The People's Populism08-20-2018
The People's Populism
Many writers have turned to populism in order to think about the crisis of democracy and the rise illiberalism around the world today. Jason Frank argues that using populism as a catchall term for illiberal movements obscures the connection between populism and popular sovereignty.
For Frank, we must not forget that populism is a movement by the people and that the easy rejection of populism makes manifest our democratic decline.
"Populism is a discourse organized around a clear set of normative commitments. Most obviously, populism emerges from a commitment to popular sovereignty, to the modern legitimating idea that the people are the ultimate ground of public authority and that political appeal to that authority can transcend the formal institutions of democratic representation. Advocates of the populist thesis emphasize the populist claim to speak on behalf of a morally pure and unitary people against the ruling power of a corrupted and unrepresentative elite. The idea that the popular will can be identified beyond the institutions of the constitutional state sets the condition for populist leaders to claim the sole mantle of popular authority against all competing political factions. The central claim of populism, we are often told, is that only some of the people really are "the People" and that it is the populist leader who acts on their behalf."What is obscured by the association of populism with democratic decline is the fact that "populism entered the English language to describe a nineteenth-century political movement born of struggle against the oligarchic economic and political order of the United States's first Gilded Age. Twenty years before the People's Party and William Jennings Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech at the 1896 Democratic National Convention, the Farmers' Alliance served as the egalitarian heart of U.S. populism."
"By focusing on populism as the primary source of democratic decline, the economic and political developments that have most profoundly undermined democratic institutions and the meaning of democratic citizenship over the past forty years are obscured. Worse, populism has become the name given willy-nilly to all movements challenging these developments on behalf of a recovered sense of collective authority and political control, whether articulated from a racist and xenophobic right or a radically egalitarian left. Authoritarian attempts to centralize and expand the state's executive power and wield it against "enemies of the people"-however defined by Trump, Erdo?an, Orbán, and others-should never be equated with the radically democratic institutional experimentalism of Podemos or the Farmers' Alliance. More attention should be paid to how "the people" is envisioned by these different movements, and how they propose popular power to be democratically enacted. Designating populism as the term that best encapsulates the political dangers authoritarianism poses to democratic politics in so many parts of the world today has the additional and unfortunate consequence of suggesting that widespread resistance to these movements should not itself be populist, should not claim the mantle of "we the people" and engage in an antagonistic politics of who we are and what kind of collective power we should wield. This political movement need not recover and rally around the term populism-democratic socialism is also enjoying a new day in the sun-but it should openly recognize that a return to "politics as usual" may be insufficient to confront the full extent of the dangers democracies currently face. Defenders of democracy cannot surrender the authority of the people without undermining the very goal they claim to be fighting for."Form more information visit: https://bostonreview.net/politics/jason-frank-populism-not-the-problem
A Politics of Faith
Writing about populism in the same vein as Jason Frank, Matthew Goodwin argues that populism is "intimately entwined with the practice of democracy." Following the great Arendtian scholar Margaret Canovan, Goodwin writes that populism emerges from a battle between two kinds of politics, a politics of faith and a politics of scepticism.
Form more information visit: http://www.spiked-online.com/spiked-review/article/democracys-shadow/21669#.W3iYJy_MwWo"[A]s long as we have democracy, we will have populists. This is because movements like Brexit, Trump, Five Star in Italy or the Sweden Democrats do not simply draw strength from things that happen today, but from a deeper conflict between two different ideal types, tendencies or styles of politics that have run through the West (and especially Europe) for centuries. These are ultimately two very different ways of seeing the world around us. On one side is 'politics as faith', on the other is 'politics as scepticism'.Populism is ultimately rooted in the politics of faith, grounded in the notion that human beings - through politics - can achieve perfection, salvation or utopia here on Earth. The political arena is not a forum in which we simply debate policy or manifestos; it is also a vehicle through which the people can pursue their own salvation - the salvation of their community, their nation and their group. Politics as faith is thus highly emotional, demands total obedience and seeks to inspire mass enthusiasm, affection, love and tribal loyalty. The otherwise routine humdrum of political life is transformed into a far grander and ambitious narrative; a campaign to save the nation or its people; a promise to 'Make Country X Great Again', or to 'Take Back Control'.Though populism is routinely portrayed as a reactive force, one that is only against, politics as faith appeals to a recognised authority, namely the people, and claims to speak on their behalf. This is why [Margaret] Canovan described the politics of faith as displaying 'the revivalist flavour of a movement, powered by the enthusiasm that draws normally unpolitical people into the political arena'. Indeed, today's populists, like the Alternative for Germany, Brexit and Trump, have done exactly that, drawing votes from people who had previously given up on politics but who now saw an opportunity to re-enter the political arena in order to pursue the salvation of their group and nation....This is why some see populism as deeply problematic and brings us to 'politics as scepticism', which is a counter-balance of sorts to populism. Politics as scepticism is a fundamentally different way of viewing the political realm. In sharp contrast to the 'revivalist flavour' that characterises politics as faith, politics as scepticism is far more focused on incremental rather than radical change. It is about the formality of government, procedures, rules, technicalities, self-control and moderation, which makes it practical but inevitably dry and boring. It is sceptical not only of grand ideological visions but also of any concentration of power and also the involvement of the masses in complex issues, though this scepticism can quickly slide into open disdain. Politics as scepticism is about siding with the experts. Max Weber once said that politics is slow, steady drilling through hard boards. That is the politics of scepticism."
human condition The Human Condition Turns 60
Form more information visit: https://www.pdcnet.org/collection-anonymous/browse?fp=arendtstudies&fq=arendtstudies%2FVolume%2F8998%7C2%2F"Great books, Nietzsche taught, are made small by their readers, "who behave like plundering troops: they take away a few things they can use, dirty and confound the remainder, and revile the whole." Hannah Arendt's The Human Conditionhas too often been made small, picked over for Arendt's conceptual analysis exploring labor, work, and action. So much attention has been focused on these chapters that we forget that The Human Conditionis not principally a conceptual account; it is, first and foremost, an "historical analysis". (6)To consider the meaning of The Human Condition today means to understand how Arendt explores the fate of humanity in the aftermath of the scientific age. She argues that the modern age of science began "in the seventeenth century [and] came to an end at the beginning of the twentieth century." (6) In the aftermath of the scientific revolution, we now live in what Arendt calls the modern world, a world defined above all by earth and world alienation. Earth and world alienation have their origins in the scientific foundations of the modern age. Arendt asks: how does the rise of science in the modern age lead an alienated humanity to turn away from the earth and also the humanly conditioned world....The human condition is threatened by the historical advent of modern science, which promises to overcome the split between man's biological mortality and his worldly immortality. The danger posed by science is pictured in the event of the launch of Sputnik, which made palpable that the long-deferred dream of mastering the earth was finally within reach of the human species. It was now possible that humans could leave the earth and build new worlds. We now can build a purely artificial world in a spaceship or on an artificial planet, one in which every object-the water, the earth, and even our bodies-would be artificially constructed and humanly made. Sputnik shows that we have finally acquired the technological means to free ourselves from our earthly home and our biological limits. We are finally free to make our world and ourselves in our image rather than to exist in God's image."