Friday 18 January 2019

Douglas Murray on populism

This is a very interesting interview with Douglas Murray, the most interesting and important intellectual in Great Britain on Donald Trump, Brexit and populism. Mr Murray is our equivalent of France's Michel Houellebecq, but without the obscenity.  I quote:
There is no one elite in America or Britain, but certainly a part of one elite and a part of the public are genuinely shocked, public are genuinely shocked, because there was a presumed direction of travel we were all meant to be going in: greater multilateralism, weaker borders, a more porous, interconnected world, and so on. The only job left was to progress through ever more minute remaining rights issues and then arrive at our destination. But then the public came along — twice in a few months — and threw the biggest spanner available to them into this machine. A lot of people still cannot believe the public could do this, and I understand their shock. This was the first time in their adult lives that they were told No, and it destabilizes
everything for them because it suggests we may not be going to the place they thought we were heading. If the Brexit vote had gone the other way, I would have moped around for a day or two and then gone about my normal life. It would never have occurred to me — or to most Leave voters I know — to rage for years, purge from my personal life anyone who voted Remain, and smear the majority of my countrymen with the most hurtful epithets I could come up with.

MK: Elsewhere you have described “populism” as a vacuous term. Why?

DM: I think that over the last two years it has come to be used as a synonym for “things I personally do not like” and “unpalatable people.” Why is President Macron never described as a populist? He broke the traditional party structures in France, ran a one-man campaign, and had to put together candidates for his party only after he had already secured the presidency. Many of the old definitions of ‘populism’ fit Macron perfectly. But of course he has the “correct” views on a range of international institutions, primarily the EU, which mean that the term doesn’t get used of him. The term is both too vague and now too clearly used in a pejorative light to be of any use. Besides, since “populists” keep doing well, I suggest we try to study what they are doing that is right and adapt rather than keep finding ways to dismiss things that may just be “popular.”

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