Republican perspectives on populism and hope

My PhD thesis brings together ancient Greek political thought, Christian theology, theories of cosmopolitanism and nationalism, and discusses thinkers including Aristotle, Hannah Arendt, and Christopher Lasch. This is a work that spans Political Philosophy, History, and Social Movements (particularly American Populism). Drawing on Arendt and Lasch, the thesis invites us to think about populism as ideology and praxis of and for the people, which is a refreshing departure from the admittedly necessary path that analyses of populist movements have taken in recent years, focused (almost exclusively) on the rise of left and right-wing nationalist parties in Europe and north America as a reaction to modernisation. It points to a refreshed and productive way of rethinking populism, beyond these mainstream trends of right-wing nationalism. It reflects on the classical republican currents of early American populism (a ‘hopeful populism,’ as it is precisely defined), which points to an engaged and spirited defence of a democratic practice, grounded in an ethical patriotism. This patriotism echoes Simone Weil’s philosophy; it is modest and spiritually motivated; it is ‘hopeful’ patriotism that values the importance of social inclusion.

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Department of Politics and International Relations, Goldsmiths, University of London

Supervised by Professor Carl Levy