The threat of populism

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The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 10th, 2018, 9:00 am

The noted geopolitical researcher and commentator, Gwynne Dyer, (producer and narrator of The 10,000 Day War) will be speaking this spring in Vancouver on the threat of populism and pushing his new book Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).

Gwynne Dyer: The Populist Revolt — Its Causes and Cure
An SFU Vancouver Speaker Series presentation
7 p.m. | March 06, 2019

Nationalism is back, and it’s very angry. Populists have already come to power in numerous countries, and some people even fear that we are seeing a re-run of the 1930s.

In the US in particular, job loss is a central issue. But Donald Trump can’t “bring the jobs back”, because most of them never left the country; they just vanished because of automation. The US official unemployment rate is hovering around 4 percent, but almost one third of American men over 20 years old are not gainfully employed. And there is a plausible forecast that automation will destroy 47 percent of existing American jobs by 2033.

What got Trump elected, more even than racism and immigration, was the anger that comes from the misery and humiliation of joblessness. The key votes that pushed him over the top came from the Rust Belt, where the automation started destroying assembly-line jobs 25 years ago. Trump has no solution for automation, and more extreme populists may come after him unless the anger is extinguished. Automation really will kill the jobs, and not just in the United States.

The main political task for the next generation (post-Trump) will be to ensure that those without work have an income they can live on with dignity. One way that is already being widely considered is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). It would put money in everybody's pockets with no strings attached, whether they are working or not — and since everybody gets it, there would be no stigma involved.

The anger that drives the populism comes as much from the humiliation that people feel when they are unemployed as from the actual financial pain they are suffering, so any solution must treat both aspects of the problem. UBI might be the answer, although there is still much research to be done. But big change is coming, and big solutions are needed.

https://www.sfu.ca/sfuwoodwards/events/ ... -2019.html
Populist wave is the warning sign we need: Gwynne Dyer
The Sunday Edition


Gwynne Dyer joined Michael Enright to discuss the connection between automation, joblessness and populism, which is the subject of his new book Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1391474755900


Dyer does not see the exact same conditions from the 1930s that led to WW1 and WW2, but the parallels are frightening. I would say close enough that people really need to wake up to what is happening and identify the real causes for their angst rather than validate their hate through alt-right rhetoric. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 10th, 2018, 3:39 pm

More on the threat of populism …
The Dangerous Rise of Populism

Human rights exist to protect people from government abuse and neglect. Rights limit what a state can do and impose obligations for how a state must act. Yet today a new generation of populists is turning this protection on its head. Claiming to speak for “the people,” they treat rights as an impediment to their conception of the majority will, a needless obstacle to defending the nation from perceived threats and evils. Instead of accepting rights as protecting everyone, they privilege the declared interests of the majority, encouraging people to adopt the dangerous belief that they will never themselves need to assert rights against an overreaching government claiming to act in their name.

<snip>

Ultimately, responsibility lies with the public. The demagogues traffic in casuistry, building popular support by spinning false explanations and cheap solutions to genuine ills. The best antidote is for the public to demand a politics based on truth and the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built. Populists thrive in a vacuum of opposition. A strong popular reaction, using every means available—civic groups, political parties, traditional and social media—is the best defense of the values that so many still cherish despite the problems they face.

Lies do not become truth just because propagated by an army of internet trolls or a legion of partisans. Echo chambers of falsehoods are not inevitable. Facts remain powerful, which is why autocrats go to such lengths to censor those who report inconvenient truths, especially about human rights abuse.

Values are fragile. Because the values of human rights depend foremost on the ability to empathize with others—to recognize the importance of treating others the way we would want to be treated—they are especially vulnerable to the demagogue’s exclusionary appeal. A society’s culture of respect for human rights needs regular tending, lest the fears of the moment sweep away the wisdom that built democratic rule.

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/c ... -populism#
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby oldtrucker » Dec 11th, 2018, 1:48 pm

What is the definition of 'populism' ? There doesn't seem to be one set definition of it. What is your definition of it and why do you consider it dangerous?
Some may view my above politically incorrect opinions as 'harsh' and may even be offended by them. Some think political correctness will be our undoing.

