Driver (Frédéric Taddeï) : Welcome. In the “Prohibited Prohibition” study, we hope to interrogate populism, which is calling into question forty years of liberal hegemony.
But what is populism? Is it closer to an ideology or a way of doing politics? Two populisms, left and right, will be confronted here. For the debate we have invited two political philosophers, who, ascribing in each case to the left and the right, both think that we have entered a "populist moment".
On my left, Chantal Mouffe, professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Westminster in Great Britain. Along with her husband, the Argentine Ernesto Laclau, who died in 2014, is considered the theoretician of left-wing populism. His latest book is titled For a Left Populism , edited by Albin Michel. In it she has written an "Introduction" in which she seeks to persuade that the debate between right-wing populism and left-wing populism has become the central reason for the political conflict ... and that is the reason for this debate with Alain. [1:25]
CM: Haha. This debate seems very interesting to me, since I believe that we can start here what I simply call a true "agonistic debate". For me "agonistic" means "conflicting consensus", because there would be nothing interesting in a debate with someone who considers populism to be demagoguery, "morbid France". Alain and I, on the other hand, talk about populism in a more positive way, but obviously we have disagreements at the same time. That is to say: conflicting consensus. In my opinion, this is the kind of discussion that is interesting.
Driver: To my right is Alain de Benoist.
You must be the theorist who was most linked to the "New Right". He has published a good number of books, such as 2017's The Populist Moment , editorial Pierre Guillaume de Roux and Against 2019's Neoliberalism , by Éditions du Rocher. We can talk about these editions ...
How do you explain this debate with Chantal Mouffe? [2:25]
AB: It is simple. I have been following Chantal's work with great interest for ... 20, 25 years, little less ... Since that time, what has drawn my attention to her was a very original vision, or so I find it, about the nature of the political. Precisely, that term "the dying", "the agonistic" - is it not? - denotes something like conflict, the irreducible conflict of the political. So I have read your works a lot.
Later, I found a coincidence when she has truly begun to take an interest in the populist phenomenon, in the tradition that she has called "left-wing populism", ... because at the same time, I was working on such a topic. Now, my book is not called “For a right-wing populism”. It is the populist moment , and this is because, on the one hand, populism embodies a fact of reality, ... and that is interesting. On the other, it is because being a moment, it is the moment that a new majority will lead, the majority of Greater Europe ...
Driver: Now, right here, let me interrupt. Why do they both think that we are in a new "populist moment"?
CM: Because just as Benoist has described and developed it for us, I have also talked about the populist moment, but not only in that book mentioned by him  , I have also written many articles before where he just said that what we have today , the current situation, is a populist moment.
Driver: Okay, so maybe this is really a good time to question him. Isn't that a topic on which they disagree
CM: No, no, certainly. But we can say more, in addition to this description, that it is insufficient or limited. For me it has to do with a crisis of hegemony. That may be, in the case in which we find ourselves, a crisis of neoliberal hegemony, and well, this end of neoliberal hegemony does not mean that it can be resolved simply with the populist moment. In other words, at the time I began to study these issues, what resonated the most was Blair's idea of the "great consensus" ... It was not the populist moment, not at all. Now, if we live in a populist moment, it is because the neoliberal hegemony is in crisis, but ...
Driver: Do you agree ...? [4:55]
AB: Yes, I agree. In other words, I deeply believe that today we are "going through a transition"  and that populism is itself a phenomenon of transition. Transition whose destiny is obviously unknown, fortunately. Because if history becomes prescribed it becomes more difficult to think.
But there is a phenomenon that I would like to discuss for a minute.
First of all, I believe, we could say, that there is no "populist ideology". There is a populist style that can be elaborated in different ways. If there were a populist ideology, we could speak here of left-wing, right-wing populism, and I disagree with that.
Conductor: I think Chantal Mouffe agrees somewhat because he has said that it is a way of doing politics.
AB: It is a way of doing politics. In other words, from a certain perspective, of practicing counter-hegemony [5:50].
CM: And it is not, this is central, a regime. That it is not a regimen is very important.
AB: No, no.
Along with the countless causes that we could allege, I am going to focus on two more categories that we can focus on, which are fundamental, because it depends on whether or not we understand the object in question.
Thus, there is a structural transformation of existence for a majority of the population. We are in a liquid society, as Zygmunt Bauman said; fluid, transitory, ephemeral. These are the disease states  of our time.
