of protest and target of protest action, for every protest reported in The Guardian/Observer and Times/ Sunday Times, between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2016, and for a sample of years and months stretching back to 1985 (‘Political Protest in Britain, 1985–2016’, in Left Parties and Protest Movements; see also Bailey 2014; Bailey 2016). In providing an overview of anti-austerity protest in the UK, this chapter begins in the year 2010 as this was the point, in most advanced industrial democracies, including the United Kingdom, where the move towards austerity measures began, and therefore also when movements of resistance against those measures also began (see also Giugni and Grasso 2015; Flesher Fominaya 2017). The initial crisis period began in autumn 2008 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Many governments responded with a range of stimulus measures that sought to stabilise the global economy. These included fiscal stimulus measures that were largely focused on the financial industry, and monetary policy measures that sought to stimulate demand by dramatically lowering interest rates and injecting large quantities of money into global circulation (quantitative easing), thereby creating a glut of available finance in the hope that the lowered cost of borrowing would encourage both investment and consumption (Bermeo and Pontusson 2012; Pontusson and Raes 2012). It was only in 2010, therefore, once most national economies had become more stable following the upheaval of 2008, that most advanced industrial democracies turned to austerity measures in an attempt to address the public debt which they had acquired in the 2008–2010 period as a result of both the fiscal stimulus measures adopted and the increased cost of automatic stabilisers due to the recession (Cameron 2012). In the case of the UK, the ‘age of austerity’ began in 2010 with the so-called Emergency Budget that was announced almost immediately after the Conservative-

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Liberal Democrat Coalition Government entered office following the elections of May 2010. The Budget announced a commitment to reduce the annual budget deficit to zero by tax year 2015/6. This was to be achieved through the adoption of a wide range of spending cuts, including a two-year pay freeze for public sector workers, a fine for housing benefit claimants with a ‘spare’ room (the so-called Bedroom Tax), a three-year freeze on child benefits, the switch to a new method of measuring inflation (CPI) which would systematically lower welfare generosity over time, and average cuts of 25% to all departments (except for so-called ‘protected departments’, such as education and health) over a four year period (HM Treasury 2010a). A further round of cuts was also announced just a few months later in the October 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review. This included a cap on welfare benefits of £26,000 per household, and further details of departmental spending cuts (HM Treasury 2010b). The following month the decision to dramatically reduce government support for universities, and to have this replaced with student tuition fees of up to £9,000, was announced. It was in the light of this commitment to a radical restructuring of the British state, characterised by reduced welfare generosity, lowering of real terms public sector pay, the quasi-privatisation of higher education and tightened conditionality for the receipt of welfare support (most obviously through the increased number of workfare schemes introduced), that we see the emergence of a new anti-austerity movement in the United Kingdom (for an overview of both the austerity measures adopted during this period, and some of the key episodes of contestation against them, see Bailey and Shibata 2017). These developments also chime with similar processes that happened across much of the advanced industrial democracies (Hayes 2017; Gerbaudo 2017). In Southern Europe, especially, we see the emergence of a series of occupations of public spaces, typically referred to as the indignados, witnessing the 15-M (Spain), Syntagma Square (Greece) and Geração à Rasca (Portugal) protests each mobilising in opposition to the considerable cuts planned to social expenditure and public sector employment, and all reaching a high point in 2011 (Flesher Fominaya 2015; Simiti 2016; Accornero and Ramos Pinto 2015). Likewise, October 2011 witnessed the eruption of the Occupy movement, initially in the United States (Occupy Wall Street), but subsequently spreading across the United States and then across many of the cities of the Global North (Gitlin 2012; Kiersey 2014). In Japan, we witnessed precarious workers form a campsite in central Tokyo (Hakenmura), as part of a growing tide of precarious workerled protest activity in the face of heightened precarity arising from the fallout of the global economic crisis (Shibata 2016). In the UK case, this round of austerity measures sparked a significant spike in the number of protests that occurred in opposition to austerity in both 2010 and 2011. Figure 9.1 shows the number of protest events per year that we can consider to be opposed to austerity, between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2016. The figure reports protest events that were either against austerity or public spending cuts in general, or otherwise against associated measures, such as tuition fees, workfare, the bedroom tax, cuts to legal aid, cuts to the NHS or to domestic violence services, and protests against library closures. As the figure shows, the

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FIGURE 9.1 Number of anti-austerity protests per year in Britain, 2005–2016 Source: ‘Political protest in Britain, 1985-2016’. https://leftpartiesprotestmovements. wordpress.com/britain_protest/

number of anti-austerity protests rose dramatically in 2010, from less than 10 in 2009 to over 80 in 2010, and remained at an elevated level for 2011, before falling to an average of 13.6 reported protests per year between 2011 and 2016 (compared with an average of 4.6 per year in the 2005–2009 period). To give us a better idea of the types of activities that this post-2010 UK antiausterity movement engaged in, a brief narrative highlighting the key events covered in Figure 9.1, drawing on the ‘Political Protest in Britain, 1985–2016’ archive (Left Parties and Protest Movements), is illustrative. The event of 2010 that marked the beginning of the wave of anti-austerity protest was the demonstration that met the Conservative Party conference of that year. The 2010 protest outside the Conservative Party conference was the first conference-focused protest recorded in the 1985–2016 archive. This witnessed around 5,000 demonstrators attend the protest, focusing on the planned cuts that the Coalition Government had announced. It saw several calls for industrial action, and other forms of protest, such as direct-action protest, as a means of opposing the Government. As Labour MP John McDonnell announced at the demonstration, ‘We’re coming with our demonstrations, our strikes, our civil disobedience and direct action. This is no time to sit on the sidelines, this is a time to fight back’ (quoted in BBC News 2010a). This was followed in October 2010 with the launch of the UK Uncut movement, which saw Vodafone adopted as the initial target of the movement; chosen due to the allegations circulating at the time that the firm had benefited from an alleged £6bn tax write-off deal agreed with the government. Protests conducted by UK Uncut took place both online and in physical space, with 1,000 people signing UK Uncut’s online petition in October 2010. This was accompanied by the first physical protest event of the group, in which activists gathered at the Oxford Street London branch of Vodafone to stage an occupation in protest at alleged tax avoidance, and with the broader intention to ‘kick-start’ an anti-austerity social movement (Street 2015: 132, 135). During November and December

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further UK Uncut occupations and protests were staged outside the premises of Vodafone across the country, and through social media. The nature of the UK Uncut strategy was such that it could be readily replicated across the country. This created an open, fluid and creative element to the organisation and the actions it organised. Many of the UK Uncut protests staged in or outside of shops were highly disruptive, forcing shops to close whilst protesters were forcibly removed by police. During December 2010 the strategy moved to focus especially on shops owned by Philip Green, who was also accused of tax dodging, witnessing protesters who were moved on from one shop immediately proceeding to a different Green-owned shop in order to cause a similar level of disruption (Bailey et al. 2018: 131–8). The UK Uncut protests continued into 2011, targeting over 40 high street banks across the country, staging short occupations in which the banks were symbolically turned into socially useful locations serving the community, such as libraries, creches, health services or job centres (Street 2015: 142). This was a deliberate attempt to highlight the negative social impact that the financial industry’s focus on profit had caused, and to highlight instead that, through direct action, bank buildings could be put to more socially useful purposes. Other actions included support events for the Occupy movement (which emerged in autumn 2011), and stunts targeting key agents of austerity, such as a protest outside Nick Clegg’s house in May 2012, and mock evictions staged outside the houses of Welfare Minister Lord Freud and Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith in April 2013 (Street, 2015: 144). Perhaps the most notorious act conducted by UK Uncut, however, was the occupation of Fortnum and Mason. This was timed to coincide with, and (at least informally) form part of, the TUC march against austerity that took place on 26 March 2011. It ended with the arrest of the protesters in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to end the UK actions (Malik 2011). Shortly after the launch of UK Uncut, perhaps the most significant of all the anti-austerity initiatives in the UK emerged, in November 2010, with the launch of the student anti-tuition fees movement. Members of the anti-tuition fees movement would go on to fuel many of the anti-austerity campaigns (including UK Uncut) that occurred during this period, as well as many being key supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the Labour Party. In this sense, and as we shall discuss in more detail below, the anti-tuition fee movement, and the broader anti-austerity movement of which it was a part, created a discursive space for left radicalism in the UK which was eventually to form a core determinant of those who supported Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour Party and the more explicitly parliamentary-oriented strategy (Bassett 2016). Thus, in November 2010, the National Union of Students (NUS) organised a protest event in opposition to the government announcement (made the previous month) that the cap on undergraduate tuition fees would be tripled (from £3,000 to £9,000) as part of reforms intended to increase funding for the higher education sector and reduce the costs paid for out of the public purse. The demonstration, which was due to take place on 10 November 2010, was planned as a ‘standard’ demonstration and march through central London, including a walk past parliament. However, a

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coordinated detour led by a more radical contingent within the march broke off from the main march, witnessing protesting students and school children breaking the windows of the Conservative Party Headquarters building, Millbank, and eventually witnessing thousands of protesters gathering outside, with hundreds entering the building, breaking onto the roof of the building, and waving flags associated with different revolutionary groupings from the rooftop (see also Bailey et al. 2018: 179–85). This event marked the beginning of the biggest wave of student mobilisation in over three decades, forming a major part of the anti-austerity movement witnessed in the UK, and including roughly one-third of all protest events reported during 2010 (Bailey 2014). Almost immediately after the Millbank protest, students at the University of Manchester staged one of the first occupations of university buildings in an attempt to register dissent at the proposed tuition fee rises. By the end of the month similar occupations had occurred in at least 15 other universities across the country. Students also staged occupations in, or demonstrations outside of, a number of Liberal Democrat MPs constituency offices. A series of subsequent demonstrations sought to further galvanise the protest momentum that had been witnessed in Millbank, through three additional demonstrations in Central London during November and December, each of which witnessed clashes with the police, who were unable to contain the student protesters within pre-defined marching routes. The media images associated with each of these events also added further momentum to the student movement, creating a growing sense of escalating public and student opposition to the tuition fees regime. Whilst the anti-tuition fee protests represented a high point in terms of the mobilisation of student dissent (albeit one marked by disappointment that the proposed tuition fees hike went ahead despite widespread opposition), the student movement was also invigorated to the extent that it remained active beyond the events of November to December 2010. One of the immediate consequences was the continuation of student occupations across the country as a mark of opposition to the marketisation of higher education in the United Kingdom. One of the most high-profile examples of this was the creation of what came to be called the ‘Free Hetherington’ between February and August 2011. This created a space at the University of Glasgow where public meetings could be held to highlight the impact that cuts to university spending and the quasi-privatisation of higher education would have. It also enabled the flourishing of a discourse and practice of opposition – including at one point representing the focal point around which opposition to the co-opted nature of the NUS could be mobilised (especially on one notable occasion, when occupants of the Free Hetherington were associated with an attempted ‘kettling’ of NUS President, Aaron Porter). Whilst the range of visible student protest events dwindled from late 2011 onwards, witnessing only one high profile demonstration, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), in November 2011, a culture of dissent was maintained across the country that enabled protest organisations to be mobilised, often at short notice. For instance, a group of students were able

Mapping anti-austerity discourse


in 2011 to organise a protest event that disrupted a bookshop talk being given by A. C. Grayling, the controversial founder of the New College of the Humanities, an organisation which was viewed as a further step towards the privatisation of the higher education sector. We saw a further upturn in mobilisation in 2013. This included the occupation of Sussex University by students protesting against plans to privatise part of the University services, both in February and again in November, and also witnessed clashes with the authorities that were trying to prevent the protest. Whilst this protest resulted in the suspension of a number of the university students involved in the event, the university was subsequently forced to apologise and compensate those same students on the grounds that it had wrongly suspended them. December 2013 also saw a wave of student support for university staff taking part in industrial action as part of the University and College Union (UCU) pay dispute of that year, often in the form of further university occupations.2 This round of dissent also subsequently developed into a ‘cops off campus’ movement in response to what was widely perceived to have been heavy-handed policing of one of the London occupations. Academic year 2014–2015 saw another round of protests, with 10,000 students attending the NCAFC-organised protest event against tuition fees and paint being thrown at the offices of the NUS in opposition to their refusal to support the demonstration, as well as the march resulting in the occupation of Parliament Square. This round of mobilisation also witnessed another development around the issue of the policing of student protests, with hundreds of students attending a solidarity protest event at Warwick University following the heavy-handed eviction of students staging an earlier protest inside the University. In addition to the burgeoning student movement, the UK’s so-called ‘age of austerity’ also witnessed a series of anti-austerity events organised by some of the more formal groups that represented the trade union movement in the UK, especially by the main trade union confederation, the TUC. Perhaps the biggest of these events was the 26 March 2011 demonstration, organised by the trade unions to oppose austerity measures and witnessing nearly half a million demonstrators attend a peaceful march and rally. The same year also saw a series of coordinated days of strike action involving multiple trade unions taking strike action on the same day, and in both cases seeing a number of solidarity demonstrations organised around the country. Other protest events witnessed during the 2010–2016 period include the high profile Occupy movement that mobilised globally between 2011 and 2012. The most prominent of these in the case of the UK was the occupation staged in London outside St Paul’s Cathedral, which declared opposition to ‘the unfair cuts and regressive taxes, currently inflicted on those vulnerable groups least able to bear the burden’ (Occupy London, 2011). We also witnessed demonstrations against the bedroom tax, especially during 2013 when the tax was introduced. February 2011 saw a series of protests against library closures, such as the campaign, Save Our Libraries, which used a combination of both ‘mock’ occupations (in which library users staged ‘read ins’ to highlight the popularity of the libraries) and ‘real’ occupations (for instance in the case of Barnet library, the closure of which was avoided as a result of an occupation and taking control of the library by local residents and

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activists). Additionally, a series of protests were conducted by lawyers (including unofficial strike action) protesting against reforms to the legal aid system. In 2013, the campaign group, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, was created, partly in an attempt to institutionalise an annual protest event intended to give greater coordination and visibility to the national anti-austerity movement. Finally, a series of protest events undertaken by the feminist anti-austerity movement, Sisters Uncut, focused especially on highlighting the way in which austerity measures would impact particularly upon women, including especially as a result of cuts to domestic violence services. In sum, through the brief survey provided above, we can see that a protest movement emerged in the UK in 2010 that was specifically focused on challenging the austerity agenda of the incoming Coalition Government, especially following its announcement of a series of significant cuts to public services in 2010. This brought together a range of activists and citizens. This included students engaging in the antituition fee movement, it also included direct action focused groups, such as UK Uncut, Sisters Uncut and Occupy, alongside more traditional trade union-led activities. As Saunders, Roth and Olcese (2015) describe, anti-austerity protest events in the UK tended to bring together a diverse range of participants, in part due to the broad rhetorical frames deployed to mobilise protesters, and also due to a commitment to inclusivity that was held by certain sections of the anti-austerity movement (especially the Occupy movement). Protesters were drawn from across the social classes: ‘Around one-fifth placed themselves as upper middle class, two-fifths as lower middle class and just shy of one-third considered themselves to be working class’ (Saunders, Roth and Olcese 2015: 184). Despite this broad base, protesters were typically highly educated (at least 75% of participants had, or were studying towards, a university qualification). They also tended to already have been politically active in some way, albeit in many cases simply through membership of other political or civil society organisations, including trade unions. In addition, many of the key activists and organisers involved in the anti-austerity movement, especially of the more direct-action type events, had gained prior experience within the UK’s peace movement (especially Stop the War, against the war in Iraq, and against Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009) and the environmentalist movement (especially the Camp for Climate Action), as well as many having been Green Party activists (Bailey et al. 2018). In this sense, therefore, the antiausterity movement represented a coalition of actors, largely steeped in a broad tradition of British left radicalism. It was within this developing strand of left radicalism that we can identify a series of rhetorical positions which combined to form a consistent critique of the austerity agenda, as we shall see below.

Rhetoric of the UK anti-austerity movement The main slogans adopted by each of the key anti-austerity groups, or during key events, are presented in Table 9.1. This samples the online statements, key documents and agreed resolutions associated with each group/event, alongside the use of secondary reporting. Each of the sources used are detailed in the online appendix that accompanies this chapter.3

TABLE 9.1 Key slogans of the UK anti-austerity movement, 2010–2016


Key slogan(s)

2010 protest against Conservative Party Conference


UK Uncut

Anti-tuition fee movement

26 March 2011 March for the Alternative

Anti-bedroom tax campaign

Save Our Libraries

Fight for Legal Aid


Right to Work Stop the Cuts, Fight for Every Job No to Cuts, Defend Education Philip Green pay your tax If you won’t pay your tax we’ll shut you down Cuts Don’t Cure Play Fair, Phil, Pay Your Tax BHS Shame On You, You Should Pay Your Taxes Too Pay Your Tax Stop Tax Dodgers Fight fees and cuts No to Fees, No to Cuts, Let’s make it happen! Free Education for Everyone Tax the Rich to Fund Education Protest! Strike! Occupy! Hands Off Our EMAs A living grant for every student Our education is more important than their profits There is an alternative A national voice to all those affected by the cuts People reject the argument that there is no alternative Cuts are not the cure Services Cut, Workers Sacked, Benefits taken from the vulnerable No-one now believes that these cuts are fair The poor lose most; the rich are barely touched No-one voted for them [the cuts] Crack down on tax dodgers Can’t Pay! Won’t Pay! Axe the bedroom tax! No Evictions! No Benefit Cuts! Can’t Pay! Won’t Leave! Together we can smash the bedroom tax! Save Our Libraries Children Need to Read Hands off our library, there is another way! Don’t Kill Off the Criminal Bar No Legal Aid – No Justice Justice for All; Not Just the Rich Save British Justice No Legal Aid Cuts You cannot have a fair system of justice unless it is open to all Justice not for sale Save UK Justice: Justice for All Defend Magna Carta

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Key slogan(s)

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

 There is an alternative to austerity with its policies of tax breaks for the rich and cuts for the rest  Expand our public services instead of cutting them  Oppose and halt the austerity cuts in public services and welfare benefits  We need a balanced, productive and technologically advanced economy that will protect the environment, combat climate change and benefit working people and their families.  Austerity means, taking money from the poorest and giving it to the rich.  We stand against the life-threatening cuts to domestic violence services. We stand against austerity.  Austerity is ideological but cuts to domestic violence services are fatal.  As intersectional feminists we understand that a person’s individual experience of violence is affected by gender, race, class, disability, sexuality, trans status and immigration status.  To those in power, our message is this: your cuts are gendered violence, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted people who you perceive as powerless.  We are Sisters Uncut and we will not be silenced. We stand united and fight together; together we will win.  The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust.  We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.  We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities, dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.  We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.  We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.  We want structural change towards authentic global equality.  We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.  This is what democracy looks like.

Sisters Uncut

Occupy London

Source: see online appendix

The key slogans adopted by/during each of the anti-austerity groups/events are summarised in Table 9.1. Four key themes are notable for being central to the UK anti-austerity movement’s rhetoric which highlight:

Mapping anti-austerity discourse



the self-serving nature of those elites who advocate austerity; the unnecessary nature of austerity measures being proposed and/or adopted, and the existence of both viable and more egalitarian alternatives to austerity; the counter-productive nature of the austerity measures; the need for a radical challenge to ‘standard’ representative democracy in order for the viable policy alternatives that exist to austerity to be adopted.

Whilst each of these themes are not always directly visible in each of the slogans identified for each of the events or groups, nevertheless, it is the case that these are relatively consistently referred to at some point in the discourse of each of these groups or events. These themes were also echoed in many of the key slogans adopted by antiausterity movements that mobilised in countries other than the United Kingdom, with a critique of austerity, the self-serving elite and the sub-standard nature of representative democracy, each being themes that resonated with anti-austerity movements globally, including the indignados (‘Real Democracy Now!’) and the Occupy movement (‘We are the 99%!’) (for a discussion, see Roos and Oikonomakis 2014). In continuing our focus on the UK case, we explore each of these themes in turn below.

The self-serving nature of those elites who advocate austerity. As Table 9.1 shows, one of the key claims made by several of the anti-austerity groups was the way in which austerity was considered a project driven by political elites, to their own benefit. This is perhaps most clearly evident with UK Uncut, who focused especially on Philip Green as one of the key capitalists who stood accused of failing to pay the correct amount of taxation. It can also be seen in statements made by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, who highlight how austerity means ‘policies of tax breaks for the rich and cuts for the rest’, and ‘taking money from the poorest and giving it to the rich’. Similarly, the March 2011 March for the Alternative adopted rhetoric which described how austerity was a process in which ‘the poor lose most; the rich are barely touched’. Likewise, Sisters Uncut depict a malevolent political elite: ‘to those in power, our message is this: your cuts are gendered violence, your cuts are dangerous, and you think that you can get away with them because you have targeted people who you perceive as powerless’. We can see a consistent strand of discourse within the anti-austerity movement, therefore, which highlights the self-serving (pro-rich) elements of the austerity agenda and those who advocate it.

The unnecessary nature of austerity measures being proposed and/or adopted, and the existence of both viable and more egalitarian alternatives to austerity. Intrinsically connected to the claim that austerity is a self-serving process driven by the wealthy and privileged, the anti-austerity movement also highlighted repeatedly that the austerity measures being proposed and/or adopted were also unnecessary. Indeed,

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this is seen perhaps most clearly in the title of the major trade-union-led demonstration which took place in 2011 – the March for the Alternative. Here the trade unions sought explicitly to highlight that, precisely because there was an alternative to austerity, it was therefore the case that the austerity measures being imposed were unnecessary (and, indeed, unhelpful and likely to be counter-productive). As the organisers of the march argued, public debt could and should be addressed through measures that would focus on the privileged, such as through a more concerted attempt to address the problem of tax evasion and tax avoidance (‘Crack down on tax dodgers’). Likewise, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity claimed that ‘there is an alternative to austerity with its policies of tax breaks for the rich and cuts for the rest’. Similarly, Occupy London agreed that ‘we do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people’. As we can see, therefore, the UK anti-austerity movement consistently argued that austerity was unnecessary, as alternatives were both available and, it was claimed, should be adopted.

The counter-productive nature of the austerity measures. In addition to pointing out that austerity measures would be both self-serving and unnecessary, much of the UK anti-austerity movement also highlighted the way in which austerity was likely to be counter-productive – either in the sense that it would exacerbate the risk of a return to economic recession for the UK economy, or that it would produce detrimental effects across society that would not be worth the financial savings made. In the words of one of the slogans of UK Uncut, ‘Cuts Don’t Cure’. Similarly, the March for the Alternative claimed, ‘Cuts are not the cure’. Likewise, campaigners against the bedroom tax sought to point out that it was not possible to impose fines on people who could not afford to pay them: ‘Can’t Pay! Won’t Leave!’ In a similar vein, the campaign against cuts to the legal aid scheme sought to highlight that ‘you cannot have a fair system of justice unless it is open to all’. The counter-productive nature of austerity measures was therefore an additional common theme consistently returned to by different groups within the anti-austerity movement.

The need for a radical challenge to ‘standard’ representative democracy in order for the viable policy alternatives that exist to austerity to be adopted. The final of the four key themes adopted by the UK anti-austerity movement was the claim that, alongside each of the critiques of austerity raised above, there also exists the need for an alternative form of political activity if outcomes other than austerity are to be realised. In most cases this witnessed a reference to some form of direct action; either direct action protest, or alternatively some form of direct democracy as an alternative to representative democracy, which was considered inherently reliant upon elected politicians as the means through which to make key

Mapping anti-austerity discourse


decisions (and that therefore these decisions would be likely to be of a pro-austerity nature). This strand of discourse was clearly most apparent with both the discourse and the practice of Occupy London. See, for instance, their claim that ‘the current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust.’ In place of representative democracy, Occupy London advocated the kind of democratic workings that were being practiced by the occupation itself. This included consensus decision-making, prolonged deliberation open to all participants, and a radical commitment to inclusiveness: ‘We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities, dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.’ This, it was claimed, represented a commitment to a more genuine form of democracy: ‘This is what democracy looks like.’ Whilst such a strident critique of representative democracy was perhaps only so explicitly visible with the Occupy movement, similar themes surfaced for many of the other elements within the antiausterity movement. For instance, the anti-tuition fee movement’s call – ‘Let’s make it happen’ – was a clear reference to the importance of action, participation, and direct democracy. The March for the Alternative targeted the representativeness of the British polity: ‘No-one voted for them [the cuts].’ In sum, therefore, the rhetoric deployed by the UK anti-austerity movement shows a consistent reference to austerity measures that are considered both unnecessary but also counter-productive, and which are advocated by a self-serving (and malevolent) political elite, the successful challenging of which requires actions which go beyond mere representative democracy. It is this bundle of claims, moreover, that we might consider to be similar in many ways to the common definition of populism, with a conception of populism as an attempt to galvanise a ‘pure’ people in opposition to a corrupted ‘elite’.