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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 17th, 2018, 4:34 pm

Populism can be defined as a political approach that strives to appeal to ordinary people who feel that their concerns are disregarded by established elite groups. We could go further and say that in general, populism is an ideology or political movement that mobilizes the population (often, but not always, the lower classes) against an institution or government, usually in the defense of the underdog or the wronged. Populism is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses. Although it comes into being where mainstream political institutions fail to deliver, there is no identifiable economic or social set of conditions that give rise to it, and it is not confined to any particular social class. In political science, populism is the idea that society is separated into two groups at odds with one another - "the pure people" and "the corrupt elite". It is not the definition of populism that people take umbrage; it is the supposition by people and groups who adopt the term to presume to speak for ordinary people.

However, populism is dangerous and has shown overtime an irresistible propensity for war. Public safety, health and the economy are also at risk. But populist propaganda is hard to resist. Populist politicians thrive on fake news: it is so much easier to fuel people’s emotions if you feed them fabricated news of imaginary crises (crime, immigration, etc.). And if you divert their attention from real economic problems with the irresistible lure of national identity politics and blaming foreigners.

https://impakter.com/populism-dangerous-propensity-war/

further:
This Is Why Populism Is So Dangerous

Populism is not characterized by a specific political agenda, nor is it directly tied to a particular side of the political spectrum. A populist calls for the abolition of certain institutions, such as government, and claims to represent the common working class — often the “silent majority”. They see the world as made up of only two types of people: the good and the corrupt.

From this description alone, it is evident that Donald Trump is a textbook populist. Whether it’s calling the media the “enemy of the people” or running his campaign on the mantra “America first,” it is clear that Trump has been dividing the American people from the moment he stepped foot onto the political pedestal. His inauguratory speech was a foolproof example of his populist ideology: he explained how under Obama’s administration, the “politicians prospered, but the jobs left,” and how “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

Donald Trump is only one politician that sailed to power on a rising wave of global populism. Politicians from places such as the UK, France, the Netherlands and Germany have evoked historical, though rarely positive, change in their respective countries through populist strategies. One prime example of this movement is Brexit.

More …

http://affinitymagazine.us/2018/01/01/t ... dangerous/

While the people of the UK are desperately hoping for a do-over on their Brexit referendum vote, most Americans are wishing they could go back in time and have a redo on their presidential election (apparently winning the popular vote by three million votes doesn’t necessarily cut it in the US). What is so dangerous about populist politics is that you have a very loud minority who presume to speak for ordinary people and are actively engaged in disinformation campaigns in efforts to assign credibility to their erroneous (and often prejudicial) claims. They denounce advanced education and critical thought and ask that you trust “them” instead of more well-known and credible news sources (yes, despite the flaws on mainstream media, it is still a far more credible source of news than the “alternative news” sites and conspiracy bloggers).

Populism is a fear-based movement, and in the majority of cases where populism has risen in history, those fears were first born and then perpetuated by the use of propaganda (“fake news”), made even more effective by the denunciation of the mainstream news even going as far as to label it “the enemy of the people”. People who have been marginalized, are typically unemployed or under-employed and/or under-educated, and looking for a scapegoat to blame for their situation would be particularly susceptible to this misinformation. Whether right or left, populist politics is highly partisan, and only provides the most simplistic (and most often erroneous) explanations and/or solutions for a countries socioeconomic problems – such as building a wall to protect the country from rampant violent crime being committed by Mexican refugees (accounting for about 0.04% of violent crimes in America). Imagine what could be done to address that crime if the billions needed to build a wall were used for education, addiction and mental health, and family support services.

I would suggest most ordinary people do not want our society to be as divided as it is right now. I would suggest most of us know our news is biased, but many of us are also able and willing to use some critical thought in evaluating what we hear and read. Most of us know that education is a good thing, and we easily recognize these “alternative sites” spewing unaccountable partisan rhetoric for what they are (while shaking our heads at the more dull-witted people lapping it up).

While populists presume to speak for ordinary people, polls on many different issues indicate these so-called “ordinary” people have opinions that distinctly contradict those of the majority. Most Canadians, for example, do not want to carry a concealed gun on the street and they don’t want others doing it either. Most Canadians are also supportive of immigration, and of helping refugees. As Canadians, we also value acceptance and diversity recognizing how rich that makes us.

