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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that contemporary democratic theory’s approach to populism has been unduly influenced by Carl Schmitt’s theory of political identification. Both liberal critics and radical democratic admirers of populism have focused attention on the question of who the people are (“the boundary problem”) while neglecting the related question of how the people act (“the enactment problem”). This framework obscures the central importance of populism’s experimentation with different forms of egalitarian praxis, and how these forms come to shape political subjectivity. The formative praxis of populism is clearly indicated in the nineteenth-century American case.

Keywords: populism, radical democracy, Carl Schmitt, praxis, boundary problem

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