ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Politics of Populism

Populism in very general terms could be defined in terms of a demagogue choosing to play to the gallery. Such a demagogue selectively tells people what they want to hear. In populism, the communication assumes a skewed form where a political leader needs to speak to the people who, in turn, need to be spoken to. The popular speech, for obvious reasons, is full of promises that ensure instant solutions to perennial problems that are fragmented into discrete realities and then are reduced to their everydayness. Thus, populism finds its purpose in the fragmentation of the concrete problems and their reduction to their everyday manageability. In fact, populism helps condense the long-term questions into everyday concerns that are easy to tackle by offering promises of quick solutions, such as money transfer.

A demagogue necessarily resorts to a form of authoritative speaking, which is done periodically through a top-down flow. Speaking to people is accompanied by an indirect suggestion that people should develop auto-reflection that would allow the demagogue to become an integral part of their popular consciousness. Thus, a political leader succeeds in entering the popular consciousness by constructing narratives that need not be evidentially validated but are to be endorsed by popular belief. Thus, a unilateral claim of a humble social background made by a leader, can make people believe in such claims and not ask for empirical, textual, documentary or testimonial evidence for its authenticity. The cognitive capacity of people is supposed to catch this gap but people fail to do so because popular appeal by the demagogue prevents them from developing an interrogatory disposition towards the self-deception that is internal to the empty promise.

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Updated On : 18th Apr, 2021

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