Populism: The Left’s Bad Cholesterol?
I have a review out today of Eric Fassin’s pamphlet against left populism (and by extension against Jean-Luc Mélenchon), written last spring during the French presidential election campaign but still relevant today. I had originally wanted to title it after this quip from Fassin’s book, but the Jacobin editors went for something more neutral:
Il paraît qu’il existe deux sortes de cholesterol: le bon et le mauvais. Pour la gauche, en revanche, il n’est pas de bon populisme.
This might be slightly overstating the case against left populism—I do think some of what gets lumped under this term is not as frightening as the word now suggests. But what I found useful in Fassin’s book is its implicit argument that most of what is most useful about so-called “populist” movements on the left is really just good grassroots politics, and not populism in the deeper sense meant by people like Chantal Mouffe.