But the sociology of work has evolved, it shows us that the most general state of our time is "precariousness". Everyone finds precariousness out there. High productivity explains why we produce more and more goods and services in a way that is both faster and more efficient. But when we meet people, these people are "fluent", they are not recognized on the production line. He doesn't know what to do with it. The work is carried out in a structured way but does not necessarily imply a conceptualization of it. People who work do so without being aware of all the stages involved in their contribution. And all this constitutes a formidable crisis.
Liberal globalization has only aggravated the situation, since it implies the meeting between the European worker and the unfortunate one who works full time for a tiny amount of money. The relocation of natural resources has wreaked havoc on the fiscal accounts and on the ecological balance, those that you have already seen.
The result is that people suffer from a condition  that is more than social, that is existential . The youth movement, for me, is not just another social movement, it is an existential one . That is why this is a problem of greater density, duration, and greater tenacity: these young people no longer have anything to lose.
And, nevertheless, we have no words to conceptualize this reality, but we can say that in this framework what takes place is a “declassification” of the majority classes, which is something totally new and triumphant with respect to Fordism.
This process has started at the top, but it has spread throughout the world and the majority class has increased and the children have followed the same path. So today we have this same process that is produced from above and extending downward. Above all the revenues accumulate and, below, today we have that stagnation, poverty or precariousness reign. We have gone from a pyramidal society to a society where on the occasion of these effects a new class structure appears, which creates a culture of class warfare, a re-advent of the old social class warfare, in which classes The popular, who remain mostly at the bottom, naturally sympathize with the lower part of the middle classes that suffer this declassification. This is the first point. [8:45]
The second thing, quickly, is the extraordinary climate of indifference that has taken place everywhere with the political class, both left and right. Such a phenomenon has occurred both in relation to the government and in relation to the opposition that has systematically alternated it: both share the scene.
And this is the basis of populist phenomena, which have sought, in the first place, the elimination, disaggregation, agony of the old government parties, of the old institutional parties. And that, as a "domino", has happened with all of them. In France, which is also a witness to this phenomenon, the decrease in the votes of the Socialist Party can be observed. I am, above all, a historian of ideas and, as such, I am very clear about the role of the Socialist Party in the history of France and how today it is a kind of club of people who are not destined to do great things. On the right, the Republican Party is also in a state of agony. And clearly a radicalization is taking place in them that, however, has no other cause than trying to disguise this crisis. But on the bottom,it is a profound transformation of political representation. That which is populism is nothing more than an expression of a crisis of liberal capitalism and neoliberal hegemony.[10:17]
CM: I agree with some points with which you have identified the problem. But I see this in a little different way.
I would like to start by specifying the concept. In speaking of populism, I affirm the idea that Ernesto Laclau has defended in Populist Reason . As you said, it is not an ideology, it is not a regime, it is not a specific program, it is a strategy for building the political frontier. For me this point is fundamental. And precisely, today we are in a populist moment because we are in a conjuncture in which all forms of resistance are demonstrating against "post-democracy".
Let me make a clarification. I understand post-democracy as the consequence of the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. It manifests itself in two ways: I will briefly comment on each of them and then we will stop at both separately. And this is because in order to better understand the illusion of consensus, I have studied only part of post-democracy, that which I have called, or proclaimed, to put it in some way, post-politics.
So the fact that a third way has emerged that confronts the parties of the center right and center left, comes from the defeat of social democracy at the hands of neoliberal hegemony and the acceptance of the idea that there there are alternatives to this hegemony. For this reason, when the center-left parties come to power, the only thing they can do is manage in a slightly “more humane” way. That is truly post-politics. As a consequence, we have built citizens with many obligations and without decision-making when they vote. So I often tell my students to explain the difference between the center-left and the center-right, which is like choosing between Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola: there is no value in such differentiation.
This throws us at the question of popular sovereignty, because for me the idea of democracy has two aspects: equality and popular sovereignty. When I speak of post-democracy I speak of a situation where both are questioned.
The first is questioned by post-politics, it is the question of power - the outraged, for example, said one thing in Spain, something that seems very fair: "We have a vote but we do not have a voice." Of course, because if we are going to vote between Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola, this does not represent any alternative. This I believe is one of the central elements of the democratic ideal.
