Why a Global Tax on Wealth Won't End Inequality
The Return of Geopolitics
The Revenge of the Revisionist Powers
The Illusion of Geopolitics
The Enduring Power of the Liberal Order
Show Them the Money
Why Giving Cash Helps Alleviate Poverty
New World Order
Labor, Capital, and Ideas in the Power Law Economy
America in Decay
The Sources of Political Dysfunction
The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy
Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault
The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin
How to Respond to a Disordered World
China's Imperial President
Xi Jinping Tightens His Grip
Bitcoin Goes Boom
Will the World's Favorite Cryptocurrency Explode or Implode?
Erdogan Loses It
How the Islamists Forfeited Turkey
Alexander Dugin and the Philosophy Behind Putin's Invasion of Crimea
Foreign Policy à la Modi
India's Next Worldview
The Price of Poverty
Psychology and the Cycle of Need
Meet Pakistan's Lady Cadets
The Trials and Triumphs of Women in Pakistan's Military Academy
Notes From the Underground
The Long History of Tunnel Warfare
Why Beijing Is Buying
The Poor and the Sick
What Cholera and Ebola Have in Common
The Myth of the Caliphate
The Political History of an Idea
Since Roman times, virtually every type of government that holds competitive elections has experienced some form of populism—some attempt by ambitious politicians to mobilize the masses in opposition to an establishment they depict as corrupt or self-serving. From Tiberius Gracchus and the populares of the Roman Senate, to the champions of the popolo in Machiavelli’s sixteenth-century Florence, to the Jacobins in Paris in the late eighteenth century, to the Jacksonian Democrats who stormed nineteenth-century Washington—all based their attempts at mass mobilization on appeals to the simplicity and goodness of ordinary people. By the mid-twentieth century, populism had become a common feature of democracy.
But then, during an extended period of spectacular economic growth stretching roughly from the aftermath of World War II to the late 1970s, the political establishments of most Western democracies managed to banish their populist rivals to the innocuous fringes of political discourse. On the right, populists occasionally made incursions at the local or regional level but inevitably failed to gain traction in national elections. On the left, the countercultural protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s challenged the status quo but didn’t secure institutional representation until their radicalism had subsided.
As the political scientists Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan famously observed, during the postwar years, the party structures of North America and western Europe were “frozen” to an unprecedented degree. Between 1960 and 1990, the parties represented in the parliaments of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Ottawa, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna, and Washington barely changed. For a few decades, Western political establishments held such a firm grip on power that most observers stopped noticing just how remarkable that stability was compared to the historical norm.
Yet beginning in the 1990s, a new crop of populists began a steady rise. Over the past two decades, populist movements in Europe and the United States have uprooted traditional party structures and forced ideas long regarded as extremist or unsavory onto the political agenda. The influence of populists has been especially
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