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A Morbid Democracy

Old and New Populisms


Monica Simeoni

The crisis of democracy in Europe and the inability of the political parties and élites to adequately meet the challenges of globalisation exposes the increasingly fragmented middle classes to the temptations of Euroscepticism, and, in some cases, xenophobia. This appears to be a portrait of contemporary reality, but the current crisis has deep roots. The Spanish thinker José Ortega y Gasset described the pathologies of the mass man and of the nascent democratic system as far back as the beginning of the twentieth century, in a significant text entitled Una democracia morbosa, which appears to foreshadow the present state of affairs. The crisis of the average man, the degradation and devaluation of culture appear to be the distinctive traits of the new, post-ideological democracy of our times, known as «audience democracy». The political parties, faced with this profound crisis, in some cases seek dangerous shortcuts through demagogic and rhetorical use of the term «people», while the charismatic figure of the leader gains in prestige as a reference model. Resentment, caused by lack of representation of the just demands of the citizens, can turn to anger and destabilise the institutions of democracy. There is therefore an urgent need for an inclusive Europe with a renewed welfare system, based around the citizenry and not the masses.
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We would like to thank the Università degli Studi del Sannio for its financial support.

Original title: Una democrazia morbosa, vecchi e nuovi populismi, English translation by Kay McCarthy.

The book was subject to a double blind refereeing process.No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by print, photocopy, microfilm or any other means, without prior written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.© P.I.E. PETER LANG S.A.    Éditions scientifiques internationales    Brussels, 2014    1 avenue Maurice, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium; www.peterlang.comISSN 2034-9610ISBN 978-2-87574-233-9e-ISBN 978-3-0352-6505-7D/2014/5678/108

CIP available from the British Library and from the Library of Congress, USA.

Bibliographic information published by “Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek”.“Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek” lists this publication in the “Deutsche National-bibliografie”; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at .

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