But it is typical that I begin to speak from the “2008 moment”, from that critical moment, because the 2008 crisis is an economic crisis that turned into a crisis of hegemony of the neoliberal model. The crisis, its consequences, which made it necessary to intervene to support the banks, but above all, the implementation of austerity policies have shed new light. They have built a new phenomenon that I can call the "oligarchization of our society", because we see that in contemporary western European democracies we are witnessing an increasingly clear process -in this I totally agree with what Benoist pointed out-, in the that there is an increasingly evident regrouping that divides a part of the very small population of very, very, very rich people and, on the other hand,the popular classes that find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and the middle classes that are increasingly precarious and impoverished. All this can be seen as a moment of exponential growth of inequality - well documented by Thomas Piketty in his book on capitalism in the 21st century - and it can indicate to us that the other fundamental element that was the fight for equality has been left behind. side.[14:17]
I call these two processes "post-democracy." And this is how what we see today is a multiplicity of resistance against this "post-democracy". People, in my opinion, do not mobilize under the slogan of "populism" but they do move with the idea of two fundamental demands: first, around the question of equality and, second, that agitation of the people is seen and lived as a new way of expression, as a real resistance and reaction to "post-democracy". The big question is that this resistance can be practiced in a very different way because, on the one hand, what appears to me as typical of populism is the establishment of a border. But the "people" is a category with a long literature behind that has tried to understand what is at stake when using this term, which, in addition,It is not an empirical reference, it is not the population, nor is it a sociological category: the people are always a political construction, a construction that we call discursive. And on the other hand, the town can be built in a very different way: Marine Le Pen builds the town in a very different way than how Jean-Luc Melenchon builds it. And, the establishment of, on the one hand, the…
Driver: The Elite.
CM: The elite, but I do not like this word because it is very vague, it is generally associated with those who point to reason, with intellectuals, but it can also be linked to the state elite.
That is why I prefer the term "oligarchy", because it denotes, when we use it, those who ... When we speak of oligarchy, we are already making a commitment to a certain type of articulation: it is there, I think, where we can stabilize the fundamental difference between the left populism and right populism. That is why Alain de Benoist considers that the populist moment means that the difference between the right and the left is finished. And this is where our fundamental disagreement lies.
But we need to see that this is a democratic struggle. And this leads us to a perplexity: Marine Le Pen articulates a series of struggles that are ultimately democratic struggles. But he articulates them from a xenophobic discourse, from a discourse that seeks to recover democracy from the limitation to the nationals. That is why it is necessary to go back and observe that the essential objective of the fight against post-democracy is to recover democracy. But recovering democracy can be done differently ...
CM: Please give me two more minutes to finish the argument. He said that the proper way of left populism is to say that democracy must recover not from the restriction of nationality but from the radicalization of it. This consists precisely in not limiting, and this is an important element of left-wing populism, which precisely what it does is to articulate social demands with “societal” demands - we can use this term provisionally. But we refer to what Ernesto Laclau in Hegemony and socialist strategyin 1985 he made reference: of course there is social antagonism but there are also feminism, environmental problems, anti-racist struggles. For me, left-wing populism must build a people that articulates all these democratic demands. [17:50]
Conductor: If I understood correctly, there would be a liberal moment that would precede what you have called the populist moment, the neoliberal hegemony, in which there would be an intention to abolish the conflict, in the belief that, at that moment, it could be established a consensus from which there would no longer be conflicts between social classes.
CM: That is exactly what I have called post-politics.
Driver: Exactly. And the idea is, then, that everyone can finally achieve democracy and enrichment, etc., etc.
On the other hand, you have said that with the advent of populism the struggle appears, that you, Alain de Benoist, can say that it is a class struggle ... And you, Chantal Mouffe, that it is a struggle ...
CM: I have not spoken in those terms ...
Conductor: The fight against the oligarchy, that of the people against the oligarchy.
CM: Yes, but ...
Conductor: It is the attention to the opposite interests, which are always there ...
CM: Well understood, I would say, precisely, that the populist moment reintroduces conflict. That is the important thing.
AB: I agree, of course. Because liberal ideology rests on the idea that democratic practice must be pacified and that is the meaning of it. And that conflicts must be disarmed on the assumption that they can be reduced to interests that can be basically reconciled. And, finally, for those cases in which the interests cannot be reconciled, they will have to be sacrificed, privileging the dominant interests over the non-dominant ones.
However, there are two points on which we do not agree. And this is what I am interested in, because in this that I have just described I think we are quite in agreement.
CM: Yes, yes. Clear.
AB:First, I will talk about conflict. I do not think that the great conflict of the future consists of the one that we can classify as the one that would exist between populism on the right and populism on the left. For me it is about the populist phenomenon against the old parties, on the one hand, but above all, the split between the liberals and the illiberals or anti-liberals. I consider myself totally anti-liberal, hostile to the oligarchy that liberal democracy has become, and hostile to liberal capitalism. I believe that the great split is within what we could call the right, but that it can be called in other ways, and it is about the separation between the conservatives and the liberals, a difference that is already many years old, but that is It has begun to spread, even in the current Macron government.
