Ron Press anclondon at
Fri Feb 10 13:36:39 MST 1995



By its appelation I assume it is to a large extent engendered by emotions. One thinks of sports, demonstrations against the export of live animals in the UK. Nationalism, fundamentalism of all types.

Secondly it seems to me to be guided, if at all, by a relatively narrow idea or perspective. It has no worked out philosophy or scientific basis.

Thirdly these movements are particularly successful when there is a basic economic problem that needs solving,... unemployment, inflation, land hunger.

If I am on the right lines in my understanding of populism, then it will be very difficult to clarify the basis on which it operates. Emotions are not easily understood or categorised.

In my experience emotions and narrow perspectives or aims give rise to powerful movements. The end results of such movements are unpredictable unless they are guided and lead by some group which has a broader aim. I think of the emotions which arose in China against the invasion by the Japanese. The Communist under Mao understood and lead the long march and the ultimate result was the revolution lead by the Communists. Peron was clearly a different animal and the result very different although very powerful.

Il Duche in Italy, Hitler, all were populists. Yeltsin is one and he is going nowhere.

All mass movements have to be populist if they are to succeed. If they have no reasonable, worked out direction they die and on the way can cause vast destruction.

To be a successful politician one must ride the tiger of populism in constant danger of being eaten by it.


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