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Unpopular populism.


Huffington TrumpPOPULISM IS BAD, just in case you hadn’t realised. Both the political establishment and the left wing writers in the Guardian and such like keep warning us of its dangers. The trouble is there’s an awful lot of it around these days and nobody seems to be taking notice of them.

Just think of the people described as populists. Trump. He’s so bad he’s actually Hitler. Marine Le Pen is a populist and definitely a fascist. Geert Wilders in Holland is a populist. He must be a fascist too. Besides, he’s got weird hair. Nigel Farage is an arch-populist, of course, and in Britain Ukip is the acme of populism. Totally fascist.

farage-hitlerTo be fair the occasional communist gets in on the act: Bernie Sanders was sort of tagged with it but it got him nowhere. The same with Jeremy Corbyn, although he lacks the personal charisma required to be a genuine populist. I’m afraid in the public rabble-rousing stakes he not only fails to cut the mustard, he doesn’t even get the jar out of the cupboard. As a rule of thumb, however, it is safe to assume populist, fascist and nazi are all exchangeable terms.

mlepen-hitlerSo how do you know if you’ve fallen for the fakery of populism? If you’re against mass immigration, against the power of political elites, against the idea of global governance; if you’re Eurosceptic, patriotic, want to preserve your national identity and culture, believe in national self-determination and control of your borders, then you’re a victim of the populist snake oil sales team. All very vulgar stuff. You probably don’t have a degree and are xenophobic and racist, to boot.

Anti-populists on the other hand present themselves as Plato’s latter day philosopher kings: educated, enlightened, well-informed, unsullied by the tastes of the common people, dedicated to the ever-refining elements of political correctness, committed to a utopian, borderless world governed by a benign global elite — and unquestionably the right people to be in charge. You can tell the level of their purity: the more devoted the anti-populist the greater their hysteria in reaction to the Brexit vote.

The power of the media to peddle their pacifying PC agenda has weakened.

The overwhelming fear emanating from these anti-populists is not just that of no longer being in control of the agenda but also of no longer being in control of the people. The power of the media to peddle their pacifying PC agenda has weakened. The vulgar populace are now responding to politicians who are not afraid to voice their common concerns, and they’re putting their votes where their sentiments are.

wilders-hitlerWhat is to be done? the philosopher kings cry. Well, according to the Guardian, activating people power. Yes, “grassroots mobilisation”, comrades, more demonstrations, more campaigns. The left wing answer to everything. Such inexpressible irony.

While the sheep-like hordes continue to vote the wrong way, the anti-populists rouse themselves to launch more rallies and protests to nullify the choices of the people. The more they wave their placards and bang their bloody bongos, the more their fear becomes apparent. To paraphrase what Robert Lowell wrote, “They feel the engine slipping from their hands,/as if someone else were steering.” Bitter stuff, the real people power

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.

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5 years ago

Populism comes out to play when the new elite wants to rattle the old elite. The exact nature of the scare does not matter. It just says try harder or move aside; it’s our turn. The people do not get a look in.

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