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Tag Archives: populism

When people warning about incipient fascism are criticised rather than laughed at is the time to worry about incipient fascism

I’m old enough to remember left wing demonstrations in the UK when ‘fascist!’ was a standard chant. On most occasions back then it was a ridiculous accusation, and as such it was rightly laughed away. But times have unfortunately changed. With authoritarian regimes in some East European countries, Trump’s election and subsequent behaviour, and far right parties gaining ground in other countries, fears of a return of something like fascism are no longer a laughing matter. When Andrew Marr...

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Offsetting Behaviour 2019-03-22 06:04:00

My column in this week's Insights newsletter - now a bit dated. The newsletter comes out at noon; our national moment of silence was an hour and a half after that. Last week feels like it was a year ago. And the past week has made the world feel a little smaller.Last night, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada from 2006 through 2015, addressed members and guests of the Initiative at our annual retreat.We found that Laureen, Prime Minister Harper’s wife, had lived in...

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How Brexit threatens pluralist democracy in the UK

A pluralistic democracy is a democracy with many centres of power. Typically that involves an executive (the government) and parliament, central and local government, an independent judiciary and an independent press. Countries differ in how pluralist they are: the UK has a more permanent civil service than the US but its second house of parliament does not have equal power to the first. Plurality is embodied in conventions as well as institutions. In a two party system the other side is...

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Ian Dunt vs Owen Jones: a comment on a brief debate

When two of my favourite commentators on current political events, Ian Dunt (ID) and Owen Jones (OJ), cross swords, albeit briefly twitter style, the chance is that there maybe something interesting going on. I can see what I suspect annoyedOJ in ID’s piece, but I think OJ’s response was too easily sidetracked in the confusion that is history. I am going to stay on more familiar UK (and US) ground. The general theme is ID’s piece is totally laudable. It is essentially a warning against...

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A road to right wing authoritarian government

This post is inspired by another, by Jan-Werner Müller. I have talked about Müller's ideas on populism before. This particular post is a plea to focus less on the voters who elect populist politicians, and more on the politicians themselves. He writes“In 2010, Viktor Orbán did not campaign on a promise to draft a new constitution, weaken checks and balances, and radically reduce media pluralism. Instead, he presented himself as a competent mainstream Christian Democrat. In Poland, the Law and...

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The two types of populism within Brexit

When I read thisby Hungarian academic Tamas Dezso Ziegler, I could not help thinking he had a point. The point, as I understand it, is that by calling people like Trump or Farage populist, when at the same time we call Syriza or Podemos populist, we are in danger of diminishing or normalising the danger the former pose. He suggests this wide definition of populism“could be useful because there is not necessarily a moral evaluation behind it: if they would use far right demagoguery, or fascist...

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If we treat plutocracy as democracy, democracy dies

The snake-oil salesmen There are many similarities between Brexit and Trump. They are both authoritarian movements, where authority either lies with a single individual or a single vote: the vote that bindsthem all. This authority expresses the movement’s identity. They are irrational movements, by which I mean that they cast aside expertise where that conflicts with the movements wishes. As a result, you will find their base of supporters among the less well educated, and that universities...

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Why are the UK and US more vulnerable to right wing populism?

Cartoon by @ThomasHTaylor A week or so ago, anticipating Macron’s victory and following defeats of the far right in Holland and Austria, I asked on twitter why the US and UK seem to be more susceptible to right wing populism than elsewhere. It is a question that requires much more than a post to answer, but I thought the replies to my question were interesting. Quite rightly, a large number of people questioned the premise. We have populist far right leaders in parts of Eastern Europe, for...

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What are populist policies?

Populist is a term like neoliberalism: vaguely defined and used as a derogatory term. A key aspect of populism involves attacks against elites, and as Jan-Werner Müller stressesthis goes with populists identifying with ‘the people’. The populist does not want any kind of direct democracy, but instead argues that they (and only they) are uniquely qualified to ensure that the will of the people prevails. This ties in both with identity politics, but also an emphatic denial of the importance of...

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Populism and the media

Don’t just ask why people are disenchanted with elites, but also why they are choosing the alternatives offered by snake-oil salesmen. This could be the subtitle of the talkI will be giving later today. I will have more to say in later posts, plus a link to the full text (the writing of which distracted me from writing posts over the last week or two), but I thought I would make this important point here about why I keep going on about the media. In thinking about Brexit and Trump, talking...

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