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wonderpup

What Is The Difference Between 'populism' And 'democracy'?

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I keep hearing various mainstream political figures dismiss the rising dissent among the populations of Europe- manifested in their voting for various non mainstream parties- as being mere 'populism'. The rise of Ukip in the UK is also often dismissed as a phenomena driven by 'populism'- with the clear implication that this is both disreputable and in some undefined way undemocratic.

Yet the people making this claim draw their own legitimacy from their claim to have garnered the highest level of popular support in an election. Every sitting MP owes his/her seat to a populist mandate based entirely on the numerical count of votes among the populace being in their favor.

So it seems to me that any MP or Minister who discounts the votes of large sections of the population as being mere 'populism' is revealing a measure of contempt for the very system that they claim legitimizes their own power and authority.

Wikipedia offers the following definition of what Populism means;

  1. Populism is a political doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions (such as hopes and fears) of the general people, especially contrasting those interests with the interests of the elite.
    So perhaps a 'populist' is best described as one who articulates the concerns of the ordinary people as opposed to those of the Elite?
    But surely articulating the concerns of ordinary people is precisely what our elected representatives are supposed to be doing?

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My own take is populism is just playing peoples prejudices back to them in order to get votes. In my view this is what most, if not all political parties do now relying on focus groups, demographic polling etc.

My view of a healthy democracy would be one where political parties designed a set of policies which they honestly believed were in the best interests of the party and then tried to convince the electorate that they were right. I think that Thatcher was the last politician to take this approach (even though I'm not a particular fan of her policies).

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"Populism" is the phrase politicians use to smear anything that they don't like that is generally popular with much of the electorate.

"Democracy" is the phrase politicians use to promote anything they like which is generally popular with much of the electorate.

Edited by fru-gal

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Democracy (we the establishment agree) -> Small Populism (we do not agree) -> Bigger Populism (hmmmm) -> Big Populism (how can we co-opt and tweak this) -> Smaller Populist (misinformation and a few crumbs) -> Small Populism (crumbs all gone) -> Democracy

Occasionally this approach blows up. Hopefully, literally.

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I keep hearing various mainstream political figures dismiss the rising dissent among the populations of Europe- manifested in their voting for various non mainstream parties- as being mere 'populism'. The rise of Ukip in the UK is also often dismissed as a phenomena driven by 'populism'- with the clear implication that this is both disreputable and in some undefined way undemocratic.

Yet the people making this claim draw their own legitimacy from their claim to have garnered the highest level of popular support in an election. Every sitting MP owes his/her seat to a populist mandate based entirely on the numerical count of votes among the populace being in their favor.

So it seems to me that any MP or Minister who discounts the votes of large sections of the population as being mere 'populism' is revealing a measure of contempt for the very system that they claim legitimizes their own power and authority.

Wikipedia offers the following definition of what Populism means;

  1. Populism is a political doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions (such as hopes and fears) of the general people, especially contrasting those interests with the interests of the elite.
    So perhaps a 'populist' is best described as one who articulates the concerns of the ordinary people as opposed to those of the Elite?
    But surely articulating the concerns of ordinary people is precisely what our elected representatives are supposed to be doing?

so how do you discern between populism(which is what the people want), and what a bunch of in-bred career politicians decide what they know is best for you?-largely moulded with what they have been taught and can repeat parrot fashion from what they learnt in school themselves(which if they went to special schools,they obviously are special aren't they?)

they are after all(in their own heads) more intelligent and wise.- no to mention arrogant, that they should not sense when people are displeased with them.

I like this "we know a song about that don't we game"

here's one for our illutrious leaders to contemplate on.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCMQtwIwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Do1Dq4Eh5KoA&ei=apuIVPzpKYH1UpX5gTA&usg=AFQjCNG0nh6IQqzCfmARHeOlDJzb8NdETQ&bvm=bv.81456516,d.d24

Edited by oracle

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All true democracies are populist by their nature as all decisions are made the populace at large not just by a political class that only has to stand for election periodically

In a fact in truly radical democratic state such as ancient Athens you did not even have elections as we know them since many public officials were chosen by lot from the citizen body. This meant that if you wanted to buy influence you had to bribe everyone in the city state.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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Populism is running up large debts, avoiding the reality and then flipping the mess and debt to the next lot.