Is the anti-austerity movement populist? It is the claim of this chapter that we can see clear parallels between the discourse of the anti-austerity movement as outlined above, and that which is routinely referred to as populism by many adopting both an ideational and a discursive approach to populism. If we return to the definition presented by Mudde (2004; see also Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017; Albertazzi and McDonnell 2015; Müller 2017), then the two core criteria used to decide whether a movement or party is populist or not are the following: positing a dichotomy between ‘the (pure) people’ and ‘the (corrupt) elite’; and a commitment towards the general will (volonté general) (Mudde 2004). According to this definition, populism represents a conviction that, left to their own devices, ‘the people’ are benign, virtuous and/or in some other way have a moral virtue which is to be valued. The problem, however, according to populists, is that in some way ‘the people’ have allowed themselves to be corrupted or subjugated by the actions of a political elite that is acting in its own interests and outside of the constraints of ‘the people’. Similarly, those adopting a discursive approach to the concept also tend to highlight the importance of populist discourse in constructing a popular identity that sits in

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contradistinction with an elite or hegemonic ‘other’ (see, for instance, Laclau 2006; Moffitt 2016; Stavrakakis and Katsambekis 2014). Such an analysis, therefore, leads logically to the second core criterion of populist politics: a commitment towards the general will (volonté general). On this basis, those adopting a populist position advocate actions that will re-instate the will of ‘the people’, in particular through an assertion of the general will. Indeed, the role of ‘general will’ in this process is important, as it provides a justification and basis to the actions of populist politics. For those adopting an ideational approach, populism’s reliance on a notion of the general will has the capacity to legitimate the claims of ‘charismatic leaders’ who seek to promote a nativist and right-wing form of populism; as the bold actions of such leaders represent, and are able to be portrayed as, the promotion of the general will, which has been prevented from being expressed and realised due to the corrupt and self-serving actions of the political elite. Likewise, the need to assert and protect the general will can sometimes be deployed as an argument for forms of direct democracy, most obviously through national referendums. As Mudde and Kaltwasser (2017: 16) put it: ‘it can be argued that an elective affinity exists between populism and direct democracy’. It is the claim of this chapter that the discourse deployed by the anti-austerity movement can easily be considered a form of populist politics in the terms of both the ideational and discursive approach to populism. First, the anti-austerity movement adopted a discourse which considers ‘the people’ to have been subjugated by a corrupt political elite. As we have already seen, austerity has been consistently depicted as a set of unnecessary and counter-productive measures adopted by a selfserving and malevolent elite. This can be seen right from the beginning of the antiausterity movement. For instance, the protest organised outside of the Conservative Party Conference in 2010 already highlighted the out-of-touch nature of the Government and the unnecessary and harmful effects that their policies would bring. As Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS, the trade union for British civil servants), put it in speaking to the press ahead of the Conservative Party Conference protest in 2010, ’There’s no democratic mandate for the slaughter that we expect to see on our public services where we could see hundreds of thousands of jobs go, attack on vulnerable people on welfare, on students, and many others’ (Mark Serwotka, speaking to BBC News 2010b). This focus on the out of touch and harmful nature of the political and economic elite has clearly also continued as a strong strand of discourse throughout the development of the anti-austerity movement. Thus, as we noted, UK Uncut focused heavily on Philip Green, considering him to be a key member of the economic elite who appeared to be doing most to avoid corporate taxation. Likewise, the March for the Alternative focused on the way in which austerity harmed the rich the least: ‘The poor lose most; the rich are barely touched’. Similar sentiments were expressed by the Fight for Legal Aid (‘Justice for All; Not Just the Rich’), and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity (‘tax breaks for the rich and cuts for the rest’). A similar type of rhetoric was also adopted by politicians

Mapping anti-austerity discourse


speaking to the anti-austerity movement. For instance, in his address to the TUC march of October 2012, Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party at the time, said, the culture of two nations runs right across this government. They cut taxes for millionaires. And raise taxes for ordinary families. They leave young people out of work while the bonuses at the banks carry on. […] It’s one rule for those at the top and another rule for everybody else: everybody like you who plays their part and does the right thing. (Miliband 2012) The second strand of populism – a self-declared commitment towards an expression of the general will – can be perhaps most easily seen in the repeated reference to the harmful effects that austerity would have on all of British society. This can be considered an attempt to assert the claim that the anti-austerity movement represented the general will of the ‘pure’ people, in contrast to the measures being imposed by an autocratic elite bent on a self-serving mission to implement austerity. This invoking of the general will can be seen in a range of the slogans highlighted above: ‘Our education is more important than their profits’ (anti-tuition fee protests); ‘People reject the argument that there is no alternative’ (March for the Alternative); ‘Children Need to Read’ (Save Our Libraries); and ‘Save UK Justice: Justice for All’ (Fight for Legal Aid) (emphasis added in each of these quotes). From such a perspective, and in terms of some of the key questions underpinning the current volume, the anti-austerity movement can be considered an attempt to mobilise ‘the people’, considered more in terms of their collective popular identity (a population being harmed by an elite fixated on a damaging austerity programme) than one built around class. Although, of course, this does not mean that in doing so that those adopting such a rhetorical strategy did not also speak to a (newly recomposed, and broadly defined) working class (on which, see Bailey et al. 2018: 20–33). Those who formed the target of this anti-austerity populist rhetoric were both the political elite, in their efforts to ensure compliance with a pro-austerity political message, and the economic elite, who benefit according to the degree to which such a message is successfully promulgated. It is, therefore, in responding to the so-called ‘age of austerity’, and the social crisis that austerity measures have led to, that the anti-austerity movement represents a successful articulation of anti-elite rhetoric which has been able to construct a political space that has opened up the possibility for non-centrist, non-neoliberal political programmes to become increasingly tenable (Seymour 2017; although see Dean and Maiguashca 2017 on the non-populist nature of Corybn’s appeal). This is even in the context of the UK, where prior to the surprising rise of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader, and prior to the Labour Party’s surprisingly successful performance in the 2017 general election, such a political development was widely considered to have been ruled out by the strength of neoliberal hegemony. Having established the close overlap between the discourses of the UK antiausterity movement and the common definition of populism, the question that this

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raises is why the anti-austerity movement is rarely considered in terms of being a form of populist discourse, especially by those adopting the ‘ideational’ approach to populism (for rare exceptions see Aslanidis 2016; Gerbaudo 2017)? As we have noted, those adopting an ideational approach to populism consider it to be a ‘thin ideology’, and one to be denigrated and dismissed. This contrasts with a much more favourable opinion, held by many within academia, regarding the progressive nature of the anti-austerity movement. This perhaps explains the reluctance to consider anti-austerity movements in terms of them having deployed populist rhetoric. For those adopting a discursive approach, populist rhetoric has the potential to lead to progressive outcomes, as a result of its commitment to constructing and mobilising popular subjects (Laclau 2005; Laclau 2006). From this alternative perspective, the consistent denigration of populist rhetoric reflects an (anti-democratic) attempt to consolidate a centrist (neoliberal) hegemony (Stavrakakis 2018). Populism is a style or strategy which is typically considered within the mainstream to be an ideology adopted by careless or unnuanced political actors. It is routinely associated with the right wing or with xenophobia and nativism (Muis and Immerzeel 2017; Mudde 2014; Margulies 2018). As a label it is more often than not applied by those who would never consider themselves to be populist, as a means both by which to castigate populists (for their unreasonable, implausible or unacceptable divergence from the acceptable centre) and to legitimate and consolidate a purported consensus around that centre. Indeed, Mudde makes clear such intentions in the title of a recent contribution to popular debate, titling a recent contribution to The Guardian, ‘How can liberals defeat populism? Here are four ideas’ (Mudde 2018). Also focusing on this tendency, Müller asks, ‘Might a populist simply be a successful politician one doesn’t like?’ (Müller 2017: 4). Populism is therefore commonly used as a label by which to depict particular (non-centrist) politicians as unreflexive and unnuanced, regardless of (and seemingly indifferent towards) the position which they adopt (Ochoa Espejo 2017: 92–3; Rooduijn and Akkerman 2017). Obschonka et al. (forthcoming) perhaps go one step further, in arguing that support for populist politics might reflect neurotic personality traits. Yet, despite the negative connotations often associated with the term, populism and social movements (especially the anti-austerity movement) appear equally to display many of the characteristics of populism, whilst rarely being labelled as such. This is perhaps an attempt to ensure a distancing between the (attractive) populism of anti-austerity discourse and the (rejected) populism more commonly considered to associated with right-wing nativism. In other words, mainstream (ideational) scholars of populism refuse to accept that populist rhetoric might be useful as a progressive means by which to challenge the political centre, as it has apparently been able to do in the case of the anti-austerity movement, precisely because of an inherent sympathy that those scholars have with the political centre (for a similar argument, see Motta 2011; see also Dean et al. 2017). Indeed, in closing this essay, I want to suggest an alternative interpretation for the appeal of populism, and therefore by extension also for the appeal of the

Mapping anti-austerity discourse


rhetoric adopted by anti-austerity movements. Rather than merely disparaging or dismissing populism – and, therefore, also perhaps indirectly also dismissing an antiausterity movement that appears to adhere closely to the defining features of populism (despite not often being labelled as such) – it might be better to concede that there is an attraction to the populist doctrine, and one which resonates with a sizeable proportion of the electorate. This touches on some of the key (and perennial) debates within the philosophy of knowledge in the social sciences. Most importantly: to what extent can we consider social scientific concepts to be able to capture elements and aspects of reality? This obviously raises additional questions: to what extent should we consider there even to be a reality, and to what degree should we expect to be able to know or engage with it? It is in responding to these kinds of central, and difficult, questions that the critical realist approach to social science has carved out a particular position (for an introduction, see Potter 2017; for key texts, see Bhaskar 1975; Bhaskar 1998). For critical realists, the nature of social reality is such that it cannot be detached from the concepts that we construct in our attempt to conceptualise it. Social concepts are therefore both about, and part of, social reality. In this sense, we are unable to ‘test’ the validity of particular ideas or concepts – as we are unable to achieve the necessary distance between ‘scientist’ and ‘subject’ that one would be able to acquire in, say, a physical experiment in the natural sciences. What we are able to do, however, is consider concepts in terms of the degree to which they appear to both resonate with individuals within society, and to provide a usable framework through which to understand and engage with the social world. For critical realists, therefore, there is a recognition that the concepts which inform our knowledge about the world are always part of a process of deliberation and contestation regarding which concepts are best able to depict social reality. Established and accepted concepts, therefore, are ones which have become accepted, to a degree, by a matter of convention. Yet, there is also a recognition that this process of deliberation and contestation is not entirely detached from the nature of social reality. In the words of Andrew Sayer, ‘not just any conventions will do’ – conventions must be able to sustain a meaningful interaction with reality – ‘they must be usable in practice’ (Sayer, 1992: 69). Concepts will only resonate with individuals to the degree that they are able to capture something that is real about the social world. It is from this perspective, perhaps, that we might be best placed to consider the apparent appeal of populist discourse and populist rhetoric – both in the more ‘political’ form that is more commonly considered by those adopting an ideational approach to populism, and in terms of the rhetoric that we have seen in the anti-austerity movement. In other words, it is, no doubt, that such a rhetorical style – focusing on a malevolent self-serving elite, which acts to the detriment of the ‘masses’ – is able to capture something that is present within social reality and which presents populism with its attraction as a concept. Mainstream scholars might be reluctant to admit that this attraction extends beyond ‘charismatic’ right wing, nativist, thin ideology, to the more grassroots, left-leaning, anti-austerity kind of populism. Yet, maybe it is the case that ‘we, the people’ suffer at the hands

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of a detached and self-serving political and economic elite. Rather than dismissing or disparaging such a view, and rather than allowing its right wing variant dominate the political agenda, we might perhaps be better off embracing its progressive anti-austerity variant, recognising that the ability of such a discourse to resonate and appeal may itself be intrinsically connected to elements of ‘the real’.

Notes 1 The author is grateful for the editorial guidance and feedback of Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou in writing this chapter. 2 This included occupations in support of the striking staff at a number of universities, including Warwick University, Goldsmiths, University of Exeter, University of Sheffield, University of Birmingham and the University of Edinburgh 3 See: https://leftpartiesprotestmovements.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/online-appendix. pdf Online appendix: sources for anti-austerity discourse (Table 9.1) Conservative Party Conference 2010 Socialist Worker, 2010, ‘Pictures of Right to Work protest at the Tory Party conference’, Socialist Worker. Available: https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/22189/Pictures +of+Right+to+Work+protest+at+the+Tory+Party+conference Socialist Worker, 2010, ‘More Pictures of Right to Work protest at the Tory Party conference’, Socialist Worker. Available: https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/22190/More +pictures+of+the+Right+to+Work+march+on+the+Tory+Party. UK Uncut McVeigh, T., 2010, ‘UK Uncut targets Topshop and Vodafone over tax arrangements’, The Guardian 4 December 2010. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/p olitics/2010/dec/04/uk-uncut-protest-topshop-vodafone YouTube, 2010, ‘UK Uncut Brighton – Vodafone Protest’, 11 December 2010. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VZqZvuYHXE Howarth, J., Khalili, M., Sprenger, R. and Gonzales, F., 2011, ‘Inside UK Uncut – video’, The Guardian, 10 February 2011. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/ video/2011/feb/10/uk-uncut-protest-movement BBC News, 2010, ‘Topshop’s flagship London store hit by tax protest’, BBC News 4 December 2010. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11918873 Alves, D., 2010, ‘STOP TAX DODGERS – UK Uncut – Brighton, Saturday 18th December 2010’, flickr 18 December 2010. Available: https://www.flickr.com/p hotos/dominicspics/5271241141 Anti-tuition fees NCAFC materials, various. Available: https://www.scribd.com/doc/44245257/ 30th-November-Poster-colour; http://anticuts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/ walkout24ldn.pdf; http://anticuts.com/2010/11/15/postersplacards-for-national-da y-of-action/#more-1344. March for the Alternative Trades Union Congress, n.d., ‘Cuts are not the cure: Video from March for the Alternative’, Available: https://vimeo.com/album/1562316/video/21689979 March for the Alternative website. Available: http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/ Anti-bedroom tax campaign BBC News, 2013, ‘Opponents of “bedroom tax’ protest throughout UK”, BBC News 30 March 2013. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-p olitics-21981163 ITV News, 2013, ‘“Bedroom Tax” protest’, ITV News 16 March 2013. Available: http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/story/2013-03-16/bedroom-tax-protest/ Save Our Libraries

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The Guardian, n.d., ‘Save Our Libraries day – as it happened’, The Guardian. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/culture-cuts-blog/2011/feb/05/save-our-libra ries-day-live-coverage Freeman, H., 2012, ‘Save Our Libraries campaign: one year on’, The Guardian 31 January 2012. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2012/jan/ 31/save-libraries-your-protest Fight for legal aid Baksi, C., 2014, ‘Thousands of lawyers protest against legal aid cuts’, The Law Society Gazette 7 March 23014. Available: https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/thousa nds-of-lawyers-protest-against-legal-aid-cuts/5040286.article Salford Star, 2013, ‘Greater Manchester Protests Against Outrageous Legal Aid Cuts’ Salford Star 31 July 2013. Available: http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=1896 Bowcott, O., 2015, ‘Barristers vote to join solicitors’ legal aid protest’, The Guardian 15 July 2015. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/jul/15/barristers-voteto-join-solicitors-legal-aid-protest People’s Assembly Against Austerity Website: http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/ Sisters Uncut Website: http://www.sistersuncut.org/ Occupy London Website: http://occupylondon.org.uk/

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Cameron, D. (2012) ‘European fiscal responses to the Great Recession’, in N. Bermeo and J. Pontusson (eds.), Coping with Crisis: Government Reactions to the Great Recession. (Russel Sage Foundation). Dean, J. and Maiguashca, B. (2017) ‘Corbyn’s Labour and the populism question’, Renewal, 25(3/4): 56–65. Flesher Fominaya, C. (2015) ‘Debunking spontaneity: Spain’s 15-M/Indignados as autonomous movement’, Social Movement Studies, 14(2): 142–163. Flesher Fominaya, C. (2017) ‘European anti-austerity and pro-democracy protests in the wake of the global financial crisis’, Social Movement Studies, 16(1): 1–20. Gerbaudo, P. (2017) The Mask and the Flag: Populism, Citizenism and Global Protest. (London: Hurst and Company). Gitlin, T. (2012) Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street. (New York: Harper Collins). Giugni, M. and Grasso, M. T. (eds.) (2015) Austerity and Protest: Popular contention in times of economic crisis. (London: Routledge). Griggs, S. and Howarth, D. (2013) The Politics of Airport Expansion in the United Kingdom: Hegemony, Policy and the Rhetoric of ‘Sustainable Aviation’. (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Hayes, G. (2017) ‘Regimes of austerity’, Social Movement Studies, 16(1): 21–35. HM Treasury (2010a) Budget 2010. (London: The Stationery Office). https://www.gov.uk/gov ernment/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/248096/0061.pdf (accessed 10 August 2018). HM Treasury (2010b) Spending Review 2010 presented to Parliament by the Chancellor of the Exchequer by Command of Her Majesty, October 2010. (London: The Stationery Office). http s://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/203826/Sp ending_review_2010.pdf (accessed 10 August 2018). Kiersey, N. (2014) ‘Occupy Dame Street as slow-motion general strike? Justifying optimism in the wake of Ireland’s failed multitudinal moment’, Global Discourse, 4(2–3): 141–158. Laclau, E. (2005) On Populist Reason. (London: Verso). Laclau, E. (2006) ‘Why Constructing a people is the main task of radical politics’, Critical Inquiry, 32(4), 646–680. Left Parties and Protest Movements (n.d.) ‘Political Protest in Britain, 1985–2016’, https:// leftpartiesprotestmovements.wordpress.com/britain_protest/ Malik, S. (2011) ‘Fortnum and Mason protesters convicted of aggravated trespass’, The Guardian, 17 November 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/nov/17/fortnum -mason-protesters-convicted-trespass (accessed 10 August 2018). Margulies, B. (2018) ‘Nativists are populists, not liberals’, Journal of Democracy, 29(1): 141–147. Miliband, E. (2012) ‘Ed Miliband’s speech to the TUC rally in Hyde Park’, speech made to the TUC rally in Hyde Park, 20 October 2012. https://labourlist.org/2012/10/ed-miliba nds-speech-to-the-tuc-rally-in-hyde-park/ (accessed 10 August 2018). Moffitt, B. (2016) The Global Rise of Populism: Performance, Political Style and Representation. (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Motta, S.C. (2011) ‘Populism’s Achilles’ heel: popular democracy beyond the liberal state and the market economy in Venezuela’, Latin American Perspectives, 38(1): 28–46. Mudde, C. (2004) ‘The Populist Zeitgeist’, Government and Opposition, 39(4): 541–563. Mudde, C. (2014) ‘Fighting the system? Populist radical right parties and party system change’, Party Politics, 20(2): 217–226. Mudde, C. (2018) ‘How can liberals defeat populism? Here are four ideas’, The Guardian13 February 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/13/liberals-pop ulism-world-forum-democracy-5-ideas

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Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017) Populism: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Muis, J. and Immerzeel, T. (2017) ‘Causes and consequences of the rise of populist radical right parties and movements in Europe’, Current Sociology, doi: doi:10.1177/ 0011392117717294 Müller, J.W. (2017) What is Populism? (London: Penguin). Obschonka, M., Stuetzer, M., Rentfrow, P. J., Lee, N., Potter, J. and Gosling, S. D. (2018) ‘Fear, populism, and the geopolitical landscape: the “sleeper effect” of neurotic personality traits on regional voting behavior in the 2016 Brexit and Trump elections’, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 9(3). Occupy London (2011) ‘Economics Statement’, https://occupylondon.org.uk/about/about-2/. Ochoa Espejo, P. (2017) ‘Populism and the People’, Theory and Event, 20(1): 92–99. Pontusson, J. and Raes, S. (2012) ‘How (and why) is this time different? The politics of economic crisis in Western Europe and the United States’, Annual Review of Political Science, 15: 13–33. Potter, G. (2017) The Philosophy of Social Science: New Perspectives, Second Edition. (London: Routledge). Roberts, K. M. (2015) ‘Populism, social movements, and popular sovereignty’, in D. Della Porta and M. Diani (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Movements. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Rooduijn, M. and Akkerman, T. (2017) ‘Flank attacks: Populism and left-right radicalism in Western Europe’, Party Politics, 23(3): 193–204. Roos, J. and Oikonomakis, L. (2014) ‘“They don’t represent us”: The global resonance of the real democracy movement from the Indignados to Occupy’, in D. Della Porta and A. Matoni (eds.), The Transnational Diffusion of Protest from the Indignados to Occupy Wall Street. (Colchester: ECPR Press), pp. 117–136. Saunders, C., Roth, S. and Olcese, C. (2015) ‘Anti-cuts protests in the UK: Are we really all in this together?’, in M. Giugni and M. T. Grasso (eds.), Austerity and Protest: Popular Contention in Times of Economic Crisis. (Farnham: Ashgate), pp. 171–190. Sayer, A. (1992) Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach. (2nd edition). (London: Routledge). Seymour, R. (2017) Corbyn: The Strange Re-birth of Radical Politics, Second Edition. (London: Verso). Shibata, S. (2016) ‘Resisting Japan’s neoliberal model of capitalism: Intensification and change in contemporary patterns of class struggle’, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 54: 496–521. Simiti, M. (2016) ‘Rage and protest: The case of the Greek Indignant movement’, Contention, 3(2): 33–50. Stavrakakis, Y. (2018) ‘Paradoxes of polarization: Democracy’s inherent division and the (anti) populist challenge’, American Behavioral Scientist, 62(1): 43–58. Stavrakakis, Y. and Katsambekis, G. (2014) ‘Left-wing populism in the European periphery: The case of SYRIZA’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 19(2): 119–142. Street, T. (2015), ‘UK Uncut: Direct action against austerity’, in N. Manning (ed.), Political (Dis)Engagement: The Changing Nature of the ‘Political’. (Bristol: Policy Press).

10 WEST EUROPEAN TRADE UNIONS, LABOUR AND ‘THE PEOPLE’ From the golden era to the times of austerity Gregoris Ioannou and Giorgos Charalambous

Introduction1 Trade unionism starts from the recognition of the inherent collectivism of the workplace and the labour process and attempts to build organisational structures and articulate a political voice in order to promote the interests of the collective labourer. Both historically and in contemporary times, trade unions found and find themselves in between different spheres having to follow different logics and be bound by different imperatives (Offe 1985). Hyman’s (2001) typology of European unionism illuminates the fundamentally different roles trade unions assume and the often contradictory rationales under which they operate. As economic actors they have to regulate the labour market, control the supply of labour and achieve material gains for the labourers. As class actors they have to lead the struggle politically and contest the system, while simultaneously as civil society organisations they have to assume the role of the stakeholder and pursue social dialogue and compromise with the representatives of capital and the state. Although in each country the different historical trajectories, political cultures and systems as well as the structure of the national economy and its positioning in the international context have an impact on the form and habitual practice of trade unions (Ioannou and Sonan 2017), it is possible to make cross-national generalisations according to different periods, especially in the case of a geo-politically cohesive region such as Western Europe. Trade unions are political organisations that are rooted in their national settings, yet at the same time their operation has simultaneously an international dimension and logic, responding to the globalities of capitalism and capital. More importantly as social actors they are also imbued in and interacting with the dominant norms and values prevailing in each era and area which affects the form, shape and depth of their power resources (Lehndorff, Dribbush and Thorsten 2017). Acknowledging but at the same time going beyond

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the varieties of trade unionism, the analysis here attempts to overview trade unionism as a historical phenomenon and as a form of political agency promoting not only narrowly defined sectional interests but more broadly expressing the interests of the ‘world of labour’ and constituting the main voice of the ‘popular classes’ (Hobsbawm 1999). This chapter examines the relationship of West European trade unionism with populism as this has developed in the post-war era in order to discuss the form of this relationship in contemporary times. It interrogates especially how the labour movement and the question of the labour-capital dichotomy has been rhetorically and substantively linked to the notion of ‘a people’ and an ‘elite’ in antagonism with each other. The focus will be on the political and communicative dimension of trade union activism bringing the organisational and labour relations aspects of trade union work into the analysis only when these are directly relevant. The chapter does not offer an exhaustive empirical account of trade unionism in a set of countries, operating instead at a general level of analysis and using examples from various countries and decades. It asks how West European trade unionism oriented itself within the national political systems and the means and forms of its appeal to the workers in the golden era of Keynesian capitalism. It then accounts for the decreasing scope for trade union action amidst the changing context brought about by the processes of European integration and the establishment of the neoliberal hegemony in the 1980s and 1990s. Finally, it discusses contemporary trade unionism, from the attempts of revitalisation at the turn of the century to the challenges it faces in the current austerity era, locating labour agency within broader social, progressive alliances. The central purpose of the chapter is to identify the influence or lack thereof of populist discourses, diachronically but especially in the last decade, on trade union rhetoric, politics and mobilisation. Thus the analysis focuses on how trade union leaderships conceptualised the existing power structures, their role in and against them and the goals and policy proposals they articulated, both when addressing their members and the wider society, and when addressing national and EU authorities. Although trade unionism across the political spectrum is examined, the focus is on left-leaning trade unions in line with this volume’s attempt to discuss the relationship between the radical left and populism, defined as a particular discursive modality. Trade unions are approached as political forces whose power ultimately lies in their capacity to mobilise masses of people. The ‘people’ has a rich legacy in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism: ‘the “people” are the revolutionary alliance of the oppressed (in contrast to the populist rendering of the people as an organic unity)’ (Dean 2016: 22). In this historical light, the chapter investigates the extent to which populist-like schemata and appeals are used by trade unions in their communicative strategy. Of special interest is whether and how the need of trade unions to build social alliances and constitute themselves as popular agents expressing the many against the few leads them, or has led them in the past, to embrace or develop populist or quasi-populist elements in their narratives.

