Podemos’ Twofold Assault on Hegemony: The Possibilities of the Post-Modern Prince and the Perils of Passive Revolution

  • Marco Briziarelli


In this chapter I examine theoretical and practical elements of the discourse of Spanish political party Podemos as a lens through which I make sense of competing understandings of hegemony that propel its project and envisioning, namely Gramscian and Laclau–Mouffian ones. On the one hand, Podemos draws on Gramsci in the combination of two forms of political realm in the “integral state”; the involvement of the masses in a national popular movement; and the expansion of the struggle on multiple fronts such as political, economic, cultural, and social. On the other, Podemos has also incorporated Laclau and Mouffe’s precepts on the need to go beyond class and politico-economic essentialism; the understanding of a contingent, unstable, and rhetorically/discursive hegemony; on the replacement of a well-defined ideology with transversalism;and finally on aggregating empty signifiers. After a review of those elements, I try to make sense of their combination in terms of two different emphases on 'unity'and 'difference,'and of possible outcomes of their coexistence via the notions of a post-modern prince and passive revolution.


  1. Boucher, G. (2009). The charmed circle of ideology. A critique of Laclau and Mouffe, Butler and Zizek. Melbourne: Re-press.Google Scholar
  2. Briziarelli, M. (2016). To feel and to understand political struggle. The national popular rhetoric of Podemos. Journal of Communication Inquiry, 40, 120–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Callinicos, A. (2010). The limits of passive revolution. Capital & Class, 34(3), 491–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. DeLanda, M. (2006). A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  5. Errejón, I. (2014a, July 15). Spain’s Podemos: An inside view of a radical left sensation. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
  6. Errejón, I. (2014b). PODEMOS como práctica cultural emergente frente al imaginario neoliberal: hegemonía y disidencia. Conversación con Íñigo Errejón Galván. IC: Revista Científica de Información y Comunicación. ene-dic 2014, 30(11), 17–46.Google Scholar
  7. Errejón, I. (2015). Seminario: Hegemonia y Discurso. Accessed 1 Apr.
  8. Errejón, I. (2016). Ernesto Laclau, Theorist of Hegemony (trans: Petitjean, C.). Scholar
  9. Fomenti, C. (2017). Gramsci o Laclau: Los dilemas de Podemos. Accessed 1 Apr.
  10. Frosini, F. (2008). Beyond the crisis of Marxism: Thirty years contesting Gramsci’s legacy. In J. Bidet & S. Kouvelakis (Eds.), Critical companion to contemporary Marxism. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  11. Fuchs, C. (2014). Digital labour and Karl Marx. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Geras, N. (1987). Post-Marxism? New Left Review, 163, 40–82.Google Scholar
  13. Gill, S. (2001). Power and resistance in the new world order. London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Gill, S. (2016). Toward a postmodern prince? The battle in Seattle as a moment in the new politics of globalisation. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 29(1), 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gonzalez Oxhoa, P. F. (2016). Podemos, debemos retomar el centro del Tablero.
  16. Gorz, A. (1980). Farewell to the working class. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  17. Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks (trans: and ed. Hoare, Q., & Nowell-Smith, G.). London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  18. Gramsci, A. (1975). Quaderni del carcere. In V. Gerratana (Ed.), Edizione critica dell’Istituto Gramsci. Turin: Einaudi.Google Scholar
  19. Gramsci, A. (1985). Gramsci. Selection of cultural writings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gramsci, A. (1996). Prison notebooks, J. Buttigieg (Ed.), (Vol. 2). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hall, S. (1987, July). Blue election, election blues. Marxism Today, pp. 30–35.Google Scholar
  22. Hall, S. (1988). The hard road to renewal: Thatcherism and the crisis of the left. London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  23. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2000). Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Harvey, D. (1989). The condition of post-modernity. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. Hill, D. J. (2008). Hegemony and education: Gramsci, post-marxism and radical democracy revisited. New York: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  26. Howarth, D. (2015). Gramsci, hegemony and post-Marxism. In M. McNally (Ed.), Antonio Gramsci (pp. 195–213). London: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howarth, D. (2016). Ernesto Laclau: Post-Marxism, populism and critique. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Iglesias, P. (2009). Multitud y acción colectiva postnacional. Madrid: Complutense de Madrid, Servicio de Publicaciones.Google Scholar
  29. Iglesias, P. (2014a, March 4). La pelea del sentido comun. Retrieved from
  30. Iglesias, P. (2014b, May 18). ¿Cuáno fue la última vez que votaste con ilusión? Retrieved from
  31. Iglesias, P. (2015). Understanding Podemos. New Left Review, p. 93.Google Scholar
  32. Iglesias, P. (2016, June 8). ¿Una cuarta socialdemocracia? Diario Pú Accessed 20 Mar.
  33. Ives, P. (2004). Hegemony and language in Gramsci. London: Pluto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Knops, A. (2007). Agonism as deliberation – On Mouffe’s theory of democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy, 15(1), 115–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Laclau, E. (2005). On populist reason. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  36. Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (1985). Hegemony and socialist strategy. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  37. Lo Piparo, F. (1979). Lingua, Intellettuali, Egemonia e Gramsci. Bari: Laterza.Google Scholar
  38. López, A. (2015, October23). Vamos a construir una maquinaria de Guerra electoral. Público. Accessed 20 Mar.
  39. Lopez, A. (2017). Cambio de discurso en el Nuevo Podemos: de la Casta a la Trama. Accessed 1 Apr.
  40. Marx, K. (1871). The class struggle in France, 1848 to 1850. In Marx and Engels collected works (Vol. 10). New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
  41. Marx, K. (1967). Capital (Vol. I). New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  42. Mouffe, C. (1993). The return of the political. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  43. Mouffe, C. (2013). Agonistics: Thinking the world politically. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  44. Mouffe, C. (2014, February 2). Populism is a necessity. The European. Accessed 20 Mar.
  45. Morton, A. (2007). Unraveling Gramsci: Hegemony and passive revolution in the global political economy. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  46. Muro, M. (2015, July 2). Las primarias impuestas por Pablo Iglesias se cobran la primera dimisión en Podemos. Libertad Digital. Accessed 20 Mar.
  47. Rosso, F., & Dal Maso, J. (2014). Podemos, Gramsci, y el populismo. Accessed 20 Mar.
  48. Sanbonmatsu, J. (2004). The postmodern prince: Critical theory, left strategy and the making of a new political subject. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  49. Sanchez, R. (2016). El mapa del aumento dela desigualdad en Espana durante las crisis. Accessed 20 Mar.
  50. Sanmartin, O. (2016). El número de suicidios crece un 20% desde el inicio de la crisis económica. Accessed 20 Mar.
  51. Sarries, N. (2016). Desahucios en España: Desde el inicio de la crisis más de 400.000 familias pierden una vivienda. Accessed 20 Mar.
  52. Schmitt, K. (2007). Theory of the partisan. Stanford: Telos Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sim, S. (2000). Post-Marxism: An intellectual history. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Snir, I. (2016). “not just one common sense”: Gramsci’s common sense and Laclau and Mouffe’s radical democratic politics. Constellatioans, 2, 269–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stavrakakis, Y. (2007). The Lacanian left. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thomas, P. (2013). Hegemony, passive revolution and the modern prince. Thesis Eleven, 117, 20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thomassen, L. (2016). Hegemony, populism and democracy: Laclau and Mouffe Today. Accessed 20 Mar.
  58. Wright, E. O. (2005). Foundations of a neo-Marxist class analysis. In E. O. Wright (Ed.), Approaches to class analysis (pp. 4–30). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Briziarelli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations