The Doha Institute’s
School of Social Sciences and Humanities hosted Dr. Chantal Mouffe, Professor
of Political Theory at the University of Westminster, London and one of
Europe’s leading political theorists on October 22, 2019. Her lecture addressed
“Populism and the Transformations of Contemporary Politics” which came as part
of a series called “Dialogues of the Age”, initiated by the School this year.
In her lecture, Dr.
Mouffe considered the phenomenon of populism, explaining the mechanisms for understanding
left-wing populism in the European context, and addressing the major transformations
in the nature of contemporary political practice today. Mouffe focused on the
rise of populism as a political phenomenon that has swept the world, having an
impact on both major and smaller states, and even becoming a phenomenon in
international political action. She called for a “radical democracy,” which
seeks to go beyond what she terms the stagnation of traditional Marxism and the
bankruptcy of liberalism, and referred to the positive aspects of populism,
adding that a positive view of populism has re-energized political action.
Commenting on the
lecture, Dr. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Dean of the School of Social and Human
Sciences, commented on how the lecture dealt with the issue of populism in
Europe from a specific political viewpoint, based on the radical democracy theory
adopted by Dr. Mouffe. He noted how the lecture tried to set out the theoretical
framework of left-wing populism.
that Mouffe believes that populism is not always negative, and that there could
be another kind of non-racist populism. He observed how politics contains a
clash that must be recognized, and that modern liberalism suffers from many
problems because it does not acknowledge this clash, but believes that all
differences can be resolved through dialogue. El-Affendi stressed the
importance of holding such lectures to contribute to putting the School and the
DI at the heart of the global dialogue on these issues.
Dr Chantal Mouffe
was educated at the universities of Louvain, Paris, and Essex, and has taught
at many universities in North America, Europe, and Latin America. She has also
held research positions at Harvard, Cornell, the University of California and
the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris. From 1989 to 1995, she
was Director of Programs at the Collège International de Philosophie in
Paris. Mouffe achieved international acclaim after the 1985
publication of Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, which she co-authored
with Ernesto Laclau. This work reinforced her position as one of the pioneers
of a new theory of political thought in the framework of “post-Marxism”. In her
prolific writings, Mouffe calls for a “radical democracy” that seeks to
overcome what she sees as the stagnation of traditional Marxism and the
bankruptcy of liberalism, while declaring her rejection of the brutality of
neoliberalism and the defeatism of the democratic socialist currents,
especially the supporters of the “Third Way” school. Mouffe, contrary to many, sees a positive side to populism, which has
been an inspiration to many currents on the populist left, foremost among them
the Podemos movement in Spain.