Populism, popular sovereignty and public reason
April 16 - April 17
In 2020, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business will host the 12th Conference of the Central and Eastern European Forum of Young Legal, Political & Social Theorists. The main theme of the 12th CEE Forum Conference will be populism, popular sovereignty and public reason. In the first two decades of the 21st century, and particularly in the aftermath of the Financial Crisis, populist politics have been on the rise and are challenging so-called liberal democratic conceptions relating to pluralism, the rule of law, or international cooperation. With the re-emergence of populism, popular sovereignty has resurfaced as a political category, calling into question previously widely accepted understandings of globalization and international cooperation. In what some have been calling an age of “post-truthism”, populism is not only impeding hitherto tolerated practices of governance such as technocratic rule, but also thwarting the democratic potential of deliberative discourse. Populism seems at odds with ideas of public reason. The popular will is not subject to/result of deliberation, but miraculously known to the populist regime. Populists do not want to engage in a reasoned moral or political argument with others. Dissidents and political opponents are perceived and depicted as “the enemy”. To this adds the recurrent populist “blame game” or hostility towards international organizations and international law, overshadowing legitimate concerns as regards global governance more broadly. While from a bird’s-eye view these phenomena seem to occur on a global level, it might be worth the effort to inquire into its regional idiosyncrasies in Central and Eastern Europe.