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The rise, politicisation and splitting of trade unionism Trade unionism emerged in the second half of the 19th century as a response to the proletarianisation process that characterised the passage of society into modernity. At the political level it developed in parallel and connected with the various socialist initiatives of its time. At the organisational level, the more inclusive forms needed were propagated and instituted by the early decades of the 20th century. Industrial unionism, bringing together all the workers of each industry, both skilled and unskilled, was a superior structure, more progressive and just, and more effective at both the economic and the political fronts. Industrial organisation, however, was not able to fully solve the problems of narrow conceptions of economic interests, sectoral parochialism and inability to articulate a unified and systematic class viewpoint regarding socio-economic policy in general and labour issues in particular. Moreover the second international split of the labour movement after the Bolshevik revolution,2 and the appearance and strengthening of centrist and conservative trade unions (liberal, nationalist and/or Christian) in the interwar period segmented ideologically and politically the structure and practice of trade unionism as well. Already from the first decades of the 20th century, when trade unionism became a mass movement and a considerable social force, its politicisation was an inevitable development that could not be prevented even from those who were opposed to it as a matter of principle, such as the anarcho-syndicalists in southern Europe or the supporters of ‘bread and butter’ or business unionism, such as the American Federation of Labour (AFL) in the USA.3 Having to deal increasingly with the state and in the conditions of monopoly capitalism, trade unions had no option but to enhance the political dimension of their action. In the UK the Trade Union Congress established the Labour Party in the context of its enlarged scope of organisation and this was also prompted by a series of negative judicial decisions in the 1890s eroding the legal rights gained in the 1870s (Phillips 1989: 44). In France the political and the industrial wings of the labour movement remained in dispute with politicisation progressing at a slower pace and in conditions of disunity from the outset (Magraw1989: 74). Divisions also characterised the labour movement in Italy and Spain although in the latter case this did not prevent the significant growth of the trade union movement by the inter war years. The form and strength of the relations between organised labour and the socialist and social democratic (and later communist) parties were primarily a matter of national context, including the sequence of establishment between the two different types of workers’ organisations, the timing of entering and the duration of remaining in the corporate and electoral channels, the type of linkage (for example, dependency or inter-locking structures between the two organisations) and the mode of representation between party and union (Bartolini 2000: 262). The timing of civil liberties and the strength of socialist links with labour unions were apparently decisive factors in the orientation to be adopted by national labour movements: reformism or revolutionary attitudes (Marks, Mbaye and Kim 2009).

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Trade union building, labour organising and strike activity, as well as the rituals, conventions and narratives of workers in large factories and production sites steadily inculcated a common identity among labourers and trade unionists, as encapsulated by the collective struggle of an oppressed social class (or in the case of the more reformist unions, a professional group) with common interests, experiences and demands. Trade unions were never simply labour organisations and by extension political actors in so far as they also engaged in cultural activities, which endorsed a way of life and social interaction distinctly more communitarian than liberal individualism. This entailed celebrating collective agency, incorporating solidarity into everyday life and operating their own popular education initiatives; these ranged from commemorations of critical junctures in labour struggles, victories as well as bloodshed, to pro-immigrant solidarity activities, to the reproduction of symbolic resources in the efforts for mobilisation, to the publication of deliberations inside the union, to the establishment of theatre groups. The role of trade unions in popular education, conceived in broad terms, cannot be overemphasised, especially since it signifies the construction of ‘a people’ in material terms. Beyond the training of trade union cadres and the more specific rights and benefits lectures addressed to their rank and file, trade unions in the inter-war period were heavily involved in popular education, viewing this as an integral part of their function. The rising of the educational level, not only of their members but also of the broader community was seen as strengthening the trade unions’ mobilising capacity and their role as championing the general uplifting of the masses, a process with an irreducible cultural component as well. This continued in the changed circumstances of the first decades of the post-Second World War era with trade unions also embarking on or supporting print publications, which gradually also concerned their own history. It is important to state that popular education was also instrumental in the construction of a social class as well as an organisational identity, and there were times when popular education was a field where these could also compete between each other (Jansson 2013). The prelude to and the context of the Second World War and the needs of the anti-fascist struggle induced many left-wing trade unions to follow the left-wing parties with which they were connected into issuing more generalised appeals to ‘the people’. This was the period of the popular fronts and trade union invocations to the people and even the nation (Escalona, see Chapter 3, this volume) were seen as part of the broader political struggle. Trade unions in the UK supported actively the national war effort while trade unions in German-occupied countries supported the resistance movements blending the anti-fascist struggle with the discourse of national liberation. The onset of the cold war in the late 1940s opened further the rift between the communist trade unions and the social-democratic and other centrist and rightwing trade unions resulting in the establishment and consolidation of two global camps: the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). In some cases, the battles were waged within trade unions, in others, within national federations. But the

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politicisation and the split along the ideological demarcation lines of division imposed by the cold war were irreversible processes by the 1950s. Although there was a disagreement already in the founding congress of WFTU in 1945 about whether the WFTU should promote the right to self determination of the people in the colonies, the concept of ‘the people’ or the ‘national independence of colonial countries’ was not the issue that was fought over. The founding congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in 1949 after the split, maintained the reference to the ‘working people’ in the same way as WFTU denoting the social majority whose interests trade unionism served by definition.

Trade unions as social partners and people’s representatives in the welfare era Trade unions operate within industrial relations systems and they often have a significant role in the production and reproduction of those systems (Vössing 2011). Industrial relations systems may vary both in terms of their rationale of operation and in terms of the means that are employed in order to achieve the generally accepted outcomes – economic prosperity and social peace. Although typologies and classifications are always difficult and often inadequate as elements from one category inter-penetrate the other, some parameters as far as the procedures and practices of labour macro management are concerned, render possible and suitable the distinction between three different systems with respect to the degree and form of involvement by national law and state practice in the labour affairs. These industrial relations systems were shaped in the first half of the 20th century and were consolidated after the Second World War. Trade union power was at its peak in Western Europe at that time and this fact, along with the increasing pressure from the existence of the USSR as a super power with a global ideological reach in the form of the international communist movement, played a role in the expansion of the welfare state in the West (Hobsbawm 1996). Thus, it can be said that the different forms of regulation of the labour field instituted were all fundamentally based on the prevailing balance of social power taking account of the historical and cultural specificities of the national contexts. On the one hand, is the voluntarist system whereby labour relations are regulated by ‘free collective bargaining’ with the state restricting itself to a supporting and mediating role, offering the institutional framework and political facilitation but abstaining from acts of legislative intervention and political arbitration except in extreme cases. This system is the traditional British model, between market and class in Hyman’s (2001) terms or collective laissez faire in Howell’s (2005) terms, and is based on strong trade unions that are able to both organise the workforce and represent its economic interests vis-à-vis capital, achieving both recognition and a place at the negotiating table through their de facto power. Voluntarism is based on the idea of the balance of forces between labour and capital that make the self restraint and the mutual understanding amongst employers’ organisations and

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trade unions possible, desirable and achievable. Whether at national or regional, sectoral or local workplace level, the voluntarist system has collective bargaining and collective agreement as its fundamental characteristic, primary regulatory mechanism as well as a dominant ideological framework which can accommodate both conflict and consent. The French system on the other hand, in opposition to the traditional British system of voluntarism, has state intervention and legislation as the primary regulatory means and inevitably is more prone to the politicisation of industrial conflict. The forces of organised labour and the Left in France have no hesitation to use the law as an instrument of struggle in order to secure rights and benefits and ensure the enforcement of collective agreements (Goetschy and Jobert 2004: 186). The state thus becomes an active agent in labour affairs, beyond the mere provision of a legal-institutional framework, in two ways – both as a site of political struggle about, and as an agent of policy in, the shaping of national industrial relations. The German model of the welfarist ‘social market’ philosophy (Hyman 2001) and the ‘co-determination’ procedures of industrial democracy or workers’ participation in management (Keller 2004) lies in between the voluntarist and the statist systems of industrial relations. This is because it both recognises the autonomy of the labour market and the labour process, while simultaneously it integrates their regulation within the state form. The concept of social partnership which is dominant today in EU labour relations discourse is of German origin (Hyman 2001: 47) while the contemporary European tendency towards the juridification of labour affairs has also been historically a fundamental attribute of the German industrial relations system. Despite the divergences in the three industrial relations systems as well as other differences with respect to the political history and the structure of the economy in different West European countries, in the golden decades of welfare capitalism the trade unions played their role in the rising living standards of the West European working classes. Whether through negotiations with the employers or political lobbying of parties and parliaments, through supporting and opposing governments, through threats and conduct of strikes and protests, political deals and institutional and legal means, trade unions were able to consolidate themselves as the representatives of the working population and of the people more generally. Trade union growth was not particularly spectacular in the 1960s and 1970s when set comparatively with the inter war period or the first decade after the end of the Second World War but this was the period where they reaped the fruits of their previously gained organisational power, political positioning and social legitimisation. Trade unions were effectively integrated in corporatist and neo-corporatist arrangements in most West European states and like social democratic and communist parties were effectively part of the ‘national consensus’, in a time of relative prosperity (Berger 1995: 253). In such a context of largely consensual practices, trade unions became sort of ‘part of the system’ and rhetoric about defending the ‘national economy’ and the ‘national interests’ became to an increasing extent more than tactical rhetorical references. This quasi inter class

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alliance promoting conceptions of intersecting business and labour interests was the precursor of the ‘national competitiveness discourse’ that followed later in the neoliberal era. At the same time, it is important to stress that these early trade union allusions to, or passive acceptance of, the ‘national interest’ were rooted in a context of relative prosperity and rising living standard. However, although trade unions were able to claim that they led the working class, facilitating its entry into the world of mass consumption, a series of historical transformations, sociological, economic as well as cultural were under way, which were both changing the structure of the labour process and eroding the class identity of the labouring population and the foundations of trade unionism as traditionally understood. The relative decline of industry and the rise of tertiary sectors, the shrinking of manual work and the expansion of white collar and administrative work and the technological improvements led to a broader scale shift in capitalism which were already producing political consequences by the 1970s (Hobsbawm 1999). As trade unions became more bureaucratised, more integrated in their respective national political systems and more oriented to national bargaining processes and political lobbying, the form of their mobilisation tactics changed. Strikes were increasingly seen not as struggles emanating from specific workplace or sectoral grievances but as tools demonstrating trade union power to be utilised for bargaining purposes at central level and to re-affirm trade union organisational identity and the key role of trade union leadership in it. These bureaucratic mass strikes were typically of one or two days duration, were called well in advance and had the twin goal of applying pressure to governments and to flex the muscle of trade union apparatuses and their mobilising capacity. Through these quasi-ritualistic practices of re-affirming collective identity and the community of interests, trade union leaders and other labour personas were able to put themselves at the central stage.

The rise of the EU, the collapse of the USSR and the shadow of the neoliberal universe on the labour field and trade unionism At the level of the political system, the establishment of the European Economic Community, its consolidation and expansion in the 1970s and its development into the European Union, the downturn of the USSR and its collapse and the steady ascendancy of neoliberalism as an ideology as well as a dominant policy framework by the early 1990s created a new universe based on altered political dynamics in the labour field. Responsible trade unionism, moderation and the politics of social partnership proved in this context inadequate means to arrest the gradual process of deregulation of the labour market, the increasing fragmentation of the labour force and the return of high unemployment and the rise of informal employment and precariousness. Trade unions found themselves increasingly unable to influence policy at both the national and the EU levels in the last decades of the 20th century, and stood at the 21st century probably weaker than ever before judging, for example, in terms of their basic collective bargaining function (Waddington, Muller and Vandaele 2019).

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The historical connection of trade unions and social democratic as well as centre-right parties was weakened in many countries while the power of trade unions has also declined in the post-1990s neoliberal era (Heyes, Lewis and Clark 2012). Although many trade unions are still oriented towards political parties and political worldviews, sometimes also maintaining crystallised structural connections even amidst diversions in terms of policy (Allern, Aylott and Christiansen 2007), the party-union nexus of the earlier era has been eroded. In the new, more difficult conditions imposed by enhanced capital mobility, global mobility and deregulated labour markets, trade unions were forced to fracture the institutional linkage with political parties and turn to civil society in an attempt to overcome their crisis (Upchurch, Taylor and Mathers 2009). Nevertheless, this was often a complex process in which the degree to which parties, unions and states adopted neoliberal policies varied while the historical tradition or path dependency remained a significant parameter (Taylor, Mathers and Upchurch 2011). The decline of trade union density and collective bargaining coverage and more generally trade union influence was uneven and more enhanced in ‘liberal market’ countries and less enhanced in ‘social democratic’ countries. This stresses the importance of the continued role of national politics as opposed to explanations that view globalisation or technological change as the motor and the pace setter of the broader process (Schmitt and Mitukiewicz 2012). The decline of trade union density was accompanied with the rise of earnings inequality both because of changed power balances in the labour market but also because of the declining inclination of the state to engage in ‘compensatory redistribution’ (Pontusson 2013). The rise of flexible working arrangements and precarious employment and the segmentation of the labour force into a primarily unionised, relatively better off core and a primarily non-unionised and relatively precarious periphery undermined trade unionism as a universalist, collectivist and solidarity supporting movement in its ideology as well. Trade unions became more focused on their members rather than the working population as a whole, closing their ranks and becoming less supportive of wage solidarity and redistributive government policies (Pontusson 2013). At the same time, the quasi formalisation of trade unionism, however, was not able to neutralise trade unions as key agents in the regulation of the labour market. The undermining of trade unionism in the UK was a slow process, partial and contested lasting several decades. The marginalisation and containment of trade unions, the silencing of trade union voice and the erosion of trade union legitimacy were strategies used by employers to different extents and in various contexts. In addition, the decline of trade unionism needs to be seen in relation to broader social structural processes such as the development of new expert knowledge and the rise of new actors and boundaries (MacKenzie and Martínez Lucio 2014). As the process of European integration gained impetus and high hopes in the 1970s, and as this process was conducted by pro-business forces and serving probusiness interests, European trade unions attempted to overcome geographical and political divisions and establish an EU wide body with the hope of allowing the

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world of labour to participate in European integration and European trade unions to be able to influence and shape the process. The establishment of the ETUC in 1973 and its organisational and ideological consolidation on a more or less social democratic political position, although marking a promising start in re-affirming trade union priorities, such as full employment policies, equal rights and economic democracy, decent working conditions and support for the welfare state (Degryse and Tilly 2013), was soon proved too weak to effectively push through these demands. Despite the boost given to the ETUC by Delors, elevating it to a social partner and allowing it to resolve its resource problems and promoting the vision of a Social Europe with the Charter of Rights for European workers (Mitchell 2014), ETUC was unable to challenge the neoliberal wave of the 1980s which became the absolute norm by the 1990s.

Communicating from a position of weakness: trade union rhetoric and appeal to workers Although the general trend has been for trade unions to focus more on their members rather than the workforce as a whole and become akin to a sort of service provider for them in the context of a managerial conception of unionism (Heery and Kelly 1994), this has not arrested the decline of their influence. More importantly by the turn of the 20th century it was made evident that trade unionism needed to be revitalised and this inevitably would require a more outward approach and the rediscovery of a more universal language and more generalised demands. The decline of trade union density, the consolidation of a precarious labour force outside regulated employment and the more generalised decline of employment terms and conditions, and consequently living standards for the majority, undermined even their defensive position and prioritisation of their relatively more protected members. In the conditions of increasing weakness to effect change through workplace and labour market intervention due to the deteriorating institutional environment for union representation and collective bargaining (Pulignano, Meardi and Doerflinger 2015), searching for other means of action becomes in any case somewhat inevitable. New recruitment campaigns were attempted by some trade unions while the dual labour market was recognised as an absolutely negative development. Some trade unions attempted to approach precarious workers, others became more open to possibilities of collaboration with citizen initiatives, consumer groups and social movements and more generally by the 21st century a new orthodoxy was consolidated, at least theoretically, that trade unions needed to pay more attention to the political, international and social developments and not restrict themselves to the narrow confines of the workplaces in which they had sufficient members (Hyman 2015). The increase of protest activity in the context of the Global Justice Movement was seen by many trade unionists as offering opportunities for revitalisation. In France, the context of extensive social protest at the turn of the 20th century was beneficial for revitalisation attempts (Le Queux and Sainsaulieu 2010).

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The tradition of more politicised trade unionism in France and the more frequent historical use of mobilisation of people and not only trade union members for promoting worker interests was utilised in this. Similarly, in Spain collectivism remained strong despite the fact that labour market restructuring was analogous to the general trend outlined above. Trade union membership was recomposed and even increased in the more recent decades (Köhler and Calleja Jiménez 2012). Trade unions remained present in the workplaces and this enhanced collectivism building incentives for action in inclusive systems of industrial relations and marginalising individualistic orientations and instrumental motives (Jódar, Vidal and Alós 2011). Even the ETUC toyed with the idea of popular mobilisations as a means of both exerting pressure and revitalising itself in the 21st century (Degryse and Tilly 2013). The crisis has induced West European trade unions and the ETUC to generalise further their demands and conceive of the stakes in more political terms. Although mobilisations did increase in the crisis years, there was nothing akin to a rupture either in terms of ideological orientation, organisational practice or political strategy. Historically the notion of ‘crisis’ has been approached by trade unions in somewhat conservative terms, more as a time when extra care was needed to avoid damage and sustain strength, rather than as an opportunity to experiment with policy change and a more offensive pursuance of grievances. At the same time at the rhetorical level, trade unions do tend to speak louder, more often and in more stark terms while describing the plight of workers and putting forward demands in times of crisis. ETUC in its 13th Congress in 2015, taking account of the crisis experience, did insert in its 2015–2019 action programme demands such as ‘fundamental rights’, ‘core of ambitious social standards’, and even a ‘European Central Bank for the people’ (ETUC 2015). In a way, trade unions in Western Europe begun to feel increasingly compelled to extend their appeals to broader sections of the population in the 21st century and thus rediscover the discourse of fairness that characterised their formative period a century ago (Phillips 1989: 40). The fact of the steady deterioration of employment conditions and erosion of living standards for the majority of European populations in the last decades has also resulted in bringing about old dualisms – the attempt to lobby the authorities with moderation in order to restrict neo-liberal union busting logics and social dumping that threatened them and their members directly, and at the same time to present themselves as champions of the weaker strata of society that could both allow them grow organisationally and enhance their image at the level of public opinion. Trade union revitalisation involves both the logic of accommodation and the logic of transformation (Serrano 2014), as on the one hand trade unions need to adapt to the new political environment and learn to operate efficiently in it and at the same time embark upon substantial organisational restructuring in order to extend their social base and intensify the involvement of their rank and file. The neoliberal hegemony of the 1980s and 1990s has clearly damaged the image of trade unions, associating them with ‘rigidity’ in a dynamic era, for being ‘old

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fashioned’ in a changing economic environment and for being an ‘obstacle’ to growth and economic development. As individualism, consumerism and depoliticisation prevailed trade unions were increasingly seen as a remnant of the past, irrelevant to current realities and too weak to really matter. Yet although this conception undoubtedly gained ground, spreading defeatism and defensiveness within trade union ranks as well, it might have actually been too exaggerated. Although trade unions are much weaker in the neoliberal era when compared with the Keynesian times, they still have considerable power in some sectors, still have some mobilisation power as manifested in various instances of large-scale mobilisation during the austerity era and are not as discredited in the eyes of the people as the neoliberal narrative would have us believe. Overall the public opinion concerning trade unions has been found to be positive (Turner and D’Art 2012), more positive than say political parties (Namuth 2013). However it should also be noted that the ‘class war’ language and the rhetorical references to the ‘working class’ have gradually given space to more general references of the people and the popular strata as well as more specific ones about the low-income workers, the vulnerable groups and the precariously employed. At the structural level of international politics there have emerged international human rights standards, which have been applied in several countries as a key labour issue in the design or reform of trading regimes and corporate social responsibility schemes (Compa 2008). Concurrently, workers’ rights have been more frequently framed as human rights while the legal and constitutional status of trade unionism has been emphasised in the last decades as the neoliberal attacks have been systematic and merciless. As conditions in the labour market deteriorated and many employers adopted a hostile stance to labour rights and trade unions, injecting a liberal and a populist flavour to a primarily workerist and socialist discourse was at the same time a practically defensive and an ideologically offensive stance. As capitalism became, in various ways and various areas and sectors, an overtly aggressive force, increasingly based on strategies of accumulation by dispossession, the issue was seen to be beyond class exploitation in general. Social dumping using migrant labour as an instrument, super-exploitation and even situations bordering slave labour induced trade unions to talk about decent work and fair employment as a human right. And as trade unions’ weakness to adequately protect the workforce led them to resort more frequently to the state than before, in turn this generated the increasing use of citizenship discourse as well. In the UK, TUC’s 2018 campaign (see Figure 10.1), for example, talks about trade unionism as the ‘greatest social justice force’, demands an economy ‘for the many and not the few’ and the freeing of society from ‘sexism, racism and discrimination’, coining this as a new deal for the working people.

Trade unions in the austerity era: populist-like but not populist? During the post-2008 crisis in Europe, new forms of trade unionism and new modes in labour mobilisation can and have been observed at the local and national

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TUC poster in the UK, May 2018

level. These include the organisations of newly unionised groups, such as precarious workers, stronger linkages with social movements and somewhat more independence from (and even conflict with) political affiliates, especially when these participate in government coalitions legislating austerity (Charalambous and Ioannou 2017). During the past two decades or so, a minority trend of ‘radical political unionism’ has manifested itself either within the ranks of social democratic parties, or through splinters from the large, mainstream trade unions or through autonomous establishment and organisation. Beyond its engagement in social movement activity, it re-establishes an emphasis on class struggle and adopts politicised strategies aligned to new left-wing formations that present themselves as outsiders from establishment politics (Upchurch and Mathers 2011; Upchurch, Taylor and Mathers 2009; Hyman and Gumbrell-McCormick 2010). Even the most traditional communist party controlled trade union, PAME, resorted to novel communicative, almost spectacular symbolic acts in the last years such as the one shown in Figure 10.2 in 2010 and which has been repeated thereafter. Many of these labour practices and developments carried over in a more extensive and concrete form from the Global Justice Movement (GJM) during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Both then and since 2008, the strategic responses of labour

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PAME banner in Greece

signal a conscious attempt at (re)embodying a fuller political subject, operating in multiple arenas of struggle; this is more so where oppositional traditions prevail as in Italy and Spain, outside the national context of business unionism. Therefore, as concerns the invocation of ‘people’ in European trade unionism or a crowd considerably wider than the workers, the view and pursuit of social alliances has expanded and so have the expressions of solidarity with non-labour-centred interests and participatory support in wider (general or single-issue) political causes: peace and military intervention, gender equality, direct democracy, refugees and immigrants, public water, constitutional reform, environmental damage, the victims of house eviction and anti-fascism. At the same time, the internet and the inherent multiplicity and dispersion of mass digital politics (see Gerbaudo 2012: 29–33) has changed the medium of possibilities of engagement between different sections of the labour movement and between the labour movement and other social and political spaces. Using and utilising social media within the trade union field translates (or can translate) into leaders becoming more aware of criticism from below; the accumulation of public argument, polemic and knowledge previously unfamiliar in union publications; keeping in touch with flexible hours personnel and connecting spatially and temporally fragmented workers, occupational segments and industrial sectors; building cross‐border worker solidarity and often leading to transnational or international events; and countering more effectively management efforts against strikes. Switching from, or balancing, the goal of interest representation within liberal capitalist institutions with the goal of protest and engagement with other subaltern and alternative networks within society at large, has inevitably had implications both for the public and activist views of trade unions and their operating sense. As Della Porta (2006: 75) elaborates: when mobilising as part of a wider movement, unions act according to a different logic than that prevailing in neocorporatist agreements: they protest more than act in concert, they build horizontal networks with other movements instead of developing hierarchical organizations,

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and they construct encompassing collective identities instead of focusing on the defence of economic interests. These traits of labour mobilisation and resistance have often been seen as necessary by trade union leaders to confront the crisis of legitimacy, and the resulting antiunion organisational spirit of the anarchist core within anti-capitalist activism, that neoliberalism, gradually but especially after 2008 and particularly in the countries under Memorandum agreements of austerity, bestowed upon the traditional, organised labour movement. Although the emergence of some new trade unions and labour initiatives cannot be said to constitute a resurgence of anarcho-syndicalism, existing mass trade unions do feel some pressure from below as well as finding themselves unable to directly or even indirectly represent the interests of an excluded, precarious and primarily young section of the working population. Despite the recent trade union efforts to organise precarious workers, the overwhelming majority of this group remains indifferent and distant, if not suspicious, from established trade unions and oscillates between acquiescence to the status quo and outbursts of radical reactions that sometimes take horizontal organisational forms as well (Ioannou 2016). In the latest anti-austerity protests in several European countries, trade unions used some catch phrases, slogans and sometimes even notions associated with populism rhetoric but trade union language and discourse cannot be characterised as populist as these quasi-populist were neither central nor were used systematically. The crisis notion for example, although used in an expansive sense to denote more than the finance dimension, was neither the dominant frame nor was it seen as something necessitating an overhaul of the political system. For TUC in the UK the crisis denotes primarily economic deterioration and social regression that can be arrested with a changed policy agenda of ‘great jobs’, protection of and further investment in public services and collective bargaining. The TUC General Council’s statement on Brexit (TUC 2018) has a series of references to the dangers ahead for the working people and uses phrases such as ‘blight of people’s lives’, ‘rapacious multinational companies’ and ‘a national recovery plan’. Yet the political substance of the text does not deviate from the traditional left trade union discourse, socialist in spirit and non-populist in form. Similarly, the CGT which led big protests in France in 2017 and 2018 against Macron’s government’s labour reform plans voiced analogous ‘traditional labourist’ notions of progressiveness, resistance, defending social conquests etc. And governing politicians, whether the Tories or Macron were accused of siding with big companies and opposed for that matter, rather than seen as adversaries or enemies per se. Even in countries heavily stricken by the economic crisis and its painful political management such as Greece and Cyprus, trade unions refrained from immersing themselves in populism or even developing a populist narrative, preferring instead to refer to more classic ‘workers and welfare’ themes both in their mobilisations and in their rhetoric in general. Despite the prevailing populist political climate, much more intensive in Greece which underwent a major restructuring of its

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political system, trade unions attacked policies rather than politicians, capitalists and employers rather than the non-defined elite and institutions rather than a vague establishment. In Portugal, at the peak of the anti-Troika mobilisations and the general strike in 2012 the left-wing trade union Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses (CGTP) kept its call strategically open, addressed society in general using the ‘people’ as a central concept and was thus able to encounter-inprotest both local social movements and a transnational ETUC initiative (Dias and Fernandes 2016). Yet the political substance remained class based and solidaritycentred, national but not nationalist, against the politics of austerity and not against politics in general. The same trends continued in the years that followed the peak of the crisis in Southern Europe. In Spain in the press releases of the Confederal Committee of the General Union of Workers (UGT) the themes which appear most is employment quality as an axis of economic policy, anti-precarity and anti-poverty while the 4th Confederal Committee of UGT called for increased mobilisations to press for ‘a new social contract’ placing at the centre the majority (UGT 2018). Similarly, in Italy the Italian Confederation of Trade Unions sub-titled its 2017 Congress programme, ‘For the person, for work’ (CISL 2017) and introduced itself as ‘the syndicate of the 21st Century for an inclusive society’; these are interesting lexicological blends, which allude both to the universal commonalities and rights of ‘persons’ (la persona) and the central significance of labourers. If one is to look further into the topics of the congress or the policies of the union, the central themes do not concern ‘a common people’ but rather the policy concerns and social problems of ‘workers’ and ‘work’ and the latter’s role in the socio-economic system. In terms of addressing their members and society, populist-like schemas and features of a political language which aim at a broad popular appeal have been both historically present in trade union mobilisation and associated with the contemporary social and economic developments of neoliberalism in crisis. Yet, the operating logic of trade unionism is labour-centric and not populist, thus its discourse and its programmatic formulations diachronically retain a class-based, labour-centred, policy-specific and sectional vocabulary.

