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This issue. Next issue. Call for contributions

Michelangelo Bovero
p. 15-20
Questo articolo è una traduzione di:
In questo numero. Nei prossimi numeri. Invito a contribuire [it]

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Is this issue

1The present volume of Teoria politica is structured in five sections.

2The first section is titled Populisms. For some time, many parts of the Globe, although separated by great distances that are not only geographical, are weathering collective movements that seem to share a common conception of politics, at least in the essential traits; and this similarity seems equally, if not more relevant, as a connotation of the identification of their nature, compared to the divergence in the declared and exposed ideological choices. It is this aspect that Teoria politica suggested in the opening editorial of the issue VI/2016 be considered as the «family of populisms», calling for contributions in order to redefine a category, namely «populism», in which phenomena that are prima facie multiple and heterogeneous might be included.

3This complex subject was addressed during the Sixth Seminary of Teoria Politica in Turin in October 2016. The first five articles included in this section correspond to the papers presented during that event. Yves Mény’s contribution delimits the subject to address to populisms that emerge in democratic societies at the end of the xxth Century and traces the main cause of their emergence back to the «democratic frustration» of an important part of the citizens, which is steered towards the contestation of the fundamental institutes of representation; and, illustrates the tendency of these political exponents to a progressive radicalization «in the direction of the right-wing», although they mostly reject the opposition between left-wing and right-wing. Loris Zanatta draws his attention to Latin America, always considered populism’s laboratory, specially those defined as «left-wing». In this article he clarifies to what extent the left-wing right-wing conceptual chart is inadequate to understand the populist phenomenon, and suggests a minimal redefinition, centred on a «nostalgia for unanimity» that characterizes the vision of all populist and on the consequent repulsion a all sorts of pluralism. The article from Roberto Escobar acknowledges the different forms of «political illusionism» that inhabit the public sphere, considering them within a conceptual framework that contrasts democracy, defined as «discussion without limits of dissent», with populism as well as technocracy. The contribution from Ida Dominijanni brings back the populist phenomenon to the context of the radical transformations caused by neoliberalism in occidental democracies, and focuses on the four species of populism that have dominated Italian political life in the last thirty years: the ethnic populism of the Lega Nord, the telecratic populism of Berlusconi, and the digital populism of the 5 Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle). The essay from Valentina Pazè discusses the two symme­trical theses present in the literature on the subject, which argue that there is no populism without democracy and/or there is no democracy without populism. Through a redefinition of both key-notions, she builds a conceptual model in which both notions result in being clearly antithetic.

4In addition to these essays, two original contributions are included from the responses we received to our open invitation to reflect on this subject. The article from Guadalupe Salmorán reconstructs the appraisal of the populist world as a rather versatile ideology, although always antidemocratic. She also identifies that, among the different representations of the «people»’s identity, populist movements build now and then an explanatory principle that locates them somewhere in the left-wing right-wing axis. Nico de Federicis’s article recalls in particular the usefulness of the classic weberian analyses on plebiscitarianism in order to interpret contemporary political events and the rise of the populist phenomenon.

5The second section, with the title Imbalance of Powers, approaches two articles that address seemingly different issues but are actually complementary and even converge into a single problematic stream of argument: the loss of influence and rank of political power, specially the States’ power. The article by Maria Rosaria Ferrarese reconstructs in what way the progressive weakening of the State’s role in global arena was, for the last decennia, promoted mainly by the States themselves which actively encouraged it in a practically unanimous gift to the neoliberal ideology. It is precisely because of this that, in an article dedicated to analyze the relationship between State Law and the European Union after Brexit, Claudio de Fiores illustrates how it may be stated that —paradoxically— it was not the triumphant globalization to dissolve the States, but the States themselves to give way to trans-national powers created by themselves.

6The third section, called Mass and Power, today, comprises four essays dedicated to the major work of Elias Canetti. Leonard Mazzone’s contribution weighs the reasons for the canettian misfortune within the «official» academic culture, proposing a radical revaluation of Canetti’s major work. The paper by Penka Angelova traces the main interpretations of Mass and Power and draws particular attention to the category of metamorphosis, revealing the author’s anti-historicism. Olivier Agard’s article reconstructs the original characters of Canetti’s philosophical and political anthropology. The article by Luigi Alfieri compares the representations and interpretations of the mass violence offered by Canetti and René Girard.