Populism is dangerous because it divides societies, it identifies people and groups for scapegoating, and it promotes hate and intolerance while appealing to all the basest emotions in an electorate. Populism is dangerous because the one true force holding government to account is the free press, and populists would have you believe the media is your enemy. Populism is dangerous because it values adherence to partisan rhetoric over education and investigation asking its followers instead to just “trust” its leaders (presidential tweets). Populism is dangerous when it promotes economic nationalism. Populism is dangerous because, short of pushing an economy into a recession or inspiring revolution or war, there is little change other than the divisions between people just growing larger and larger.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

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Re: The threat of populism

Postby oldtrucker » Dec 18th, 2018, 3:55 pm

Interesting definition.
I don't see populism as being dangerous or anti immigrant. There are, or were some federal political parties here in Canada that could have been considered nationalist/populist, but they had a very culturally diverse membership and executive. Damn...that was politically correct of me to put it that way ….wasn't it?
Some may view my above politically incorrect opinions as 'harsh' and may even be offended by them. Some think political correctness will be our undoing.
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Glacier » Dec 18th, 2018, 5:18 pm

I'm confused as to what populism is or means. Usually when something is said to be wrong, you can ask what the opposite is, and you know that's the right thing to do. eg. What's the opposite of lying? A: telling the truth.

So if this populism thing is wrong or dangerous, what's the opposite? And is that on its own good?
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Grandan » Dec 19th, 2018, 1:26 pm

Now that we have "alternative facts" that appeal to the divisive instinct of some groups it is impossible to turn back the clock.
Once hatched, the conspiracies never die. It is accepted that uneducated people get their news from tabloids like the National Inquirer. Many stories were made up negative coverage of Clinton. Now that we know that the misinformation was created by Trump and surrogates it is easy to see why his campaign was so successful. Some people like to hear unflattering stories about their perceived enemies. I am very happy that the chickens are now coming home to roost.
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 19th, 2018, 8:49 pm

Glacier wrote: I'm confused as to what populism is or means. Usually when something is said to be wrong, you can ask what the opposite is, and you know that's the right thing to do. eg. What's the opposite of lying? A: telling the truth.

So if this populism thing is wrong or dangerous, what's the opposite? And is that on its own good?

I’ve already posted a lot of information with varying definitions on what populism is (not just in this thread but at least a couple of times for you specifically), and a lot of information on how in some forms it represents a very clear and present threat. There are some clear and common threads and they have been identified.

p.s. the opposite of populism is democracy.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europ ... relationsh

Regarding their relationship, populism is a weakness of democracy. If the majority is ignorant, democracy will be the government of the ignorance. This is precisely the thesis that conservative groups fear throughout all the world
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin

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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Snman » Dec 19th, 2018, 10:54 pm

Ka-El wrote:The noted geopolitical researcher and commentator, Gwynne Dyer, (producer and narrator of The 10,000 Day War) will be speaking this spring in Vancouver on the threat of populism and pushing his new book Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).

Gwynne Dyer: The Populist Revolt — Its Causes and Cure
An SFU Vancouver Speaker Series presentation
7 p.m. | March 06, 2019

Nationalism is back, and it’s very angry. Populists have already come to power in numerous countries, and some people even fear that we are seeing a re-run of the 1930s.

In the US in particular, job loss is a central issue. But Donald Trump can’t “bring the jobs back”, because most of them never left the country; they just vanished because of automation. The US official unemployment rate is hovering around 4 percent, but almost one third of American men over 20 years old are not gainfully employed. And there is a plausible forecast that automation will destroy 47 percent of existing American jobs by 2033.

What got Trump elected, more even than racism and immigration, was the anger that comes from the misery and humiliation of joblessness. The key votes that pushed him over the top came from the Rust Belt, where the automation started destroying assembly-line jobs 25 years ago. Trump has no solution for automation, and more extreme populists may come after him unless the anger is extinguished. Automation really will kill the jobs, and not just in the United States.

The main political task for the next generation (post-Trump) will be to ensure that those without work have an income they can live on with dignity. One way that is already being widely considered is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). It would put money in everybody's pockets with no strings attached, whether they are working or not — and since everybody gets it, there would be no stigma involved.

The anger that drives the populism comes as much from the humiliation that people feel when they are unemployed as from the actual financial pain they are suffering, so any solution must treat both aspects of the problem. UBI might be the answer, although there is still much research to be done. But big change is coming, and big solutions are needed.

https://www.sfu.ca/sfuwoodwards/events/ ... -2019.html
Populist wave is the warning sign we need: Gwynne Dyer
The Sunday Edition


Gwynne Dyer joined Michael Enright to discuss the connection between automation, joblessness and populism, which is the subject of his new book Growing Pains: The Future of Democracy (and Work).

