Monthly Archives: July 2012
素材：Laclau, E. (2005). On Populist Reason. London: Verso.
目的：方便自己將來copy and paste用
話說On Populist Reason是筆者去年寫undergrad畢業論文時最重要的參考書籍，全書 (及後來因為要還書而製作的影印本) 被翻完又翻，引用過三五七次，不過最重要的還是在論文以外，它導致筆者變成了一個徹徹底底的constructivist – 建構主義者 (別問這是甚麼，如果你不知道的話，總之不可以吃)。
“ So why address these issues through a discussion of populism? Because of the suspicion, which I have had for a long time, that in the dismissal of populism far more is involved than the relegation of a peripheral set of phenomena to the margins of social explanation. What is involved in such a disdainful rejection is, I think, the dismissal of politics tout court, and the assertion that the management of community is the concern of an administrative power whose source of legitimacy is a proper knowledge of what a ‘good’ community is. This has been, throughout the centuries, the discourse of ‘political philosophy’, first instituted by Plato. ‘Populism’ was always linked to a dangerous excess, which puts the clear-cut moulds of a rational community into question. So my task, as I conceived it, was to bring to light the specific logics inherent in that excess, and to argue that, far from corresponding to marginal phenomena, they are inscribed in the actual working of any communitarian space. ,,,
… My attempt has not been to find the true referent of populism, but to do the opposite: to show that populism has no referential unity because it is ascribed not to a delimitable phenomenon but to a social logic whose effects cut across many phenomena. Populism is, quite simply, a way of constructing the political.” (pp.x-xi)
“ A first step away from this discursive denigration of populism is not, however, to question the categories used in its description – ‘vagueness’, ‘imprecision’, and so on – but to take them at face value while rejecting the prejudices which are at the root of their dismissal. That is: instead of counterposing ‘vagueness’ to a mature political logic governed by a high degree of precise institutional determination, we should start asking ourselves a different and more basic set of questions: ‘is not the “vagueness” of populist discourses the consequence of social reality itself being, in some situations, vague and undetermined?’ And in that case, ‘wouldn’t populism be, rather than a clumsy political and ideological operation, a performative act endowed with a rationality of its own – that is to say, in some situations, vagueness is a precondition to constructing relevant political meanings?’ Finally, ‘is populism really a transitional moment derived from the immaturity of social actors and bound to be superseded at a later stage, or is it, rather a constant dimension of political action which necessarily arises (in different degrees) in all political discourses, subverting and complicating the operations of the so-called “more mature” ideologies?’ Let us give an example.
Populism, it is argued, ‘simplifies’ the political space, replacing a complex set of differences and determinations by a stark dichotomy whose two poles are necessarily imprecise. … If things are so, however, is not this logic of simplification, and of making some terms imprecise, the very condition of political action? Only in an impossible world in which politics would have been entirely replaced by administration, in which piecemeal engineering in dealing with particularized differences would have totally done away with antagonistic dichotomies, would we find that ‘imprecision’ and ‘simplification’ would really have been eradicated from the public sphere. In that case, however, the trademark of populism would be just the special emphasis on a political logic which, as such, is a necessary ingredient of politics tout court.
Another way of dismissing populism, as we have seen, is to relegate it to ‘mere rhetoric’. But, as we have also pointed out, the tropological movement, far from being a mere adornment of a social reality which could be described in non-rhetorical terms, can be seen as the very logic of constitution of political identities. Let us just take the case of metaphor. As we know, metaphor establishes a relation of substitution between terms on the basis of the principle of analogy. Now, as I have just said, in any dichotomic structure, a set of particular identities or interests tend to regroup themselves as equivalential differences around one of the poles of the dichotomy. For instance, the wrongs experienced by various sections of ‘the people’ will be seen as equivalent to each other vis-à-vis the ‘oligarchy’. But this is simply to say that they are all analogous with each other in their confrontation with oligarchic power. And what is this but a metaphorical reaggregation? Needless to say, the breaking of those equivalences in the construction of a more institutionalist discourse would proceed through different but equally rhetorical devices. So far from these devices being mere rhetoric, they are inherent in the logics presiding over the constitution and dissolution of any political space.
So we can say that progress in understanding populism requires, as a sine qua non, rescuing it from its marginal position within the discourse of the social sciences – the latter having confined it to the realm of the non-thinkable, to being the simple opposite of political forms dignified with the status of a full rationality. I should stress that this relegation has been possible only because, from the very beginning, a strong element of ethical condemnation has been present in the consideration of populistic movements. Populism has not only been demoted: it has also been denigrated. Its dismissal has been part of the discursive construction of a certain normality, of an ascetic political universe from which its dangerous logics had to be excluded. …” (pp.17-19)