What Is Populism?
'An essential book' Washington Post Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi, Marine Le Pen, Hugo Chavez - populists are on the rise across the globe. But what exactly is populism? Should everyone who criticizes Wall Street or Washington be called a populist? What precisely is the difference between right-wing and left-wing populism? Does populism bring government closer to the people or is it a threat to democracy? Who are "the people" anyway and who can speak in their name? These questions have never been more pressing.In this provocative book, Jan-Werner Muller argues that at populism's core is a rejection of pluralism. Populists will always claim that they and they alone represent the people and their true interests. Contrary to conventional wisdom, populists can govern on the basis of their claim to exclusive moral representation of the people: if populists have enough power, they will end up creating an authoritarian state that excludes all those not considered part of the proper "people". Proposing a number of concrete strategies for how liberal democrats should best deal with populists, Muller shows how to counter their claims to speak exclusively for "the silent majority".
In this essential book, Muller defines populism's most salient characteristics --antielitism, antipluralism, exclusivity -- and explains Trump and other populists through that framework. It is a quick read, and worth every page * Washington Post * Populism is not just antiliberal, it is antidemocratic -- the permanent shadow of representative politics. That's Jan-Werner Muller's argument in this brilliant book. There is no better guide to the populist passions of the present -- Ivan Krastev, author of After Europe No one has written more insightfully and knowledgeably about Europe's recent democratic decay than Jan-Werner Muller. His depiction of populism as democracy's antipluralist, moralistic shadow is masterful -- Dani Rodrik, Harvard University An exceptionally intelligent book about a notoriously slippery, yet essential, political concept. Jan-Werner Muller's sweeping critique of populism will both instruct and challenge anyone who seeks to understand the roots and nature of the political conflicts that are roiling Europe and the United States -- Michael Kazin, author of The Populist Persuasion: An American History An excellent short book -- Timothy Garton Ash * New York Review of Books *