7The fourth section, titled Essays, as usual of miscellaneous character, includes four contributions. Francesco Remotti’s extensive essay puts the foundations of a general theory of similarities, or rather of similarities and differences, through meditation reconstruction and dialectical confrontation of great philosophical-political significance, among the visions of the world of Protagoras, of Herodotus and Plato. Marcelo Torelly’s article investigates the use of the rules of international law by Courts called for serious violations of fundamental rights in post-authoritarian transitions in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. Sara Lagi’s essay reconstructs the development of Hans Kelsen’s theory of parliamentary democracy in the historical context in which he was born and in relation to the political goals the author intended. The contribution from Michelangelo Bovero is based on a reassessment of the constitutional reform law promulgated in Italy by the Renzi government and rejected by the referendum of 4 December 2016 to outline a radical critique of so-called «majoritarian democracy».

8The fifth section closes this volume with two contributions, by Fulvia De Luise and by Cesare Pianciola, that address Giuseppe Cambiano’s recent book, Come nave in tempesta. Il governo della città in Platone e Aristotele.

Next issues

9Teoria politica intends to dedicate an ample space of the next volume (VIII, 2018) to the changes in the political scene of real democratic regimes, calling for a comprehensive account of the crucial election cycle that is investing in Europe in the current year.

10During 2016, some major popular consultations had produced, with their overwhelmingly remarkable results, significant transformations in the political landscape of the Western world, almost as close to earthquake outcomes. It should be noted that the most incisive breakthroughs were achieved by «direct» forms of provocation to the populus: the referendum (however, with only consultative value) that revealed the will of the majority of British citizens, even if it was to abandon the European Union; the election of the President of the United States of America, which has always been considered as a major duel for the conquest of popular consensus, only this time with a special plebiscitary emphasis due to the unusual identity of one of the two contenders and resulting winner; also, I would like to add, the referendum with which the majority in Italy, this abundant, citizens rejected the constitutional reform strongly advocated by the government in office. The two global political earthquakes, the so-called Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, have led many observers and much of the public to expect the rise of new upheavals through the 2017 election campaign in Europe , almost prefiguring them as a seismic swarm, of greater or lesser gravity, inevitable following the catastrophic shocks of the previous year.

11At the time I am writing these notes (July 2017), it can be said that the consultations that have been carried out here are but some notable changes, but not so upsetting. There have been no other earthquakes; At least, not the ones expected and many feared. A large number of observers underlined that political elections in the Netherlands on 16 March could confirm the success, if not the triumph, of Geert Wilders’s «Party for Freedom» of a marked nationalist-populist impression, and that such an assertion would have contributed to strengthen the already powerful wind at Front National in France, opening the doors of the Eliseo to Marine Le Pen. None of this has happened in either the Netherlands or France. This does not mean that the fate of European populism is in decline, nor is the tendency to converge into a progressive and symmetrical radicalization «to the right» (on this subject, see Yves Mény’s essay in the present volume). Populist parties and movements are, if not (yet) a solidarity block, certainly a full and homogenous component, persistent and perhaps growing, in the European public arena; and the political culture of the citizens do not seem to be disappearing, on the contrary they are deepened.

12One might say that the erosion of the old political-party structure is inescapable. In France, the most up-to-date novelty, is represented by the victory of Emmanuel Macron in the presidential elections of April and May, and the utter success of his newly-formed party in June’s parliamentary elections. With a scandalous disproportion between the majoritarian seats won and the small minority of the votes obtained —if measured by the number of those entitled to vote— this victory is rather due to an opposing movement, of restriction and contrast to (relatively) «new» populist tendencies represented by the political orientation given by Marine Le Pen to the «Front National»; nevertheless that success was built on the landslide of the «old» traditional parties. However, it is not only a matter of replacing old political identities with new ones. The French electoral institutional-electoral system conceals the true transformation, which (it may be said), has already «been set in motion» almost everywhere in the European landscape: the crisis of the bipolar model. In Great Britain, the unforeseen political elections of June 8th have re-launched a similar outcome to what had just been presented only a few years earlier in 2010, and then welcomed it as a disadvantageous deviation from the «normal» functioning of the uninominal collegiate system: no party has obtained the absolute majority of the seats and, consequently, a coalition government had to be built (improvised, compulsory and even costly). The «format» of the political systems in Europe is no longer —it has never been— a dichotomous one. Bipartitism and bipolarism, the majoritarian model, and the «democracy of alternation» have seen collapse their empirical bases, their conditions of possibility, with earthquake-like convulsions. Under these circumstances it becomes difficult, if not implausible, to re-propose this paradigm as a desirable horizon and, at the same time, as a real target. Consequently, the search for new rules for electoral competitions appears to be more and more controversial and conflictive.

