Mourning Populism. The Case of Poland
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Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2011-12-14
Polish Sociological Review 2011;176(4):437–456
The point of departures of the paper is the theory of populist reason of Ernesto Laclau and some ideas from Mourning and Melancholia of Sigmund Freud. Author questions two established theses: (1) populism is a hollow and non-specified term as long as it is without reference to given postulates or political claims; (2) populism can be considered only on a rhetorical, not ideological level. Instead, author postulates that: (1) the difficulty of determining the populist discourse is not a transient ailment, only occasionally related to that phenomenon, but a quality built in social reality, permanent and irremovable; (2) the populist rhetoric is not solely an epiphenomenon that can be neglected in any serious analysis. On the contrary, there is a direct link between the two layers: the rhetorical and the conceptual. The reconfiguration of thinking about populism that author would like to advance should allow him to expect answers to a number of questions: (i) What are the relations between politics and populist politics? (ii) How and to what extent does populist logic alter the mechanisms governing politics? (iii) Is the depoliticisation of liberal democracy (the prevalence of administration over politics) a direct cause of the return of populism? In order to substantiate the thesis that populism is today’s way of doing politics, author reconstruct the recent post-communist history of Poland above all the situation after Smoleńsk tragedy, when a Tupolev-154M aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smoleńsk in Russia, killing all 96 people on board. Thismoment marks opening of a new stage of development of populism that author will refer in the paper as “mourning populism.”