For the People: Left Populism in Spain and the US

For the People

Left Populism in Spain and the US

Author(s): 
Jul 2020
/
ISBN: 
9781912064441
/
240
pp
£17.00
-+

In For the People Jorge Tamames offers a stimulating comparative study of Spain’s Podemos and the Bernie Sanders movement in the US. Tamames argues for left populism as a potential powerful antidote to rising inequality in both Europe and America. 

‘A fascinating study into our tumultuous times, full of insight and compelling historical detail, underlining that the populist moment is not a passing aberration. Critical to any understanding of this age of upheaval.’

- Owen Jones

Recent years have witnessed dramatic challenges to established politics across Europe and America. Opposition to business-as-usual has not been limited to the radical right: left populist movements with transformative agendas offer a very different – if equally radical – response to the status quo.

Focusing on left populist movements in the contrasting political landscapes of Spain and the US, For the People brings together insights from Karl Polanyi, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe to offer a bold new explanatory framework for today’s left populism. The book grounds its insights in a careful excavation of recent political history in the two countries, tracing the emergence and advance of left parties and movements from the early days of neoliberalism in the 1970s, through the political landslides that followed the 2008 financial crisis and the post-2011 protest cycle, up to the present day.

In the age of Trump and Brexit, For the People offers an indispensable mix of theoretical, historical and practical insights for all those interested in and inspired by the radical potentials of left populism. 

Introduction: Populists at the gates

1.  Populism and its discontents
2. Earthquakes and countermovements
3. The move to the market
4. From consensus to crisis: Spain 1978-2013
5. From New Deal to no deal: America 1977-2014
6. Storming heaven: Podemos and Spain’s populist moment
7. Bernie Sanders’s political revolution

Conclusion: Hopes and prospects for left populism

‘A fascinating study into our tumultuous times, full of insight and compelling historical detail, underlining that the populist moment is not a passing aberration. Critical to any understanding of this age of upheaval.’

- Owen Jones

‘Amid a plethora of books anxiously focused on the rise of the reactionary right, For the People shows us a luminous and hopeful upside to neoliberalism’s failure. New political projects are emerging on both sides of the Atlantic committed to deepening democracy and reversing the growth in inequality, presenting both a possible way out of economic crisis, and an alternative to authoritarianism.’

- César Rendueles, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

‘Much of the commentary about populism focuses upon nativism, exclusion, racism and authoritarianism. Such analyses have trouble explaining that left populism that has brought millions into politics. Jorge Tamames shows us why left populism is still populism, and that to understand populism fully, we need to understand the left.’

- Mark Blyth, Brown University

‘Finally, a book that puts Karl Polanyi’s insights to work to understand left populism in the contemporary moment. Jorge Tamames argues that populism is more like an earthquake than a tornado, produced by a half-century of policies that subordinate democratic demands and human needs to the interests of markets. The result is increasingly coercive and unresponsive government on the one hand, and populist counter-movements on the other. Taking up the cases of Bernie Sanders in the United States and Podemos in Spain, Tamames combines first-rate historical political economy with keen insights into the emergence of left populism in two very different countries. For the People is a much-needed account of our present predicament, offering important insights into how things might change for the better.’

- Stephanie L Mudge, University of California, Davis