Against The Populist Ressentiment

Marneros, Christos (2021) Against The Populist Ressentiment. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism, 2 (1). pp. 100-112. ISSN 2672-8370

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Abstract

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

Keywords:The People, Spooks, Ressentiment, Stirner, Nietzsche
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
L Social studies > L210 Political Theories
M Law > M240 Jurisprudence
L Social studies > L218 Anarchism
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Law School
ID Code:48858
Deposited On:11 Apr 2022 15:51

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