Our Damned Weakness: Tensions between Reason and Emotion in Podemos
This chapter argues that the study of political identities has for more than a century been influenced by a Cartesian division between the mind and the body. This has given rise to a common assumption that rational actions are more valid or legitimate than emotional expressions. Such a perspective is particularly accentuated in the study of populist parties and movements. This chapter traces how social theory has treated emotions over time, to arrive at the conclusion that the Cartesian division remains. In order to overcome this sharp distinction, which demands a clear hierarchy between political actors, the chapter introduces the works of Ernesto Laclau. By using Lacanian psychoanalysis, a form of identity-making which accommodates for a co-constitutive character of the mind and the body, Laclau’s theory of populism possesses a higher explanatory power for contemporary populist movements. By way of example, the chapter presents the case of Podemos, as to illustrate how the tension between emotion and reason can potentially be overcome, but also points to the practical implications in doing so. The chapter concludes that the Cartesian division remains, even in the segments of society most eager to overcome it.