Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 39, No 2 (2020)

Whose Populism? Which People? Mouffe, Girard and Lonergan in Dialogue

Nicholas Olkovich
Issued Date: 18 Dec 2020


Chantal Mouffe argues that neoliberal “post-politics” has contributed to the rise of a populist moment marked by the re-emergence of collective identifications constitutive of what Carl Schmitt terms “the political.” Although right-wing populism exemplifies one response to post-politics, its xenophobic or exclusivist construction of “the people” represents the flipside of neoliberal globalization’s moralization of Schmitt’s friend/enemy distinction. In her efforts to overcome this stalemate, Mouffe commends the development of an agonistic form of politics that widens democratic debate as well as a left populist movement focused on radicalizing the principles of liberty and equality for all. Drawing on the work of René Girard and Bernard Lonergan in this paper’s final section, I aim to confirm but also complicate Mouffe’s account of the twofold movement from antagonism to agonism and radical democracy. The fruits of this three-way conversation represent a modest first step towards the articulation of an inclusive populism. 

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.42161


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