In this highly prescient work - which has had a big impact on figures such as Pablo Oglesias of Podemos in Spain - Ernesto Laclau continues the philosophical and political exploration initiated in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Here he focuses on the construction of popular identities and how "the people" emerge as a collective actor. Skillfully combining theoretical analysis with a myriad of empirical references from numerous historical and geographical contexts he offers a critical reading of the existing literature on populism, demonstrating its dependency on the theorists of "mass psychology" such as Taine and Freud. He demonstrates the relation of populism to democracy and to the logic of representation, and differentiates his approach from the work of Zizek, Hardt and Negri, and Ranciere. This book is essential reading for all those interested in the question of political identities in a world marked by figures such as Trump, Farage, Le Pen as well as Sanders, Iglesias and Melenchon.
Ernesto Laclau (1935-2014) was Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Government, University of Essex, and Distinguished Professor for Humanities and Rhetorical Studies at Northwestern University. He was the author of, amongst other works, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (with Chantal Mouffe), New Reflections of the Revolution of Our Time, The Populist Reason, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality (with Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek), and Emancipation(s).