Populism: What does it mean for Europe, our Societies and our Minds?
What is populism?
According to the political theorist Margaret Canovan,
if the notion of populism did not exist, no social scientist would deliberately invent it; the term is far too ambiguous for that. (Canovan, 1981)
Nevertheless, a number of features have been identified and definitions attempted. The Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde writes:
Populism considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups – the “pure people” versus the “corrupt elite”, and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté générale (general will) of the people. (Mudde,2007)
Populism has been seen as a political phenomenon neither good nor bad in itself, although at the same time it has been termed “the dark side of democracy”. It reflects a feeling that the elite is not working in the interests of the population. However, the “general will” of the people is a sparse definition, telling one nothing about how structures of government are to function.
Populism typically has several features. These include: scapegoating (for example of immigrants); nostalgia (every US politician has said “Let’s make America great”; Trump differs in that he says “Let’s make America great again”); the need to restructure politics. However, populism is a very thin ideology; it can be right-wing or left-wing; mainly it is a kind of drama. How can we recognise a populist drama? It involves three fingers of blame.Continue reading “Populism: What does it mean for Europe, our Societies and our Minds?”