Why Populism?
The Populist Surge

Trumpist populism could easily linger longer than most people readily assume.

Appeared in: Volume 13, Number 4 | Published on: February 9, 2018
Francis Fukuyama is chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest and senior fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.
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  • Why populism? Because democracy has nowhere else to go. ‘Liberalism’ is currently a euphemism for the elite’s liturgy (the self-flagellation as in ‘racism’; the exorcism as in #metoo; the scapegoating as in the Trump obsession).

    ‘Liberalism’ currently also stands for the feudalization project carried out by the same elite: no longer citizens of a polity, individuals are now expected to think of themselves as races, genders, identities, orders and guild; their countries are no longer the territories of self-governing people, but porous estates into which the elites can import anyone they wish, or it’s ‘racist’; their laws are no longer self-chosen, but are instead the property of ‘international law’ and its designated jurists.

    So anyone who thinks that democracy means what its name says or that we are first and foremost autonomous individuals and only later if at all members of categories, anyone else who draws those two lines together and concludes that the unit of analysis should be a polity ruled exclusively by its equal citizens, anyone else who is, in other words, a liberal, finds themselves opposing ‘liberalism’.

    And as there is no other opposition to ‘liberalism’ than populism, some cross the line.

    They are totally wrong to do so. Because they are playing their opponents’ game – there are only two options and we define one of them. But racism is still wrong. Sexual harassment is the mother of wrong. Many immigrants genuinely seek sanctuary and are likely to become loyal citizens. Trump is an ignorant clown. And that was a real Nazi in Charoltesville. The fact that the people playing up these facts do so for gain and have dark schemes against their compatriots should blind nobody: regressive right is as regressive as regressive left. Don’t play the game. Coalesce around basic values and don’t let anyone either deny them or twist their meanings. Enlightenment has been hijacked, but it’s not over.

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  • question?

    Populism is always portrayed as bad. Why is that? Most of the authors writing about populism acknowledge that the elites have failed badly and that Globalism has not delivered the benefits to anyone except to the so called 1%. So why is political push back on failure a bad thing?
    Nationalism is bad. Why? Why is wanting the best for your country and by extension your fellow citizens bad? Granted, it makes you less vulnerable to exploitation by the 1% and their failed policies but why is political pushback against failure bad?

    Immigrants are scapegoats. Really? Supply and demand no longer apply to the job market? Immigration is not required to benefit the native population? So when mass migration only depresses wages and only benefits the so called 1%, opposition to having your economy and culture degraded by mass migration is evil?

    Sorry but if protecting yourself and your interests is evil, expect a whole lot of evil past present and future.

  • Pete

    “American power was critical in establishing both the economic and political pillars of the liberal order, ..”

    Wrong. American power is what established both the economic and political pillars of the liberal order.

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