Conclusion Although trade unionism shares at the surface level features that characterise the political form of populism, that is a strong leadership and a hierarchical organisation, a dichotomous worldview starting from the capital–labour antagonism in capitalism and identifying a number of elites as the enemy or the opponent of the working people, it is difficult to sustain a connection of trade unionism with populism when analysis deepens. Trade unions have not been traditionally affiliated with populist parties in Western Europe. Neither diachronically nor in contemporary times can we see any substantial and sustained use of populist rhetoric by trade unions as a mobilisation instrument. Whereas references to the people have been frequent and whereas the notion of crisis is often used as a basis upon which

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to criticise existing elite policy and articulate demands, the linkage of trade unionism with the populist lexicon, beyond the selective importing of a few schemata, remains weak. The expansion and consolidation of the trade unions as mass organisations in the post-Second World War era and their increasing orientation towards politics at the central level did accustom them to think in broader terms and appeal to a much wider segment of society beyond their membership. In the subsequent neoliberal and more recent austerity era in which trade unions are substantially weaker in terms of density and workplace influence, the opening up to broader social struggles transcending occupational and sectoral identities and often going beyond employment, income and class questions, was both strategic and a product of necessity. This included rhetorical references to workers’ rights as ‘citizen rights’ and as ‘human rights’, portraying, that is, the ‘worker’ as part of more general and universal categories and framing worker and trade union struggles in broader dominant discourses. However, internalising some elements of populist language in this process is not tantamount to populism as defined and approached in the context of this volume. For West European trade unions both in the golden era and in the austerity times, labourism is the central axis of ideology and politics, and the people are and have always been the working people, employed as well as unemployed, defined in terms of their place not against an establishment in general but within the capitalist and neoliberal system in specific. At the same time, trade union enemies have never been simplistically defined, as a homogeneous elite or establishment, but in line with social democratic and communist parties have been identified as specific capitalist interests, seen in various ways and with different emphases but in a unitary essence as the drivers of political and economic ills. With capitalism and then neoliberalism spurning a political crisis and a crisis of representation more specifically on several occasions, anti-establishment attitudes have gained ground in the labour movement. The enemy is not only the factory owner, the capitalist, the financial shark, the speculator investor, or the bosses, but also the political classes which permit neoliberalism to continue unrestrained by sensitivities towards social equality. This conviction of the ties and dynamics between economic and political elites constitutes a strain of sociological analysis with Marxist roots, as does the acknowledgement of intra-capitalist and intra-imperialist contradictions. Historically, therefore, the labourist tradition has been inherently more sceptical towards lumping different types of economic and political interests together under the too generalising frame of ‘establishment politics’. Nevertheless, the targeting of ‘oligarchies’, ‘multi-nationals’, ‘monopoly capital’, ‘financial sharks’ and so on, has been present in broader 21st century movements such as the Global Justice Movement in which trade unions participated and is especially evident today in the age of anti-politics. Importantly, the identification of a network of oppressive forces has also been a historical schema in the labour movement since the 1930s and the experience of the Popular Front, which also generated much people-centrism (see also Escalona, Chapter 3, this volume). But again, at least as far as left-wing and centre-left trade unions are

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concerned, political disaffection and political distrust during the post-2008 period has not developed or has not been allowed to degenerate into slogans that ignore the class structure, the division of labour and the institutional order. Although the agency of labour has evolved against the background of structural change in the global economy and the dynamics of capitalism, its discourse has at no point until today suggested a strong populist inclination. Trade unions’ casting of a ‘people’ and counter-posing it to an ‘establishment’ can be said to be qualified populism at most, akin a ‘temptation’ as Balampanidis (Chapter 4, this volume) puts it for Eurocommunism, rather than a full fledge shift whether conscious or accidental, diachronic or synchronic. On the one hand, some recent changes in union discourse, towards talk and use of human rights frameworks, for example, or more inclusive participatory and decision-making practices, have to be explicitly noted. Additionally, ‘people-centrism’ has been a key trend in socialist language across time and space. On the other hand, however, this type of discourse is more a communicational and strategic mode of operation compared to more traditional ideas and terms of worker and employment rights, negotiations with the state and capital, and the policy and legal aspects of labourism which reflect trade unions’ functions as economic, class and civil society organisations.

Notes 1 We are grateful to Torsten Muller and John Kelly for their comments on an earlier version of this chapter. 2 The first political split of the labour movement was that between social-democrats and anarcho-syndicalists in the 1870s while the second one was between socialists and communists in the 1920s. 3 Bread and butter or business unionism refers to the AFL’s conservative aversion to posing more general demands beyond the narrowly defined direct economic interests of its members and to conceive of its mission and action in political terms and as a comprehensive working-class force.

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11 POPULISM AS ‘DECEPTIVE INVOCATIONS OF THE POPULAR’ A political approach Seraphim Seferiades

Prolegomena: values, concepts, empirical research ‘Concepts’, wrote Cambridge physicist Sir George Thomson (1892–1975), ‘are ideas which receive names. They determine the questions one asks, and the answers one gets’.1 It is always interesting, then, to pose the pertinent question squarely: When, nowadays increasingly, we utter terms such as ‘populism’, ‘democracy’ and the ‘radical left’, what is it exactly that we have in mind? What sorts of ‘ideas’ do these concepts implement, and how do they purport doing it? To frame my discussion by so enquiring may appear pretentious and convoluted; yet, in view of our contemporary conceptual and cognitive predicament, it turns out to be a necessary first step: on récule pour mieux sauter. On the other hand, there are also obvious benefits. Besides setting the grounds for as comprehensive as possible an appraisal of the approaches inundating the literature (by addressing the entire range of the issues arising – from ideational notion all the way to empirical finding), attempting to assess current debates from this angle also sensitises us to the nature of – and linkages between – Wert and Zweckrationalität, the Weberian normative and instrumental rationality in the practice of social science. Let me briefly clarify in what ways. Whether we realise it or not, when we engage in concept-building, we implement notions of reality that we hold: mental images of the entities, events or phenomena we deem noteworthy. And this is precisely where normative convictions, ideological beliefs and value systems enter the picture – as the factors determining which are the ‘realities’ to be perceived, observed and analysed, and for what purpose. But the relationship between the two (concept-informing norms and concept-prescribed observables) is bi-directional. If values determine the empirical reality a concept delimits as significant, it is also possible to work our way backwards: from the guided observables to the guiding values. The point, of course, is

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not to judge these values – the way our disciplines have developed is a far cry from the vision of a phronetic social science (as Aristotle would prefer), one that would have organically incorporated systematic evaluation of different value claims (Flyvbjerg 2001). Wertfreiheit, value-neutrality (‘freedom from values’) is ‒ correctly ‒ considered to be amongst the defining properties of science. We are entitled, however, to enquire, first, about the values or normative goals that inform a concept and, second, whether these are served by a given conceptualisation. We seldom think of it along those lines, but the latter is precisely the meaning of the Weberian Wertrationalität: rationality in accordance with ‒ often concealed or unconscious – moral imperatives, or value rationality. To illustrate with a simple example, to come up with the concept ‘bridge’ indicates conceiving the need to cross over a river (value) which, in turn, can be judged as a conceptualisation perfectly rational in terms of this intended goal (value rationality). But this is not all. For, as we pass from the ideational realm to that of empirical reality (from the pure declaration of a meaning to the challenges of denotative adequacy), the concept – in our example ‘bridge’ – would have to include mention of all those elements/properties that are required for the concept to perform successfully in the real world: things such the appropriate materials and construction procedures, safety guidelines, perhaps even the bridge’s suitable location. Assessing whether this is the case is the domain of Zweckrationalität, of practical or technical rationality. This requirement of practical efficacy remains – mutatits mutandis – if, instead of ‘bridge’, the concept in question is ‘populism’, or ‘democracy’ or the ‘radical left’. Aspiring to capture complex realities, such concepts must be connotatively unequivocal, and denotatively adequate so that they can be conducive to sound research. The argument visualised in Figure 11.1 indicates the two – plus one – controls or assessments we need to be applying not just for ‘populism’, ‘democracy’ and the ‘radical left’, but – I would suggest – for all concepts: (a) Wertrationalität (the normative assessment), that is, Does the concept adequately implement the notion(s) from which it emanates? (b) Zweckrationalität (the practical or technical assessment), that is, Does the concept help us produce sound research – capable of discerning distinct phenomena en route to cognitively cumulative and analytically significant results? The dotted line at the bottom (Rationalität: assessment of Phronetic Potential), finally, indicates (c) the – hitherto unrealised (hence the line is dotted) – vision of a phronetic social science, the assessment question being Is the cognitive result of our research sufficiently robust to help us revisit and/or re-assess the values from which we start off? There is no denying, of course, that attempting to address the normative underpinnings of extant conceptualisations is both risky and – bound to be – controversial. After all, it is something we seldom do (or know how to do) in contemporary social science, the result being multiplication of patently normative conceptualisations falsely pretending Wertfreiheit qualities they clearly lack. All the same (and perhaps precisely for this reason), I think it is important and cognitively fruitful to endeavour it, especially for the politically charged concepts this volume examines.

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Values, concepts, research (and phronetic social science)

Despite authors’ – sometimes strenuous – efforts to conceal their normative starting points (see, e.g., Aslanidis 2015), ‘populism’ (like most critical concepts in the social sciences) is by its very nature couched in value-laden motives and norms. There is nothing peculiar or problematic about that provided, however, we become conscious of the phenomenon and the ways it operates. Though perpetual abstention from discussing the issue makes it – appear – difficult to address, one must not forget that, although science clearly requires value impartiality, it does not require – nor could it ever accomplish – value cancellation (Sartori 1974: 152). Bearing in mind the nature of the controls that need to be applied (the normative and the practical), this chapter sets out to map existing conceptualisations of ‘populism’ (and, passim, also of ‘democracy’ and the ‘radical left’). I will suggest that, contrary to what is often assumed to be the case, there exist two normative motives behind extant conceptualisations (one explicitly welcoming ‘populism’ as a ‘democratic corrective’ with a transformative potential, and one which abhors it as a threat to pluralism and democracy), and two major conceptualisations, one seeing it as moralising pitting of an innocuous people against a sinister elite, and another approaching it as a sinister plot by personalist leaders against a largely unorganised social base for the purpose of capturing and exercising power. But the underlying normative motives and the conceptual implications cross-cut: authors who think of populism as a potential blessing share the same conceptualisation with their normative adversaries, and the obverse: scholars who agree in thinking of it as a threat have fundamental disagreements in terms of the overarching concept. Performing the normative control as described above, I find all varieties, save one, to be quite effective. Although this may appear ironic, I claim that, despite their starting off from – and seeking to implement – different normative-cognitive goals, populism as a discourse pitting a unified people against an equally unified elite turns out to serve both those conceiving it as a promise as well as those who envision it as a threat. Things turn invariably sour, however, when we pass to the second major control, enquiring whether the concepts formed are capable of discerning aspects of reality in a way that is conducive to empirically sound and cognitively significant results: the situation here is extremely problematic. It behoves me, then, to offer an alternative conceptualisation, one that will not be just another assertion, adding profusion to confusion, but the product of elaborate conceptual

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reconstruction. To adjudicate the results, I will also touch upon the other two major notions the volume deals with, democracy and the radical left. As this is a rather heavy agenda, let me now present the road map I will be following. Section I presents the different conceptualisations with an eye to suggesting similarities and differences amongst them, as well as assessing the current state of democracy in the era of neoliberal crisis along with the responses it has provoked. Section II will then seek to extrapolate the normative goals informing extant conceptualisations and perform the normative control: are the identified value goals served by their respective conceptualisations? Section III turns to the practical control, assessing whether the concepts adopted can contribute to a robust empirical science. The fact that they are not animates Section IV, where I argue that ‘populism’ is neither pitting a virtuous people against a corrupt elite, nor a strategy of personalist leaders, but a deceptive oppositional discourse. Section V, finally, uses the new concept as a handle for a sweeping historical review of issues pertaining to the evolution of the Left. This last section may also give us the opportunity to reflect on the challenges of a social science which can be both normatively impartial and phronetic.

Populism the concept: geni and differentia Despite the massive literature it has inspired, ‘populism’ continues to be a theoretical panchrestum medicamentum: a concept which can be made to fit all cases, being used in such a variety of ways as to become meaningless. It is hardly original to suggest, then, that a prerequisite for any serious discussion of the intricacies arising is to map extant conceptualisations. The goal, of course, is to lay the grounds for producing a sufficient ‘conceptual reconstruction’ – an exercise involving, first, the extraction of the principal characteristics suggested in the literature and, second, their meaningful organisation with an eye to detecting significant similarities and differences (Sartori 1984: 46–51). The best way to proceed is by applying the per genus et differentiam method: identifying, first, the genus under which authors subsume ‘populism’ and, second, the criteria (the differentia specifica) on the basis of which they delimit it as a concrete instance of that genus. In their recently published Oxford Handbook of Populism, editors Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paul A. Taggart, Paulina Ochoa Espejo, and Pierre Ostiguy (Kaltwasser et al. 2017) cogently identify three major conceptualisations and corresponding ‘approaches’ to the study of ‘populism’. In the order they present them, these are the ‘ideational’, the ‘strategic’ and the ‘cultural’. Let us briefly examine what they consist of. In my exposition I will first be addressing the question of genus. Introducing the ‘ideational’ variety, Cas Mudde moves to incorporate a number of like-minded – but ultimately subsidiary – conceptualisations in the following overarching definition: ‘Populism’, he claims, is an ‘ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, “the pure people” versus “the corrupt elite,” and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale’ (Mudde 2017: 29). Mudde’s take on the issue is encompassing but also

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bold, as he is surely aware of other similar conceptualisations at the genus level – things like ‘populism’ as ‘a type of political discourse’ (Laclau 1977; Laclau 2005; Howarth 2005; Stavrakakis 2004); as a ‘mode of identification’ (Panizza 2005); or as a ‘frame’ (Lee 2006; Aslanidis 2015). All the same, he successfully subsumes them under his, because, much as one may try to discover the cognitive significance of a protracted debate over whether ‘populism’ is an ideology, or a discourse, or a general political style, the likelihood is that s/he will be disappointed: no matter which characterisation we pick, we would still be conceiving of ‘populism’ as a discursive (hence ideational) construct, and that is that. To assuage possible objections, Mudde (2017) employs at least two additional devices: (a) he is being deliberately flexible in characterising ‘populism’ interchangeably as ‘ideology’, as a simple ‘set of ideas’ or – even more broadly – as ‘an ideational phenomenon’; and (b) when he feels that he has to choose, he opts for the notion of a ‘thin-centered ideology’ – one that, unlike ‘thick-centered’ or ‘full’ ideologies, is inherently malleable, prone to adapt or even attach itself to ‘other ideological elements’, contingent on what appears to be ‘appealing to different societies’ (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017: 6). But the redundant character of a long-drawn-out debate about the genus that populism belongs to can also be seen in that the other two major approaches in the literature, the ‘strategic’ and the ‘cultural’, can also – at no great cost – be subsumed under it. Let us see how. My claim that ‘discursive modality’ adequately captures the genus most authors have in mind when thinking of populism, may at first sight appear flawed when we examine the ‘strategic’ approach suggested by Kurt Weyland. ‘Populism’, he argues, is ‘a political strategy through which a personalistic leader seeks, or exercises government power based on direct, unmediated, uninstitutionalized support from large numbers of mostly unorganized followers’ (Weyland 2017:50). Weyland’s definition is clearly different from Mudde’s, but I would claim that this is on account of the differentia specifica he adopts (to which I will return), not – so much – on account of the genus. After all, to acquire their real-life dimensions, personalist strategies and opportunist endeavours too must be articulated in discourse. To so argue, however, is not to deny a major element in Weyland’s argument which tends to go unnoticed in the literature and which, in all fairness, may also cast doubt on my subsuming his approach to the genus ‘discourse’: his claim that ‘populism’ is not something one says, but something one does (Weyland 2017: 54). All the same, and to avoid unnecessary complexity, it is still possible to conclude by arguing that what one does is also reflected in what s/he says. The real question concerns the nature of this activity, its motives and its consequences. Pending fuller elaboration of this last, valuable aspect of the strategic approach infra, let me now turn to the ‘cultural’ approach, formulated by Pierre Ostiguy. According to him, ‘populism’ is to be conceived as ‘the antagonistic, mobilizational flaunting of the “low”’ – consisting in utterances (indeed a ‘narrative’) that are hostile to the culturally elaborate (and nefarious) ‘high’ and, hence, deliberately ‘improper’ with an eye to provoke and shock (Ostiguy 2017: 73–77). Although pitched at a level of abstraction that is considerably higher than that Mudde (and Kaltwasser)

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operate on, it is fairly obvious that for Ostiguy, too, ‘populism’ is a particular variety of discourse. To fully grasp the intellectual significance of the three definitions and their associated approaches, however, it is necessary to carefully examine the differentia specifica they propose. Considering the literature’s staggering size, it is quite astonishing to discover that – for what really matters cognitively – there exist just two basic sets of criteria used to delimit ‘populism’ as a species of the genus. The first, which is by far the dominant, consists in the view that ‘populism’– in speech or action, word or deed, as thin ideology or as frame – exists when someone, in a Manichean fashion, invokes an all-encompassing notion of the ‘ethically good’ (or ‘pure’) ‘people’ against the ‘corrupt elites’ with an eye to pitting the former against the latter. Different authors, of course, stress different aspects of this main theme. Mudde, for instance, highlights the moral underpinnings of the construct along with the idea that all populist invocations, malleable and ideologically ‘thin’ as they may be, claim that ‘the people’ is both homogeneous and capable of restoring the tarnished ‘general will’; Ostiguy, for his part, emphasises the affectual nature of the populist idiom as well as its cultural embeddedness and ‘relational’ character (the view that, besides the supply of the populist ‘low’, there is also a high demand for it); whilst authors in the spirit of Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe and the Essex school underscore that ‘populism’ principally involves the construction of ‘chains of equivalence’ (the attribution of homogenising similarity to social strata that may otherwise be heterogeneous) en route to the formation of an antagonistic front or bloc, distinguishing ‘the people’ (itself an ‘empty signifier’) from the elites – a phenomenon which takes on a variety of forms, some of which may serve as democratic correctives. These are important dimensions, the theoretical appraisal of which has been fuelling constant debates in the literature. The fact remains, however, that, different emphases notwithstanding, they all share the same differentium specificum: the pitting of a – more or less (and on a variety of grounds) – homogeneous and virtuous people against the equally homogeneous (and corrupt) elites. Assessing the normative and practical virtues of this conceptual choice will be the goal, respectively, of Sections II and III infra. Before that, however, one must not fail to notice the second delimiting criterion I mentioned – the one formulated by Weyland. Irrespective of whether one accepts my earlier suggestion that Weyland’s ‘strategic’ understanding of ‘populism’ may plausibly be subsumed under the overall genus ‘discursive modality’, what is cognitively crucial to consider is his qualitatively different way of delimiting it within the pertinent genus. For Weyland, what makes ‘populism’ a worthwhile concept is not the discursive construction of two homogeneous antagonistic blocs, but an element of domination: control. Amongst all other comparable phenomena and concepts inside the genus, the feature distinguishing ‘populism’ is that it calls attention to a conscious project which opportunistic and personalist leaders carry out in word and, more importantly, in deed: to attain and/or exercise power by politically exploiting unorganised followers. This is why, whilst they purport to interpret the ‘general will’, these leaders engage in

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stratagems such as the de-ideologisation of politics and the abolition of intermediary institutions (between leadership and rank and file) which could hamper the scheme they concoct. Authors in this line of thinking such as, most notably, Roberts (2015) have noticed that a consequence of these top-down linkages is the emergence of ‘plebiscitary political subjectivities’, called upon to ratify but never to help formulate political projects. It also merits attention that, although Weyland and Roberts do not mention it, the differentium specificum they pick echoes the one adopted by the late Peter Mair (2000: 33) in his classic article ‘Partyless Democracy’, where specific mention is made of the strong association existing between ‘populism’ and the organisational plebiscitarianism characterising cartel parties such as the Blairite New Labour to which Mair specifically refers (see also Mair 2002). Before we proceed to comparatively assess these two major takes on the issue it is important to highlight what these two conceptions of populism ‘see’ in reality, which they deem worth conceptualising. According to the former (shared by Mudde’s and Kaltwasser’s ‘thin ideology’, Ostiguy’s ‘low’, and Laclau/Mouffe and associates’ ‘antagonistic bloc’) it is Manichean evocations of a ‘virtuous people’ pitted against ‘corrupt elites’. The feature capturing Weyland’s and Roberts’ (and, to an extent, Mair’s) interest, on the other hand, is a ploy by unscrupulous party elites who, despite and irrespective of what they say, seek to manipulate and deceive ‘the people’ in order first to come to power and subsequently exercise it. I keep stressing this – otherwise obvious – distinction, first, because, clearly, one cannot have it both ways and, second, because despite the – often bombastic, albeit embarrassingly spurious – methodological pretensions one finds in the literature (see, e. g., Pappas 2016), the distinction has yet to be clearly drawn – and it must. As we are thinking about this critical encounter between ‘reality’ and socialscientific work, it is fitting to conclude this section by a detour seeking to highlight key features of the ‘reality’ pole in the relationship. Granted that different scholars ‘see’ different things, it is nonetheless required of all analyses to clearly suggest the features they deem critical. The goal in this context is to examine the state of pluralist democracy in the neoliberal era, as well as the political responses witnessed over the last decade. The volume at hand thankfully (and brilliantly) includes this dimension, plus also the fact that this democracy is engulfed in an ominous ‘crisis’.

Neoliberalism, democracy and responses deemed ‘populist’: a brief excursus ‘Neoliberalism’, argued Peter Evans and William H. Sewell Jr. (Evans and Sewell 2013: 36–37) is simultaneously economic theory (promoting unregulated market exchange); political ideology (favouring disempowerment of labour unions, deregulation of economic activity and reduced public spending); policy paradigm (prescribing all-out privatisation and IMF-inspired shock therapies to consolidate it); and social imaginary (extolling entrepreneurship, self-reliance and sturdy individualism). It is also the context in which contemporary democracies have been functioning, both practically and institutionally.

