What is the difference between a “people’s uprising” and “dangerous populism”?
As far as I can tell from trawling the media’s usage of these terms, a “people’s uprising” is often violent, but it never seems to worry the media nor the powers that be.
“Populism,” on the other hand, is framed as a dangerous metastasizing of a rancid, stupid peasantry’s baser instincts. These rubes are so dumb, they are easily manipulated by oligarchs that are only lying to them and don’t really care about them at all. Although it hardly ever manifests in violence, well, you know, many considered Hitler to be a populist, and we all know how that ended, right?
That seems to be why a “people’s uprising” such as Occupy Wall Street—with all the rapes and property destruction and rampant shitting in public places—was largely treated with kid gloves. On the other hand, the Tea Party—which didn’t disrupt traffic or attack people and tended to clean up after itself rather than wipe its ass on the world—was depicted as a violent, resurgent neo-Klan.
Sorry, but the Tea Party was not nearly that exciting.
It would appear that the Powers That Be are much more frightened of populism than they are of people’s uprisings, or they wouldn’t be resorting to such desperate and counterfactual hyperbole.
Most dictionary and encyclopedia definitions of “populism” note that it is a politically indistinct phenomenon and not necessarily left or right. They claim the common theme is one that pits a morally righteous “people” against a hostile and self-serving “elite.”
A writer for The Guardian distinguishes populism’s leftist from rightist strains in that the former depicts “the elite” against everyone (i.e., the 1% v. the 99%), whereas right-wing populism accuses the elite of pitting “the people” against a third group, usually embodied by immigrants and racial or religious minorities.
In my experience, I think the latter model is more realistic. I also think it’s why Donald Trump frightens the establishment to its core. As I’ve noted before, Trump hardly ever mentions race, and I’ve never, no never not once, heard him use the phrase “white people.” If he has, I highly doubt he did so in a direct racial/political appeal to them like modern politicians do to nonwhites all the time. But in merely refusing to bow to progressive pieties—and in daring to state the exasperatingly simple fact that countries have borders—he threatens globalist multiculturalism’s whole scheme of maintaining power by Balkanizing the underlings.
I attended the inauguration on the National Mall, and only a maroon would deny that Trump’s speech featured the populist notion of an elite class that was hostile to the interests of “the people”:
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country….
January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
Almost as if the DNC had blasted the same electronic message to all their microchip brain implants at once, reporters referred to these eminently sensible and hopeful words as “dark,” just as they’d done with Trump’s acceptance speech at the RNC last summer.
France’s socialist president Francois Hollande brought his 4% approval rating with him to warn that Trump represented an ominous wave of “populism and even extremism” for vowing to return government to the people.
Pope Francis, who apparently expects to meet Karl Marx in heaven, ratcheted up the hyperbole by likening Trump and other European neo-populists to Hitler:
Some of them…take advantage of the fear of the citizenship of an uncertain future to construct a message of xenophobia, of hatred toward the foreigner. The case of Trump is the most striking….It’s what they call the populism.
Jacobin magazine—which takes its name from the wealthy and cloistered intellectuals who helped overthrow the French monarchy and is written by wealthy Marxist True Believers who pose as the vanguard of the modern poor and disenfranchised—chides Trump for his “Faux-Populism,” because only smug smacked asses like these coastal neo-communists understand what’s in the best interests of the degraded racist Rust Belt yahoos who put Trump over the top, and how dare those subhuman hillbillies not listen to their wisdom?
Al-Jazeera—which naturally has my best interests in mind, seeing as I am neither a Muslim nor from the Middle East—says that the “difference between right and left-wing populism” is that the former inspires fear, while the latter instills hope.
It quickly becomes clear that in its modern usage, “populism” is a pejorative used by global elites to describe any “people’s uprising” that they aren’t personally orchestrating.
Listen here, all ye smacked, condescending asses, all you powderpuff socialist theorists who’ve never had to work an honest, sweaty day in your lives—one of the things I’m always ready to bang fists over is the accusation that I don’t know what it’s like to be working-class. On my way back from the inauguration, I stopped to take a picture in front of the house I grew up in outside Philly. The people in this neighborhood don’t give a soaring fuck about your tranny bathrooms and your crocodile tears for Muslim refugees and illegal immigrants, nor do they want to hear a single word about how uber-wealthy parlor pinks at The Nation understand what’s in their best interests—they just want to work an honest job, take care of their kids, and eat a couple Italian hoagies while watching yet another Super Bowl where the Eagles won’t be playing.
No, Donald Trump has no idea what it’s like to grow up in a block of brick row homes like this, and he was raised under completely different circumstances than I was. But he’s the only political candidate I’ve ever heard who not only addresses the issues that concern me, he speaks with the direct crassness of somebody from my neighborhood. Whether he’s faking or not doesn’t matter so long as he makes good on his promises.
There was only one political lawn sign on my old block when I visited this time—a Trump sign. This neighborhood used to consist of all working-class white Democrats, but this was before the Dems tossed both the “working-class” and the “white” planks from their platform. Trump became the first Republican to carry my home state since 1988.
So all this nonsense about him being “fake” and “phony” comes from sheltered sore losers whose tired and condescending rhetoric fell on deaf ears in this truly working-class neighborhood. The billionaire Trump actually communicated to the working class in a way that resonated deeply with them, whereas the urban champagne socialists couldn’t make a dent. Imagine that.
Perhaps populism isn’t a virus at all. Maybe it’s more like chemo. I don’t even like people, but I’m A-OK with Trump’s brand of populism. I’ll take it over your fake-ass, Soros-bankrolled “people’s uprisings” any day of the week.