This article examines what McKnight (2018) refers to as “progressive
populism” and argues that the rise of progressive populism in contemporary
western democratic societies is directly related to the emergence
of neoliberal governance regimes and the rise of global corporate power.
Utilizing insights from both scholarly literature and popular commentary it
outlines the rising counter assault by global corporations and governments
since the 1960s to reverse and impede the increase of democratic rights for
previously marginalized sections of many western democratic societies. It is
crucial not to dismiss the power of global corporations and the rise of neoliberalism
at the expense of the collective security of societies as just another
form of elitism attacked by ordinary people. Corporations want freedom
from democracy by usurping capitalist economic systems. They represent a
disfiguration of representative democratic principles that culminates in paradoxes
of liberty that progressive populists are contesting.