Populisms: Social Movements or Mass Psychologies?
Populism has deep roots in U.S. history. And in the rhetoric of the Trump campaign one hears echoes of the 1892 platform of the People’s party (AKA, Populists): denunciations of biased media, illegal laborers, moral decadence, and corrupt politics. With the possible exception of Andrew Jackson (President, 1829-37) no other populist has succeeded at winning the presidency. Trump, moreover, shares with other recent presidential candidates (e.g., Patrick Buchanan and Alabama governor George Wallace) a concern for the white, working class American. And they also campaigned for “America First,” a slogan and movement founded in 1940 opposing U.S. involvement in World War II. In this seminar, we will look at contemporary populism in the United States and Europe and how candidates on the left and right have claimed the mantel of populism. What does populism mean in our time and how has it changed? We will consider different understandings and manifestations of populism. Is populism a social movement, an ideology, a logic, a discourse, a strategy, or a style? How is populism performed (e.g., by Trump in the United States, Hofer in Austria, Wilders in the Netherlands, Petry in Germany, Farage in the United Kingdom). We will closely read the manifestos and documents produced by contemporary populists and consider them in relationship to historical precedents.