I believe that what the future will bring us will occur under this framework, but I believe that today this social conflict occurs in a double way, especially in France, where this conflict also occurs as a geographical conflict: this is particularly clear in relation to France. peripheral, which has its equivalent in all the countries of Europe but which in France has a particularly important meaning.
Secondly, the notion of people is fundamental. Why…
CM: I think we have our fundamental disagreement there. At this point and at that other regarding the elimination of the difference between the right and the left.
AB: And this is very interesting, very interesting. But there is something fundamental. To speak of people and power at the same time we have to speak of people in terms of popular sovereignty. That is obviously the basis of democracy, for me. The basis of parliamentarism is this too. That on the one hand.
And there are two great ways, so to speak, of conceptualizing the people, of theorizing about the people: the ethnos and the demos . On the right we tend to privilege ethnos . It would? It is the people defined by its history, it is the historical and cultural people, it is not a directly political notion. In any case, that is what they have turned it into or what it has become. The people as we giveIt is a purely political notion, privileged above all by the left, and according to this, the people are the entity in which political legitimacy, popular sovereignty and constituent power are deposited. Do we really have to choose between these two conceptions? I believe that the left populism of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau is largely constructivist.
CM: Of course it's constructivist, hahaha ...
AB: Wait a moment please, I'm done in a moment. It is true that the people are built, but it is not true that the people are built from nothing, from nothing but individuals.
AB: The town is built from what is already there, from what individuals are already built from. Therefore, there is no need to think in alternative terms between determinism and floating freedom, between the total and the artificial. The town can be built from what is already there and just because it exists from what already exists is that it becomes important. On the other hand, clarification made of the suspension of frenetic identitarianism, we could not suspend or totally eliminate the people as we give , which is the political notion that inspires democracy, which is, ultimately, an ideal populism - which, I think It does not exist, but this dimension of the people can be conceptualized as an ideal type. And it is this presence of the people, both asethnos and as demos, which allows us to ascribe a mythical dimension to it, because in this way there is a symbolic imaginary that links members, which defines common membership, or the basis of membership, everything that has to do with the common history and the aspiration to the common, because the common is finally that which is as a link, as a link, in populism. In a society, what is most valued is the common.
CM: I would say "in common".
Conductor: Chantal Mouffe, if I understood correctly, when you have spoken of populism, you have spoken of the popular classes, of a part of the middle classes, but also of immigrants and, also, of the community. I have noticed that you have said that you expect a kind of confederation among left populisms against the oligarchy.
Alain de Benoist says that the right ...
AB: What I am saying is that my conception of populism is less inclusive ... But neither is it a conception of exclusion.
CM: If I can, I want to explain a little thing.
Driver: You have two minutes.
CM: For me the people is a collective will, it is the construction of a collective will. And always this construction is the result of an equivalence. What we always have is a set of social demands in a situation of equivalence that can be articulated differently. So I think we have to stop at this before going any further because my conception, and Ernesto's conception.  It is not simply a conception that we could call dissociative from politics. Because what would politics be? To answer the question we must always speak of two conceptions. In the first place, for the associative conception, it is the space of freedom, of doing in common, from which we can reach a consensus: this is the conception that dominates in liberal political philosophy. But we also have the dissociative conception, which I would say no, politics means conflict, it is antagonism, politics is always between parties, the people are always divided, this is fundamental and, finally, politics always requires the construction of a we, for which the construction of a them is necessary.
Driver: From an enemy.
CM: Yes, but that is also a question that ...
AB: You can recognize the loyalties on the left ...
CM: Obviously. This is a debate I have written about. Let's say that antagonism can be understood in very different ways, and this is my complementary argument to the consensus dimension. Schmitt simply says that we cannot speak of a pluralistic democracy, of consensus, because antagonism always occurs and the important thing about antagonism is that it is what always ends up being built on the occasion of a life in common, and he is right, and for That is why we must legitimize this fight within democracy. But we are not talking about civil war. What interests me about Schmitt, and my whole argument in relation to this topic can be reduced in this, is that he finds a dimension that is true, that exists.
AB: You are at the same time with and against Schmitt.
CM: Exactly. And this is why what we have to think is that we cannot eliminate antagonism but we can articulate it, include it, in a different way, so that it can allow the organization of a pluralistic society, and for me this is a democracy.