Basically, Tony Blair + ***** Brown.

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Populism is running up large debts, avoiding the reality and then flipping the mess and debt to the next lot.

Basically, Tony Blair + ***** Brown.

not even remotely populist.

blairs style of government was the epitomy of "I know whats best for you and nobody else will tell me otherwise....listen up, me priest, you serf, now shut up heretic"

now just join the dots on WHERE and BY WHOM these people have been educated.you will see a link.

same rings true whether it be hitler,stalin,blair,mugabe...I would wager even kim jong un has been taught by the same people

anyone got any heads-up on where he studied?

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Any policy that's truly popular with the general population but doesn't align with the doublethink spin and propaganda that's been applied to twist the wisdom of the said policy.

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All true democracies are populist by their nature as all decisions are made the populace at large not just by a political class that only has to stand for election periodically

In a fact in truly radical democratic state such as ancient Athens you did not even have elections as we know them since many public officials were chosen by lot from the citizen body. This meant that if you wanted to buy influence you had to bribe everyone in the city state.

Yes the ancient Greek political thinkers were very clear that voting is not at all democratic, voting is oligarchic as you only get to vote for one or other selection from the ruling elites.

Lot is democratic, just like jury service here now. Compare how juries work, with how parliament works.

So from that point of view, in a non-democratic elective oligarchy like we have now, 'populist' is a label for an oligarch who is a bit common, outside of the core ruling elite. E.g UKIP...

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All true democracies are populist by their nature as all decisions are made the populace at large not just by a political class that only has to stand for election periodically

In a fact in truly radical democratic state such as ancient Athens you did not even have elections as we know them since many public officials were chosen by lot from the citizen body. This meant that if you wanted to buy influence you had to bribe everyone in the city state.

https://equalitybylot.wordpress.com/

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  1. So perhaps a 'populist' is best described as one who articulates the concerns of the ordinary people as opposed to those of the Elite?
    But surely articulating the concerns of ordinary people is precisely what our elected representatives are supposed to be doing?

No our elected representatives are supposed to be running the country is the best interests of the population. What is in the best interest isn't necessarily popular. The general public are idiots and don't know whats good for them.

A government run by populist opinions will have x factor judges as a higher priority than safe drinking water, for example. A populist government, such as the previous labour government, would give the population what it wants by turning on the credit taps and watch the public strangle themselves with unaffordable debt obligations. They'd be 'popular' for sure, but it will take the responsible adults, or 'the elite' as you insist on calling them, to clean up the vomit after the party and distribute the aspirin whilst sadly shaking their heads.

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No our elected representatives are supposed to be running the country is the best interests of the population. What is in the best interest isn't necessarily popular. The general public are idiots and don't know whats good for them.

A government run by populist opinions will have x factor judges as a higher priority than safe drinking water, for example. A populist government, such as the previous labour government, would give the population what it wants by turning on the credit taps and watch the public strangle themselves with unaffordable debt obligations. They'd be 'popular' for sure, but it will take the responsible adults, or 'the elite' as you insist on calling them, to clean up the vomit after the party and distribute the aspirin whilst sadly shaking their heads.

I think you have done an excellent job here of describing the thought process of those who aspire to gain power- a generalized contempt for those whose interests they claim to represent.

This vision of an elite who run the world as a benign oligarchy is precisely why we have the short term incompetent leadership we do- in their minds any degree of mendacity and self serving manipulation is justified on the basis that they are the 'right' people to run the world.

Perhaps if they were less intent on manipulation and more prepared to be honest they might find that the general public is not as moronic as they seem to think.

Also I wonder if you noticed that as one of the general public yourself you have in the post above described yourself as a degenerate moron whose opinions and intellectual abilities are so suspect that I wonder why you expect anyone to take them seriously in the first place?

