The political theology of populism and the case of the Front National

Philosophy and Social Criticism 45 (2):186-211 (2018)

In this article, we investigate the political theology of populism and look at the case of the Front National. Considering the writings of Carl Schmitt and Ernesto Laclau, we trace the logical core of Schmitt’s political theology and show how it is integrated into theories of the political and Laclau’s theory of populism. We argue that the theologico-political core of populism is the simultaneous disavowal and imposition of mediation and that this stance leads to an increasing formalism. Looking at the discourse of the FN on the notion of laïcité, we find that this theologico-political structure explains how the party is able to link traditionally left- and right-wing motives in its discourse. Finally, we show how in FN’s discourse, the formalist tendency of populism, which Laclau has theoretically explicated, has become overt and must be understood as part of politics, not as a universal and tran-historical logic of the political. This suggests, we argue pace Laclau, that we ought to consider both t...
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DOI 10.1177/0191453718803412
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