Driver: We pause now and then continue. [26:20]
Conductor: We continue our debate on populism with Chantal Mouffe, who has published For a Left Populism , published by Albin Michel and Alain de Benoist, who has published The Populist Moment in 2017, published by Pierre Guillaume de Roux. [29:00]
In his book Chantal Mouffe says that it was finally right-wing populism, that it has won elections and that it has channeled the return of reactionary politics in some way. What remains in question is the difference between the left and the right. And, for Alain de Benoist, in his The Populist Moment , it is not a question of right or left, it is a way of doing politics, and both the left and the right can arrive at that way of doing politics. How do you come to that conclusion?
AB: The problem is that this type of analysis has an anchor point in reality. But there is a traditional, historical vocabulary in which the left and the right appear, who are the protagonists of a long debate that has lasted a very long time. And this as a result (or despite) the inability of politicians to define unitarily what is the left and what is the right.
Driver: Is that where you make a difference with Chantal?
AB: Yes, I have said that before, but I want to conclude that topic. What I don't share is compartmentalization. What I have talked about is a process of building the collective will. With this I totally agree. This is the idea of Renan  , he already said that a nation was the result of a collective will as much as the result of an affinity, of a spiritual soil, of a language that unites them, although the collective will has its importance. And that's why in my conception of populism, I think I include that of Chantal Mouffe. Simply, in the governed, on the part of the people, there is an adherence to the collective will. If we are not going to participate in the collective will, if we are going to deconstruct that common future, well, we have to talk about something else ...
Now, regarding the distinction between left-wing populism and right-wing populism, I would like to ask you a question - a question perhaps unanswered. Because you know very well that I have a sufficiently developed sympathy for left-wing populism, but we can see that in recent times it is not so much right-wing populism that interests us but the fact that left-wing populism is transfigured. In the case of the Greek Tsipras, it is a radical change that has happened. In Germany, the opening project also ended in failure . Podemos is going through a difficult process unfortunately: Íñigo Errejón - with whom you have published some interviews that I have read, and they are very good! - has finally distanced himself on the occasion of the current tactic of Podemos, which is more classist ... But in France …
Conductor: But what you were saying about left-wing populism, which was interesting because ...
AB: That which is interesting. But it is something else, because I have no sympathy for, for example, Bolsonaro.
Driver: But that's an example from the right, isn't it?
AB: Sure. Is under all…
CM: For me Bolsonaro is a proto-fascist, he is not a right-wing populism.
AB: For me it is authoritarian, but evangelical.
CM: Yes. I do not think it is a right-wing populism, because such a thing supposes a vocation to articulate the demands, it preserves a democratic base. [32:15]
AB: It remains for us in Europe to try to understand what is happening in France. What happens with "France insumisa". There is a considerable portion of his followers who have a very populist way of behaving, - and, for example, there have been expressions of admiration for this movement by Iñigo Errejón, etc. -. Finally, there has been a dispute there, between two electorates: a radical, classical left-wing policy and another that has not. Therefore, the result, we have seen, is a radical change between ...
CM: Yes, but an observation must be made there, even more so if you try to support the argument that left-wing populism does not work with this case. Melenchon has had a very good result in 2017 because it has chased a populist platform, but it has had terrible European results in 2019 because it abandoned it. [33:10]
AB: We agree on that, but the question that follows is why he has abandoned. All the latest polls showed some similar results: against what happened in the second European round to which you just referred, there have been many votes for Melenchon, then many others went to Marine Le Pen and then there was abstention and votes to Macron. The truth is that of this electorate that votes for Melenchon, 60% had voted for the National Assembly elections  . They are polls that have just come out. In this sense, the question I ask myself is why left-wing populism, finally, which in Spain is going really wrong, has ended with Melenchon taking this ineffective tactic.
CM: But it's about something else. In Spain it is very clear that everyone who took a populist strategy obtained a very good result at the beginning and this has been the reason for the dispute between Íñigo Errejón and Pablo Iglesias: Pablo Iglesias has decided to make a coalition with Izquierda Unida, which is the extreme traditional left and, since then, has done nothing but decline ... For example, in the last elections, these were in April of this year -May and April, because there were two-, in Madrid, for example, in the autonomist election , where Errejón decided not to follow the line of Iglesias because he saw that it would not have good results. And he has made his election with Carmena in a new coalition called "More Madrid" ... and so Íñigo Errejón carried out a campaign totally inspired by a populist strategy and obtained 15% more votes than Iglesias, who with Podemos developed it under a traditional far left line. And so the two lines were clear. But it is not merely populist strategy that causes these results, there is an earlier, deeper cause ...
Conductor: Well, they have already explained to us what these deeper causes consist of, but this is not the objective for today, but perhaps you could explain what populist strategy consists of.