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The key practical feature characterising neoliberal democracy has been the emergence of what Charles Tilly (1998) would have called ‘durable inequality’: in 2016, for instance, the top 1% of the adult wealth holders in the world owned 51% of all global wealth, while the bottom half owned only 1%. It was precisely this which led to ‘financialisation’ and henceforth to crisis (Lapavitsas 2011): a concatenation of factors involving the declining share of labour income on a global scale, the ubiquitous emergence of flexible work and the dismantling of the welfare state (Pierson 1994; Seferiades 2013). This ominous combination led to the increasing need of labouring populations and middle classes to borrow in order to maintain access to basic goods such as healthcare, education, housing etc. leading, in turn, to the massive predatory lending by financial institutions to de facto uncreditworthy strata and countries. Camouflaging the crisis of overproduction (people finding themselves increasingly unable to consume what they were producing), this predatory lending was functional in the short term, as it prolonged growth and gave the illusory sense of a perpetually benevolent economic cycle. Alas, it was a bubble destined to burst. When it did, beginning in 2008, states stepped in to salvage the defunct banks, spending, in 2008–2009, nearly $20 trillion. Distinctly hidden from public view, this intervention was far from the typical post-war – Keynesian – state intervention. In Harvey’s (2010) words, it epitomised a novel ‘state-finance nexus’, where states came in to bluntly transfer resources from the populace to the banks. In that sense, stressed Harvey (2010: 30–31), the term ‘national bail-outs’ employed to describe the operation was grossly inaccurate. It was, rather, the taxpayers who were bailing out the banks … [and] the capitalist class, forgiving them their debts, their transgressions and only theirs. The money goes to the banks … And the banks are using the money, not to lend to anybody, but to … consolidate their power. These bailout programmes (wherever they were implemented) and the economic thinking behind them (affecting even countries where no bailout programmes were introduced) further undermined global purchasing power threatening world economy with a recessionary spiral: rampant poverty, unemployment (over 25 million in the EU alone) and shrinking markets to the point where profits accumulated over the previous period, though astronomical, were being hoarded rather than invested, as productive investment simply made no economic sense. A study released in July 2012, for example, revealed that, by the end of 2010, anywhere between $21 and $32 trillion – an amount equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined – were being squirreled away in tax havens (Henry 2012). This is obviously not the place to expand on the practical results of neoliberal policies, but it is hardly an exaggeration to suggest that the remedies of forced austerity and structural adjustment applied proved to be worse than the disease they presumably sought to treat.2 What needs to be stressed, however, is that, besides

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making a shambles of the ‘neoliberal apocalypse’ of the 1990s, they functioned as textbook cases of what Naomi Klein (2017: 16) termed the ‘shock doctrine’: a form of ‘coercive interrogation’, a gigantic project to put societies ‘into a state of deep disorientation and shock in order to force [people] to make concessions against their will’. It is in this light that one can better appreciate (a) the institutional incarnations of neoliberal crisis – best captured in the notions of ‘postdemocracy’ (Crouch 2004) and ‘democratic hollowing’ (Mair 2006), as well as (b) recent political responses to it. The imagery concerning the former is well-known, so one does not need to dwell much on its particulars. According to Crouch (2004), the aggressive rise of global capitalism has produced a self-referential political class more concerned with forging links with wealthy business interests than pursuing political programmes which meet the concerns of ordinary people, whilst Mair (2013) principally refers to phenomena such as the retreat and internal disarticulation of parties (a direct result of their ubiquitous cartelisation), a pronounced disengagement of citizens/ voters from conventional politics (precisely because of the political system’s perpetual unresponsiveness), and the ensuing rise of cynicism and corruption. One must also not fail to notice the increasingly coercive manipulation of the political process by the state – entailing, among other things, an enhanced role of the executive branches of government at the expense of the legislative (with a new, preponderant role for the coercive apparatus); ruling by decree; bowing to the dictates of democratically unaccountable supra-national institutions (such as the EU, the ECB, and the IMF); even ‘bloodless’ parliamentary coups such as those bringing to power unelected technocrats of the likes of former vice-president of the ECB Loucas Papademos in Greece and EU Commissioner Mario Monti in Italy (Kouvelakis 2011). But social and democratic contraction were not the only new elements in the picture. Alongside widespread hardship and – not infrequent – despair amongst the majority of the populations affected, reality has also included, on a near-global scale, militant struggles to avert and undo the consequences of neoliberalism: combative general strikes, a mushrooming of contentious movements, and the Indignado explosions – in Mike Davis’s (2011: 5) eloquent imagery, ‘the … Arab spring, the “hot” Iberian and Hellenic summers, the “occupied” fall in the United States’, when ‘[s]treets become magical laboratories where citizens and comrades are created, and radical ideas acquire sudden telluric power’. These were instances when, quite unsurprisingly, expansive popular invocations multiplied: in the context of their constitutive goal to appeal and attract by-standing populations, grassroots initiatives, social-movement organisations and anti-austerity campaigns claimed that they represented the vast majority (‘the people’). Referring to gross income inequality both inside the US and globally, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ mobilisation in fact condensed this endeavour in the famous slogan ‘We are the 99%!’.3 Equally important were also developments taking place at the political level, both in Latin America and Europe. For the most part, these took two forms: (a) the coming to power of people like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and

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Evo Morales in Bolivia and the emergence of new left-wing anti-austerity parties, such as SYRIZA in Greece, Podemos in Spain, and the Bloco Esquerda in Portugal; and (b) the rise and/or marked enhancement of a viciously anti-immigrant, antiEU far right, exemplified by the Fidesz and Law and Justice parties in Hungary and Poland respectively, the Finns Party in Finland and the Lega Nord in Italy, and the iconic cases of Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France and Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party in the Netherlands. Pending a fuller assessment later on, let me just mention here that, reflecting the hegemonic status of the first differentium specificum (the view that ‘populism’ resides in the antagonistic pitting of a homogeneous people against the elites) all these phenomena (both social movements and parties) have tended to be viewed as ‘populist’, with the additional prefix ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’. It hardly needs to be stressed that the populist scholar’s conceptual mission must face up to the challenges of this reality. What can be said about extant conceptualisations’ responses?

Concealed – and not so concealed – normative-cognitive underpinnings and the Wertrationalität control (V-C) Although this is seldom mentioned in the literature, it is not difficult to detect two drastically different attitudes or normative predispositions among the scholars who approach ‘populism’ as binding of heterogeneous subjectivities in an anti-elitist ideology. Epitomised in the writings of people like Kriesi and Pappas (2015), Aslanidis (2015; Aslanidis 2016), but also the original formulations of Cas Mudde and Rovira Kaltwasser (Mudde 2004; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012; Mudde and Kaltwasser 2017) as well as Ostiguy (2009; Ostiguy 2017), the first predisposition is characterised (a) by its thinly disguised – sometimes perspicuous, sometimes evanescent – reproach and condescendence towards discourses that promote the joining together of subaltern populations and/or the construction of akin subjectivities; and (b) the suggestion – sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit – that such a prospect constitutes a threat to democracy which has to be resisted, since it invariably involves a rejection of pluralism and constitutional guarantees, the emergence of rampant plebiscitarianism, even the menace of totalitarian politics (Müller 2017). Whilst item (a) is universally encompassing and cynically moralising in tone (perfectly antipodal to the ‘populist moralising’ these authors seek to expose), item (b) is, for the most part, directed at the extreme right (constructing subjectivities based on exclusionary appeals to the ‘nation’). To the extent, however, that no firm conceptual distinction is made from the ‘left-wing’ version appealing to the social underdogs (both versions invoke a ‘pure people’ and pit it against a ‘sinister elite’), a similar anxiety is also displayed for that variety as well: Wertfreiheit pretensions notwithstanding, it is clear that both right and left-wing populism are portrayed as phenomena inimical to the general prospects of ‘democracy’. What is quite telling, however, is that authors in this tradition have very little to say about the state of ‘democracy’ in the era of neoliberal crisis. No matter how

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diligently one scrutinises the – by now quite voluminous – like-minded literature, the likelihood is that s/he will find absolutely no mention of the capitalist crisis engulfing all political processes, and either very skimpy suggestions to the effect that something may be the matter in the way representative institutions have been functioning lately or, staggeringly, nothing at all. It is quite evident that, for these scholars, the problem is hardly phenomena such as rising inequalities, shrinking social and political rights, unaccountable executives, etc. but, rather, the massive responses that the neoliberal crisis has provoked. This scholarship’s cognitively motivating conceptum is, accordingly, a threat to contemporary socioeconomic and politico-institutional arrangements. It can be safely surmised, then, that the principal normative imperative guiding and inspiring their conceptual and empirical work is defense of post-democracy. Much unnecessary convolution could be avoided if they had candidly admitted it. Alas, this is not the case. In trying to project a normatively moderate persona (a fine example of how normative predispositions are concealed), Mudde and Kaltwasser (2017: 81), for instance, have recently combined several logical fallacies to claim that, although ‘populism is essentially democratic’, it – nonetheless – rejects ‘minority rights as well as the “institutional guarantees” that should protect them’ [sic]. One, however, cannot have one without the other, and the same goes for contraptions such as the notion of ‘populism’ as ‘democratic illiberalism’, introduced by Pappas (2016) – an author championing the combination of logical non-sequiturs and fallacies shielding behind a highly pretentious methodological idiom. Be that as it may, however, there is absolutely no doubt that, in terms of its Wertrationalität (our V-C control), the choice is absolutely brilliant. And the principal reason is that the ‘cat-dog concept’ it concocts (Sartori 1991), effectively delegitimises all serious criticism to post-democracy: If the normative imperative is to defend post-democracy, insisting that the far-right and neo-Nazi reaction on the one hand, and grassroots initiatives, social movements and left-wing parties on the other belong to the same class (‘populism’), effects the cognitive de-legitimation of any and all criticism to post-democracy. If the 99% slogan of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ can be assimilated to Hungary’s Orbán and the Greek neo-Nazis, then every reader and every citizen has an obligation to defend this battered postdemocracy, no further questions asked. But within the same conceptual universe, there is also a second normative stance, reflected in the work of the Essex School. Unlike their conceptual brethren, scholars in this tradition, such as Stavrakakis (2017); Stavrakakis and Katsambekis (2014); Stavrakakis et al. (2015); Kioupkiolis (2016); Katsambekis (2016) and Kioupkiolis and Katsambekis (Chapter 7, this volume), have been keen to highlight the problematic areas of neoliberal democracy and, with equal vigour, sensitise their audiences to the potentially beneficial aspects of ‘left-wing populism’, as a prized democratic corrective. The school’s father figure, the late Ernesto Laclau, but also – more recently – Chantal Mouffe (2018) have in fact gone so far as to suggest that this ‘left-wing’ version of populism – a dichotomous discourse that bundles social demands to construct an antagonistic subject opposing ‘power’ – is in fact a

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(if not the) most promising strategy for the Left, one that can transform and revitalise its internal dynamics, enabling it to decisively defeat neoliberal orthodoxy. As Mouffe’s recent article dedicated to the experience and trajectory of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a fine kaleidoscope of this approach’s main cognitive coordinates (and normative intensions), it is interesting to review it in some detail.4 Cushioned in an ‒ unnecessarily ‒ philosophising vocabulary, Mouffe (and the approach as a whole) suggest that what gave Corbyn’s Labour its boost in the last British election and onwards, was that it promoted a new ‘agonistic debate’. So far so good. But what were these – allegedly ‘new’ – elements? They were: ‘renationalization of public services, especially the rail networks, energy providers, the postal service, … [bringing an end to the privatization of] the national health service as well as the education system, the abolition of student fees, and … increase spending on the welfare state’ (Mouffe 2018). Mention is also made of the intent to ‘empower citizens to take part in the management of pubic services’; the desire ‘to build links with social movements’ and its general orientation to uphold the goal of ‘equality’ versus the ill-conceived ‘liberty’ of an all-encompassing and domineering market. One wonders, of course, why any of this is fundamentally different from what the Left has traditionally sought to push forward. The answer Mouffe and the Essex School provide is that, unlike its traditional, ‘workerist’ variant, this new ‘populist’ Left establishes ‘chains of equivalence between different democratic subjects across … society’. The argument, however, is utterly spurious. Historical research, especially in the context of the ‘linguistic turn’ in social history, has amply demonstrated that the first mass parties of the Left were not addressing themselves to some monolithic ‘working class’, but to a wide variety of ‘popular classes’ – establishing precisely the sorts of ‘equivalences’ the Essex School deems benevolently ‘populist’ (see, especially, Stedman Jones 1983; Reddy 1987; Joyce 1991; Joyce 1994).5 But to so observe is very consequential. Although widespread methodological light-heartedness in the field typically precludes identification ‒ let alone assessment ‒ of this practice, what this conceptualisation does is to stipulate a synonymy between ‘left-wing populism’ and the Left – two words for one meaning. It merits repeating that this is because establishing ‘chains of equivalence’ amongst subaltern populations is precisely what the Left has, does and is supposed to be doing, otherwise it is not ‘Left’. In light of the fact that the stipulation of synonymies is one of the main mechanisms through which collective ambiguity is concocted and perpetrated in the social sciences, it is worth reminding ourselves something that Giovanni Sartori (1984: 39) stressed in his methodological writings – giving it, moreover, the status of a cardinal Rule: ‘Awaiting contrary proof, no word should be used as a synonym for another word’. If no such proof is given (as is unfortunately the case with the Laclau/Mouffe conception), synonymies ‘unsettle, without resettling, the semantic field to which the stipulation belongs’ (Sartori 1984: 38). To wit, if, following Laclau and disciples, we call Corbyn’s Labour – but also SYRIZA, the Podemos, La France Insoumise, and other similar parties as well as grassroots initiatives and social movements such as the ‘Momentum’ in Britain and

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the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in the US ‘populist’, how are we to think of and call the ‘Left’, let alone the ‘radical left’? (Surely not as a political force that appeals exclusively to industrial workers and guards against establishing ‘equivalence chains’!) But reducing ‘the Left’ (and the new ‘radical left’) to ‘populism’ has the additional shortcoming of whimsically annulling perfectly valid historic characterisations of strands within the Left that refer to concrete elements of each political strand’s substantive political content – such as ‘revolutionism’, ‘reformism’, ‘anarchism’ and quite a few others as well. Considering that all these tendencies make – in one way or another – antagonistic references to the ‘people’ portraying it as ‘exploited’, ‘dominated’ or ‘oppressed’, the conclusion is not unwarranted that what this approach suggests threatens us with cognitive regression to an unbearably abstract generality. One is entitled to ask: Why is it done? A query which takes us to this section’s principal goal, the extrapolation of the normative motives behind extant conceptualisations. As already mentioned, in the aforesaid review, Mouffe refers to several new radical left parties, grassroots initiatives and social movements, praising them for their astute highlighting of the failings of post-democracy. What is stunningly missing from the list, however, is the party which, employing such discourse and organisational practices, managed to come to power, SYRIZA. Extrapolating the reason for this is unbeatably easy: SYRIZA is the living proof of this strategy’s utter failure – precisely the opposite of what Mouffe’s analysis suggests. SYRIZA’s experience is so theoretically telling because, despite its unquestionable social-movement origins and early characteristics, it subsequently became thoroughly cartelised at a pace which, in terms of its swiftness, may have been historically unprecedented. Coming to power in January 2015, and only after seven short months of haphazard negotiation with the troika institutions (for the most part conducted behind the backs of the party organs on the naïve assumption that the troika would be ‘persuaded’ by sound argument), the party capitulated completely to the neoliberal template, reneged on its electoral pledge to end austerity, and crowned the act with the referendum of 5 July 2015 when, overnight, the leading group around party leader Tsipras turned a massive 61.3% ‘No!’ against the troika proposals into a compliant ‘Yes’. Days later, on 12 July, Tsipras proceeded to sign a third austerity bailout programme which, quite unsurprisingly, provoked a split in the party. Pending the practical ‒ Zweckrationalität ‒ assessment of the Laclau conceptualisation in the next section, it is now possible to conclude that the normative motive guiding it is defense of a particular political mentality, the one epitomised by SYRIZA and other like-minded parties, even in cases where reservation and even superficial criticism are levelled against its real-life incarnations. Despite their intense theoretical idiom, when upholding their notion of ‘populism’, Laclau and disciples actually tell us very little about the specific nature – the practical merits but, more importantly, the eye-catching defects – of this strategy. Though this is a point to which I will have to return, it is nonetheless crucial to stress that there exists a far more cognisant term to describe it by: reformism ‒ the old ideology of

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the 2nd International, according to which robust and lasting social change can be effected through a protractedly centripetal class-collaborationist Burgfriedenspolitik or, simply, by playing by the rules of the game. This is the defining feature of the strategy Laclau and Mouffe have in mind rather than the theoretically and empirically bland ‘comprehensive antagonistic appeals’ or ‘establishment of equivalence chains’. To account for the temporal dimension involved in phenomena such as SYRIZA, Podemos or La France Insoumise, we would be far more accurate calling it, simply, ‘new reformism’. But if, as I claim, these scholars’ underlying normative-cognitive motive (conscious or unconscious) is the historical, contemporaneous and prospective salvaging of this strategy, the Wertrationalität of their choice is impeccable. All that one needs to do to be convinced, is to ponder over the consequences. If the Left is reduced to ‘establishing chains of equivalence amongst subaltern populations’ then new reformism as ‘populism’ is (a) credited with an undeservedly universal valence; (b) becomes sort of a TINA for the Left; and (c) quenches – in fact cognitively delegitimises – all debate about different strategies’ merits and shortcomings. To sum up, we see that two diametrically different cognitive-normative starting points and motives (defence of post-democracy and defence of ‘new reformism’) are served equally well by the conceptualisation delimiting populism as a species of the genus discourse (or ‘thin ideology’, or ‘frame’, etc.), on the basis of the differentium specificum ‘antagonistic pitting of a moral and homogeneous people against the sinister elites’ – and this is the verdict of my applying the Wertrationalität control. The scholars upholding this conceptualisation deserve praise for having figured out a way to effectively promote what they hold dear normatively and deem worthwhile cognitively. As I will argue in a minute, however, the concept performs very badly when examined in terms of its practical prowess. To illustrate with my earlier metaphor, whilst considering their normative-cognitive concerns, these scholars are eminently rational in suggesting the need to build a bridge, the way they go about constructing is so deficient, the bridge is liable to collapse. Before we turn to see why this is so, however, we need to perform the Wertrationalität control on the other major conceptualisation we have encountered, Weyland’s and Roberts’s ‘populism’, delimiting the phenomenon on the basis of an altogether different differentium specificum ‒ as a stratagem for exercising control over subaltern populations with the goal of capturing and exercising power. The discerning reader will have already understood that my sympathies go with this conceptualisation, and the reasons are not difficult to discern either. Although in their writings Weyland and Roberts do not dwell much on the precise nature of neoliberal crisis (as I think one must), they are both well aware of its overall character and intensely concerned about its implications. It also important to appreciate that the late Peter Mair (the scholar who introduced the notion of a ‘hollowing of western democracy’ to capture contemporary neoliberal impasses) also belongs to the same tradition, as he was the one to explicitly link ‘populism’ with phenomena of party cartelisation and the use of plebiscitarian tactics by unscrupulous leaderships. It is quite clear, then, that the normative-cognitive motive behind this

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conceptualisation is neither defensive anxiety vis-à-vis post-democracy nor cynical disdain at the formation of broad antagonistic collectivities, as, clearly, something is wrong in the way contemporary democracies operate. But this does not mean that the ‘populist’ response is appropriate. In fact, it is quite the opposite; for, ‘populism’ as control (the approach’s differentium specificum) is a remedy potentially worse than the various forms of crisis it claims a capacity to address. In other words, the idea these authors name with their concept of ‘populism’ (their normative-cognitive motive) is practices that are politically suspicious and deceptive – something clearly distinguishing them also from the Laclau and Mouffe aficionados. Stressing that ‘populism’ is not what populist leaders say and proclaim but what they do, scholars in this approach instruct us to turn our attention to detecting plebiscitarian institutional arrangements and practices, where the rank and file are called upon merely to ratify leadership decisions without ever participating in the making of these decisions. By insisting that ‘populism’ is just ‘strategy devised by personalist leaders’ (and not also discourse), however, scholars in this tradition undermine the breadth of their own cognitive contribution. The reason is that fixation on opportunist organisation diverts attention away from the political elements involved in the phenomenon, thereby effectively reducing it to mere organisationalism. In all fairness, Weyland admits that an amorphous populist political discourse exists, but then suggests that it must be approached as a consequence of organisational imperatives. But this begs the question of what is it that causes the organisational imperative in the first place, whilst also hushing over the issue of whether one is entitled to detect ‘populism’ in the absence of such fully grown practices. As a combined result of these shortcomings, Weyland’s and Roberts’s ‘populism’ ends up being understood – arguably against these authors’ cognitive intentions – merely as a manifestation of the limits of caudillo-type regimes, mostly in historical and contemporary Latin America. Compared to Laclau’s and Mouffe’s implicit (and a-historical) advocacy of such regimes, this is no mean achievement. Yet it falls far short of the approach’s full potential. Besides separating it from Mair’s (2000) perspicacious suggestion that ‘populism’ is the very political substance of all cartel parties in post-democracy, this feature also blinds the approach to ‘populist’ practices amongst parties that lack leadership structures (or executives) that are ‘personalist’ properly speaking. Contemporary Social Democracy, which Weyland (2017: 54) refers to as distinctly non-populist, is a case in point. In the era of post-democracy, the vast majority of Social Democratic – as well as most other neoliberal – parties have officially maintained – and often brag about having actually increased the formal prerogatives of – intermediary structures, only to have unscrupulously annulled them in practice. Katz’s and Mair’s (2009: 759) incisive description of the process in the context of the ‘cartel model’ refers precisely to this phenomenon and deserves to be quoted at length: Although the objective is a kind of party oligarchy, the means ironically … may be apparent democratization of the party through the introduction of

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such devices such as … mass membership meetings at which large numbers of marginally committed members or supporters –with their silence, their lack of capacity for prior (independent of the leadership) organization, and their tendency to be oriented more towards particular leaders rather than to underlying policies– can be expected to drown out the activists. This plebiscitarianism increase[s] the nominal base of the party at the expense of the power or influence of middle-level activists, who might be able to coordinate an effective challenge … An inclusive but unorganized selectorate may give the appearance of democracy without the substance. (Katz 2001: 281, 277) Though, in spirit, this is precisely the ‘populism’ Weyland and Roberts have in mind, the way they construct their concept blinds them to this towering manifestation. All in all, if the cognitive-normative goal is to warn against nepotism and the stunning discrepancy between words and deeds in contemporary political projects both in opposition and in government (a goal to which – as will be immediately seen – I fully subscribe), the Wertrationalität of conceptualising ‘populism’ as personalist strategy of individual leaders appears insufficient. Though this does not invalidate the cognitive contribution of this approach, it limits its practical applicability and overall dynamism. Employing the imagery of my overarching metaphor, it seems that, though the scholars conceiving ‘populism’ as strategy certainly know a great deal about constructing bridges in practice, they fail to adequately specify the task. But it is time to turn to these conceptualisations’ performance at the practical level, examining their capacity to adequately delimit phenomena for purposes of carrying out research conducive to findings that are cognitively significant and cumulative. This is the goal of my Zweckrationalität – C-R – control.

