Demagogy and Social Pathology: Wendy Brown and Robert Pippin on the Pathologies of Neoliberal Subjectivity

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This essay argues that modern demagogy can be understood as a symptom of a kind of social pathology, combining Wendy Brown’s account of neoliberal subjectivity with elements of Robert Pippin’s interpretation of Hegel to do so. I begin by focussing on Brown’s contention that neoliberal society has bred forms of individual subjectivity that are inherently attuned to right-wing rhetoric. Drawing on Pippin’s reading of Hegel, the essay casts these modes of individual subjectivity as aspects of a flawed mode of collective subjectivity; the contemporary rise of demagogic politics is thereby presented as a symptom of a pathological failure of collective self-determinacy, caused by inadequacies
within the normative structures that articulate social activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-527
Number of pages23
Issue number42
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Sep 2019



  • Wendy Brown
  • Robert Pippin
  • Hegel
  • Social pathology
  • critical theory
  • neoliberal
  • philosophy
  • Brown
  • Pippin
  • Demagogy
  • Neoliberalism
  • Subjectivity
  • Foucault

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