POPULISM – THE WORD – is surging. It has become the label of convenience for journalists, commentators and politicians to pin on any and all deplorable politicians, policies or voters.
A broad consensus has it that Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, the Brexiters, One Nation and a dozen similar political outfits abroad are all populists – and I have two problems with this proposition. First, putting all these oddball movements into one basket is just plain lazy – it illuminates nothing. Second, it’s an insult to history. There have been good and bad populisms over the past two hundred and fifty years, and there still are good people proposing good populism today.
Outraged at this word-hijacking, President Barack Obama said last year that ‘you don’t suddenly become a populist because you say something controversial in order to win votes – that’s not the measure of populism. That’s nativism, or xenophobia, or just cynicism.’ American political writer Jim... Read more
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