In the age of right-wing populism, it cannot be destroyed to save democracy.Jeff Sparrow


The recent anniversary of the Trumpian riots at the Capitol highlighted growing anxiety about the state of democracy in the United States and around the world.

In a widely distributed article, Professor Thomas Homer Dixon of Canada U.S. right-wing dictatorship By 2030.At the same time, a poll at Quinnipiac University found that it was almost 60% of Americans believed that democracy was “on the verge of collapse.”“.

Internationally According to the Stockholm-based NGO International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance More countries have faced “democratic erosion” than ever before, Freedom House insists “In all parts of the world, democracy is under attack by populist leaders and groups who reject pluralism and demand unrestrained power.”

Unfortunately, in response to the threat of that right-wing populist, many centrists go back to the bad debates of the past.

In the wake of the first world war, US journalist Walter Lippmann argued that the mass media and its persuasive techniques made ordinary voters vulnerable to propaganda and made democracy infeasible.

“A world where each person should have an opinion” He complained, “It’s complicated enough to go against his understanding.”

Lippmann clearly portrayed the criticisms made by Plato of the Republic. There, philosophers explained that the Athenian rally would give Demagogue freedom. Plato used rhetoric and emotions to whip the masses behind power-hungry villains, rather than allowing such men to rule by capable leaders.

Following Trump’s shocking elections in 2016, the modern version of this debate has become a sort of common sense and has been properly captured by the viral New Yorkers. Cartoon by Will McFile.. This figure shows an airline passenger talking to another person on an airplane. Who do you think I should fly? “

Gags were widespread by liberals who were outraged by Trump’s policies. not yet, As I discussed elsewhereRather than criticizing his racism and sexism, the comics imply that the problem lies in a system that allows the general public to comment on issues that are not eligible for arbitrage. rice field. Running a country was like flying a plane, as the image suggests. The best problem is to leave it to the experts.

It was Plato’s claim and the basis for his claim to a dictatorship by the philosopher king.

Still, contrary to what centrists claim, the real problem with right-wing populism is not that it is a populist, but rather that it is not populist enough.

The evolution of the Republican Party into a means of Trumpian populism is a good example.The recent Washington Post At least 163 politicians Those who accept Trump’s false allegations of fraud in the 2020 poll are now running for “a state-wide position that will empower them to manage elections.”

That’s important. That’s because legislatures controlled by Trump supporters have already cracked down on mail voting, imposing tedious identity requirements, and making voting more difficult otherwise.Independent Brennan Center for Justice reports At least 19 states that will impose legislation in 2021 that somehow restricts access to voting..

Why related to them Donald Trump Looking for a restricted franchise?

Movements dominated by ultra-rich and exploitative racial and gender anxieties rely on exclusion. Despite its “populist” rhetoric, Trumpian’s Demagogue appeals to the minority. It cannot provide a solution to the population of an increasingly diversified country.

Therefore, the key to defeating Trump is to mobilize the general public to clarify their true needs.

But across the United States, the Democratic-promoted legislative response to the Capitol riots has focused on legislation that criminalizes protests rather than expanding democratic rights.

As a swing marsetic Point outIn the aftermath of January 6, “Repression of Oppositions: A Dramatic Increase in Opposition Bills Nationwide, including at least 88 introduced since the Capitol riots. Parliament Buildings Targeting” Terrorism. ” Massive increase in police. Similar to the development of a drastic domestic counterterrorism strategy by the Biden administration. “

The The strategy is included in that list He is a member of a group of “domestic violent extremists” such as environmentalists, anti-capitalists and animal rights activists, all hoping to play an important role in the movement against Trump. increase.

During the Vietnam War, US commanders are believed to have explained the need to destroy the village in order to save it. In the age of right-wing populism, the defense of democracy needs to avoid following similar logic.

Instead, progressive requires a program like this: Nicholas Tampio puts itTreats people “as citizens, not as children who need to be manipulated, but as adults who can make thoughtful decisions and act morally.” This means not just expecting to vote on the polling day, but entrusting them with “a meaningful opportunity to participate in the political process.”

Democracy is not an institution. It’s a convention, so it gets stronger with use.

That is the real problem. When did you feel that your opinion was really important in your daily life? How often do you participate in democratic discussions at work, in your neighborhood, in trade unions, or in community groups?

The depletion of opportunities for ordinary people to exert meaningful force on their collective affairs gives unfair credibility to democratic criticism of Platonism.

Conversely, the more we practice to govern ourselves, such as debate, organization, demonstrations, and protests, the more natural democracy emerges and the more isolated the demagogue.

In the age of right-wing populism, it cannot be destroyed to save democracy.Jeff Sparrow

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