Nigel Farage, Viktor Orban, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump. All of these major political figures have recently shocked the world with their extremist point of views or actions. Going from severely racist comments to purges and total suppression of fundamental freedoms in their countries. While they are some of the most hated, they also the most faithfully followed leaders of the world.
Many of their ideas follow the same lines, and in other cases, may be total opposites. But one thing they all have in common is their adherence to a populist mentality, according to Jan-Werner Müller, a political science teacher at Princeton University. He is regarded as the expert in this type of radical political movement, and his book, What Is Populism, has opened the eyes of the world about the potential threat looming behind populism.
Populism, in theory, is a political movement that aims to restore power to the people and fight against oligarchic governments. However, these noble principles have long been distorted. Populist parties have become nationalist, and often xenophobic. A populist party has no political opponents, but instead enemies. They’re often opposing political parties, the intellectual or financial elite of the country, foreigners such as immigrants (legal and illegal), international organizations or treaties such as the European Union, or NATO, and even their own countrymen who do not share their ideas.
Contrarily to what many may think, populist movements are not exclusively far right. There are also some movements who call themselves communist or far left parties, that also adhere to populist methods of communication.
Populists claim to be the voice of the “true people”, the representatives of the silent majority that is gagged by the elite. They often criticize the democratic system, arguing there is no need for political dialogue since their way is the only way. Many experts have compared them to the totalitarian or Fascist/Communist movements of this past Century. And many fear that a 60 Million death toll may not have been enough to stop history from repeating itself.
– PA le Ber