Legitimacy for some
Right-wing populist rationality and antagonistic politics
The purpose of this article is to examine under what conditions the disruptive character of right-wing populism can be perceived as a positive element within a functioning democracy. Using the thinking of philosophers Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe I argue that the disruptive character of right-wing populism gives the marginalised concerns of ‘the people’ public legitimacy. However, right-wing populism is also criticised for excluding, in a similar fashion, certain social actors from the public sphere. Instead of enabling a more inclusive society, I therefore argue that right-wing populism enables a society that is distinguished by antagonism. To make it possible for all social actors’ concerns to gain public legitimacy without promoting antagonism, I argue that a new political reality needs to be imagined. In conclusion I therefore offer a theoretical framework for such a reality through the political philosophy of Bruno Latour.