Painel Temático 14

Van Vossole, Jonas - Post-political articulations of democracy: a critical review of the newest protest movements in Portugal

Publicado en Painel Temático 14

Autoria Van Vossole, Jonas  (CES, Universidade de Coimbra)
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Título Post-political articulations of democracy: a critical review of the newest protest movements in Portugal
Sessão PT14. Politization, depolitization and alternatives in the discourses of the newest social movements


The economic conditions and austerity policies in southern Europe have produced a hegemonic crisis of democracy, lead towards divergent perspectives. In the political struggle for the meaning of democracy as Laclauian Master-signifier, new hegemonic or counterhegemonic alliances are formed. While unions and the traditional left questioned the idea of a democracy without its social substance in the form of social rights - new social movements have radicalized the idea. Demanding “democracia real ya!”, they directly attacked representation and the political system as a whole.

This paper makes a critical analysis of the anti-political and anti-ideological stance of the newest social movements in Portugal and problematizes its possible articulation with the post-political elements of the dominant neoliberal form. Therefore it first discusses the concept of depolitization and post-politics and its link with the dominant neoliberal ideology. Then this framework is then applied to the founding manifestos of a selection of 6 anti-austerity social movements; Movimento Geração á Rasca, Movimento 12 Março, Acampada do Rossio, Indignados de Lisboa, Acampada de Coimbra and Que Se Lixe a Troika. In each of these manifestoes the elements that reflect the post-political discourse about democracy are selected and criticized. These elements include the self-identification as “personal” and “post-ideological”, taking distance of (party)politics and addressing the crisis as a problem of “politicians”. We will argue that this critique of “the old way of doing politics” and the post-ideological stance; as well as the ilusions in participative democracy as such, actually are Fukuyamaist, and avoid addressing the structural problems of the political economy behind the crisis. A conscience of these post-political elements is crucial to avoid a cooptation of this discourse in the dominant neoliberal framework and to make possible an articulation with other anti-capitalist forces in order to bring forward a unified counter hegemonic discourse able to mobilise and politicize the different layers of society against austerity policies.