Are Populism’s really so different?

By: Cyrus Hutnyk

This week’s readings focus largely on comparing the intersections between left-leaning and right-leaning cases of populism. The two ends of the populism spectrum are actually more aligned with one another than one might expect given our preconceived understanding of what it means to separate things politically by the left or right-leaning ideologies. In the Rooduijn/Akkerman as well as Rieschi works that were assigned for this week, we can see that the right and left of populism aren’t that far apart. Rooduijn and Akkerman create the basis of an argument through a study that looks at the use of populist strategy and tactics historically, and how they are essentially utilized equally in the scope of both right and left-leaning populism. I find that while the arguments in the Mudde/Kaltwasser and other articles are able to outline the ways in which the different populisms are distinguishable from one another using terms like inclusionary and exclusionary, that presenting the practices and behaviours within the ideology in terms of their intersections creates a fuller picture Even if you distinguish right populism as exclusionary and right populism as inclusionary, boiling things down to the literal actions and behaviours driven and inspired by or done for populism make more sense in trying to define populism.

The argument that Firschi makes especially that has to do with the multiple different “styles” of xenophobia that can exist and are attributed to both the right and left is an excellent microcosm representing the similarities and intersections of differently leaning populisms. By and large while there are differing arguments put into perspective on whether these two ideologies are close or far to one another, it can boil down to a persuasive argument or fascinating evidence that can end up swaying an opinion on a subject where I don’t believe there is an objective truth or answer.

One Reply to “Are Populism’s really so different?”

  1. Your post helps give a good summary of what all the readings were talking about. It is sometimes difficult to understand and relate things together, especially since many of these authors had their own definitions of populism.

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