13Moreover, the transformation of European political systems certainly invests in their dimension, is primarily related to the nature of their protagonists: the parties (and/or the movements, in short, the subjects that compete in the public arena), party mutations and «party structures», the metamorphoses of traditional parties and on the genesis of new species of political, post-ideological, «neither right nor left», etc., as well as on the crisis of parties in the context of a more general state crisis indeed, of politics, many scholars continue to practice by offering a wealth of analysis of the various disciplinary perspectives. Teoria Politica invites to consider the European election year as a useful occasion, and a particularly fruitful field of investigation to develop collegial and interdisciplinary reflection on the political phenomenology of our time.

14Simultaneously, Teoria politica renewed the urge to reassess the «lesson of classics» around the major categories of politics. It is about to reach an ambitious initiative in the field of studies of ancient thought: the new critical edition with translation and commentary of Aristotle’s Politics, directed by Lucio Bertelli and Mauro Moggi for the «L’Erma» of Bretschneider (Rome, 2011ff.). Norberto Bobbio, in the voice «State» of the Encyclopedia Einaudi, written at the beginning of the eighties, called for the «confirmation» that «a political treaty like that of Aristotle aimed at analyzing the Greek city has lost nothing of its effectiveness —descriptive and explanatory— about the political orders that have taken place since then to this day». Teoria Politica suggests readers and contributors —not just scholars of classical culture— to revisit Aristotle’s thinking; emphasizing in particular the opportunity to retrace the plot of theses and theoretical arguments developed in the third book of Politics. The third book was, since Antiquity recognized as the book of «definitions» (horoi), thus the principles and foundations of political knowledge. The concepts of constitution and citizenship emerge among the central issues dealt with in this book. They are recurring and always current subjects, on which Aristotle’s lesson can be illuminating and indeed useful in correcting myopia of an overly anchored look at the contingencies of the present.

Call for contributions

1.Earthquakes, still? Political landscape after an electoral year

15After Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory, which violently shook the global political scene in 2016, was it really to be expected that political elections set for 2017 in crucial areas of Europe —Holland, France, Germany, plus unquestionably Britain, and with Italy always on the verge of joining the competition— would have caused more earthquakes? To what extent have the forecasts been confirmed or denied? What transformations (and how intense) may be seen, analyzing post-festum the political landscape in European political systems? Has the national-populist seismic wave grown or decreased in its intensity and pervasiveness? In what way did the telluric pushes between parties and anti-parties influence? Yet, are institutional frameworks and rules for political competition enough to channel these earthquakes or do they show cracks, fragility, and inadequacy? What has been the incidence of new or brand new forms of political communication, from the transition from the passive audience to the interactive public, as factors of upheaval? What movements can be recorded in the great «plaques» of political cultures? What potentials lie in the great sea of abstention?

16Teoria Politica encourages contributions on the following topics:

  • Transformations in European political systems.

  • National cases: analysis and comparisons.

  • Trends and perspectives of populisms in Europe.

  • What rules for which political competitions?

  • What changes in political cultures?

  • Un-represented: a galaxy of abstention.

2.Re-thinking Aristotle. Principles and foundations of political knowledge

17What is the polis: the city, the political community, the state? When is a city, a political community to say the same, or not the same but different? When does it keep and when does it change its identity? Does it keep its identity until its members remain from the same race and offspring, or does it change when the constitution or its form of coexistence change? How many and which are the types of constitutions, the forms of collective life, and with what criteria may we distinguish straight lines from deviated and corrupt forms? What is a citizen, what is the status of a citizen, what are the attributions, rights, and duties that lie with the citizen? And what are the requirements that an individual must meet to be recognized as a citizen?

18These are just some of the fundamental problems that Aristotle faces in Politics, particularly in the third book. There are many reasons, even topical, that call for a philosophical and philological re-reading, careful and meditated.

19Teoria Politica encourages contributions on the following specific topics:

  • Constitution and types of constitution, for Aristotle and for us.

  • Politeia and politeuma: formal constitution and material constitution.

  • Who should be sovereign? Aristotle and political power.

  • Who should be a citizen? Aristotle on the requirements and attributes of citizenship.

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Notizia bibliografica

Michelangelo Bovero, «This issue. Next issue. Call for contributions»Teoria politica. Nuova serie Annali, 7 | 2017, 15-20.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Michelangelo Bovero, «This issue. Next issue. Call for contributions»Teoria politica. Nuova serie Annali [Online], 7 | 2017, online dal 26 mai 2020, consultato il 26 février 2021. URL:

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