Terms: How they are used vs. What they are. Is there a distinction?

Kathleen McKinnon

Rogers Brubaker’s “Why Populism?” podcast posed an interesting thought process of what makes populism and how it has been possibly overapplied in many instances as an evil racist machine. Not that is always true or untrue but it certainly makes clear that terms are not always clear and are not always used or portrayed correctly and thus become even more polarizing. Not only that but without proper definitions and with over applications what is going on in the determining of populism and authoritarian phenomena as eras or just periods, for example as pointed out in the podcast, are not so clear. It is better to understand these terms to determine or try to determine what is going on in the world.

Populism for example, as just the opposition to elites, is a broad definition and needs further exploration to be further understood otherwise it remains broad and in danger of misunderstanding. Both fascism and populism see themselves as the only legitimate form of government, both of these terms likewise have been historically overapplied and both have been seen as negative in a liberal democratic society but also these terms have some differences. (Finchelstein, 5). I get the sense that fascism is seen as more militaristic with the world wars and major revolutions (De Grazia) and that populism is what has risen to power in place to keep down the “other” while using information technology to prove legitimacy. It seems that over time that the authoritarianism which has manifested as fascism has seen a decline in favour of populism. But I would argue that the terms take on a life of their own as defined by popular media. The definitions can be fluid and change depending on how people perceive them and that is the role the media plays in this.

Works Cited

Rogers Brubaker, “Why Populism?” NUPI Podcast (51 minutes) https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/why-populism-rogers-brubaker/id1200474003?i=1000449389000

Federico Finchelstein, “Introduction: Thinking Fascism and Populism in terms of the Past” in Federico Finkelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (University of California Press, 2017).

Victoria de Grazia, “What We Don’t Understand about Fascism” Zocalo Public Square

https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2020/08/13/understand-fascism-american-historymussolini- hitler-20th-century/ideas/essay/

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