Right Wing PopulismA crude anti-elite critique is what unites some leftist populists, political opportunists, and right-wing populists in a common drive to smash what is seen as a corrupt regime.
Margaret Canovan laid out the basic themes of authoritarian and reactionary populism:
"...a charismatic leader, using the tactics of politicians’ populism to go past the politicians and intellectual elite and appeal to the reactionary sentiments of the populace, often buttressing his claim to speak for the people by the use of referendums. When populism is attributed to right–wing figures—Hitler, de Gaulle, Codreanu, Father Coughlin—this is what the word conjures up."Yet forms of left populism that lack a systemic analysis can find common ground with demagogic leaders who use the rhetoric of right wing populism. Left populism of this sort can demonstrate weaknesses that open it to such seduction.
According to scholar Margaret Canovan, this kind of left populism can involve the "[R]omanticization of the people by intellectuals who turn against elitism and technological progress, who idealize the poor...assume that ‘the people’ are united, reject ordinary politics in favor of spontaneous popular revolution, but are inclined to accept the claims of charismatic leaders that they represent the masses.”
This kind of naïve belief in the inevitable goodness of the will of the majority can lead leftists to support political positions that benefit the majority at the expense of unprotected minorities of all sorts. Lani Guinier and Derek Bell have written eloquently about the dangers of majoritarianism.
Right–wing populism can act as both a precursor and a building block of fascism, with anti–elitist conspiracism and ethnocentric scapegoating as shared elements The dynamic of right–wing populism interacting with and facilitating fascism in interwar Germany was chronicled by Peter Fritzsche in Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany. Fritzsche showed that distressed middle–class populists in Weimar launched bitter attacks against both the government and big business
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