“Forget Populism!” Published in Global Discourse

Happy to say that my article “Forget Populism!” has been published in Global Discourse. In it I challenge the highly misleading argument, widespread among the media, policymakers and (some) academics, that populism as such is a danger to democracy, Europe, the West, the liberal international order, or all of the above. Even a superficial reading of the actual academic research on populism reveals that anti-elitism and a demand to take the people’s will seriously (the most important distinguishing features of populism) can be an expression of both illegitimate demagoguery and legitimate criticism of an actual lack of democracy. As a consequence, populism as such is neither good nor bad, and pretending otherwise is a recipe for bad science and misguided political action. If journalists, policymakers and academics want to contribute instead of hamper efforts to counter dangerous actors like Donald J. Trump, Viktor Orbán or the German Alternative für Deutschland, they need to stop playing down the danger by calling them populist and instead use terms that make clear what they stand for, such as racist, corrupt and/or authoritarian.

Doi: 10.1332/204378919X15628418445603