In 2014 a new progressive party, Podemos, emerged on the Spanish political scene. Within just over two years it had become the country’s third-biggest party, winning a slew of seats in parliament and regularly making headline news. While some see Podemos as the saviour of Spanish democracy, others have accused it of corrosive populism. But what few have noticed is that behind its distinctive rhetoric lies a thinker closely associated with Germany’s Third Reich: Carl Schmitt.
Why has an ostensibly progressive and avowedly anti-fascist political party taken up Schmitt’s ideas? The puzzle only deepens when we learn of Schmitt’s links with Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. In The Dark Side of Podemos?, Booth and Baert explain why Schmittian theory resonated with Podemos’ founders. In doing so, the authors position Podemos and the ideas that guide it within the context of recent Spanish history and ongoing politics of memory, revealing a story about how personal and political narratives have combined to produce a formidable political force.
This enlightening monograph will appeal to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as postdoctoral researchers, interested in fields such as Politics, Political Theory and Sociology. It will also be relevant to those curious about contemporary Spanish politics, the nature of populism, the future of the European left, or Carl Schmitt and his links with Spain.
In this intriguing narrative in political theory, Booth and Baert trace the multi-layered and often surprising connections between the conservative philosophy of the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt and the progressive populism of Podemos. In the process they consider the analogies between Weimar Germany and contemporary Spain, General Franco’s regime and the warm reception for Schmitt’s views on power, the political, the "exception", and decisionism. In tracing the connections between the Podemos leadership and Schmitt’s critique of liberalism and parliamentary democracy, they also describe the profound crisis within the European Union between Germany and its underdeveloped periphery.
A tour de force, the authors develop a compelling historical sociology of ideas and expose the ambiguities of populism as appealing to extreme right and left politics , and simultaneously dissolving this political division.
Bryan S. Turner ACU (Melbourne) and Potsdam University Germany
Chapter 1: The Schmitt-Podemos connection
Chapter 2: Podemos’ encounter with Schmitt
Chapter 3: Divergent presents
Chapter 4: Imagining the political past
Chapter 5: Imagining the political future
Chapter 6: Tensions within