A nightmare of ‘findings’: research gridlocks and the Zweckrationalität control (C-R) The way research-oriented – empirical – political sociology and social science have developed over the last few decades makes it quite illegitimate for anyone to judge a scholar’s normative-cognitive motives and imperatives. A political scientist may thus see a population suffering a brutal collapse in living standards and political rights and, all the same, decide to by-pass it as insignificant. Or s/he may come across data like those recently publicised by Oxfam and Credit Suisse showing that, with globalisation in full swing, ‘the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population’ (The Guardian 2017) and still think that this is quite unproblematic. Or run into statements by people such as Warren Buffet (one of the eight super privileged) to the effect that ‘there’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s

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making war, and we’re winning’ (Stein 2006), and opt to normalise them as well. Or, conversely, witness such gigantic failures of political strategy, such as the one experienced by SYRIZA in 2015, and think of it as wise adaptation to environmental constraints. This, of course, is a sad state of affairs. Scholarship is supposed to be addressing such glaringly problematic aspects of reality, yet failure to do so is not considered a problem. On a variety of pretexts (including, ironically, Wertfreiheit) the scholars criticised may always retort that it is their prerogative to pursue whatever normative-cognitive goal they see fit. This escape is not available, however, when we turn to the Zweckrationalität control ‒ judging a concept’s capacity to perform adequately at the research level (the C-R control). Otherwise put, if demonstrating that a concept is cognitively irrelevant is not enough to undermine it, its protracted failure to contribute to sound and cumulative research certainly is. What is the balance sheet for the conceptualisations we have been discussing? In the analysis that follows we will – once again – proceed by examining, first, the two versions of the Manichean-ideational persuasion – one conceiving it as a threat to democracy and one approaching it as democratic corrective – and, second, the approach seeing it as ‘personalist leadership strategy’. One may well begin assessing current research on ‘populism’ by enquiring what is it that it specifically contributes to our understanding of the political landscape both contemporarily and historically. Starting off with the first, punitive variety of the Manichean conception emanating from the Mudde and Kaltwasser (and Ostiguy) core notion, the main prescription is that we research jointly social movements claiming a capacity to represent the majority (‘the people’) with the far-right (e.g. Aslanidis 2016). Assuming that the objective is, first, to understand and, then, explain their characteristics, one can rarely discover anything so closely resonating as Giovanni Sartori’s (1991) metaphor about the cat-dog fallacy, resulting from the formation of pseudo-classes: that is, classes which, because they are formed at a prohibitively high level of abstraction (where far too many dissimilars are being assimilated) obtain a denotation that is both analytically intractable and cognitively spurious. Explanatory hypotheses jointly concerning social movements and neoNazi parties may be formulated, of course, but either they will be utterly banal (for example, that both phenomena emerge in times of crisis) or will have to remain perpetually suspended. As Sartori (1991: 248) put it, when our concepts contain ‘utterly different animals’ verifying explanatory hypotheses about them is willynilly impossible: ‘Right, wrong? We shall never find out. [For no] … hypothesis … will ever pass the test of the [cat-dog;] for no generalisation can conceivably hold up under the joint assaults of such a … monster’! The problem is further accentuated by the stunningly porous nature of the characteristic these scholars champion: the pitting of a virtuous people against a sinister elite. And the reason why this is so, is unbeatably simple: all oppositional movements and political initiatives, to one degree or another, must suggest that they represent a ‘good’ (‘virtuous’) majority against a ‘bad’ (‘wicked’) minority which happens to be in power. This is the very essence of the ‘adversarial language’

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(premised on symbolic resonance and strategic modularity) they must employ, otherwise they stand no chance to accomplish anything in politics (Tarrow 2013). As far as ‘social movements’ are concerned, for example, one of the concept’s defining characteristics has long been the practice of engaging in sustained WUNC displays: Worthiness, Unity, Numbers, Commitment (Tilly 2004:183–184) – with ‘Numbers’ and ‘Unity’ obviously referring to generalised appeals that, the more successful they are, the more they manage to pit a worthy people (Worthiness) against a symmetrically wrongdoing elite. This, of course, was particularly the case with historic social movements (such as the ‘working-class movement’) which were sufficiently strong to acquire affiliated political expression (in this case, the political parties of the Left). Eric Hobsbawm (1989: 118) has, in fact, forcefully argued that, historically, the litmus test for the emergence of the labour movement was its discursive capacity (a) to bring about the critical change from ‘talk of “the working classes” in the plural [to] … the singular’; and (b) to identify a towering – what Mudde and Kaltwasser would call ‘homogeneous’ – adversary (beyond the fragmentary make-up of individual employers), the bourgeoisie. For his part, Tilly (1983) has also long shown that the transition from the ‘traditional’ to the ‘modern’ (or ‘modular’) collective-action repertoire rested on the ability of claimants to go beyond their old parochialism to identify unified centres of power. Tarrow (1998: 42) has summarised the point very nicely: In the former [the traditional repertoire], grain seizures, religious conflicts, land wars and funeral processions were segmented both from one another and from elite politics. But with the latter [the modern or modular repertoire], it was possible for workers, peasants, artisans, clerks, writers, [and] lawyers … to march under the same banners and confront the same opponents. These changes made possible the coming of the national social movement. In this connection, Mudde’s and Kaltwasser’s (2017: 47) and Aslanidis’s (2016: 306–307) suggestion that social movements are not populist only to the extent that they address specific issues (women but not systemically embedded patriarchy; coloured people but not exploitative systems of divide and rule; workers but not capitalism) demonstrates, if anything, stunning cognitive parochialism. To subsume all the above under ‘populism’ (to claim, for instance, that the famous 1908 song of the Italian labour movement ‘Avanti Popolo’ or the internationally renowned ‘¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!’ of the Nueva Canción Chilena movement are ‘populist’) adds nothing to – and is liable to obfuscate – what we already know; except, of course, that we are now instructed to conceive it as a phenomenon akin to far rightist exclusionism. As seen, the suggestion does indeed further the normative-cognitive goals of those issuing it; but if we follow it, we are liable to run up to Sartori’s monster. But the analytical stalemate does not just result from this concept’s cancelling out major differences ‘on the thin basis of secondary, trivial similarities’ (Sartori 1970: 1052). Equally indicting is the ambiguity – and consequent vagueness – of the

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differentium specificum adopted. The idea of pitting virtuous majoritarian collectivities against malevolent minorities is so old, so morally charged, and so very anthropologically rooted (one can find it in folk tales going all the way to back to the David and Goliath metaphor), that the problem may not become immediately apparent. Upon closer scrutiny, however, one discovers that, as ‘appealing to the people’ and identifying a sufficiently homogeneous political adversary is a standard practice of everybody involved in politics, one is never sure about what is really ‘populist’, and what is not – a state of affairs bespeaking undenotativeness, this most cardinal sin in concept-building. Take, for instance, Mudde and Kaltwasser’s (2017) recent stock-taking of the literature. In this short book the authors mention – or so I have managed to count ‒ no less than seventy or so analytically bewildering varieties, in all five continents, including, among others (as one can never really be sure), 


in the US, beyond the usual suspects – that is, the historic Populist Party (pp. 19, 33), the Tea Party (pp. 13, 27, 49) and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ campaign (pp. 22, 26–27, 37, 48) – Sarah Palin (pp. 15, 49), inexplicably marked apart from George W. Bush, who is explicitly mentioned as non-populist (p. 74); Richard Nixon (p. 24 – albeit qualified as ‘not a populist at heart’ [sic]) but, equally inexplicably, not also the ‘great communicator’ Ronald Reagan; Bernie Sanders (p. 27), but not also Donald Trump (though one suspects that the authors would have no problem including him as well). in Latin America one must not be surprised to find Juan Domingo and Evita Perón (but will probably be dismayed by Isabelita Martínez’s absence) (p. 29); Getúlio Vargas (p. 29); Cuauhtémoc but not also Lázaro Cárdenas (pp. 89–90); Hugo Chavez (e.g., pp. 12, 31); Evo Morales (e.g., pp. 14, 31, 32, 57); Rafael Correa (pp. 17, 31, 43); Daniel Ortega (p. 31); Alberto Fujimori (e.g., pp. 17, 29, 43) and Menem Collor de Mello (pp. 29, 67, 74). in Europe one learns that, in Russia, the Narodniki (pp. 32–33) ought to be researched in the same class with Vladimir Zhirinovski (p. 68) (but, once again inexplicably, abstain from including Vladimir Putin); whilst in Britain and France one encounters the UKIP (pp. 35, 114) and the Lepens (pp. 34–35, 53–54, 56, 68, 69, 74) respectively, but not also the figures of Jeremy Corbyn and Jean-Luc Mélenchon that Mouffe, for her part, has so gracefully provided. But this must be a slip of pen on the part of Mudde and Kaltwasser, as they dedicate several pages to the Indignado mobilisations, the Podemos, and SYRIZA (e.g., pp. 13, 37, 48, 100, 102, 112), whilst they also do not fail to mention the German Die Linke (p. 54), naturally in the company of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD – p. 69) and Die Republikaner (p. 114). in Oceania one is informed of the performance of ONP (p. 69) in Australia and NZF in New Zealand (p. 38). in Asia the list includes Israel’s Netanyahu (p. 39); Turkey’s Erdogan (pp. 39– 40); Thailand’s Shinawatra (pp. 39, 43, 63, 71, 74, 76); but, also, the Movement

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Against Corruption in India (IAC) (p. 56) and the Green Revolution in Iran (p. 104). when they turn to Africa, finally, the authors kindly inform us that ‘populism is fairly rare’ as most of the countries there ‘are either still authoritarian or at best flawed electoral democracies’ (p. 39). Nevertheless, their list still includes Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Zambian president Michael Sata (p. 39); and Gamal Abdel Nasser (p. 39) and Muammar Gaddafi (p. 39). One is left to wonder, of course, whether these four were presiding on executives of fully consolidated liberal democracies. But the key objective of the African analysis is the Arab Spring, where we are told that the ultimate proof of ‘populism’ was the slogan Ash-shabyuridisqat an-nizam! [‘The people want to bring down the regime!’!] ‘shouted at demonstrations from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen’ (p. 40). It does not appear to cross the authors’ minds that, in the circumstances practically no other slogan would have been reasonable or, perhaps, even possible.

One need not go any further to conclude that the core concept of the ideational approach fashioned by Mudde and Kaltwasser is extremely feeble in terms of its discerning capacity. It is quite evident that the reason these authors can so easily manipulate their denotatum (augmenting or reducing their cases at whim) is not because they really discover politicians, movements, parties, or regimes that invoke ‘the people’ in a way that is particularly populist, but – quite prosaically – because this fits the flow of their – underlying normative – argumentation. Just as easily, their populist checklist could have well included Lenin and Fidel Castro, Hitler and Mussolini, even Margaret Thatcher (pitting the ‘people’ against the ‘privileged legal position of British trade unions’). The problem has been keenly identified by Weyland (2017: 53) – as an instance of poorly delimited extension, where far too many ‘false positives’ accrue, the result being that ‘crucial cases are improperly classified as populist’ – and is surely something that even those in favour of the Manichean core concept realise. The way they cope with it has been ‘degreeism’ – the main idea being that, even if it is not entirely possible to ascertain what ‘populism’ is, we may always tell how much of it exists. As Sartori (1991: 248) has masterfully observed in exasperation, however, degreeism is one major ‘producer of cat-dogs and further – in increasing order of logical messiness – of dog-bats and even fish-birds’! In the passage below, the original example he uses to illustrate the point ‘democracy’, but I am changing it to ‘populism’. [U]nder a … continuum-based treatment, [populism] is a property that to some (different) degree can be predicated of all political [projects] and, conversely, non-populism is always more or less present in any [political endeavor]. We may thus obtain a world-wide continuum ranging, say, from 80 percent [populisms], across [semi-populisms], to 80 percent [non-populisms] whose cut-off points are stipulated arbitrarily and can, therefore, be moved

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around at whim. This is wonderful, for the exceptions that might cripple a hypothesis generally lie in the vicinity of the cutting points. Thus, in the continuous treatment the exceptions (disconfirmations) can simply be made to disappear by cutting a continuum at astutely doctored points. Along this route we obtain, then, the Cheshire cat-dog – it appears, grins at us, and vanishes before we catch it. (pp. 248–249) In light of this infelicitous state of affairs, concerns that are purely normative are bound, sooner or later, to take over whatever analytical prowess the concept might possess. The situation is not very different in the benevolent variety of populism professed by Laclau, Mouffe and associates. One regularly discovers its attribution or lack thereof purely on the basis of normatively charged stipulation (by astutely doctoring the extension) – whereby, for instance, the conservative position adopted by the PCF during the explosion of May 1968 in France, at the time justified on the grounds that it was necessary so that broad-based coalitions (one might say ‘chains of equivalence’) would not be put to risk, is described as resisting the ‘populist temptation’ (see, e.g., Balampanidis, Chapter 4, this volume). But this must come as no surprise, as the benevolent version flows from the same core concept as the punitive. Nor is the problem solved by this strand’s – otherwise correct – insistence that we distinguish right-wing populism from its left-wing analogue. Though this partly addresses the cat-dog of analytically combining racism and social movements neoNazism with campaigns such as those of the Indignados and ‘Occupy Wall Street’, the problems of ambiguity (and vagueness) as well as the sin of degreeism remain. Tsipras and Corbyn are customarily declared more or less ‘populist’ (depending on the author’s political views), but Salvador Allende, Luiz Inácio Lula, or the interwar Front Populaire are not. How and why so? We will never know. Research-wise, the problem with the strategic approach appears to be the obverse of what it is in the case of the Manichean-ideational. The denotation here is not overly extensive, but unduly constrictive – relying exclusively on specifically populist organisational manifestations-machinations of opportunist and personalist leaders. The problems this creates have already been highlighted in the previous section, so there is no need to belabour the point much further. Insistence on the motives of personalist leaders and their internal institutional machinations limits attention to them and them only, at the expense of other research which could highlight organisational plebiscitarianism in the absence of such distinctly personalist leaderships. Partly because of that, the approach also tends to de-politicise the populist phenomenon, stripping it of its ideological underpinnings and making it appear as if it were the result of personal whim. Is populism caused simply because some individual leaders are opportunist? Are there no distinctly political and ideological processes at play that deserve research and analysis? Having said that, however, it is important to credit the approach for not suffering from the degreeism characterising the two varieties of its Manichean-ideational counterpart, and also rebut the usual criticism levied against it – that it relies on

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‘getting into the populist’s head’ in order to see whether s/he really is an opportunist or not (Mudde and Kaltwasser 2012: 9). Nothing of the sort is required, of course. What needs researching, instead, is the eminently observable ways in which contemporary plebiscitarianism evolves as well as its deep-seated political foundations. I have argued that, although the strategic approach expediently instructs us to conduct this research, its overly narrow depiction of the phenomenon undermines the effectiveness of the suggestion. All in all, we see that, in terms of their capacity to adequately delimit ‘populism’ in a manner that would permit significant research (their Zweckrationalität), extant approaches fare rather poorly. The bridges they set out to build (each one in pursuit of its respective normative-cognitive objective) are likely to collapse. Is there something that be done about it?

Seeking an alternative: populism as political deception Whoever reviews the massive literature on ‘populism’ is bound, sooner or later, to run into the writings of Nadia Urbinati (2014) – an effort to identify democratic pathologies and suggest ways of coping with them. Having identified ‘populism’ as one such pathology, Urbinati suggests that one must distinguish between the ‘populist rhetoric’ that, in her view, often contaminates popular social movements, from ‘populism’ properly speaking – that is, political projects seeking to reshape society after their world views (what she calls ‘populist power’). Cases in point concerning the former are the Italian Girotondi of 2002, the US Occupy Wall Street of 2011, and the Spanish Indignados of 2013, while the most typical instance of the latter is the Hungarian Fidesz. The reason I think Urbanati’s distinction is telling, however, has nothing to do with her own rendering of the cases she discusses: she claims, for instance, that the social movements she cites emitted an ‘anti-representative’ discourse (akin to the famous Indignado slogan ¡Que no, que no, que no nos representan! that also impressed Aslanidis 2016: 312), insisting that they (a) wanted to be a constituency independent of elected officials; (b) viciously resisted any form of representation and representatives; and – in apparent contradiction – (c) wanted to keep elected officials and the government under public scrutiny. Besides wondering about the research procedures Urbinati followed to reach these conclusions, one can – far more reasonably – surmise that all this rhetoric reflects is (a) the glaring crisis of representation characterising neoliberal post-democracy and (b) an agonising search for institutional alternatives capable of guaranteeing genuine accountability. Even in this theoretically jumbled and cognitively unequal way, however, one is still entitled to retain her crucial distinction between ‘popular’ and ‘populist’: the former is genuine in its concerns and participatory intentions – seeking social justice and general democratic deepening (things such as the breakup of backstage institutional arrangements, conscious and responsible addressing of social problems, and candid democratic accountability); the latter (the ‘populist’), whilst equally prone to employ a similarly ‘emancipatory’ discourse, in essence makes a sham of it

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all, as what it is really after, is to dissolve actually existing institutional checks and balances into a fuzzy utopia, in order to capture and exercise power. In the same general spirit, equally telling is the notion of ‘artificial anti-capitalism’, in the context of a broader political project of ‘hijacking the Left’, introduced by Vassilis Petsinis (Chapter 8, this volume). There is no need, of course, to review here this author’s fine analysis of the discourse and practices of the two far-right parties in Hungary that he examines. What is important for our purposes is to begin thinking about the practical state of affairs to which he refers, reverberating the aforementioned distinction between the ‘popular’ and the ‘populist’. The primary lexical definition of ‘hijacking’ is ‘to steal, to rob, to seize’, but the broader family of meanings to which it belongs is a glaring foul play. Relatedly, for a political project (an initiative, a leader, or a party) to hijack a discourse (and associated practices), is to claim being something that it is not. One will surely realise the affinities that this notion has with Weyland’s and Roberts’s crucial distinction between what populists say (which, they suggest, ought not bother us that much) and what they actually do. ‘The very essence of populism’, exclaims Weyland (2017: 53–54), is ‘the disjuncture between form and substance, style and strategy, rhetoric and reality’. ‘Populism’ may be vociferously proclaiming a capacity to restore the eclipsed expressive function of political parties, but in practice it conspires to further forge it. What is distinctive about ‘populism’ is – precisely – this sinister ‘twist’: whereas ‘discourse implicitly depicts populism as a bottom-up mass movement, it really rests on a top-down strategy through which … [specific political projects marshal] plebiscitarian support for [their own] … goals’. What stands out is, once again, a baleful discrepancy between what is proclaimed and what is done. Combining these three insights, and in light of my earlier criticism of extant approaches, let me now suggest my own view, that ‘populism’ is best conceived (both cognitively and practically) as a species of the genus ‘discourse’ that claims to be popular while it is not. Though, as anyone can tell, this – truly parsimonious – definition is devised at a high level of abstraction, I rush to state that this is as it should be – for, cognitively as well as practically, ‘populism’ encapsulates a huge variety of human interactions both in the public and, even, the private sphere. Let me start with the ‒ less intuitive ‒ latter, the private. A populist performing privately is someone who, in an unscrupulously moralising fashion, taps feelings of compassion, kind-heartedness and/or care, to promote his or her self-regarding motives. His/her ‘populism’ involves of course invocation of some ‘suffering underdog’, but the differentium specificum that renders this discursive practice populist is not that it pits the underdog/subaltern against the dominant, but that it does it in a manner that is bogus, phony, fake. In point of fact, it seems to me that one of the reasons explaining why ‘populism’ has acquired such prominence is recent debates is that it echoes similar processes in a variety of ‒ strictly speaking ‒ non-political areas of social life, including the visual arts, music, cinema and several others. Authors, painters and movie-makers the world over have long figured out that the best way to earn acclamation for their work is to build upon feelings of injustice

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and the perpetual disenchantment that large audiences share; and the best way to do that is to engage in ‘populism’: melodramatically proclaiming that they are at one with ‘the people’. This may bring to mind Ostiguy’s (2017: 73) notion of the ‘low’, but the difference amongst the respective differentia specifica could not have been more pronounced: in the view that I am suggesting, what makes a discourse ‘populist’ is not merely the ‘antagonistic, mobilizational flaunting of … [the] cruder, personalistic, … and overall “less sublimated”’ (as argued, this is an element that most adversarial languages are likely to possess if they are to sufficiently perform in the public sphere), but the fact that it is forged, inauthentic, and deceptive. Moving down the ladder of abstraction, one must not have a problem conceiving populist instances that are distinctly political. Everything that the Manicheanideational literature (of both varieties) mentions can be of use in this connection, albeit with the proviso that what makes a discourse populist is not its pitting the subaltern against the dominant, but that it simply claims doing it, whilst it does not. It is also crucial to note that, although populism is principally a discursive recourse of forces in opposition, it can also appear in power; the literature in all shapes and forms has duly made note of that. But this does not change much in the overall status of the concept I am suggesting. On the day he first put on ‒ and then theatrically removed ‒ a tie (presumably a symbol of anti-systemic conduct), Greek premier and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras claimed that his party’s goal was to clash with the ‘old corrupt system’ in the name of ‘all those who have been brutally hit by the crisis’. This was populism in full sway, of course, but not on account of Tsipras’s pitting a pure people against a sinister elite, but because the whole thing was unbeatably twisted and bogus: a discourse running directly counter to actual practice. This, I submit, is also the spot to fruitfully incorporate Weyland’s and Roberts’s suggestion regrading populist formations’ need to establish ‒ in one way or another ‒ organisational plebiscitarianism: schemes that practically annul intermediary structures between the grassroots and the executive and establish plebiscitarian rather than participatory political subjectivities. Following Mair (2000), it has already been argued that, contemporarily, the archetypical case in point is European Social Democracy (and other neoliberal parties) in the context of a practices that, though nominally they claim to enhance intermediary structures, in practice they utterly annul them. But, evidently, this is not all that there is to it. The case of ostensibly ‘radical left’ parties, such as SYRIZA and Podemos, is equally worth examining, especially in light of the historically unprecedented swiftness of their transformation from allegedly ‘movement parties’ (Della Porta et al. 2017) into fully blown cartel parties (Kotronaki 2018; Seferiades 2018). The point here is that organisational plebiscitarianism is a consequence of political populism. Precisely because the latter is a bogus doctrine necessitating bogus practice, all those espousing it have, sooner or later, to attempt concealing their act by undermining the intermediary institutions that could possibly restrain them. It follows that ‘removing intermediaries between the executive and the rank and file’ may fruitfully be added in the general definition as a feature that tends to characterise

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populist projects, but I suggest we think of it as a derivative-central, not as a defining property:6 most populist organisations have it (or are bound to acquire it), but on principle it is still possible to have populism in its absence. The same also goes for populism’s tendency to de-politicise its claims; obliterate the distinction between Left and Right as outdated; and slide into rhetorical schemes that are both crude and inchoate. Accordingly, what really distinguishes the populist invocation of ‘the people’ is not its comprehensive character, but its vagueness; not the task of establishing ‘chains of equivalence’, but of concealing the glaring internal contradictions that it contains qua discourse ‒ the fact, for instance, that one cannot both promote a ‘favourable investment climate’ for globalised capitalism and uphold labour rights. But this feature too is a by-product of the discourse’s ‘twisted’ nature. Leaders deceitfully proclaiming democratic deepening are bound, sooner or later, to start mincing their words. One must ask, however, where does the populist urge or impulse originate from? Is it just the personal whim of opportunist leaders, or are there roots at once deeper and more political in nature? In light of our protracted failure to seriously examine, analyse and evaluate political content (discourse, ideology and strategy), it comes as no surprise that, nowadays, we find ourselves at a loss when it comes to assessing different political projects. Unsurprisingly, this is also the case with the archetypical ‘populist’ genre that has so indelibly influenced and animated Laclau’s (1977) early conceptualisations, the Latin American Import Substituting Industrialization (ISI). But we know enough to draw a rudimentary balance sheet (Malloy 1977; Collier 1980; Collier and Collier 1991). Perón, Vargas, and – in a considerably different politico-institutional context – Lázaro Cárdenas have certainly pitted the subaltern populations of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico against their countries’ internationalising – comprador – elites, and have skilfully articulated antagonistic ‘interpellations’ of the status quo, but what was the actual content of the regimes they erected and how did they end? Is it not high time to go back to studying the political coordinates of these projects and asses their respective outcomes? If we begin to do that, we will discover that their incomplete – to say the least – attempts to counter elite domination relied on a specific political calculus that a more traditional Marxist jargon would describe as ‘class collaborationism’: the idea that subaltern populations (primarily the working class but also the peasantry) must restrain and alter their demands in order to cement nascent alliances with ‘progressive’ segments of the ‘national bourgeoisie’. To uphold and shield these alliances, the regimes adopted (or further consolidated previously existing) top-down structures; excluded radical elements from officially sanctioned labour and other popular organisations; and imposed strict controls on most grass-roots initiatives. Without this making the populists any more popular with the bourgeoisie (who continued to possess the commanding heights of national economies), it nonetheless alienated significant segments of the lower and middle classes, a situation that acquired crisis proportions with the exhaustion of ISI’s ‘easy’ phase (of protected horizontal expansion) in the late 1950s and early

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1960s. Severely weakened of their primary social base, and with no comprehensive economic plan to move forward, the regimes thus found themselves unable to resist the violent Bureaucratic-Authoritarian exclusions of the mid-1960s (O’Donnell 1973). Of course, this is not the place to fully analyse this critical aspect of 20th century politics (which must also be placed in the context of contemporary economic, political and ideational cycles), but the point must not be missed. What nowadays appears to be a novel, politically inclusive ‒ a ‘popular’ ‒ strategy in the imaginary of left-leaning intellectuals under the guise of benevolent ‘left-wing populism’ has, in reality, been tried several times in the past with very meagre results, to put it mildly. Historically speaking (as well as in contemporary usage), populism signifies a strategy which, though (a) nominally antagonistic, is nonetheless principally characterised by its (b) penchant to collaborate with sections of the elites (usually behind the backs of the rank and file), and (c) excluding all the intermediaries (initiatives, movements, and parties) capable of resisting such collaboration. To a large extent this also explains why, as a discourse, it is (d) internally contradictory, inchoate, and/or evasive: because, while, rhetorically, it brandishes an intent to undo privilege, in practice it seeks to share in it. And these are conditions applicable to both the right- and the left-wing varieties. To so claim, however, is not tantamount to suggesting a moralistic analytical reliance on the ‘personal motives’ of the populist leaderships – this would be running counter to the spirit of the political approach I seek to develop. The perpetual charade that such leaderships and parties make out of their original proclamations neither can – nor need – be approached as a moral phenomenon – an instance of innate opportunism and/or unscrupulousness. After all, as scholars – unfairly – criticising Weyland have persistently noted, one cannot get into populist leaders’ heads and hearts – and this is certainly true. But researchers can surely study and assess political strategies: examine, for instance, whether or not, it makes sense to suggest ending austerity and anti-refugee policies without clashing with EU institutions; or bring about the ‘productive regeneration’ of an economy with banks simply robbing societies the way Harvey (2010) has so astutely described; or that it is possible to end social deprivation on a global scale without attacking extant institutional arrangements. The minute one detects oppositional stances proclaiming that such problems can indeed be solved via collaboration with the powers that be, s/he can be quite certain either that populism has arrived or that it is in the offing. But suggesting, as I have, that populism is bogus invocations of the popular also needs to stand the controls this chapter has applied to all the other approaches it has examined, the Wertrationalität and Zweckrationalität controls. The former requires that the analysis I pursue clearly states its cognitive-normative motives. This is not at all difficult. Concurring with Weyland and Roberts, I view populism as a threat: unlike the vast majority of the Manichean-ideational scholars, however, a threat not to post-democracy but to the subaltern populations it claims to represent and whose demands and aspirations it claims a capacity to voice. Clearly at odds with what the Laclau and Mouffe followers profess, this approach also suggests that popular movements and political initiatives must be

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alert to avert it – avert, that is, the political template of ‘undoing domination without clashing with the dominant’ that generates populism. If this is the normative-cognitive goal, I submit that the concept I introduce adequately serves it. Doubt is, nonetheless, bound to persist regarding the concept’s performance on the Zweckrationalität dimension. Can we produce sound research on its basis? Or, otherwise put, can we ascertain empirically the existence of populism as phony political opposition? My reply is, that for that, we will have to rely on the ‒ nowadays all too easily forfeited ‒ historical control. History has witnessed several oppositional strategies claiming a capacity to cope with their contemporary adversities ‒ a small minority of them successful, the vast majority not. In the spirit of what is attempted in the Introduction to this volume (see Chapter 1), we need to tap this experience and draw the necessary conclusions. Judging them by their respective outcomes (the essence of what I call the ‘historical control’), we must be able to assess ‒ sine ira et studio ‒ which strategy has been authentically promoting the interests of those it claimed to represent and which was but a bogus facade. Such an exercise is, of course, bound to be difficult and controversial. But it is only by undertaking it that we will be able to discover and pinpoint discourses, strategies and organisational practices that have been/are populist: that is, political projects discursively claiming to express and promote the interests of the subaltern, whilst, in practice, they undermine them. Such analysis is particularly urgent for the Left and recent varieties such as what nowadays is called the ‘radical left’. It is appropriate to conclude, then, by offering a brief overview in historical perspective.