Unless, of course, you imagine yourself to be a member of this unspecified elite whose destiny is to rule the great unwashed?

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No our elected representatives are supposed to be running the country is the best interests of the population. What is in the best interest isn't necessarily popular. The general public are idiots and don't know whats good for them.

A government run by populist opinions will have x factor judges as a higher priority than safe drinking water, for example. A populist government, such as the previous labour government, would give the population what it wants by turning on the credit taps and watch the public strangle themselves with unaffordable debt obligations. They'd be 'popular' for sure, but it will take the responsible adults, or 'the elite' as you insist on calling them, to clean up the vomit after the party and distribute the aspirin whilst sadly shaking their heads.

Is that really what populism means? Serious question. For example continuing your analogy is it more of a long term strangle to open the debt taps when real rates and wages are higher or lower? In the terms of your argument, the populism comparison and argument is a stretch when popular means could be worse for the majority, and fails when it definitely is. One could actually argue that it makes the current 'elite's' similar approach an even more populist one if that's what populism means. In which case what responsible adults and where are they?

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A few years ago I asked the not too dissimilar question: What is the difference between a parliamentary democracy and an elective dictatorship?

Perhaps we should ask the Swiss - whom I'm surprised nobody has mentioned yet, seeing they're a lot closer to our situation than the ancient Athenians who obviously fascinate some posters here.

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I think you have done an excellent job here of describing the thought process of those who aspire to gain power- a generalized contempt for those whose interests they claim to represent.

This vision of an elite who run the world as a benign oligarchy is precisely why we have the short term incompetent leadership we do- in their minds any degree of mendacity and self serving manipulation is justified on the basis that they are the 'right' people to run the world.

Perhaps if they were less intent on manipulation and more prepared to be honest they might find that the general public is not as moronic as they seem to think.

Also I wonder if you noticed that as one of the general public yourself you have in the post above described yourself as a degenerate moron whose opinions and intellectual abilities are so suspect that I wonder why you expect anyone to take them seriously in the first place?

Unless, of course, you imagine yourself to be a member of this unspecified elite whose destiny is to rule the great unwashed?

No Ive no intention of ruling anyone, washed or not.

Its bizarre to disagree that most people are morons, watch a question time some time, and those in the audience are the ones that are engaged enough to bother turning up to a tv show!

And sure you can count me amongst those if it helps you, I don't care, as Ive pointed out, I don't think much of your opinion. :D

You really think listening to idiots will help to better run the country? I suppose an idiot would think that.

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Is that really what populism means? Serious question. For example continuing your analogy is it more of a long term strangle to open the debt taps when real rates and wages are higher or lower? In the terms of your argument, the populism comparison and argument is a stretch when popular means could be worse for the majority, and fails when it definitely is. One could actually argue that it makes the current 'elite's' similar approach an even more populist one if that's what populism means. In which case what responsible adults and where are they?

I read that twice and I don't understand it.

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I read that twice and I don't understand it.

Yeah I just read it again and struggled.

You seem to be saying populism is giving the people what they want. Whereas it's the job of responsible adults/elites to restrain that stupidity when it's stupid. What I'm asking is (if that's the case) who and where are these responsible adults that will clean up.

The waffle I added was making the point that economically (nationally and in terms of households) the current crop's debt policies are worse than the former's, because the wages vs real rates outlook is worse, so long term negative effects will linger for longer (that's not a political statement, I don't much care for our national politics). Implying that populism as you describe it is near universal among our 'leaders' and in reality it's bad for nearly all of us.

Except them. Which is why I questioned your view in defining that as populism.

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It took 9 years for rationing to end after the war. can you imagine something as prescriptive as rationing lasting 2 electoral cycles* in the 'modern' age? The focus groups & the spin doctors would immediately target it as a vote winner.

