A Plague of ‘ists’ and ‘isms’

M. Nagy

It is easy to make someone into an ‘other.’ The need to self identify and outwardly codify is as inherent to the human condition as the need for the safety and security of the group. In a sense, it is this form of ‘tribalism’ that has helped to establish the systems that we hold near and dear to our existence. Our ways of life and understanding have been compartmentalized and clarified down into subsets of singular terms that carry vast intentions and meaning.

The terminology that is applied against certain topics and ideas maintains a great weight against them in establishing the preconceptions that a term is typically associated with. As Brubaker put it in his lecture, ‘populism’ is the “Politics of Fear”.1 More than that however, the use of these terms of great ‘ists’ and ‘isms’ without clearly dictating the manner in which they are being applied is rife for problematic usage and manipulative logic. With each reading bringing a constant through-line of logic to the use of the terms of ‘populism’ and ‘fascism’, they nonetheless maintain keep points of deviation. While Brubaker, Mudde, and Finchelstein come to agree on the conceptualization that ‘Populism’ is a trans-atlantic issue which is characterized by the use of outgroup dynamics and the inherent reactionary nature of the policy that ‘populists’ develop; a major facet they cannot reconcile is the nature of how it develops and which groups can be assigned to the term.

These are central issues to the topic of term application as without them the use of the terms are, at worst, inherently meaningless; while, at best, they require constant affirmation of the context in which they are being used in. Brubaker takes the assumption that a ‘populist’ system is based around fear. Crafting an ideology of immediacy and responsiveness that rejects established forms and employs protectionist policies.2 Mudde takes the approach that it is an inherently secondary ideology that is used to further the goals of a main ideological framework and galvanize a public for the common cause of the people.3 With the assertion by Finchelstein that the current issues of ‘populism’ are driven from the historical nature of the adaption of ‘fascism’, that would maintain Finchelsteins argument that ‘fascism’ was a coalitionist movement against ‘leftist’ elements of the societies, then populism would as well.4 This is disputed by the straightforward argument by Brubaker that ‘populism’ is far too big a term to concentrate down along the political spectrum and is instead a cross-spectrum issue.5

These terms are weighed down from the abstract to the practical by the associations they are placed against in real, rather than the hypothetical, world. In doing so they are supposed to convey a greater sense of meaning and continuity between incidents that bare a similarity between them. This is not always the case though, as the overuse of terms can lead to their redundancy in an ability to clarify or codify various incidents. These terms have been too loosely applied to incidents which are disparate from one another to the point that the use of a term to link them becomes a pointless exercise of crafting a catchy byline or establishing a moral superiority.

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

2 Ibid

3Cas Mudde, “Populism in Europe: An Illiberal Democratic Response to Undemocratic Liberalism” (The Government and Opposition/Leonard Schapiro Lecture 2019). Government and Opposition, (2021): 1-21.

4Federico 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).

5Rogers Brubaker, “Why Populism?”

Introduction: Nagy

Hello all!

My name is Matt, or really any derivation of Matthew as I’ve probably been called it before; and luckily for once there doesn’t seem to be another Matt in the class, so you will not have to learn how to pronounce my last name. I did a bachelor’s at Carleton in History and Political Science with a minor in Russian and I’m now a second year graduate student in EURUS. My research topic is on how Russia is structuring its foreign policy towards the individual nations of the Visegrád Four. I took this course in part because there are shockingly few courses that handle Central Europe to any significant degree. I am also fascinated with the use of language and terminology to establish oppositional relationships.

Introduction-David Damas

Hi I’m David and I am a fourth year History student. My primary interests lie in Anglo-Saxon England but they branch out wildly. I am interested in the class because of my heritage mainly, my dad is Greek and mums English and through them I have always felt a strong affinity with Europe. (my dad lived through the Greek junta in the 60s and 70s which relates to this course)

Interests outside school are rowing, hiking, camping and really anything else physical.

Introduction: Cameron Sen

Hello everyone! My name is Cameron Sen, but most of my friends call me Cam, so feel free to call me whatever is easier for you; I am not too picky. I am entering the 4th year of my undergrad in legal studies with a concentration in Business Law, and I am also minoring in History.

Since coming to Carleton, outside of my law classes, I have taken an interest in Russian History and European History to a lesser degree. I took this class primarily to better understand the various factors far-right populism has had in shaping the current political state of Europe. With that being said, I am really interested in knowing and understanding the trends that have enabled far-right leaders from various European countries to gain/maintain power. I am also keen to learn the effects and influence that populism movements have had on respective European societies as a whole.

