Friday 22 March 2019

The Populism of the Empire and the Multitude

This theoretical study aims to contribute to the literature dealing with populism from a transnational perspective. I will apply the post-structuralist concept of Empire and Multitude developed by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri to theorize transnational populism. This is not the usual way of thinking about populism, because there are several internal debates and tensions between Hardt/Negri and Laclau/Mouffe (Hardt, Negri: 2017). Although there are very important trends (Kioupkiolis, Katsambekis: 2014; Kioupkiolis: 2014) in the critical literature to reconcile the populist and post-hegemonic tendencies as the hegemony of the multitude. This study relies on these tendencies. In the first part I am investigating the nature of the neoliberal world order as the Empire in the context of hegemony and populism. As it has been analysed in the first part of this paper, with the crisis of liberal democracy we have entered the era of populist democracy and there is a fierce struggle between the left and the right to define and maintain the core nature of democracy. It will be argued in the third part that right-wing nationalist populism can be seen as a manifestation of populism in the context of the Empire. I will emphasize the multitude as a counter-populist concept compared to the Empire. In the fourth part I put forward that the multitude as an empty signifier can achieve some reconciliation between Laclau/Mouffe and Hard/Negri. I will also argue that transnational populism needs to have its transnational political subject which should be based on the multitude reinterpreted in populist context