Populist politicians thrive because they tell at least part of the truth. And that truth is that our democracy is largely a sham, a cover for daylight robbery.
Rhetoric and policy are at odds; austerity comes clothed in the guise of social democracy in a shiny suit.
In telling the truth which no-one else dares voice – that we live in a profit extraction machine, a set of colluding oligarchies in flimsy disguise – almost everywhere in the wealthy world the populists are starting to change the national conversation.
Good you might say. Except the manner in which demagogues are changing the national conversation leads to the persecution of women, minorities, and those seen as ‘outsiders’. ISIS and the Far Right are cut from very similar cloth.
We’ve been here before, and we’ve defeated them before.
The way to defeat demagogues who preach hate is easy. Give us economic justice through the system we are all encouraged to prop up. That’s it.
Give us social democracy. Skew the system towards greater equality.
Support for populists fades in the face of equality.
If mainstream politics offered relief to the vast majority of struggling citizens, it would not be in trouble. But it can’t, or won’t. So people look for other answers, and someone will always rise up to give them voice.
- Capitalism, especially the naked variety we have now, turns everything into search for profit.
- No-one wants to overturn the status quo when the status quo offers a decent life.
- Populism in a time of extreme economic injustice is as natural as frost on a winter morning.