ECPR General Conference
Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo
6 - 9 September 2017




Empire and Multitude Populism

Critical Theory
 
Elites
 
Extremism
 
Marxism
 
Political Ideology
 
Political Theory
 
Populism
 
Realism
 
Presenter
Attila Antal
Eötvös Loránd University
Authors
Attila Antal
Eötvös Loránd University

Abstract
In recent years populism has not only become a some kind of Zeitgeist, but it has redesigned our beliefs and assumptions concerning (neo)liberal democracy. Is seems to be that radical right populism is more successful than leftist populism. According to my hypothesis we have entered into the era of populist democracy and there is a fierce competition between the left and right to define and maintain the core nature of this populist democracy. I will apply the well know theory of Empire and Multitude by Michael Hard and Antonio Negri to understand our current populist tendencies. It will be argued in my paper that (radical) right populism can be seen as a manifestation of the Empire. According to my understanding the populist parties and movements on the political right belong to the realist conception of the Empire: these actors are seeking the political power and would like to defeat neoliberalism and conquer the institutions of global capitalism. Populist (radical) right is neither anti-capitalist, nor anti-elitist. It means that a new political elite has been created (for instance this is Donald Trump and alt-right in the USA, Viktor Orbán and his regime in Hungary) and seeks to gain political power with populist political communication and style. That’s why I call this new phenomenon elitist populism or Empire populism. These actors are acting like populist in that sense they understand and solve the people’s problems, in fact they serve elitist purposes. On the other hand the (radical) left populism is a utopian or Multittude populism and tries to concern the multitudes of the people. In Europe Syriza and Podemos has emerged as left populist promises. I will analyze in my paper the political theoretical backgrounds of Empire and Multitude populism. It has been stated here that the populist right has been inspired by the concepts of Carl Schmitt (the concept of the Political; the nature of neoliberalism; state of exception), Max Weber (leader democracy), Tilo Schabert (creative government). On the left side the Multitude populism has been frozen from ideological point of view and suffering from ideological emptiness. I will put forward my thought on this crises and argue that populist left need to reformulate its bases as transnational political communities. Transnational populism has a core challenge to redesign the concept of national and state sovereignty.
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