CM: I thought you had explained it at the beginning. Populist strategy is the construction of a political border that defines the fundamental positions between those on one side and those on the other. It is a great difference with respect, for example, to the liberal way of understanding this same subject, which, on the other hand, does not suppose any border.
Driver: But the traditional extreme left, for example, also thinks that there are possessors and ...
CM: Yes, yes. We need to recognize that Marxism built a line, a political frontier, but it did not build it in a populist way, it built it as capital against labor, the working class against the bourgeoisie. But that doesn't work anymore today. That is why I want to return to the question of the right and the left.
When I speak of the left, what I do is use a word, I do not speak of "axiology", because with this we can identify a very particular and defined group of the left, which has a program of the left. I don't believe in that, that's socialism. Conjugating the left with what we are discussing here [populism] is not necessary.
Now, I think that the fact that a pluralistic society, a pluralism of values as Nietzsche and Weber think, has been abandoned is an antagonistic society. Not all values are reconcilable, and we must take this into account. One of those values that cannot be reconciled is the differentiation between left and right. For example, if we use the differentiation that Norberto Bobbio uses - which you know without a doubt - between right and left, which is a distinction that they use in Italy.
AB: In Italy it is a huge discussion. In France it doesn't go through the same place ...
CM: Finally, if we see the difference between the right and the left, for the left the fundamental principle is equality, while the right, which can coexist perfectly with inequality, is always presented to us as the defense of freedom. We could stabilize here, I think, the fundamental distinction between right and left, without denying, by the way, that we can make some additional sociological references to these concepts. Finally, however, the distinction participates in the pluralism of values of which I spoke earlier, according to which not all values are reconcilable.
AB: Okay. I agree that there is pluralism of values, that not all values are reconcilable and that we need to know what we are adhering to in each case and with what type of values we are contradicting. But, what I would like…
CM: And between them you have to decide. I have been clear about which to choose, I would like to know what your choice would be.
AB: Cordially, what I would like to question is what kind of vocabulary we are putting into play, because these are terms that have become empty. Because you cannot refer to the left and at the same time mark everything that is not the left. We must stick to concrete things: freedom, inequality, which is more important ...?
Driver: To tidy up the debate a bit. Alain de Benoist, I would like to return to a question: the populist strategy, what does it mean to you, how is it implemented?
AB: All right. Let me take Melenchon as an example. When would it be more populist? Why and when is it that the popular classes are relatively better represented in its political construction? At meetingsfrom Melenchon we can always find the same colors, we can find the Marseillaise, not the International. Melenchon hardly ever speaks of the left. Instead, it talks about town. What do i mean That, in the first place, gives space to a national, patriotic dimension, references to which the people, the popular classes are sensitive on more than one occasion. They guide their actions in the republic and their votes in this regard, belong to that world, they persecute, and the left is fully aware of this, the ideals of the defense of work, of socialism and fusion, within neoliberal hegemony, of the principles of what is active in society. In 1983, during the Miterrand period, socialist principles were abandoned because, it was argued, there was no alternative, the world appeared as no alternative.Now, you know that if we have no alternative, we are denying politics. It is that there is always an alternative.
Conductor: Is that why the right also appears along this populist line?
AB: It is, again, the difference between the demos and the ethnos . It is important that we can establish here that the people are something that we can build and rebuild as a collective will. But in addition there are already elements of experience, of specific history and that everyone should start to discuss about what elements we can build together the common. [41:10]
CM: I would like to say something more about the conception of the demos . Because I give a lot of importance to the dissociative conception to understand what a populist strategy should be. Because first I think we should bear in mind that what is at stake in populist strategy and what essentially differentiates it is the vocation to constitute a political border, something that the liberals absolutely deny: they consider that this is nothing more than a pathology of democracy. It is common to hear among them the question of why this distinction between us or the affirmation that "we are all". This type of formulations are frequent.
I would like to pay attention to the question of democracy: demoskratos . There is a very interesting text by Nicole Loraux where she shows us what kratos means “to have below”. So demoskratos means having a part of the town below. Democracy is not how we usually understand it, for everyone the same, with everyone included: there is conflict in democracy and there is always a part of the demos that the kratos has . For me populism builds the demos but it does it from a division. The reason for left populism building the demos It is from a specific articulation of democratic demands that mobilize a radicalization of democracy, while the articulation of right-wing populism is on the side of restriction.
Now, I understand and agree with you that there is a problem with the word, with the vocabulary here, but ...
AB: Such a thing as you said is very accurate. But we have a problem with a certain left that has the "dream" that we can have a demos without borders, etc.
