Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Political Science
With Lula’s recent success in Brazil and Trump’s campaign for re-election on the horizon, populism remains a central, albeit highly contested, concept for political study. Its critics characterize populism as the paramount threat to democracy, raising concerns about leaders who rally the credulous ‘people’ against a given ‘elite.’ Yet the normative implications of accounts like this too often remain under-examined in political theory. This course first invites students to reflect on what Ernesto Laclau called ‘the denigration of the masses’ via a concise exploration of thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Gustave Le Bon, and Max Weber, who shared a view of ‘the masses’ as reactionary, emotional, and all too-readily manipulated. After gaining a foundational understanding of political concepts such as ressentiment, suggestion, and Caesarism in this first part of the course, students will then evaluate the ways in which these concepts have been mobilized by contemporary thinkers including Wendy Brown, Chantal Mouffe, and Nadia Urbinati. Students will ultimately gain the critical tools needed to rethink the concept of populism itself. To this end, the course will address the following concerns: How has populism been defined? Who are ‘the people’? Why did populism re-emerge in the Global North in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis? What determines whether populism takes a left- or right-wing form? Is populism better understood as a threat or a necessary correction to democracy? Is the populist moment already succumbing to neoliberal ‘post-democracy,’ or else fascism? Does contemporary political theory on populism reveal a bias against ‘the people’ themselves?
College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)
Department: Political Science (LPOL)
Campus: New York City (GV)
Course Format: Seminar (R)
Max Enrollment: 18
Add/Drop Deadline: September 11, 2023 (Monday)
Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 19, 2023 (Sunday)
Seats Available: Yes
* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.
* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 8:40pm EDT 9/28/2023