what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Populism - what is it?

A common theme of current journalism is the “populist” rage tearing through the fabric of western politics…...as expressed. for example, in Brexit and in the scale and nature of support for both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. 
I’ve always had a problem with this epithet  - not least for its patronising tone about citizens and its assumption that our modern elites were incapable of being mistaken about globalisation.......
 A couple of years ago, I extracted this "deconstruction" from the volume of scribblings on the subject- 
- First, the ‘people’ is of paramount importance. Here, a feeling of community is stressed, and horizontal cleavages (such as left-right) are played down while vertical ones are played up for the purpose of excluding particular groups, e.g. elites and immigrants.
- Second, populists claim that the ‘people’ has been betrayed by the elites through their abuse of power, corruption etc.
- Third, populists demand that the “primacy of the people” has to be restored. In short: the current elites would have to be replaced and in their place the new leaders (the populists) would act for the good of the ‘people’.

1. Populism is the substitute for the eroded Left/Right divide in politics. It replaces it through the populist cleavage of ‘the establishment’ versus ‘the people’. They are perceived as false unities and indeed pose a potential threat to the pluralist and constitutional dimensions of democracy.  
2. Populism is a revolt against (the narrative of) globalisation.  
3. Populism is a revolt against what the Germans call the Second Modernity, or late modernity: that is the modernity of individualisation, de-traditionalisation, cosmopolitanism, neoliberal capitalism and the global network society.  
4. Populism is a revolt against expert-driven, technocratic policy-making.  
5. Populism is the revolt of the working class and the squeezed lower middle class against the dominance of academic professionals in society and public discourse.  
6. Populism is the revenge of the working class after the neoliberal betrayal (permanent welfare state austerity reforms) of socialist and social-democratic parties.  
7. Populism is a dangerous, xenophobic revolt against ill-managed mass migration which negatively affected the lower end of society much more so than the upper end.  
8. Populism is a revolt against a world that is changing too rapidly and where traditions, identities, and securities are no longer respected.  
9. Where socialism and Christianity no longer act as moral and cultural restraints or breaks to the disrupting process of globalisation, populism has filled the vacuum: populism is a romantic, irrational, emotional revolt against the inhuman philosophy of efficiency in both the market and the state. 
10. Populism is a revolt against the powerlessness of the political class who have seemingly lost all grip after handing control over to the anonymous forces of globalisation, the financial markets, and the logics of EU technocracy.

 I would ask my readers to bear these definitions in mind as British and American events unravel in the next few weeks........

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