Outside of school, I am a massive sports fan. Whether it is hockey, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, F1 racing, I am borderline obsessed with many aspects of the world of sport. Sports aside, I also like to run, listen to music (in particular 90s and 2000s alternative rock) and look at memes.

Wishing everyone a great first semester!

Introductions: Ben Turpin

Hello/Bonjour! My name is Benoit, or Ben, Turpin! I am a 5th year student with 4th year standing, who’s desperately hoping to finish out my Combined BA Honours in History and Political Science. My interests lie in the effects that history has on the political and economic issues of today . I love studying all kinds of history but the writing side isn’t always my strong point. Please let me know if my reflective texts make absolutely no sense!

Pre-Covid I worked as a parliamentary tour guide, but I have since found work as a lock operator at the Canal locks right beside campus. If you need to bribe me (highly unlikely), bombard me with pictures of your cats, dogs or any other pets you may have. Also acceptable would be feeding me, as I love to cook but being fed is always better! Unfortunately, my cat is being fussy about being on camera but I can assure you plenty of photos of her will find their way on this feed.

Hi everyone,

My name is Madeline Guthrie, but most people just call me Maddie. I’m entering the fourth year of my undergrad with a major in History and a minor in Film Studies. While I’m still working to narrow down specific areas of interest, I’m aiming to attend a graduate program in Library and Information Studies at some point. When I’m not in class or slinging scones at the SconeWitch, I enjoy reading, knitting, tending to my sourdough starter, and entertaining my kitten, Bonnie.

(If prompted, I will bombard you with cat photos. You have been warned.)

I’m looking forward to our conversations over the semester as this will allow me to gain a greater understanding of circumstances in which authoritarian regimes (throughout history and into the present) have had the ability to grow and gain significant power. I’m particularly interested in learning about how this relates to conceptualizations and expressions of gender, sexuality, and disability.

Introduction: Declan Da Barp

Declan Da Barp

Hi all!

My name is Declan Da Barp and I am from Toronto. I am a journalism and history major finishing my final semester before I graduate in January. Both the journalism and history programs have allowed me to explore my interests in the intersection between sports, populism, and authoritarianism. As a huge soccer fan, I see the sport being a useful lens to understand society. I see this class aiding in my understanding of populist movements which are becoming more prominent across the western world. I look forward to exploring a lot of these ideas with all of you.

When not watching soccer, I enjoy reading, playing sports, and cooking.


Hello Everyone, my name is Darren Viau and I am a fourth year undergrad with a major in History and a Minor in Greek and Roman Studies.

My main interests are centered in Asian history, Medieval Europe, Classical Antiquity, and the eras surrounding the two World Wars. Despite this, my main interest in this course is to get a better understanding into how Europe functioned after the chaos of the Second World War. I love animals and have owned enough of them to have had a small Zoo! I look forward to getting to know you all better throughout this course.


My name is Didem. I came from Agri\Turkey and am MA student at EURUS. I graduated from Ankara University Department of German Language and Literature, which is one of my country Turkey’s long-established universities,with the degree in 2014. Within the scope of the Erasmus program, in the year 2013, I completed my education in Paderborn University in Germany, and in the summer period of the same year, completed my education in the University of Cologne by being awarded a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship. This process, in particular, increased my interest in Western culture and made me wish to learn more about this culture. When I returned to my country in 2014, I got into the International Relations Department of Anadolu University and nurtured my interest and motivation in this field within an academic framework.

I chose the Postwar to EU, as I want to improve myself about European, European Union and integration.

I enjoy doing yoga, reading ,wathing movies and documentries .”Lord of the Rings” is my favourite film.

Here, I am sharing a photo of the city where I was born and grew up.


I am first year MA student in the EURUS program in the European stream. I am Djamel Khaznadji and I did my BA in History at Concordia University in Montreal. My research interest is Turkish foreign policy during the Cold War.

I am Karate athlete, so training is a big part of my life. In my free time I like to read, write (mostly poems) and hang out with my friends.

Having taken a seminar on hate, genocide, and propaganda last year, I think that taking this class will be a good way to deepen my knowledge. Hopefully I will be able to draw from what I have learned in order to bring a positive contribution to this class.