CM: Absolutely. But watch out. I have done a lot of research around our term. We have had to abandon the term progressivism because Macron has monopolized it, it has monopolized the word. This that you say reminds me of an article in a book that discusses the possibility of democratic populism. For me it is necessary to distinguish different types of populism and, finally, there is a more inclusive populism, there is a populism that can be considered immune ...
Conductor: You have spoken somewhere about reactionary or xenophobic populism.
CM: Sure, sure. To put it another way, left and right are metaphors.
AB: You know I have written that we live in a time when words have begun to "rot." So it is because ... It is a tough thing for intellectuals. A new sociability must be discovered. And what is discovered? That we must rediscover life in common, not "the right" or "the left" or the party or the unions, that is not what interests us in the first place.
CM: No, but it is precisely the problem in my point of view that the upheavals have, the young people are that they refuse to institutionalize themselves, to choose someone. And this is fine because, finally, this is what allows them to criticize, which we know is very important. But if we take into account the size of the cost of not accepting something close to a political leadership, we can see that this can end with the occupiers of Wall Street, with the "outraged" ... Luckily, there has been a Podemos there with them. I decide that it was necessary that before all this effervescence disappeared, I could enter Podemos. But it is possible to see very well that in the cases of youth mobilizations ...
Driver : No political translation ... [45:35]
CM : Without political translation, without political correlate, we cannot speak of movements that have a serious counterpart ...
AB: They are a significant epiphenomenon and, in my opinion, a general repetition of a much larger and more plural social revolt that will take place in the coming years. But now, it is a delicate object, I agree, on which we do not yet have the necessary elements to judge it, such as populism, which, as we have already said, is a popular class movement.
CM: That is not my vision, I would say.
AB: But basically yes, because it is populism that deals with the popular classes, something that we have already said.
CM: Yes, but I don't want to question that. I would like to frame it in something he had said. In my conception, societal demands should be privileged over social demands. [46:25]
AB: No, no ...
CM: For me in socialism, precisely in its condition, in what it is about is to articulate, for the emancipation process, the demands of the working class with the demands of other social sectors. And today we listen ...
AB: No, because the societal has the function, precisely, of making the social forget. But I would like to say one more thing.
I think the popular classes are de-subjective, in France at least, it is as if they no longer exist. For better or for worse, it is so, and it is one thing that all polls show.
This is the rebuttal we make of Melenchon, for example - I understand his point of view. But there is nothing else that explains the stagnation of its political space than all the other "ingredients" that it has added to the soup.
CM: What you say makes me think that, in Spain, for example ... That this relationship between societal and social is not necessarily a fundamental obstacle because, for example, in Spain immigration does not mean the same as in France.
AB: No, because they are in Italy ...
CM: Yes, without a doubt, but there has been an involution or an evolution, as you wish. It has been the separation of Podemos, which has ... well, the separation of Churches ...
AB: What is a general evolution.
CM: Yes, because they ended up doing a type of campaign ...
Driver: The impression I have is that the difference between the populist parties that win elections, what we see in the US or in Britain with Brexit, always includes something of exclusion and, perhaps, in this sense we can see a reason for the xenophobia they preach. Also here we include the eastern countries and Italy. The difference would be that these parties that win elections are generally on the right, and those populist parties on the left generally lose the elections. [48:37]
CM: Yes, but when I was talking about political strategy, I was talking about the political frontier because that is where the definition of the populist party is at stake.
Driver: But is it okay to talk about strategy when we talk about an issue like immigration, for example?
CM: But it is not necessary, precisely, for a populist party to define itself as such: for example, unsubmissive France does not. For example, regarding Melenchon, before the last election, in his visit to Latin America he said something like: "It is necessary to federate the people to re-found the left." Melenchon never left the reference to the left. I believe that in certain cases it is a strategy - let me repeat that the category "left populism" is an analytical category: no party or movement puts up that poster. And this is central because to make a left populism, a left populist strategy, it is essential that it is not presented as a left populism, because that would create resistance. [49:56]
AB: I can agree that there is indeed significant resistance. But it is because people are completely tired, overwhelmed, saturated with what is called “the refounding of the right” or “the refounding of the left”. People have heard things like that a hundred and fifty times. People aim to solve problems related to security, neighborhood, employment ... All this in response, as a reaction to a system for which these people have become invisible and inaudible, a system by which the oligarchy, which It has a model, transnational dimension, it moves through hotels in Europe, even in Africa, simply because they are the ones who can do it, simply. That has nothing to do with the right or the left ...
