Monday, May 24, 2010

In praise of populism

Paul Krugman, New York Times:

The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations.

Fair enough -- but at least it's populist, which means taking the concerns of ordinary people as your starting point, and reconciling them to whatever political program you want. That is fundamentally different than making high-minded appeals to capital in the hope of electoral gain, only to engage the recalcitrant through the force of the state.

It's worth reminding ourselves that, if "neither capital nor the state," populism is an objective. This means we have to be better at populism than those elements that are succeeding at it now -- unless, of course, we like the picture that is emerging!

The only alternative to populism is the continued state administration of social life on capital's behalf. This is what Krugman argues for, absent any political force that can displace capital -- i.e., populism -- even if he argues for it on his terms.

1 comment:

Jack Crow said...


As you wrote in the post below, the skepticism about power is a starting point.

If we do nothing about it, we cede the ground back to the state, which has a history in capturing populist outbreaks with war and other desolations.