Thursday, October 15, 2020

Major Directions in Populism Studies: Is There Room for Culture?
Paris Aslanidis, Yale University

The more interesting question is the relation of political science to democracy, of technocratic to popular discourse, and to older elite discourse. Political science is a very specific form of culture, indulging all the pretenses of positivism, in direct opposition to the popular. It's not political history. Ironic self-reflection is anathema. It's the same old fear of the peasants, since 1525, the same old elite German authoritarianism with Science replacing God. 
Why do you think American historians have never been caught up in anti-populist phobia? Martin Luther King was a populist. Right? 
Aslandis: I don't disagree :)

Looking around I find this.

Ironic self-reflection is anathema. They can't recognize their own conservatism, so they can't tell art from kitsch. Vegas is not Versailles. Rachmaninoff and his Hollywood descendants are not Mozart. David Brooks is not Edmund Burke.

Jan-Werner Mueller (published by Yascha Mounk)
Laclau has drawn fire from fellow leftists who charge that populism always relies on the creation of enemies and is even “proto-fascist.” Laclau, however, argued that all politics is about the creation of popular identities through conflict; his point was to overcome conventional, pejorative meanings of populism and make the Left understand that “constructing a people is the main task of radical politics.” (According to this logic, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement are also populist.) This is an original theory, but one that (consciously and purposefully) expands the meaning of populism to such an extent that the term loses all analytical value in understanding the “populist” phenomena that, for better or for worse, many observers feel are not simply explained by the nature of political struggle in general.

"(According to this logic...) This is an original theory,..." 

Why should a German political philosopher, born in 1970, a professor at Princeton University, bother to read Martin Luther King?  

King, after the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 1965.

Toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. (Listen to him) That is what was known as the Populist Movement. (Speak, sir) The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses (Yes, sir) and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging Bourbon interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses (Yeah) into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the Bourbon interests from the command posts of political power in the South.

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.

I sent Aslandis a link to my manuscript. He should read it but he won't.

When Roger Conover at MIT said he couldn't touch it, he gave me a list of people to try. He said I could use his name with the editor from a self-described radical publisher in London. The editor, ex Verso, replied that it was "too political".

Editors generally haven't been the problem, and Conover more than others was honestly sympathetic. The problem is peer review. 

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