Epilogue: democracy and the ‒ ‘radical’ ‒ left in historical perspective In their fine Introduction to the present volume (see Chapter 1), editors Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou present a succinct depiction of the historical trajectory of the Left. If, as I claim, populism as deceptive invocations of the popular is to be reckoned as an instance of a collaborationist political template (akin to suggesting that the interests of labour can be furthered in cooperation with sections of capital ‒ as the archetypical Latin American populists did), how can we trace it, both retrospectively and prospectively, as a feature in the evolution of the Left, and how does it bear on our present-day efforts to assess the performance of the ‘radical left’? Although the trait of class collaborationism was certainly older (as highlighted by Marx in his well-known Critique of the Gotha Program), its first tangible expression is to be found in the notorious Burgfriedenspolitik [a policy of truce] of the SPD, adopted shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Proclaiming that this was an utmost ‘patriotic duty’, the party voted in favour of war credits in the Reichstag, prohibited its affiliated unions from going on strike and agreed to refrain from criticising the government. Not unexpectedly, it also involved suppressing all those inside the party (most notably Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg) who

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opposed it. Of course, the party continued to be nominally ‘antagonistic’, claiming to represent the interests of the working class against the privileged elites; for the first time in the history of the Left, however, the idea was being introduced that this could materialise in alliance with the bourgeoisie. Facilitated by a variety of mostly political factors, this stance gained prominence all over western Europe. In France, for example, when faced with the choice of blocking the World War I carnage and putting into practice the doctrine of the general strike, the SFIO, long preoccupied with conciliatory social unity in exchange for integrating the working class into the official political game, opted for the Union Sacrée. At the time they materialised, these developments certainly testified to the lasting validity of Roberto Michels’s (1959: 104) analysis concerning the incipient bureaucratisation of mass parties. As he famously put it, the party ‘chiefs become detached from the mass’ with the concurrent ‘tendency to isolate themselves, to form a sort of cartel, and to surround themselves, as it were, with a wall, within which they will admit those only who are of their own way of thinking’. But a prerequisite for these processes to continue unabated was that the parties in question would strategically refrain from seriously clashing with their nominal adversary, the bourgeois state. This is precisely what happened in social democratic ‒ reformist ‒ Europe: the key reason the leaderships in question provided to legitimise their ‘patriotic turn’ was that they had to do it, otherwise the party organisation would be at risk. Subsuming the expressive function of labour parties to the requirement of bureaucratic reproduction may thus be hypothesised as the statu nascendi of the class collaborationist political template and, by extension, of the populist discourse. If the years before World War I witnessed the first major instance of class collaborationism, a critical second occurred on the eve of World War II. It was no other than the policy of Popular Frontism promoted by the thoroughly Stalinised Comintern. After a bewildering decade of constant zig-zags between opportunism and ultra-sectarianism in the period 1925–1934, in its 7th Congress of July–August 1935 the body instructed Communist Parties the world over that the way forward lay in their active co-operation with bourgeois parties. Following the catastrophic doctrine of ‘social fascism’ of 1928–1933/34 that had greatly facilitated Hitler’s coming power (advocating that whoever was not a communist was a fascist), the turn was initially hailed as a return to the principles of the United Front policy advocated by Lenin in the early 1920s (whereby, whilst retaining their programmatic identity, communist parties were to seek unity with non-communist worker organisations and parties) as a means to counter ‘infantile left-wing communism’. But this was not the case. The critical difference lay in that parties had to strip their programme of all socialist elements in a manner that would appease the bourgeoisie – now discovered to contain a hefty ‘progressive’ section. The dramatic turn was conveniently concealed behind the old ‘theory of stages’ ‒ originally fashioned by pre-World War I Social Democracy and subsequently elaborated by the Stalinist Comintern. Class collaborationist policies and alliances with bourgeois parties were legitimate and had to be pursued because ‘the time was not ripe for socialism’.

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Making an absurd theoretical virtue (as capitalism had long entered its imperialist phase) out of blatant bureaucratic necessity (the urge to avoid transgressive policies in exchange for securing a role inside the political system) communist parties entered the craze of discovering more and more ‘stages’ to socialism. This is not the place, of course, to even begin recounting how this policy turned out to be a recipe for disaster in countries such as France of the Front Populaire of 1936–1939, Spain of La República (throughout the period 1931–1939) and several others as well. Although such analysis is necessary and long-overdue, however, my goal here is simply to call attention to the fact that the vague, populist reference to the ‘people’ with the objective of upholding – often in concealed fashion – collaboration with the sections of the bourgeoisie received a major boost in the 1930s, long before Perón and the other Latin American populists reframed it for their own purposes. The policy also proved to be extremely resilient, characterising the conduct of European Communist Parties in the post-war period and goes a long way to explaining phenomena like the l’austerità giusta of the PCI and the utterly conservative conduct of the PCF during the events of May 1968. In these and many other instances, the operative code behind, and utmost practical concern of, these policies was ‘not to alienate the bourgeoisie’ – rhetorical pompousness typical of the populist divergence between word and deed notwithstanding. The conspicuous domestication of social democratic and communist parties ushered in a period of new initiatives on the Left. The movements of the 1960s and the anti-globalisation movement were key moments in that process, the latter creating the institutional preconditions for the emergence of what, nowadays, is called the ‘radical left’. As I have already argued supra (in Section I and Section II) and elsewhere (Seferiades 2018), however, contrary to their initial proclamations, these parties have tended to display classical features of the old Burgfriedenspolitik. Arcane debates about the presumed novelty and promise of ‘left-wing populism’ have been obscuring both that ‒ for what really matters ‒ the phenomenon is as old as the Left (particular historical circumstance notwithstanding) and, more importantly, that its essence has been precisely the resolve to duck the elaboration of genuinely transgressive political programs ‒ what the Introduction to this volume (see Chapter 1) identifies as ‘simple schemata in the place of comprehensive, clear and articulated political standpoints and policy suggestions’. I claim that the reason for that ‒ which may be construed as populism’s political raison d’être ‒ is the view that ‘the time is not ripe for socialism’. Nor is it widely appreciated that, long before the emergence of the current jargon about ‘the radical left’ and ‘left-wing populism’, in the 1980s and 1990s, the political content of the phenomenon had already been applied and tested out, in the frustrating trajectory of nominally post-Stalinist parties such as the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in Brazil, the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Italy, and the Socialistische Partij (SP) in the Netherlands. Though typically absent from most ‘populist’ lists (when parties such as the Greek PASOK of the 1980s, the German Die Linke, and Corbyn’s Labour are typically included), these parties too employed a dichotomous antagonistic rhetoric often peppered with hyper-

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revolutionary phraseology; their key defining feature, however, was their unwillingness to develop coherent and cogent transgressive strategies always under the same pretext: ‘the time was not ripe’. The Left needs to draw conclusions from this experience, but nowadays this is hampered by the proliferation of hazy talk intent on putting the old class collaborationist wine in presumably new bottles ‒ the view, for instance, that amidst deepening capitalist crisis ‘left populism’ (hastily declared as a one-way road for the Left) must promote ‘institutions that would support various forms of entrepreneurship ‒private, public or social’ (Rinaldos Rylmon 2018), no further questions asked and certainly without any mention of the constitutive socialist demand, democratic deepening at the level of production. Cushioned in perplexing ‒ and, not rarely, inchoate ‒ verbiage, it is particularly distressing that such views reverberate precisely ideas and proclamations that, so many times in the past, have been found defective to say the least. And though the task of adumbrating a viable strategy for the Left requires separate treatment (but see Seferiades 2017), one thing is certain: no matter what guise it takes, class collaborationism (the view that domination can be undone without clashing with the dominant) carries no promise for the future. I have argued that, historically and contemporaneously, this has been the factor necessitating the deceptive invocations of the popular that have been the landmark of populism. It is hardly necessary at this point to return to my earlier account of the impasses of post-democracy to understand why societies are agonisingly seeking an exit, an alternative. But historical experience squarely demonstrates that whenever the Left fails to provide it, the danger of the reactionary far-right doing so looms large. To the extent that, in the present time as also in the past, populism acts out its deceptive nature, it represents a threat to all emancipatory projects and for that reason it must be resisted. This requires many things, but an absolute pre-requisite is conceptual clarity ‒ as Sartori (1984: 22) put it, ‘clear thinking requires clear language’. And if our cognitive-normative objective is to further democratic deepening, simply tinkering with the concept’s connotation (whimsically imbuing a positive aura to it) quite evidently will not do. One has, instead, to de-construct the dominant conceptualisation which, though successful in normatively defending post-democracy, results in stunningly poor social science. This is precisely what I have tried to do.

Notes 1 The passage is cited in the first paragraph of the ‘Foreword’ in Giovanni Sartori’s seminal Social Science Concepts. A Systematic Analysis (Sartori 1984: 9). Reference is made to Thomson’s The Inspiration of Science, London: Oxford University Press, 1961 (Thomson 1961). 2 Suffice it to remark that whereas the Greek public debt was € 299.7 bn (129.7% of the GNP) in 2009, in 2018, after the imposition of three bailout packages it stood at a staggering € 343.7 bn (179.8% of the GNP). 3 Although just an adversarial slogan, typically castigated as ‘populist’ by neoliberally inclined scholars, the 99% imagery in fact constitutes a fairly accurate description of developments in the US. In 2013, for instance, the top 1% of households received

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approximately 20% of the pre-tax income (versus approximately 10% from 1950 to 1980), whilst the top 0.1% received nearly 10%. That this was largely a reflection of neoliberal politics is shown in that, after federal taxes and income transfers over the period 1979–2007, the top 1% had increased their income by about 275%! It also merits attention that most of the growth in income inequality has been between the middle class and top earners, with the disparity widening the further one goes up in the income distribution. Accordingly, while the bottom 50% was earning 20% of pre-tax income in 1979, this fell to 14% by 2007 and to 13% by 2014 (Zucman Piketty and Saez 2018). That social-movement demand also reflected ‘the real’ in Britain is stressed by Bailey (see Chapter 9, this volume). 4 Mouffe’s online article was brought to my attention by my doctoral student Christos Avramidis, whom I wish to thank. 5 Joyce’s 1991 work which is also the best-known is tellingly titled ‘Visions of the People’. 6 As the term indicates, ‘central’ are the properties we usually associate with a phenomenon – e.g., in birds, flying capacity. But not all birds can fly (e.g., turkeys). ‘Defining’ on the other hand, are properties in the absence of which a concept does not hold.

References Aslanidis, P. (2015) ‘Is Populism an ideology? A refutation and a new perspective’, Political Studies, 64(15): 88–104. Aslanidis, P. (2016) ‘Populist social movements of the Great Recession’, Mobilization; An International Quarterly, 21(3): 301–321. Collier, D. (ed.) (1980) The New Authoritarianism in Latin America. (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Collier, D. and CollierR. B. (1991) Shaping the Political Arena: Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement, and Regime Dynamics in Latin America. (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Crouch, C. (2004) Post-Democracy. (Cambridge: Polity). Davis, M. (2011) ‘Spring confronts winter’, New Left Review, November–December, 72: 5–15. Della Porta, D., Fernández, J., KoukiH. and Mosca, L. (2017) Movement Parties Against Austerity. (Cambridge: Polity). Evans, P. and Sewell, P. H. (2013) ‘Neoliberalism: Policy regimes, institutional regimes, and social effects’, in P. Hall and M. Lamont (eds.), Social Resilience in the Neoliberal Era. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 35–68. Flyvbjerg, B. (2001) Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How it Can Succeed Again. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). The Guardian (2017) ‘World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%’, 16 January, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/16/worlds-eigh t-richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50 [accessed 20 June 2018]. Harvey, D. (2010) The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis of Capitalism. (New York: St. Martin’s Press). Henry, J. S. (2012) ‘The price of offshore revisited: New estimates for “missing” global private wealth, income, inequality, and lost taxes’, Tax Justice Network, https://www.taxjustice.net/ cms/upload/pdf/Price_of_Offshore_Revisited_120722.pdf (accessed: 14 June 2018). Hobsbawm, E. (1989) The Age of Empire, 1875–1914. (London: Penguin/Cardinal). Howarth, D. (2005) ‘Populism or popular democracy? The UDF, workerism and the struggle for radical democracy in South Africa’, in F. Panizza (ed.) Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. (London: Verso), pp. 202–223. Joyce, P. (1991) Visions of the People: Industrial England the Question of Class, 1848–1914. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Joyce, P. (1994) Democratic Subjects: The Self and the Social in Nineteenth-Century England. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

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Kaltwasser, C. R., Taggart, P. A., Ochoa Espejo, P. and Ostiguy, P. (2017) Oxford Handbook of Populism. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Katsambekis, G. (2016) ‘The populist surge in post-democratic times: Theoretical and political challenges’, The Political Quarterly, 88(2): 202–210. Katz, R. (2001) ‘The problem of candidate selection and models of party democracy’, Party Politics, 7(3): 277–296. Katz, R. and Mair, P. (2009) ‘The Cartel Party thesis: A restatement’, Perspectives on Politics, 7(4): 753–766. Kioupkiolis, A. (2016) ‘Podemos: The ambiguous promises of left-wing populism in contemporary Spain’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 21(2): 99–120. Klein, N. (2007) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. (London: Allen Lane). Kotronaki, L. (2018) ‘From the street to the parliament: The topographies of protest and SYRIZA in the years of crisis, 2009–2015’, in N. Serntedakis and S. Tompazos (eds.), Facets of the Greek Crisis: Contentious Protest Cycle and Institutional Outcomes. (Athens: Gutenberg), pp. 135–177. Kouvelakis, S. (2011) ‘The Greek cauldron’, New Left Review, November–December, 72: 17–32. Kriesi, H. and Pappas, T. S. (2015) ‘Populism in Europe during crisis’, in H. Kriesi and T. S. Pappas (eds.), European Populism in the Shadow of the Great Recession. (Colchester: ECPR Press), pp. 1–22. Laclau, E. (1977) Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. (London: Verso). Laclau, E. (2005) On Populist Reason. (London: Verso). Lapavitsas, K. (2011) ‘Theorizing financialization’, Work, Employment and Society, 25(4): 611–625. Lee, M. (2006) ‘The populist chameleon: The People’s Party, Huey Long, George Wallace, and the populist argumentative frame’, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 92(4): 355–378. Mair, P. (2000) ‘Partyless democracy. Solving the paradox of New Labour?’, New Left Review, March-April, 2: 21–35. Mair, P. (2002) ‘Populist democracy as party democracy’, in M. Yves and S. Yves (eds.), Democracies and the Populist Challenge. (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 151–165. Mair, P. (2006) ‘Ruling the void’, New Left Review, 42. Mair, P. (2013) Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy. (London: Verso). Malloy, J. P. (ed.) (1977) Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America, (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press). Michels, R. (1959) Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Emergence of Leadership, the Psychology of Power, and the Oligarchic Tendencies of Organization. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc). Mouffe, C. (2018) ‘Corbyn a mis en oeuvre une stratégie populiste de gauche’, Le Vent Se Lève, http://lvsl.fr/chantal-mouffe-corbyn-populisme-gauche [accessed: 16 June 2018]. Mudde, C. (2004) ‘The populist zeitgeist’, Government and Opposition, 39(4): 147–174. Mudde, C. (2017) ‘Populism: An ideational approach’, in Kaltwasseret al. (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Populism. (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 27–47. Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2012) ‘Populism and (liberal) democracy: A framework for analysis’, in C. Mudde and C. R. Kaltwasser (eds.), Populism in Europe and the Americas: Threat or Corrective to Democracy? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 1–26. Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017) Populism: A Very Short Introduction. (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Müller, J. W. (2017) What is Populism? (London: Penguin). O’Donnell, G. (1973) Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics. (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley).

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12 CONCLUSIONS Populism and left radicalism in Europe across time and space Giorgos Charalambous and Gregoris Ioannou

In these concluding lines the book returns to the overarching issues at stake in the study of left-wing populism and its relationship with democracy and socialist strategy. To pose the historical question at the core of this volume, first, does talk of left-wing populism signal a shift in intellectual debate about politics or left radicalism and by extension socialist strategy itself? The answer is both, but qualifications are in order. On the one hand scholars and analysts have detected a trend of increasing populist rhetoric on the radical left in Europe, which is epitomised by some of the cases discussed in this volume, both movements and parties. In this vein, populism is seen as a trait of the more recent, concrete manifestations of left radicalism – at the party as well as at the movement level. The cases of the indignados and the Syntagma square aganaktismenoi, Podemos, SYRIZA, Mélenchon and Corbyn are evidence of this temporality; never in the history of the European radical left has populist rhetoric been so widely assumed by movements and politicians. On the other hand, these contemporary phenomena have historical equivalents or at least partial analogies in various periods and areas of Europe, and this should be taken into consideration in attempts to understand and theorise the phenomenon. Populist-like schemata have always characterised the radical left in particular ways, yet at the same time there was always a distance between populism and anti-capitalism. Additionally, the left itself has historically until today been divided on whether populism as a rhetoric can be part of a broader socialist strategy or even tactic. Normative indeterminacy on the left itself is paralleled with a normative indeterminacy in scholarly analysis on populism and its relation to democracy and progress, actual as well as potential. However, the different competing and contrasting approaches on the phenomenon of populism in the literature can be said to have at least one thing in common – that populism has been on a sort of rise producing, despite the elements of historical recurrence, a shift of paradigm

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compared to the heyday of post World War II liberalism. In the Left, the internal (intraparty and intra-left) divisions about the place and value of populism in politics are strong – yet there is again a commonality in the diverging views: that the attempted liberal-conservative discrediting of the popular politics and the people as an agent of history through the discrediting of all dissent as ‘populism’ needs to be resisted.

Context and left-wing populism There are historical conditions that are particularly conducive to the development of populist political communication by party or social movement agents. Periods of declining system legitimacy and stability, economic depression, real and perceived political threats may induce party and social movement agents to attempt to open up their appeals to broader sections of the population and concentrate their attacks on elites that are portrayed as responsible for the ills of society. Yet no direct causality can be established and no model, however sophisticated can predict the appearance or non-appearance of populism – we propose that this needs to be examined through a historical analysis that is both sensitive to national specificities and to prevailing ideational frames. Has the frequent use of the term ‘left-wing populism’ included plenty of misuse as well? Clearly, yes. First misuse can be detected in public commentaries by journalists and politicians who often tend to categorise dissent to the increasingly rigidifying political course prevailing as populism. Populism in this train of thought stands for policy proposals that deviate from the neoliberal economic governance regime in Europe in general and the Eurozone in particular and for all the voices who call for democratic control of the economy (Streeck, 2014). At a second level misuse of the term populism can be seen in scholarly analyses which view the discourses and the forces that express disaffection and opposition to the political system and ‘the actually existing liberal democracies’ as a threat to democracy in general. Although the focus here is on the populist right, there is an implicit, and sometimes explicit, association of right-wing with left-wing populism which are not seen as differing in form and in their (negative) relation to democracy. Seferiades and Bailey in this volume illustrate this misuse and its political significance, in turn suggesting ways to overcome it. People-centrism, an element of populism, as a discursive form is often taken as enough evidence that a fully fledged populism as a distinctive ideological strain is present in the political actors who employ it. Although populist rhetoric and the realm of ideas blend to produce a relatively distinctive communication that evokes the popular, as Bailey (Chapter 9, this volume) claims, left-wing populism is not and was never a distinct ideological tradition within the radical left party family. The exception here is Podemos, where, as has become clear in Chapter 7, its populism functions as a set of guidelines underpinned by an ideological strategy, in turn inspired from intellectual discussions in political theory, political science and sociology. Still, even here the internal division between Errejón’s ‘middle-class populism’, ‘moderate’, ‘pragmatic’ and ‘institutionalized’ and Iglesias’ ‘more left-

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leaning’, ‘confrontational’ and ‘pro-movement’ populism, echoes the classic conflictual bind inside and among parties and movements – between ‘revolutionaries and reformists’, ‘radicals and moderates’ or rather (more appropriately for Podemos) ‘strong and soft reformism’ – that has characterised the socialist tradition since its inception. The context is important and usually the determining factor in the development of discourses in oppositional politics in general and left-wing politics in particular. If those advocating egalitarian ideas are faced with severe repression, for example, then people-centrism can help generate a collective identity among them. If, on the other hand, radical actors are faced with a complex policy dilemma then populist rhetoric can discredit them among their most concerned (and educated) supporters, easily being received as what Seferiades (Chapter 11, this volume) calls ‘political deception’. Populism can easily slip into demagoguery if political appeals are received and accepted on an emotional basis and if clarity of positions degenerates into simplistic generalities and mere sloganeering. But this needs to be examined on a case by case situation and according to the issues and stakes at hand. Ideas and communication need always be seen in relation to the material conditions and the politics with which they are connected. Moreover, populism may be suited especially as a response to organic crisis since mobilising diverse citizen profiles requires a discourse that undermines and challenges system legitimacy (see Gerbaudo 2017: 49–59). Crises lead to conditions of conflictual polarisation whereby there is no common denominator in the articulation of political positions. In these circumstances it can be electorally beneficial to pose a bi-polarity between the ordinary people and the corrupted political class, responsible for and mismanaging the ensuing crisis. In a context of social upset and electoral shifts, the ability of a people-centric linguistic framing to initiate or push for social and political change increases. Crises do not only signify systemic, ‘objective’ failures by the ruling elites, but also the existence of antithetic narratives, which diagnose different causes, ascribe blame to different actors and structures and propose distinct solutions. In both Europe and Latin America a shift to post-democratic and aggressively neoliberal politics in the experienced reality of the lower and middle classes provoked left-wing mobilisation on the basis of populist discourse; in Latin America the peak of the crisis was in the 1990s whereas in Europe it has been the 2010s. One can see across this volume that crisis was almost always the context in which populist or populist-like mobilisation unfolded; from the Narodniks to the Popular Front to modern day trade unionism, crisis, in different forms, shapes and sizes has been a key feature of radical thought. And it has systematically constituted a medium through which to weave populist schemata into socialist strategy although not all crises have produced a fully fledged radical left populism. Insisting on a crisis and framing grievances through it can be a good strategic choice when others try to manage inadequately, hide or underplay an obvious deterioration in economic, political or social standards; but when the articulation of crisis as a condition that signals out of the ordinary circumstances lacks a theoretical reasoning about its causes and characteristics, then it is at best a rhetorical tool to

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mobilise ‘foolish’ voters and will probably not sustain its force in the long-term. Crisis-centred rhetoric needs to be accompanied by theoretical and empirical analyses if it is to feed into socialist strategy. On the basis of the empirical chapters in this volume, one can argue that left-wing forces, including the most prominent representatives of left-wing populism, have put significant effort in theorising and scrutinising the crisis. This was true for the Narodniks as it has been for the intelligentsia inside and around SYRIZA, Podemos and the Labour Party under Corbyn. Among the ranks of radical left parties and movements one can find dozens of young researchers and activists investigating the causes, changes and implications of the ongoing crisis, as well as addressing its conceptual structure as a notion signifying a state of emergency. To return to the introduction’s definitional point (see Chapter 1) about populism as oversimplification and crudeness, this may to an extent be inevitable when it comes to populist rhetoric, but the radical left, unlike the far right, has had a tradition of theorising and elaborating its concepts and ideas; if constructing a ‘people’ and scrutinising elite practices has been anyone’s concern throughout history, it has been the left’s. To take the analysis further, when capitalist exploitation or political elitism intensifies or becomes more affectively apparent, the most fundamental components of populism – people-centrism and some sort of anti-elitism – can constitute a significant symbolic appeal to those who are oppressed, although ‘the people’ may (but not have to) remain undefined by the actor who aims to mobilise them, but can also be defined retroactively (Reyes 2005). Universalising references to ‘the people’ can also act as a counter-strategy to a range of defensive and exclusionary discourses and in doing so succeed in providing anti-racist, anti-xenophobic and anti-nationalist attitudes a legitimating cover (Johnson 2017: 78). When the state is not responding to any of an actor’s demands, then that actor will do best in strategic terms to be as exclusive as possible vis-à-vis those connected to and influencing institutional power. Indeed, this concerns how revolutionary the spirit of the organisation is and thus its own selfdemarcations with institutional, party and state elites. The peasants’ structural position in Russian feudalism (including middle class peasants) explains much of their anti-elitist rhetoric. The Narodniks were able to masterfully weave peasant unity and anti-elitism into political opposition of the tsarist regime as experienced oppression and exploitation intensified. (Mullin, Chapter 2, this volume). Finally, the influence of the social and organisational environment on the particular character of populism can be seen through the prism of the radical left political family as a whole, which includes both parties and movements. The relationship between movements and parties has evolved substantially over time as the so called new social movements made their appearance on the West European plane in the post 1968 milieu. As evidenced in the chapters by Bailey, Chiocchetti, Worth, and Kioupkiolis and Katsambekis, social movements in the context of the global financial crisis have employed populist schemata that underpin support for popular sovereignty and attack austerity. In all chapters, one can also note the significance of movements for the emergence or reinforcement of radical left electoral platforms aspiring to govern. Indeed, the causes and the dynamics of populist

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attributes should be sought in the relationship between parties and movements coexisting, sharing and competing within a broadly defined political space, that which is on the left of the political spectrum. Movements have been instrumental in infusing radical left parties with a populist discourse in several European countries with the prime recent examples being indignados-Podemos, aganaktismenoiSYRIZA, and Momentum-Corbyn. Parties have been both receptive of movements’ populist inclinations and carried forward populist rhetoric from the streets to the institutional sphere; SYRIZA, for example, turned populism from a tool for mobilising the protest vote during its time of mixing with the social movements, to a personalised appeal to ‘the people’, practiced away from and without the involvement of movements, which increasingly demobilised in the aftermath of the party entering executive office. In a parallel fashion, Podemos, still not inside executive office, underwent a vertical turn in its actual workings and its constitution, whereby bureaucratised structures attracted criticism and eroded the party’s appeal and ability to mobilise supporters. France Insoumise, suffers, according to Chiocchetti (Chapter 6), from a ‘democratic deficit’, ‘organisational fragility’, and ‘dependence on the leader’.