CM: Precisely ... But no, no. What I am talking about when I talk about the left populist strategy is a strategy whereby the "they" is financial capitalism. Because I was referring to all these problems when I made my analysis of the current reality that I called "post-democracy", that is, nothing more or less than the consequences of financial capitalism.
AB: And it is they that we are rejecting here.
CM: Sure, but it's not always so clear which are the sides of right-wing populism.
AB: No, of course it's clear, it was the first thing I specified. I have named in Europe all the countries that have had consolidated models of financial liberalism, and how these have been the first to demand that people begin to speak. [51:32]
CM: Okay. For me, however, it is very important to recognize that there is a "they".
AB: Sure, there is one of them in common.
CM: Yes, but there is something beyond it being in common. For example, today everyone talks about ecology, and that is magnificent. But "ecology" can be articulated in very different ways
Driver: Yes, that's for sure.
CM: We can have an authoritative ecology, an ecology ...
AB: You can answer that with the theory of degrowth, which is underway ...
CM: Exactly. And, for example, for me an ecology that does not question financial capital and the neoliberal model is not an ecology that will solve problems, even if we have great sympathy for the idea of the "Green New Deal" of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortés. This can show how to establish an equivalence between a social demand and a demand that, we can say, is not class. And that is the articulation with a sense of equivalence that is behind this notion of "New Deal" but we also know very well that this idea can be misappropriated.
Driver: Alain de Benoist, in two minutes?
AB: Well, we have made a marathon dispute here. But we have to say that these kinds of problems are difficult to analyze because they are ongoing. Finally, we are talking about finding solutions and I think we cannot find one. I believe that the balance, as we were just talking about, the solution will come from the side of an articulation, necessarily the product of a balance, that will have those who satisfy and those who do not. I also believe that the capitalist system, neoliberal hegemony can self-perfect, but it also can not do so with respect to this critical point that we are talking about now, unfortunately.
CM: I think you know well that, for me, the exit to the current situation does not necessarily have to take a progressive course, to call it in some way, or with an eye on poverty, to say it in another way ...
Driver: That may mean "Yesterday was always better" [53:34]
CM: That may mean "much better" ... [53:36]
AB: Of course, of course, of course, of course ... [53:40]
CM: When I say that for me the fundamental combat is between the articulation of this fight against post-democracy and that can be articulated as the radicalization of democracy or, on the contrary, as the restriction of democracy. But there is also, still, a third solution, which is not really a solution but that can be an intermediate point and I think that it is a bit what is happening here in France: we have a neoliberal system that defends itself, but in.-. We are arriving at a moment in which the possibility of reaching a kind of conciliation between capitalism and democracy has ended. Such a thing was possible for the time, I have written a lot on this subject, on the Social Democratic hegemony, that is, on the Keynesian State, later also called the Welfare State. But today this is no longer possible.
But I think that if we don't have a populist way out, we are going to have a way out that will defend authoritarian liberalism.
AB: You know ...
Driver: I'm going to have to stop them. Unfortunately, we are done. Thank you both for your participation in the debate.
Thank you all very much. We will continue when we meet again, on our next appointment.
 The original name of the TV series is Interdit d'interdire . It is a play on words: interdit means prohibited, interdire means prohibit. Thus, the phrasing would mean "Prohibited prohibit". It is a famous slogan of the French May.
 Emphasis on the original. From now on, all emphasis in the original will be marked in bold.
 N. del Trad .: He refers here to For a left populism , to which de Benoist implicitly refers before.
 “en train de transition” in the original audio. The pun is original.
 The word used in French is "malades". It is a word with an organic connotation, but here the interviewee is referring to the structural conditions of contemporary societies, which, being adjectives with this word, connote a negative evaluation.
 The French word used here is "malaise". Unlike "malade", "malaise" refers to the subjective appropriation of that socio-structural condition that we treat as "pathological".
 Refers to Ernesto Laclau.
 Possibly it refers to the well-known speech given on April 11, 1882 at the Sorbonne by Ernst Renan "What is a nation?".
 De Benoist is likely referring here to the Aufstehen movement("Standing"), led by Sara Wagenknecht and her husband Oskar Lafontaine, both within the recent left-wing party Die Linke . Such movement attempted to broaden Die Linke'sideological base by adopting some of the slogans that managed to be represented by the AfD ( Alternative für Deutschland) ahead of the elections. The project, launched publicly in the summer of 2018, that is, a year before the interview.
 This is the French national legislative body.
 Refers to the general and regional elections held in Spain, on April 28 and May 26, respectively.