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Populocracy: The tyranny of authenticity and the rise of populism

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Room SLB/118

Spring Lane Building

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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International Women's Day Lecture

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Populist politics still puzzle us: we broadly understand its causes, but we still struggle to understand how and why it works so well, and above all, the particular shape it takes. The answer, I suggest, is that populist politics have turned, authenticity, one of the most powerful promises of democracy against us. By making the promise of authenticity core to their appeal, populists have been able to harness the promises of democracy and subvert them. It is a kind of political jiu-jitsu move, in which rather than using their own force against their opponents, populists have used democracy’s own force against it. Every time we think we might have them pinned it down, populists stun us with our own references, our own moves, our own myths and symbols – the people, the truth, transparency, authenticity. What pluralists (as the opposite of populists) need to do is devise their own jiu-jitsu politics.

The advice here is not to concede, but to use populism’s core strength against it, and that means thinking about the new digital landscape in which authenticity has become so central, and so captured by populist politics. And thinking about the nature of the political relationships that populists promise to deliver.

Catherine Fieschi

Catherine Fieschi is the Director the new Global Policy Institute at Queen Mary University of London. She is also Director of the London-based research group Counterpoint. Prior to founding Counterpoint, Catherine led the London based think tank Demos.

Widely published in academia and beyond, her research focuses on populist movements and forms of contemporary mobilisation in Europe and across developed economies. Catherine’s most recent book is Populocracy: The Tyranny of Authenticity and the Rise of European Populism (Agenda, 2019) and she is a regular contributor to press, radio and television debates. A longstanding adviser to European political leaders and campaigns, Catherine also advises business and political decision-makers around the world on new forms of political risk and the changing dynamics of popular mobilisation. She holds a PhD in Comparative Political Science from McGill University.

Please note that this event is being held on a different date from that previously advertised.

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Date and Time

Location

Room SLB/118

Spring Lane Building

University of York

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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