Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs

Anger fast and slow: mediations of justice and violence in the age of populism

Author:
William DaviesGoldsmiths, University of London, UK

Search for other papers by William Davies in
Current site
Google Scholar
Close
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

The rise of populist political rhetoric and mobilisation, together with a conflict-riven digital public sphere, has generated growing interest in anger as a central emotion in politics. Anger has long been recognised as a powerful driver of political action and resistance, by feminist scholars among others, while political philosophers have reflected on the relationship of anger to ethical judgement since Aristotle. This article seeks to differentiate between two different ideal types of anger, in order to illuminate the status of anger in contemporary populist politics and rhetoric. First, there is anger that arises in an automatic, pre-conscious fashion, as a somatic, reactive and performative way, to an extent that potentially spirals into violence. Second, there is anger that builds up over time in response to perceived injustice, potentially generating melancholia and ressentiment. Borrowing Kahneman’s dualism, the article refers to these as ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ anger, and deploys the distinction to understand how the two interact. In the hands of the demagogue or troll, ‘fast anger’ can be deployed to focus all energies on the present, so as to briefly annihilate the past and the ‘slow anger’ that has been deposited there. And yet only by combining the conscious reflection of memory with the embodied response of action can anger ever be meaningfully sated in politics.

  • Algan, Y., Guriev, S., Pappaioannou, E. and Pasari, E. (2017) The European trust crisis and the rise of populism, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, BPEA Conference Drafts, 7–8 September.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Andrejevic, M. (2013) InfoGlut: How Too Much Information is Changing the Way We Think and Know, Abindgon: Routledge.

  • Arendt, H. (1970) On Violence, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Aristotle (2015) Rhetoric, London: Aeterna Press.

  • Berlant, L. (2011) Cruel Optimism, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Boltanski, L. (2011) On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation, London: Polity.

  • Boltanski, L. and Thévenot, L. (2006) On Justification: Economies of Worth, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Brady, W., Wills, J., Jost, J., Tucker, J. and Bavel, J. (2017) Emotion shapes the diffusion of moralized content in social networks, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(28): 73138. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618923114

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, W. (2015) Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Cooper, M. (2017) Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Cossarini, P. and Vallespín, F. (2019) Populism and Passions: Democratic Legitimacy after Austerity, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Cramer, K.J. (2016) The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Crary, J. (2013) 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, London: Verso Books.

  • Crouch, C. (2004) Post-Democracy, London: Wiley.

  • D’Eramo, M. (2013) Populism and the new oligarchy, New Left Review, 82, Jul–Aug.

  • Davies, W. (2014) The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition, London: Sage.

  • Davies, W. (2015) The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing, London: Verso.

  • Davies, W. (2016) The new neoliberalism, New Left Review, 101: 12134.

  • Davies, W. (2017) How are we now? Real-time mood-monitoring as valuation, Journal of Cultural Economy, 10(1): 3448. doi: 10.1080/17530350.2016.1258000

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Davies, W. (2018) Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World, London: Jonathan Cape.

  • Davis, M. (2017) The great god Trump and the white working class, Jacobin, 2 July.

  • Demertzis, N. (2013) Emotions in Politics: The Affect Dimension in Political Tension, New York: Springer.

  • Demertzis, N. (2019) Populisms and emotions, in P. Cossarini and F. Vallespin (eds) Populism and Passions: Democratic Legitimacy after Austerity, Abingdon: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edwards, P.N. (1997) The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Engels, J. (2015) The Politics of Resentment: A Genealogy, State College, PN: Penn State Press.

  • Feher, M. (2018) Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Fine, B. (2002) “Economic imperialism”: a view from the periphery, Review of Radical Political Economics, 34(2): 187201.

  • Foucault, M. (1991) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, London: Penguin.

  • Foucault, M. (2008) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1978–79, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Freud, S. (2005) On Murder, Mourning and Melancholia, London: Penguin.

  • Galison, P. (1994) The ontology of the enemy: Norbert Wiener and the cybernetic vision, Critical Inquiry, 21(1): 22866. doi: 10.1086/448747

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gerbaudo, P. (2019) The Digital Party: Political Organisation and Online Democracy, London: Pluto.

  • Hahl, O., Kim, M. and Sivan, E.W.Z. (2018) The authentic appeal of the lying demagogue: Proclaiming the deeper truth about political illegitimacy, American Sociological Review, 83(1): 133. doi: 10.1177/0003122417749632

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hansen, M. (2015) Feed-Forward: On The Future Of Twenty-First-Century Media, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

  • Hochschild, A.R. (2016) Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, New York: The New Press.

