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 Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Hannah Arendt, Hans Morgenthau and Christopher Lasch. This is a work that spans Political Philosophy, History, International Relations, and Social Movements. More precisely, my thesis focuses on the errosion of democracy thanks to the rampant spread of modernisation (as a consequence of the expansion of liberalism), procedures that have contributed to the emergence of nationalist populist movements in the western world. Drawing on 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 maninstream trends of 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 form of patriotism echoes Simone Weil’s philosophy; it is modest and spiritually motivated; it is compatible with nuanced forms of cosmopolitanism and values the importance of international cooperation.

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

Supervised by Professor Carl Levy

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