Left-wing populism as a corrective to democracy? Populism as a set of discursive frames in social conflict and a concept of political analysis has been primarily comprehended as an enemy of liberal democracy and as a means with which to delegitimise the Left through highlighting commonalities between the far left and far right. Populism has been a tool, theoretical as well as political, with which arguments against the unrealism, the political moralising and the non-seriousness of the Left were built. Left populism has been considered as evidence of the absence of a clear management strategy, as proof of the recklessness of the radical left, of the naive and/or dangerous character of its policy proposals and ultimately of its unsuitability to lead and govern. However, from the opposite perspective it has also been seen used as a tool with which the depoliticisation of the masses could be undone, utilising the legitimisation crisis of the political system and the elites for the aims of policy change, and as an opportunity with which the Left could build social alliances and forge majorities for progressive anti-neoliberal politics. If the political system or the social setting is such that it enables or encourages personalistic politics, then populism, which aims to generate a leader or leadership to represent emerging heterogeneous, anti-elitist social currents may more easily than elsewhere give rise to problems of overconcentration of power around the leader, dictatorial behaviour (see Arditi 2010) or commercialisation. Chiocchetti notes that internal movement and party democracy suffered a loss because of Mélenchon’s populism and implies that from a normative perspective such damage may outweigh the positive impact of the populist orientation in tactical terms through the substantial electoral gains.

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While at the beginning of populist-driven mobilisation during the crisis, democracy in its deliberative, assembly-like and participatory forms benefits through the movements and their experimentation with space and the social media, the path of SYRIZA, Podemos as well as France Insoumise, illustrate a tendency to gradually move towards more centralised, vertical and personalised models of power distribution within the party and the broader movement. These are indeed analogous experiences to those of centre-left or radical left populist governments in Latin America. One implication that creates tension between socialism and populism is that in the absence of a truly de-centralised and deliberatively rich organisation, mobilisation based on emotional appeal may prevail. This in turn will translate into a large pool of supporters without ideological or normative commitment. Still, the contrast between radical left populism’s relationship to democracy and far right populism’s relationship to democracy cannot be starker. Once the analysis by Petsinis (Chapter 8, this volume) is contrasted to the invocation of democratic principles by radical left forces in Europe evident in the rest of the chapter, a number of very apparent political differences arise. These remind us of not only the inclusive–exclusive dictum in terms of defining a people, but also the radically different adherence between the radical left and right to democratic principles such as popular sovereignty, participation, deliberation and representation. Importantly, left-wing populism or populist-like schemata have frequently been adopted as discursive responses to the lack of democracy and economic equality as in the Narodniks and the Popular Front or as reactions to a state of post-democracy and aggressive austerity as in Podemos, SYRIZA, Mélenchon and Corbyn. Lastly, the political differences between the radical left and right also illustrate the introduction’s point (see Chapter 1) concerning the superficiality of populism as rhetoric. Whereas on the radical left, political language is intrinsically bound with theorisation and intellectual analysis, on the far right it functions much more as a deceptive mechanism for generating sympathies. Perhaps the most important point to be made however on the contribution of left-wing populism to democracy is the implications of its absence. If the radical left is weak and unable to articulate its positions in ways resonating with large segments of society, a political and ideological vacuum may be created. Given the crisis of capitalism and the crisis of liberal democracy that absence of a radical left may be conducive to a sort of pseudo-socialism to be employed by conservative and extremist forces on the far right. Petsinis’ discussion (Chapter 8, this volume) on how populism can be utilised discursively as a medium by the right wing in Eastern Europe through which to ‘hijack the left’ is illustrative of this.

Populism and socialist strategy There has always been a tension between populism and the socialist tradition. Mullin (Chapter 2) is clear about the distance and competition between Narodism and Marxism in Russia and how the tension remained even at the point of their substantial convergence at policy level during the Bolshevik Revolution. Similarly,

Conclusions: populism and left radicalism


Escalona (Chapter 3) argues about the socialists of the inter-war period and Balampanidis (Chapter 4) for the Eurocommunists of the post war period, who address empirically the relationship and the respective instances of left radicalism as ‘temptations’ rather than conscious appropriations of populism as a strategy of articulating rhetoric and more generally doing politics. This echoes Olson’s (2017) analysis of the writings of Marx, the Blanquists and Eduard Bernstein, which argued in retrospect that populism is both a consistent preoccupation and a recurring problem for socialists. Certain features of populism, such as its proclivity to oversimplification and even crudeness, may be considered as inappropriate for the left because they affect democracy negatively. Employing populist discourse for an extended period of time can harm a number of social attributes that make democracy and several of its features viable and is therefore, a democratic pathology, even if one questions the entrenched enclosure of democracy in a liberal format. Demagoguery may discourage citizen sophistication, blur arguments and their boundaries, as well as make instinctive rather than critical thinking more important in deciding about political options; these phenomena stand in contrast with the left’s conception of democracy where fruitful reflection and deliberation have always been important (although also hampered across the history of communism) and revolutionary theory is considered fundamental for revolutionary practice. Importantly, by adopting populism, the radical left always risks projecting the image and practising the politics of a social force that characterises the people as a universal, normatively privileged group which includes the whole of society. In traditional Marxism, references to ‘the people’ have always been limited and particular. Seeing populism as political deception, as Seferiades does in the previous chapter, allows us to make a leap forward both in terms of theorisation and socialist strategy. On the one hand, elements of left wing populist discourse that can assist popular mobilisation and the challenging of the existing political status quo may be utilised – on the other hand succumbing to ‘populism as such’ by the Left is effectively its annihilation as the force of socialism. Populism not only remains distinct (and negative) at the level of theory and content from the perspective of the radical left – but more importantly it serves as a sort of litmus test with which to assess the Left with respect to socialist strategy. Populism is theoretically and politically incompatible with Marxism and the historical revolutionary praxis. At the same time, it can neither be ignored, nor easily discounted as a modality by the Left. From the perspective of the Left the ‘popular’ is a pillar of strategy. When reduced to a mere tactical reference, there is deception at work. From a critical perspective that defends the traditional Marxist paradigm, a shift of rhetorical and strategic centrality away from class and towards ‘common people’, ‘lay men’ and ‘ordinary citizens’ dilutes radicalism and the disruptive force of mobilisation and resistance on the socialist space. For Seferiades (Chapter 11, this volume), this post-Marxist approach leads inevitably to class collaborationism because it postpones the socialist future, based upon the conviction that the time for a revolutionary rupture is not ripe; in his terms, class collaborationism is ‘the

264 G. Charalambous and G. Ioannou

idea that subaltern populations (primarily the working class but also the peasantry) must restrain and alter their demands in order to cement nascent alliances with “progressive” segments of the “national bourgeoisie”’. In this vein, the author notes, reference to the ‘people’ has often had the objective of enabling collaboration with sections of the bourgeoisie, often in a fashion concealed from the organisation’s wider support base. This started first in Europe and is especially evident in the inter-war period (Escalona, Chapter 3, this volume) long before the first Latin American populists reframed a class collaborationist approach in classical populist terms. At the same time, populism has been used to conquer broader audiences to alternatives to the mainstream, radical agendas on democracy and the economy. In structural conditions which lead to impoverishment and alienation, populism can be seen as a means to inculcate in the (newly) oppressed a sense of justice and a political mindset that was absent or blurred in their previous days. Doing so can arguably be conducive both to forming a social majority and propelling the party electorally and (potentially) into government. Although class collaborationism (as defined by Seferiades, Chapter 11, this volume) has diachronically been a consequence of populism feeding into electoralism, there is in evidence the historical potentiality of populism to enable ‘openings’, facilitate broader alliances and provide a heterogeneous pool of marginalised citizens with a common frame through which to channel their grievances. So where does this lead us with respect to the relationship between radical left ideologies and populist rhetoric throughout time and in respect to specific contexts, both historical and contemporary? And is such a thing as ‘left populism’ an instrument of revolution or substantial progressive reform? There is nothing that can exclude this possibility in theory. What this volume has demonstrated is that the historical experience is rich in examples and contexts and that this should be the starting point both for the understanding of the phenomenon and for the (political) purposes of socialist strategy. Left populism may be perhaps conceptualised as a double edged sword: it can both open up fruitful theoretical investigations in political science and political sociology but it can also blur the waters of scientific analysis allowing the making of arbitrary connections and the reaching of easy conclusions. In political practice again it can both enhance the fortune of the Left by expanding its outreach and mobilisation potential but it can also dilute its critical edge and dampen the revolutionary prospect. It is ultimately up to the contexts, the stakes and the agents how this double-edged sword is used. Our aim in this volume was to illuminate the shape of this ‘sword’ and discuss its uses based on historical and contemporary examples. In doing this, we are content that we have contributed to a clearing of the field allowing future research and political praxis to set more specific questions and the searching of more nuanced answers.

References Arditi, B. (2010) ‘Populism is hegemony is politics? On Ernesto Laclau's “On populist reason”’, Constellations, 17(3): 488–497 Gerbaudo, P. (2017) The Mask and the Flag: Populism, Citizenism and Global Protest. (London: Hurst Publishers).

Conclusions: populism and left radicalism


Johnson, P. (2017) ‘In search of a leftist democratic imaginary: What can theories of populism tell us?’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 22(1): 74–91. Olson, K. (2017) ‘Populism in the Socialist Imagination’, in C. R. Kaltwasser, P. Taggard, P. Ochoa Espejo and P. Ostiguy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Populism. (Oxford: Oxford University Press) Reyes, O. (2005). ‘Skinhead conservatism: A failed populist project’, in F. Panizza, (ed.), Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. (London: Verso). Streeck, W. (2014) Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism. (London: Verso).


activism /(sts) 2, 4, 33, 36, 37, 39–42, 99, 109, 120, 124, 136, 138, 139, 142, 167, 172, 173, 176, 186, 190, 205, 216, 217, 238, 260; see also Clickactivists aganaktismenoi 134, 135, 257, 261 anarchism(st)(ic) 3, 37, 39, 109, 217, 235 anarcho-syndicalist(s) 206, 217, 220 antagonism(stic) 2, 9, 11, 12, 18, 51, 68, 108, 112, 125, 131, 134, 136, 137, 138, 140, 144, 147, 166, 205, 218, 226–9, 232, 233, 235–7, 246–8, 250, 251 anti-war 38, 97, 99, 138; see also Stop the War artificial(ly) anti-capitalism(st) 22, 170–1, 173–7, 245 anti-austerity 2, 6, 22, 97, 137, 161, 183–200, 217, 231–2 anti-establishment 12, 22, 67, 69, 92, 95, 98–100, 136, 137, 144, 162, 166, 168, 169, 219 assembly (ies) 35, 43, 44, 140, 142, 144, 262: Constituent Assembly, 39, 115, 120, 140, 145, 146; People’s Assembly, 190, 192–4, 196, 201; Citizens’ Assembly 140, 142 austerity 5, 6, 16, 23, 51, 77, 81, 91, 92, 94–96, 101, 119, 134–7, 140, 147, 148, 163, 171, 184–7, 189–197, 205, 214, 215, 217–219, 230, 235, 248, 260, 262, authoritarian 8, 15, 34, 53, 54, 59, 60, 80, 158–160, 242: anti-, 139; post- 148; authoritarianism 80, 159, 161 authority 20, 54, 56

bailout (programme, agreement or package) 140, 147, 149, 169; 235, 252; (national) bail-outs 230 Bakunin, M. 35–6, 42 Berlinguer, E. 73–4, 76–9 Bernstein, E. 75, 76, 263 Bloco Esquerda 232 Blum, L. 54, 56, 58–9, 70 bourgeois(sie) 3, 19, 34, 42, 44, 46, 55, 61, 70–3, 75, 79, 80, 92, 109–111, 240, 247, 250–1, 264 Brazil 91, 247, 251 bureaucratic 34, 46, 67, 210, 248, 250–1 Camp for Climate Action 190 chains of equivalence 131, 136–7, 228, 234, 236, 243, 247: equivalences 11, 234 Chavez, H. 1, 90, 91, 130, 133, 135, 140–2, 145, 149, 150, 231, 241 Chernyshevskii, N. G. 34–5, 37, 40, 42 class collaborationist 247, 249–250, 252, 263 climate change 99, 118, 192 Clickactivists 146 Cold War 3, 10, 71, 76–7, 79, 81, 89, 207–8, post- 90, 95, 101, Comintern 70, 250 communication 11, 18, 21, 93, 99, 108, 114,119,139, 142, 143, 220, 258, 259 conceptualization: of left radicalism 3–8; of populism 8–14, 223–38, 244–9 Corbyn, J. 4, 5, 21, 89–102, 129, 187, 199, 234, 241, 243, 251, 257, 260–2

index 267

counter-hegemony(ic) 17, 24, 92, 98 Czechoslovakia 159 demagoguery(ic) 13–4 125, 132, 259, 263 democracy: left-wing populism as democratic corrective 16, 69, 225, 228, 233, 243, 261; post- 133, 232–8, 245, 248, 252, 262; Real Democracy 135; Real Democracy Now! 193 democratisation 107, 120, 142, 157–161 deliberation 16, 18, 146, 195, 199, 207, 262, 263; deliberative(ly) 262 ecology 6, 111, 118, 120; ecological 17, 111, 115, 117, 119–121, 123 elitism 10, 91, 92, 100, 101, 108, 260; anti-, 11, 12, 14, 51, 56, 61, 69, 91, 93, 97, 108, 131, 260 elitist 16, 89, 91, 108; anti-, 2, 58, 63, 92, 93, 133, 141, 232, 260, 261 emancipation 4, 22, 44, 53, 60, 81, 91, 93, 109, 115, 117, 120, 121, 123, 125, 139, 141 Engels, F. 36, 41–2 environmental(ism)(ist) 4, 6, 92, 98, 138, 140, 190, 216, 239 Errejón, Í. 16, 115, 136, 138, 143–5, 258 establishment (concept) 11–12, 73–5, 81, 93, 97, 110, 118, 119, 130–3, 135, 137–8, 140, 147, 149, 166, 215, 218–220 Estonia 22, 156–165, 168–9, 173–6 Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) 156–8, 165–9, 173–7 Eurocommunism/communist 5, 20, 68, 69, 71, 74, 79, 81, 220 European Central Bank (ECB) 120, 231 Eurosceptic(ism) 15, 165–7, 169, 171, 175 European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) 212, 213, 218 European Union (EU) 6, 118–120, 123, 146, 149, 165, 169, 171, 173–6, 205, 209–211, 230–2, 248 Eurozone 120, 169, 174, 258 fascism(ist) 3, 51, 55, 56, 70–3, 78, 93, 111, 250; anti-fascism(st), 3, 20, 52, 70–2, 111, 207, 216 15 M (movement) 185; see also Indignados France 5, 20–1, 34, 51–65, 68–70, 72–3, 75, 78, 81, 106–125, 143, 166, 209, 212–213, 217, 232, 241, 243, 250–1, 261–2; France Insoumise 143, 234, 236, 261, 262

French Communist Party (PCF) 5, 57–9, 69–76, 78–82, 106, 111, 114, 118, 121, 123, 243, 251 French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO) 51–60, 129, 172 250 Front de Gauche (FG) 107, 112, 115–117, 119–120, 123; Front populaire 243, 251; Parti de Gauche (PG) 111, 120, 122; general will 9, 183, 195–7, 228 Geração à Rasca 185 Germany 3, 20, 39, 52, 57, 60, 61, 63, 65, 118, 120 globalisation 115, 120, 171, 175, 211, 238; alter(native)-, 89–91, 99, 111; anti- 5, 158, 174, 176, 251; counter- 139; de-globalist 120; global justice (movement) 212, 215, 219 Gramsci, A. 17, 24, 71, 90–3, 97, 101, 102; Gramscian 21, 24, 71, 72, 96, 101, 143; Neo- 17; post-Gramscian 24 grass roots 2 Greek Communist Party (KKE) 82, 139 Hall, S. 23, 92, 102 Herzen, A. 33–5, 37, 40–2 horizontal(ly) 8, 99, 131, 135, 139–41, 161, 167, 216, 217, 247; horizontality, 149; horizontalism, 90, 102 Hungary, 22, 156, 158–9, 161–5, 168, 170–2, 176, 232, 233, 245 ideology: thin 10, 198, 199, 228, 229, 236 Indignados 243, 244 Inglesias, P. 24 International: Second, 3; Communist, 53; First, 35–6, 42; see also Comintern International Monetary Fund (IMF) 6, 120, 171, 229, 231 interpellation 68, 81, 247 Italian Communist Party (PCI) 5, 69–80, 82, 251 Italy 68, 69, 71, 72, 74, 76–9, 93, 129, 150, 206, 216, 218, 231, 232 Keynesian(ism) 4–6, 61, 62, 64, 95, 120, 205, 214, 230 Labour Party 4, 21, 61, 94–7, 101–2, 187, 197, 206, 260 Laclau, E. 9, 11, 14, 16–19, 22, 51–2, 56, 59–60, 68, 90, 100, 106, 107, 130–1, 142–3, 167, 183, 196, 198, 227–9, 233–7, 243, 247–8

268 index

Latin America(n) 1, 6, 15, 18, 22, 91, 111, 130, 132, 142–3, 158, 231, 237, 241, 247, 249, 251, 259, 262, 264 left Populism (ist) 33, 39–41, 46, 80, 82, 91, 96–7, 101, 107, 115, 143, 252, 259; left-wing populism 22–3, 64, 106–7, 111, 121–3; radical left populism(ist) 29, 143, 261–2, 264 left-wing Republicanism 112 Lenin, V. I. 20, 38, 42–7, 71, 109, 242, 250: Leninist(ism) 4, 18, 20, 76, 205 LGBTQ 137 Lula, L. I. 91, 243 Luxemburg, R. 249 Maoist 102, 111 Marchais, G. 76, 79, 121 Marxism(st)-Leninism(st) 4, 18, 98 methodological 10, 14, 229, 233–4: methodology 112 middle class 7, 21, 23, 55–9, 64, 73–74, 78, 91, 96, 100, 117, 145, 190, 230, 237, 253, 258–260 Momentum 93–7, 101,234, 261 Morales, E. 232, 241 nationalism (list(ic) 3, 12, 15, 35, 36, 42, 51, 53, 58, 61, 62, 91, 93, 102, 158, 160, 162, 164, 167, 168, 170, 173, 176, 206, 218, 260 Nazi(ism) 55, 57, 172; neo- 233, 239, 242–3 neoliberal 3, 7, 12, 13, 21, 22, 90, 92, 96, 100–102, 118–121, 134–6, 138, 139, 165, 173, 176, 197, 198, 205, 210–214, 219, 226, 229–237, 244, 244, 253, 258, 259, 261; post-neoliberal 96, 102 neoliberalism 1, 5, 7, 8, 90–2, 95, 97, 100, 111, 118–120, 133, 140, 161, 210, 217–219 New Left 4, 73 New Right 12, 23, 80 1968 20, 68, 72, 74–7, 159, 251, 260 nodal point 11, 13, 141 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) 118, 120 Occupy London 189, 192, 194–5; Occupy Wall Street, 98, 137, 185, 231, 233, 235, 241, 243–244 orthodox(y) 4, 17, 52–4, 61, 139, 212, 234 out-group 10, 112–113, 118 Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK) 133, 138–9, 148, 150, 251; pasokification 177

people-centrism 9, 11–12, 14, 22–3, 51, 56, 69, 97, 108, 112, 124, 131, 219–220, 259 People’s Home 20, 62 party organization 130, 162, 250 peasants 34–6, 38, 40–1, 44–5, 47, 240, 260 Pink Tide 91 plebescitary(rian)(ism) 124, 140, 145–6, 229, 232,236–8, 243, 245–6 Plekhanov, G., 33, 36–37, 40–3 Popular Front 20–1, 52–3, 56–9, 62, 68, 71–3, 79–80, 110–111, 140, 207–9, 217, 259; Popular Frontism, 250; see also Front Populaire post-communist 67, 81, 144, 158, 160–1, 163, 167, 169, 176, 181 post-modern 4, 175 programmatic(ally) 18, 22, 67, 69, 108, 111, 118, 122–3, 125, 133–4, 137, 143, 149, 150, 218, 250 proletariat(rian) 18–19, 34, 37, 42–4, 46, 57–8, 60, 70, 79, 109–111, 162, 171, 178; proletarianisation 55, 206; peasantproletarians 43, lumpen-proletariat 171, 178 radical left parties 6, 7, 22, 67, 93, 111, 120, 121, 123, 135, 156, 235, 260, 261 refugee(s) 137, 158, 163, 164–5, 167, 169, 173, 175–6, 216, 248; refugee crisis 162, 172 reformism 75, 76, 206, 235, 236, 259 revolution: Bolshevik 20, 206, 262; French 40, 57, 60, 80, 110; Russian 3; of 1917, 19, 38; of 1905 19, 33, 45, 47 Sanders, B. 21, 89–93, 97–102, 241 slogan 71, 73, 76, 90, 115, 117, 135, 137–8, 147, 190–4, 197, 235, 217, 220, 231, 233, 242, 244, 252; sloganeering 20, 183, 259 Slovenia 160–1; Slovenian United Left (The Left) 161 social democratic parties 3–4, 7, 65, 89, 93, 206, 215; socialist parties 55, 78, 206; neo-socialists 20, 53–5, 57 social movements 2, 4, 5, 7, 19, 21, 22, 58, 75, 90, 93, 98–100, 124, 129, 130, 134, 138–140, 142, 149, 183, 184, 186, 198, 212, 215, 218, 233–5, 239, 240, 244, 258, 260, 261 South America 91 Soviet Union 3, 71, 164 Spanish Communist Party (PCE) 5 Stop the War 190 strategy: Eurocommunist 69, 77; party 144; populist 51, 52, 55, 70, 136; socialist 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 23, 257

index 269

Sweden 20, 52, 62–5, 166 syndicalism(st) 65, 109–110; see also anarcho-syndicalist(s) technopopulism 142, 145–6, 150 technocratic 18, 56, 61, 135, 159; technocrats 231 Thorez, M. 57–8, 70–2 Togliatti, P. 71–2, 79 Trade Union Confederation (TUC) 187, 189, 214, 215, 217 Troika 137, 218, 235 Trotsky L. 39 Trotskyist(ism) 6, 98, 111 Trump, D. 92, 97, 98, 100–2, 241: Trumpism 97 Tsipras, A. 127, 135, 137, 145–9, 235, 243, 246 United Kingdom (UK) 5, 21, 22, 89, 92, 93, 94, 129, 184–8, 190–7, 206, 207, 211, 214, 215, 217

US(A) 7, 21, 89, 93, 97, 98, 100–2, 118, 120, 206, 230, 231, 235, 241, 244 Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), 208, 210, see also Soviet Union Varoufakis, Y. 161 Venezuela 90, 130, 133, 145, 149, 231 war: First World 38, 55, 110, 210, 249–250, 259; Second World 3, 20, 70, 79, 207, 208–9, 219, 250, 258; see also anti-war We are 99%! 193, 231 workerist 7, 72, 110, 214, 234; workerism, 72–3 working class 3, 4, 7, 17, 36, 37, 55, 59, 60, 63, 64, 71–5, 78, 81, 92, 93, 96, 101, 108–111, 117, 190, 197, 209, 210, 214, 234, 240, 247, 250, 264 working people 110, 192, 208, 214, 217–9 World Social Forum (WSF) 91, 100 Zapatistas, 89–90