What Is Populism?

Podcast of the Day

Who are "the people" - and who's keeping power from them? Eliane Glaser explores how across Europe and beyond, populist movements are claiming they can to put back politicians in touch with voters and reinvigorate democracy from the grassroots. From UKIP's millions of voters to the passionately engaged Scottish referendum, from the rise of nationalist parties in northern Europe to burgeoning left-wing movements like Syriza and Podemos further south, traditional politicians are feeling the public's wrath. But how much of the crowd-pleasing rhetoric can be taken at face value - and do politicians really now think of themselves as ordinary people?

Listen to the BBC podcast episode on Populism

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The words populism and populist have no simple, coherent meaning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t understand in coherent and relatively simple terms how and why they have emerged now, as key words of our moment. The word Populist first appeared in 1891, as the proper name of a dynamic movement launched by farmers and workers in the Midwestern and Southern United States. They set out to challenge the control of corporate capitalists over their lives. Although the party faded within a decade, the words populism and populist have endured. 

No one is more responsible for shaping the way we understand populism than the influential historian Richard Hofstadter, and when influential scholars err, that error can flourish...

Continue reading Adrienne Petty's article: Populism now divides, yet it once united the working class

Further Reading

Populism is a political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against a privileged elite. Critics of populism have described it as "a political approach that seeks to disrupt the existing social order by solidifying and mobilizing the animosity of the "commoner" or "the people" against "privileged elites" and the "establishment". Populists can fall anywhere on the traditional left–right political spectrum of politics and often portray both bourgeois capitalists and socialist organizers as unfairly dominating the political sphere.

Political parties and politicians often use the terms "populist" and "populism" as pejoratives against their opponents. Such a view sees populism as demagogy, merely appearing to empathize with the public through rhetoric or unrealistic proposals in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Populism

Related Topics

If you’re interested in populism, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

 Authority | Civil Disobedience | Democracy | Freedom | NationalismPersuasion | Revolution | Sociology

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