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We the People: the charms and contradictions of populism

As part of a special series of articles, John Keane and others write in The Conversation (2.11.16) about the rise of populism, and its implications in Australia and elsewhere, now and into the future.

‘Populism is on the rise around the world. Why is this happening? The following dossier of brief contributions by leading global scholars and analysts of populism asks: why are the peddlers of populism proving so popular? Are there deep forces driving the spread of their style of politics, and what, if anything, has populism to do with democracy? Is it its “essence”, as some maintain? Is the new populism therefore to be welcomed, harnessed and “mainstreamed” in support of more democracy?

‘Or is populism on balance politically dangerous, a cultish recipe for damaging democracy by bringing to life what George Orwell termed the “smelly little orthodoxies” that feed demagogy, big business and bossy power?

‘As US voters consider whether to vote for Donald Trump, and Filipino citizens live with the fall-out of Rodrigo Duterte’s populist rhetoric, leading commentators and scholars from Australia, Britain and the United States analyse the phenomena behind populism’s ascent in 2016.’

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