Sunday, 30 April 2017

Populism and its Perils

  • Populists can be everything from militarists to libertarians. For populists, the people are paramount. 
  • Populism is a political strategy in which a charismatic leader appeals to the masses while sweeping aside institutions.
  • Populism is a thin ideology, that merely sets up a framework that of a pure people versus a corrupt elite. This thin ideology can be such as socialism, nationalism, anti-imperialism or racism, in order to explain the world and justify specific agendas. 
  • Populists are defined by their claim that they alone represent the people, and that all others are illegitimate.
  • Exclusive populism focuses on shutting out stigmatized groups. Inclusive populism demands that politics be opened up to stigmatized groups.
  • Populism is only an elaborate lie for getting into power. People are victims of populists.
  • Populism is not a political project as it is discursive political strategy. And there is the danger in populist politics. Trumpism, a reactionary nationalist populism, was a logical culmination of populist politics of Obama in 2008.
  • Populism is a form of political practice that speaks for the people and against the established power structures. 
  • Populism must be critically analysed as a discursive political practice independent of ideology or content.
  • Populism does not give power to the people, but rather to elites and individual politicians who use their so-called legitimacy of direct appeal to bypass the institutions of state and civil society.
  • Populism will always stand in tension with democracy.
  • None can protect the country from ruinous economic populist policies.
  • Stereotypical narratives belie the vague and often contradictory definitions of the concept of 'the people' and the motives of those who use populism as a political tool. 
  • Fragile political institutions allow populists to achieve power, while strong institutions confine them to the margins of political systems.
  • If populists have enough power, they will end up creating an authoritarian state that excludes all those not considered part of the proper people.
  • The notion of the people as nation is typically associated with right-wing populism, while the notion of people as a class is characteristic of left-wing populism. The people as sovereign implies a specific vision of democracy. 
  • Populist democracy is an illiberal vision of democracy because of its monolithic conception of the people, which implies that the popular majority is always right.
  • The populist leader has direct, unmediated access to the people’s grievances, and acts as the spokesperson of the vox populi.
  • Populism of fashion is a political tendency, which dare media being used frequently.
  • Populism is a stupid crap that sells well, yet would be a disaster if actually implemented.
  • Populism is an epithet elites resort to when someone else goes outside the rules and wins an election.
  • An election year is not a chance to educate the public mind rather than simply gauge it.
  • Modern democracies operate within a framework of rationalism. Dismantle it and the space is filled by prejudice. Fear counts above reason. Anger counts above evidence. Lies claim equal status with facts. Soon enough, migrants and Muslims especially, replace heretics and witches as the targets of public rage. Referendums amplify the danger. Liberal democracy depends on mutual respect, trust in national institutions, guarantees for minorities, and the checks and balances that underpin the rule of law. Strip them away and you are left with brute majoritarianism.
My View:
Modi fits into the almost all qualities of 'populism' and his actions are ruinous, undemocratic, authoritarian, irrational etc with no regard for institutions like Parliament, Supreme Court, RBI, EC etc. Charismatic leader he is, shamelessly propagates exclusive populism of making India a Hindu Nation, in opposition from its constitutionally proclaimed secular nation so far, alienating minorities especially Muslims. None can protect India from ruins until he collapses under his own weight which is several years away. India's distorted democracy is in peril.

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