Sunday, August 29, 2021

Plutocratic populism, sadopopulism and democracy

Populism is not a homogeneous movement against the elites (as it is sometimes defined), but a toolbox used by one sector of the elite to go against other sectors, using the citizenry as hostages.

In a previous post I mentioned the concept of “plutocratic populism,” which reflects much better the idea that some olygarchies resort to political disruption (emphasizing grievances and identities) to make noise and convince majorities to vote against their interest.

An extreme version of plutocratic populism I sadopopulism, as explained by historian Timothy Snyder in this video. When quite blatantly the populists convince citizens to hurt themselves, we enter the region of sadism combined with populism, that is, sadopopulism. Trumpism, convincing people to make America great again by voting him, but then lowering taxes on the rich and undermining democracy, is a clear example. But there are many other movements around the world that follow a similar logic.

Trump was defeated, but he will try to come back, and take advantage of the now lower popularity of Biden to counter attack in the midterm elections of 2022.

Sadopopulism being sadistic, its horizon is to undermine democracy, because ultimately it is not possible to rule against the majority in the long run. Therefore the answer is to strengthen democracy, through better public policies, better political parties and a strong civil society.

It is interesting that a more farsighted sector of the elites (typically technocrats in international institutions) is proposing a new social contract that addresses climate change and inequalities. Representative of this line of thought is the book by the Director of the London School of Economics (and former executive at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund), Minouche Shafik, “What We Owe Each Other.” This idea is welcome, although this global elite of policy makers tends to over-emphasize policy by contract and consent at the national level, tending to forget that undermining the existing privileges requires democratic conflict and empowering not the elites, but the majority of the population, and not only at the national level.

No comments:

Post a Comment