A brief history of populism

Economics of the populist backlash

This is a great read on populism and globalism. It goes without saying that I think populism has very few (if any) benefits to society. But to quickly summarize, this article presents a very nice history of populism and where it came from. Probably the most interesting point from this article is below. While discussing where the two types of populism came from (right wing and left wing) Rodrik postulates that:

I suggest that these different reactions are related to the forms in which globalisation shocks make themselves felt in society (Rodrik 2017). It is easier for populist politicians to mobilise along ethno-national/cultural cleavages when the globalisation shock becomes salient in the form of immigration and refugees. That is largely the story of advanced countries in Europe. On the other hand, it is easier to mobilise along income/social class lines when the globalisation shock takes the form mainly of trade, finance, and foreign investment. That in turn is the case with southern Europe and Latin America. The US, where arguably both types of shocks have become highly salient recently, has produced populists of both stripes (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump).

I am hopeful that this current batch of populism will subside before any drastic actions are taken. For instance, restricting trade would be disastrous for all parties involved.

Categories: Economics, Populism

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