4) explicitly links populist movements, that is, an aggrieved
constituency who come to see the establishment as not representing them and
instead serving an ulterior set of motives, to the appeal of demagoguery and
lying. Specifically, during crises of legitimacy, the ‘lying
demagogue will seem more authentic in her claims to be champion of this
constituency if she is willing to burn her bridge to acceptability in the
This book is a series of 'remarks' and 'sketches', which together form a mosaic to show how the use of the referendum followed a strict, almost Hegelian pattern of the 'unfolding of freedom' throughout the ages. It outlines how referendums have been used in Britain and abroad, presenting some of the arguments for and against this institution. The book commences with an outline of the world history of the referendum from the French Revolution to the present day, and then discusses the British experience up to 2010. The book examines the referendum on European Economic Community membership in 1975, considering the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. Next, the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum in 2016, especially the campaign leading up to it, is discussed. After the analysis of the Brexit referendum, the book touches on the Maltese referendum on divorce in 2011. It summarises some of the trends and tendencies in the use of the referendum internationally, highlighting that Britain is not a unique case in holding referendums. The book shows that, notwithstanding the general assumptions about referendums, these are not usually associated with demagogues and populism, but the referendum has tended to be used as a constitutional safeguard. However, in Britain, a country without a formal written constitution, these safeguards were not in place. For the referendum to work, for this institution to be a constitutional safeguard, it must be a people's shield and not the government's sword.
It is hardly surprising that Donald Trump's rise to political power has been interpreted in terms of his demagogy and what many believe is his self-evidently narcissistic conduct. The latter charge, however, has mainly been applied in its common sense meaning of conspicuously craven vanity.
With rare exceptions, the invocations of ‘demagogue’ follow the ‘journalistic’ usage that Kazin claimed was the root source of all subsequent critical intellectual invocations.
not simply into majoritarian tyranny but to
disintegrate into the state of nature itself.
Conservatives likened the people enacting their
sovereignty, particularly in constitutional
conventions, to the populist demagogue usurping
the people’s power. The tyranny of the
in the susceptible subject plausible. Moreover, the crowded subway car is the perfect microcosm of ‘the accidental crowds of the big city’ that Adorno highlights as the new ‘ephemeral group’ terrain of the modern demagogue.
In a real sense, the battle of leadership in the planned film plays out on a small group scale Adorno's interpretation of Freud's Group Psychology with more than a gesture towards his tripartite reception schema for fascist propaganda in The Authoritarian Personality
Billig's concern might thus be reformulated as one concerning the circumstances in which ‘modern demagogy’ flourishes, whether in the form of demagogic populism or fascism. As we saw in Chapter 2 , Lowenthal plainly distinguished between the crisis of the war period and the period in which he published his work on demagogy. In part this schema relied on an underdeveloped typology of demagogues which included various kinds of opportunistic ‘performers’ as well as those of a dominantly political focus. Lowenthal had chosen to stay in the USA when the Institute relocated
‘fanatics and wretches’ of the
Jacobin club were provoking to France, he
believed, was no smaller than that of the
‘aristocratic cabal’. 62 Both
the ‘friends of the ancient injustices and
the new demagogues’ aimed towards
Critical theory and demagogic populism provides a detailed analysis of the relevance of the Frankfurt School’s work to understanding contemporary populism. It draws on the research that the Institute for Social Research conducted concerning domestic demagogues during its period of ‘exile’ in the USA. The book argues that the figure of the demagogue has been neglected in both orthodox ‘populism studies’ and in existing critical approaches to populism such as that of Ernesto Laclau. Demagogic ‘capture’ of populist movements and their legacies is thus a contingent prospect for ‘left’ and ‘right’ populist movements. An account of ‘modern demagogy’ is thus detailed, from the Institute’s own dedicated demagogy studies through to their dialogue with Weber’s work on charismatic leadership, the US liberal critique of demagogy and Freud’s group psychology. The Institute’s linkage of ‘modern demagogy’ to the culture industry speaks to the underestimation in ‘populism studies’ of the significance of two other ‘modern phenomena. The first is ‘cultural populism’ – the appeal to a folkloric understanding of ‘the people’ and/or ‘their culture’. The second is the pivotal role of modern means of communication, not only in the recent prominence of social media but demagogic exploitation of all media since the rise of literacy and the widening of the suffrage in the nineteenth century. The dialectical dimensions of these processes are also highlighted in reconstructing the Institute’s work and in extending these analyses through to the present. The book so concludes by weighing up potential counter-demagogic forces within and beyond the culture industry.
... it seems to be an intrinsic characteristic of the modern demagogue that he earns his living through his performance.
Adorno, (Draft) Introduction to Prophets of Deceit
(a) From ‘authoritarian(ism)’ to ‘modern demagogy’
As shown in the previous chapter, the figure of the demagogue is, at worst, completely neglected or, at best, highly contested terrain in populism
From orthodox ‘populism studies’ to critical theory
Paul K. Jones
present in its absence.
It is not accidental, then, that Mudde traces the fault he sees in ‘radical right’ frameworks to the ‘original’ project that employed that term. For that project broke with the heroic view of the US populist tradition and sought to highlight its susceptibility to demagogic leadership.
(b) The Radical Right project: enter the demagogue
What I term ‘the Radical Right project’ began as a 1954 symposium analysing