in The roots of populism
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In the conclusion, we return to Raymond Williams’s conception of democracy as a political culture born of collective working-class struggle and experience. Just as Williams looked at Britain in the 1950s as a place where a new wave of popular democratization was both possible and necessary, so under current conditions it is possible to see populism as a potential catalyst rather than a danger to democratic culture in a radical sense. In his later writings from the 1980s, Williams bore witness to the early phase of neoliberalization in the UK under Margaret Thatcher. He noted how the consumerist paradigm marked a withdrawal from collective concerns into the limited sphere of the individual or family home. Returning to the present moment in UK politics, the historic defeat of the Labour Party in the 2019 general election is ascribed to the party’s increasing distance from its traditional working-class constituency. The populist appeal to ‘get Brexit done’ allowed Boris Johnson to amass a Conservative majority in the UK parliament undreamed of two and a half years earlier when Theresa May called a mid-term election. The way for Labour to return from the political wilderness, it is proposed, it to see populism for what it truly is, namely a demand by the working class that the political establishment make good on the historical promise of modern democracy. This must involve, first and foremost, democratization of the workplace, education, healthcare and all other vital social sectors and organizations.

The roots of populism

Neoliberalism and working-class lives


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