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1391474755900


Dyer does not see the exact same conditions from the 1930s that led to WW1 and WW2, but the parallels are frightening. I would say close enough that people really need to wake up to what is happening and identify the real causes for their angst rather than validate their hate through alt-right rhetoric. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


Thanx for the post Ka-El. I am a huge Gwynne Dyer fan. Very interesting.

ETA Forgot to mention the date on the article.....are you a time traveller Ka-El?
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Vacancyrate » Dec 21st, 2018, 2:12 pm

Glacier wrote:So if this populism thing is wrong or dangerous, what's the opposite?


The opposite of populism is a neoliberal corporate-owned government that works soley for the 1%.

Most present day western governments are just that.

Populism is the rise against such a reality.

Populism gave us unions, safety laws, the 40 hour work week, pensions, social security, welfare, government medical care, abolished debtors prisons and established environmental laws. Dangerous!
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 21st, 2018, 2:26 pm

Snman wrote: ....are you a time traveller Ka-El?

Nope, but on March 06, 2019, Gwynne Dyer will be speaking on his new book: “The Populist Revolt — Its Causes and Cure” as part of the SFU Vancouver Speaker Series presentations; I’m presuming at the downtown campus. I would love to attend but I doubt I’ll be near Vancouver at that time. With some of the confusion being demonstrated here it could be especially enlightening for people still using the most dated and generic definitions, determined to miss the points and downplay the threat – although I recognize they would also be the least likely to attend. I’d go, but Vancouver is a lot farther than a four hour drive from where I am. I’ll have to watch my schedule to see if I might be down that way at that time. Dyer is a great speaker.
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby oldtrucker » Dec 21st, 2018, 3:19 pm

Vacancyrate wrote:The opposite of populism is a neoliberal corporate-owned government that works soley for the 1%.Most present day western governments are just that.Populism is the rise against such a reality.Populism gave us unions, safety laws, the 40 hour work week, pensions, social security, welfare, government medical care, abolished debtors prisons and established environmental laws. Dangerous!




Very well put.
Nationalist and populist are put in the same category sometimes. Looks like some countries in Europe effected by the tidal wave of migrants are going the populist/nationalist route -to preserve their way of life.
Some may view my above politically incorrect opinions as 'harsh' and may even be offended by them. Some think political correctness will be our undoing.
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 21st, 2018, 4:12 pm

oldtrucker wrote: Nationalist and populist are put in the same category sometimes.

Yes they are. Have you followed any of the links or tried to do any of your own research on this issue?
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Ka-El » Dec 22nd, 2018, 7:04 am

Vacancyrate wrote: Populism gave us unions, safety laws, the 40 hour work week, pensions, social security, welfare, government medical care, abolished debtors prisons and established environmental laws. Dangerous!

It also facilitated the rise of the Third Reich and gave us Adolph Hitler. Kinda dangerous.

Not the sort of history most "ordinary" people want to be repeating.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin
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Re: The threat of populism

Postby Gilchy » Dec 22nd, 2018, 8:13 am

I’d say the modern version of populism is a political rhetoric that creates the attitude the the majority are the oppressed. It takes advantage of legitimate issues in modern society (wage stagnation, underemployment, loss of industries), but rather than focus on the real root of these issues (automation, ever-increasing consolidation of ownership and wealth), it blames the “other”.

By making a specific thing the apparent cause of the majortiy’s pain, these politicians can appeal to the majority’s base instincts with things that “sound true”. How many times during the US election did we hear that Trump “tells it like it is”, when he demonstrably and objectively lies more than any other presidential candidate on record. He wasn’t telling it like it is, just telling it like some wanted to hear.

These are common sentiments for populist leaders around the world:
-being a part of the EU is the source of Britain’s pain
-beer should cost a buck each in Ontario
-drug dealers deserve death in the Philippines
-immigrants and other countries are the reason the IS isn’t great
-on and in it goes

The danger of populism is it becomes a tyranny of the majority, at the specific expense of the targeted others. This grows to the point where people are actually operating against their actual best interests in the pursuit of targeting these minorities. Wishing a return to a pre-digital manufacturing based economy is wishful thinking, those jobs are not coming back. The question that no one, especially the populists, have answered is how the economy should be adapted for success in the future.

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