How does populism work?
McKeever / 14 Maggio 2021

            As indicated in a former post, the purpose of this reflection is to attempt to understand the extraordinary political success of populism over the last ten years (a success that is now seriously mitigated by inadequate responses to the pandemic). We will examine here just two aspects of this complex phenomenon: the theoretical basis of populism and its practical strategies.             Perhaps the most striking feature of populism is the manifest poverty of its theoretical basis. A few ideas (e.g. the people, national sovereignty, national identity), all of which are in themselves serious political themes, are preached with great superficiality and simple ignorance, in pursuit of the ideological objectives we considered in the last post. The key substantial theoretical issue, usually not clearly articulated, is representation. Those who vote for populist political positions are generally disillusioned with the current system of representation (usually via political parties) and believe that some form of direct democracy is a feasible alternative. Those of us who are not convinced of the feasibility of the alternatives proposed, would do well to take seriously this frustration – which is as old as democracy itself but has been accentuated by multiple factors in contemporary culture.            …

Is populism an ideology?
McKeever / 23 Aprile 2021

            In the ever more abundant literature on the theme, there is a debate as to whether populism is an ideology. Various authors reject the use of this term to describe populism because, unlike liberalism or socialism, this political and social trend is not based on an articulated theory or doctrine. This difference certainly exists but in my view the ideological elements evident in populism are so strong that it may be considered an ideology, at least sui generis.             To argue this point let us take a working definition of an ideology and attempt to apply it to populism. An ideology can be understood as the use of certain IDEAS, in a REDUCTIVE manner, on the part of a GROUP, with its own INTERESTS, which finds expression in a PROJECT, often political in nature.             Applying this definition to populism we can easily identify all these elements. The two key ideas in question are “the people” and “sovereignty”… in fact populism can be understood as a particular way of understanding the relationship between the people and sovereignty. The reductive element involved in populism concerns the manner in which it takes a part of the people to be the people……