  • Holmes, M. (2004) Feeling beyond rules: politicizing the sociology of emotion and anger in feminist politics, European Journal of Social Theory, 7(2): 20927. doi: 10.1177/1368431004041752

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • James, W. (1884) What is an emotion, Mind, 9(34): 188205. doi: 10.1093/mind/os-IX.34.188

  • Judis, J. (2016) The Populist Explosion: How the Great Recession Transformed American and European Politics, New York, NY: Columbia Global Reports.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kahneman, D. (2012) Thinking, Fast and Slow, London: Penguin UK.

  • Klein, M. (1997) Envy & Gratitude and other works 1946–1963, London: Vintage.

  • Lazzarato, M. (2012) The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Lazzarato, M. (2014) Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity, Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e).

  • Leys, R. (2017) The Ascent of Affect: Genealogy and Critique, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

  • Lorde, A. (1981) The uses of anger: women responding to racism, https://blackpast.org/1981-audre-lorde-uses-anger-women-responding-racism

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lyman, P. (1981) The politics of anger: on silence, ressentiment and political speech, Socialist Review, 11(3): 5574.

  • Magni, G. (2017) It’s the emotions, stupid! Anger about the economic crisis, low political efficacy, and support for populist parties, Electoral Studies, 50: 91102. doi: 10.1016/j.electstud.2017.09.014

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mair, P. (2013) Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy, London: Verso.

  • Massumi, B. (1995) The autonomy of affect, Cultural Critique, (31): 83. doi: 10.2307/1354446

  • McStay, A. (2018) Emotional AI: The Rise of Empathic Media, London: Sage.

  • Miceli, M. and Castelfranchi, C. (2019) Anger and its cousins, Emotion Review, 11(1): 1326. doi: 10.1177/1754073917714870

  • Mishra, P. (2017) Age of Anger: A History of the Present, London: Penguin.

  • Mouffe, C. (2018) For a Left Populism, London: Verso Books.

  • Mudde, C. and Kaltwasser, C.R. (2017) Populism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Müller, J.-W. (2017) What Is Populism?, London: Penguin UK.

  • Nietzsche, F. (2013) On the Genealogy of Morals, London: Penguin UK.

  • Nixon, R. (2011) Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Norris, P. and Inglehart, R. (2019) Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nussbaum, M.C. (2016) Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Payne, K. (2017) The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Changes the Way We Think, Live and Die, London: Hachette.

  • Pettigrew, T. (2017) Social psychological perspectives on Trump supporters, Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 5(1): 10716. doi: 10.5964/jspp.v5i1.750

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Phillips, W. (2015) This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rose, N. (1996) The death of the social? Re-figuring the territory of government, Economy and Society, 25: 32756. doi: 10.1080/03085149600000018

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Salmela, M. and von Scheve, C. (2017) Emotional roots of right-wing political populism, Social Science Information, 56(4): 56795. doi: 10.1177/0539018417734419

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sartre, J.-P. (2015) Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Schieman, S. (2006) Anger, in J. Stets and J. Tuner (eds) Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions, New York: Springer.

  • Seymour, R. (2019) The Twittering Machine, London: The Indigo Press.

  • Sloterdijk, P. (2012) Rage and Time: A Psychopolitical Investigation, New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Smith, J.E.H. (2019) Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Sokoloff, W.W. (2014) Frederick Douglass and the politics of rage, New Political Science, 36(3): 33045. doi: 10.1080/07393148.2014.924244

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Solomon, R. (2004) Emotions, thoughts and feelings: emotions as engagements with the world, in R. Solomon and Q. Solomon (eds) Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers On Emotions, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Solomon, R.C. (1976) The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

  • Srinivasan, A. (2018) The aptness of anger, Journal of Political Philosophy, 26(2): 12344. doi: 10.1111/jopp.12130

  • Streeck, W. (2017) How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System, London: Verso.

  • Virilio, P. (2006) Speed and Politics, Cambridge, MA: MIT University Press.

  • Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2018) Media coverage of shifting emotional regimes: Donald Trump’s angry populism, Media, Culture & Society, 40(5): 76678. doi: 10.1177/0163443718772190

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
William DaviesGoldsmiths, University of London, UK

Search for other papers by William Davies in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 106 106 12
Full Text Views 28 28 1
PDF Downloads 21 21 2

Altmetrics

Dimensions