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What is populism? Who is the populist?

A state of the field review (2008-2018)

Jean-Paul Gagnon, Emily Beausoleil, Kyong-Min Son, Cleve Arguelles, Pierrick Chalaye, and Callum N. Johnston

Both “populism” and “populist” have long been considered ill-defined terms, and therefore are regularly misapplied in both scholarly and popular discourses.1 This definitional difficulty is exacerbated by the Babelian confusion of voices on populism, where the term’s meaning differs within and between global regions (e.g. Latin America versus Western Europe); time periods (e.g. 1930s versus the present), and classifications (e.g. left/ right, authoritarian/libertarian, pluralist/antipluralist, as well as strains that muddy these distinctions such as homonationalism, xenophobic feminism and multicultural neonationalism). While useful efforts have been made to navigate the vast and heterogeneous conceptual terrain of populism,2 they rarely engage with each other. The result is a dizzying proliferation of different definitions unaccompanied by an understanding as to how they might speak to each other. And this conceptual fragmentation reinforces, and is reinforced by, diverging assessments of populism which tend to cast it as either “good” or “bad” for democracy (e.g. Dzur and Hendriks 2018; Müller 2015).

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Democratic Procedures Are Not Inherently Democratic

A Critical Analysis of John Keane's The New Despotism (Harvard University Press, 2020)

Gergana Dimova

theory (in the way Keane implicitly draws on a novel conception of human nature). This review article seeks to elucidate the pillars of Keane's concept of the new despotism, and to situate it in the broader scholarship of democracy and authoritarianism

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Jean-Paul Gagnon and George Vasilev

action to address the very deficiencies crippling existing democratic practice. In today’s world, such deficiencies include citizen disengagement, de-democratization and regression toward authoritarianism, far right populism, accountability deficits among

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Takamichi Sakurai

of authoritarian political regime’ ( Bach 2006: 192 ). The eminent theorist of fascism Roger Griffin further defines fascism as a ‘revolutionary form of ultra-nationalism that attempts to realize the myth of the regenerated nation’ (2012: 1). On the

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A comforting notion in much recent scholarly work on political regimes is that what, broadly, has come to be termed liberal democracy reflects the normative ‘telos’ of the modern world’s developmental trajectory. Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man stands as an almost iconic, if perhaps somewhat coarsely crafted, statement of this view. Przeworski, Alvarez, Cheibub and Limongi have, in Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990, presented a nuanced, empirically well grounded case for the general relative superiority of liberal democracy as a political framework for richer economies, and as a framework that societies will tend to adopt, with fewer dangers of regression, as they become wealthier. Even the economies of poorer countries—contrary to some earlier views—appear to grow and prosper no better under authoritarian regimes than they do under liberal democratic dispensations, not least with regard to the efficiency of resource allocation. Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom bears eloquent testimony to the wider social, political and ethical virtues of liberal democracy. After all, liberal democracies promise greater individual freedoms, better protection of rights, and better mechanisms for public policy formation and assessment than do authoritarian or ‘totalitarian’ forms of state. They also do not go to war against one another.

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Democracy in a Global Emergency

Five Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Afsoun Afsahi, Emily Beausoleil, Rikki Dean, Selen A. Ercan, and Jean-Paul Gagnon

governance have received little attention beyond a simplistic narrative of democratic erosion and authoritarian drift. Is COVID-19 an emergency for democracy, globally? And, what lessons does the pandemic hold for doing democratic governance in an emergency

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Introduction

Traces of Pan Africanism and African Nationalism in Africa Today

Denis Goldberg

authoritarian rights of traditional leaders incorporated through Lugardian indirect rule into colonial administrative structures, or those encouraged in the apartheid regime’s ethnic homelands? Let us consider some elements of African culture: clitoridectomy

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Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick

totalitarian, authoritarian and colonial regimes as well as everyday, piecemeal, passive and ‘limit’ varieties of defiance against or non-compliance with patterns of systemic injustice. While each article reveals the limits of heroic myths of resistance, it

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Ethnicity, Homogeneity, Nation

A Relationship of Tension

Samuel Salzborn

ultimately determines the question of stability or instability of states. Unlike authoritarian or totalitarian systems, democratic systems are characterised by conflicts of interest and power struggles that do not contest sovereignty but rather enable its

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Communication, Context, and Narrative

Habermas and Contemporary Realist Thought

Navid Hassanzadeh

( Ashenden 2014: 443–444 ). The broader circumstances wherein this violence occurs, which include wealth inequality and poverty, war and other forms of military expansionism, and the repressive tactics of liberal and authoritarian rule, are overlooked or