Populism

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“Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”

– James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10

Populism refers to the political mobilization of “the people” against a perceived elite caste of professional politicians. And whereas a corps of elected representatives was Madison’s and Hamilton’s buffer against the tyranny of factions, from time to time the political class may come to be viewed as insufficiently attentive to the needs of their constituents and then become the target and nidus that creates a populist movement.

What causes such mass movements and are they usually kept in check by the designs laid out in the Federalist Papers? What sorts of perceived failures on the part to the ruling class may provoke such movements, and when do these factors lead to right- versus left-wing populism? When do such movements form around notions of nationalism, classism, religion, xenophobia, or domestic oppression? Do anomie, alienation, or social humiliation play a role? What has been the effect of social media in catalyzing populist movements around the globe?

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