Political Theory




It is common to ask whether populism is a threat or a corrective to democracy. In the empirical literature, the conclusion tends to be that it is both. Mouffe’s normative account promotes populism because of its alleged ability to deepen democracy. Both literatures are inhibited by an observer perspective, which evaluates populism as a phenomenon that affects democracy from the outside rather than as an alternative conception of democracy. This paper proposes an alternative approach, which uses the publicity condition of Kant and Rawls. The publicity condition entails taking a participant perspective, where you regard yourself as involved with plural others in a common enterprise of deliberation. While the observer considers the causes and effects of different doctrines in order to explain, manipulate and/or exploit political practice, the participant asks whether we could make a doctrine our own, something we would promote and use to assess the health of democracy.


Thumbnail image of Rostboll - Populism and Publicity - APSA2019.pdf


Log in or register with APSA to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .