Why Left Wing Populism Is Not Enough
Date Written: 26/04/2019
Year Published: 2019
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23717
Mainly a critique of Chantal Mouffe's book 'For a Left Populism,' discusses the shortcomings of a poplulism that downplays the role of class.
Needless to say, much of what Chantal Mouffe emphasizes has great value and should not be disregarded. But her contempt for socialism and class analysis clearly prevents her from understanding what has happened and what is now happening in the developed capitalist countries that she believes she knows well.
In light of what we know of the years since the 1980s, however, it is difficult to accept that the electoral decline suffered by the European and North American left-wing or progressive parties (the Democratic Party of the United States, which includes some progressive and even left-wing voices but can not be defined as a left-wing party, and the socialist and social democratic parties in Europe) is due to their use of a class discourse as she assumes.
I do not know in what world Chantal Mouffe lives, but in the world where I have lived for many years now (Western Europe and North America), practically no leader of a majority left wing party has used the term "class struggle" or "working class" in his or her discourse. The latter term has been replaced by "middle class" or "popular class." In fact, this narrative of social class and class struggle has long since disappeared from the official discourse of the left. "[The left's] fixation with social class" (a phrase used by the author), which supposedly caused its decline, does not appear in reality anywhere.