The Populist Temptation with Professor Barry Eichengreen 8 April 2019
From Aidan Hetherington
Barry will compare present and earlier populist waves and argue they tend to thrive most in the wake of economic downturns. He will show there is no one single solution to address the concerns populists raise, but there is an obvious start: to shore up and improve the welfare state.
Barry's book, "The Populist Temptation" argues that in the last few years, populism—of the right, left, and centre varieties—has spread like wildfire throughout the world. He writes how the impulse reached its apogee in the United States with the election of Trump, but it was a force in Europe ever since the Great Recession sent the European economy into a prolonged tailspin. In the simplest terms, populism is a political ideology that vilifies economic and political elites and instead lionizes 'the people.'
Barry continues that the people, populists of all stripes, contend to retake power from the unaccountable elites who have left them powerless. Typically, populists' distrust of elites shades into a catchall distrust of trained experts because of their perceived distance from and contempt for 'the people.' Another signature element of populist movements is faith in a saviour who can not only speak directly to the people, but also serve as a vessel for the plain people's hopes and dreams. Going back to the 1890s, a series of such saviours have come and gone in the US alone, from William Jennings Bryan to Huey Long to—finally—Donald Trump.