Ernesto Laclau may have passed away, but his theories seem to be of continuing relevance in contemporary Europe. At a recent Momentum meeting in Merseyside, the spirit of populism was apparently in evidence. While two of the speakers referred to other more famous thinkers, the colourful mixture of practices on display seemed removed from traditional Marxism, for example.
There were songs and poems as well as oratory to entertain the crowd. And there was plenty of sincere enthusiasm for embattled democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn. Of course, there was a great focus on fighting austerity at the national level. However, there was a local flavour to the affair, with emphasis placed on struggles past and present. The campaign for justice for the Hillsborough families was mentioned, while the effort to save a local hospital was underlined.
Much depends on the outcome of the Labour leadership election. Even if Corbyn loses, his inspirational surge has rejuvenated the left. However, a victory for the socialist could see his brand of populism stimulate yet more thinking and action of a positive type. Hopes for a softer type of economic governance are still alive.