This project explores the current conjuncture in Western liberal democracies and the reasons for the increasing success of right-wing populist movements. It will elaborate the thesis that the only way to fight against those movements is to develop left populist alternatives. Specifically, it will argue that it is a lack of understanding for the dynamics of politics and the role of affects in the formation of collective identities that explains the failure of social democratic parties in offering an appropriate answer to the right-wing populist challenge.
During my fellowship I will develop my work on the political by examining the process of construction of political identities. Taking my bearings from Spinoza and Freud, who have both insisted that it is desire that moves human beings to act and that what makes them act in one direction rather than in another are the affects, I will examine how ‘common affects’ ( that I call ‘passions) are mobilized in the constitution of collective identities. I am particularly interested in bringing to the fore the role played by affects in the construction of the we/they discrimination that I take to be constitutive of political struggle.