Populism is all about giving the masses (power base) what they want, when they want it. Democracy, ideally, is circumscribed by a set of overarching rules that maintain the common good, including that of future generations. The difference between the 2 is wafer thin and depends upon an educated and informed electoral cohort. Unfortunately nobody has devised an acceptable selection process, so we are left with universal sufferage. The outcome of this is apparent in my signature below and the countless boomer bashing threads on HPC. So without a recognised common purpose, agreed levels of restraint, democracy and populism are interchangeable concepts.

* it lasted 14 years, and long after the demise

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/4/newsid_3818000/3818563.stm

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No Ive no intention of ruling anyone, washed or not.

Its bizarre to disagree that most people are morons, watch a question time some time, and those in the audience are the ones that are engaged enough to bother turning up to a tv show!

And sure you can count me amongst those if it helps you, I don't care, as Ive pointed out, I don't think much of your opinion. :D

You really think listening to idiots will help to better run the country? I suppose an idiot would think that.

Perhaps the causality runs the other way? Perhaps the truth is that it suits the Elite to keep the people they seek to control as ill informed as possible. For example we could, as a society, choose to educate our children as to the real nature of how money is created and how things like fractional reserve banking works- but we choose not to do that- why not?

I suggest it's because the last thing the Elite wants is a population who understand- for example- that the 'money' they borrow to purchase a home, money that they will spend a lifetime paying back-with interest- was created out of nothing by the banks via the simple act of typing some numbers into a computer.

So instead of insisting ordinary people are too stupid to understand how the world really works, consider the possibility that there may be a strong vested interest among the wealthy and powerful to make certain that ordinary people understand as little as possible about how things really are- because if that understanding became widespread then maybe those ordinary people might start asking some awkward questions about how things are being run.

"If congress has the right under the Constitution to issue paper money, it was given them to use themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corporations.

"The bold efforts that the present bank has made to control the government and the distress it has wantonly caused, are but premonitions of the fate which awaits the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution or the establishment of another like it...If the people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system there would be a revolution before morning."

Andrew Jackson said that in 1832 and yes, it's hyperbole- but there is a grain of truth there also. If people really understood- for example- that the money in which their debt is denominated was created from nothing by the very banks who harass them for it's repayment-at interest- would they feel the same level of obligation to pay that money back? Or would they begin to question the legitimacy of the system that allows private banks to profit from the creation of money they have done nothing to earn?

When was it decided that private business's would have the power and authority to issue the nations currency- and do so by the method of lending this currency out at interest, thus gaining for themselves an unearned and unjustified profit?

It seems to me that the kind of ignorance of the system you attribute to stupidity may in fact be a carefully nurtured thing- it's certainly very convenient for the bankers that their power to create credit out of thin air and lend it out at interest is not something that people in general are ever likely to learn about from the nations education system. And who controls that system?

Edited to add; about 95% of the 'money' in our system consists of credit issued by private banks- so it is no exaggeration to say that these private institutions are the primary source of our national currency.

Edited by wonderpup

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No our elected representatives are supposed to be running the country is the best interests of the population. What is in the best interest isn't necessarily popular. The general public are idiots and don't know whats good for them.

A government run by populist opinions will have x factor judges as a higher priority than safe drinking water, for example. A populist government, such as the previous labour government, would give the population what it wants by turning on the credit taps and watch the public strangle themselves with unaffordable debt obligations. They'd be 'popular' for sure, but it will take the responsible adults, or 'the elite' as you insist on calling them, to clean up the vomit after the party and distribute the aspirin whilst sadly shaking their heads.

The "elite" (whoever that is) are necessarily comprised of the same basic stock of fallible human beings as the general public. They're not going to act like responsible adults until the markets force them to do so. Just like everybody else.

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I think you credit politicians with too much intelligence Wonderpup, I doubt many of them even understand how the private banks create money. Equally corporate capture seems likely to be an emergent function of current conditions rather than a grand conspiracy. Individuals in positions of limited power make individual decisions about their limited fields based on their limited understanding, ideology or self interest and in totality the sum appears greater than its parts.

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