process of depoliticization understood as the way in which neo-liberalism infl uences decision-making processes in the West in general and in Italy in particular. Neo-liberalism – applied to government practices in the form of depoliticization ( de Nardis 2017 ) – evidently produces repercussions for the relationship between political classes and civil society. As we shall see, in a context of neoliberal depoliticization, the arenas of political representation are emptied of meaning in favour of post-democratic decision-making practices ( Crouch 2004 ), which take the form of a crisis in the role of parliaments and lead to the strengthening of governments in their new role as bearers of the interests of large international political, economic and fi nancial organizations. In this context, a number of the basic foundations of liberal democracies are being questioned. We know that liberal democracies are essentially electoral democracies, in the sense that they conceive of political participation above all in its conventional forms, mediated by political parties, and capable therefore of politically representing the interests expressed in societies prone to confl ict. But a depoliticized politics no longer needs popular participation, to the extent that the decision-making process tends to be transformed into the ratifi cation of decisions taken outside the places of representation. Indeed, in this new framework, confl ict, participation, mass political organizations weigh down the decision-making process. Big mass parties are no longer useful and give way to charismatic political leaders capable of catalyzing consensus, through light post-ideological electoral organizations, which aim to become the political reference points of the real decision-makers who are outside the national parliament and, often, even outside the country itself. This process has a strong impact on the relationship, already tending to confl ict, between political classes and civil society. Anti-politics, understood as a social sentiment, always latent, but which becomes manifest in particular periods of social and political crisis, becomes the dominant element in the sector of public opinion that perceives itself as increasingly distant from politics and democratic institutions. As we will see in the next paragraph, the concept of anti-politics is generally associated with protest phenomena against professional parties and politicians. The term is in itself ambiguous and diffi cult to describe. According to Schedler (1996 , 1997 ), there are two great anti-political families: the fi rst concerns a feeling of generalized hostility towards politics and aims to ‘dethrone’ it; the second concerns a feeling of anger towards a certain kind of politics and a consequent desire to ‘colonize’ it. What unites these two anti-political families is perhaps the simplistic logic that distinguishes them. In fact, anti-politics tends to be expressed in a generalized criticism that does not problematize and does not make distinctions. Politics tout court or the political class are equally subject to the same feeling of hostility and rejection. This sentiment can result in indifference and participatory backlash or in protest, giving rise to forms of mobilization and, sometimes, to political parties that present themselves as the actors of change. From this point of view, John Street (2002 ) distinguishes between ‘active anti-politics’, ‘passive anti-politics’ and ‘indifferent anti-politics’: in the fi rst case, he refers to the conscious opposition to some aspects of politics and not to politics as a whole; in the second case, he refers to those forms of political cynicism that consciously manifest themselves through a low level of participation and public commitment; fi nally, in the third case he refers to the feeling of absolute irrelevance attributed to politics by the citizens, which results in a general lack of interest in anything that is public. As we will see, anti-politics can take place at the mass level or at the elite level (Mete 2005). The three types identifi ed by Street are clearly placed at a mass level, indicating a general feeling of hostility towards politics or to some of its aspects. But anti-politics can also be an instrument for fi gures who exploit the discontent of the masses to gain affi rmation as the leaders of a new direction and the interpreters of a ‘moral society’ as opposed to corrupt and inadequate politics. In this sense, although analytically distinct, mass anti-politics and elite anti-politics are generally connected. In any case, when the anti-political critique becomes a rhetorical tool of the ruling groups, generally constituting a critique of party politics and the professional political class, it results in the birth of new parties and political subjects, the so-called ‘anti-political-establishment-parties’ ( Schedler 1996 ), which aim to be recognized as the only interpreters of anti-system protest. The emergence of these forces is inevitably connected to the phenomenon of populism that presupposes a capacity for mobilizing the masses through the appeal of a charismatic leadership. As we have tried to explain elsewhere ( Anselmi and de Nardis 2018 ), populism is in fact one of the fundamental components of the new post-democracies. It is the product of the crisis of liberal democracy, challenged by the dynamics of trans-nationalization of economic, political and social processes that have contributed, alongside the crisis of the old philosophies of history, to the weakening of national political institutions, reducing the capacity of the state’s political classes to interpret the stratifi cation of interests within rapidly changing societies. Almost everywhere in the West, and perhaps even more forcefully in Italy, the political classes have found a way out of the crisis by relying, sometimes even through specifi c measures (electoral laws), on a radical personalization of politics that, while on the one hand is not to be confused with populism, on the other, is undoubtedly a strong premise for it. This is because there is no populist phenomenon that does not rely on the ability of a charismatic leader to convey, through specifi c rhetorical methods, the populist message. In the following paragraphs, I will describe both the concepts of anti-politics and of depoliticization and, fi nally, conclude with some brief refl ections on the Italian case.
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