Thomas Claviez | Philosophy & Social Criticism
The response of academic intellectuals and political elites to populism is very often characterized by a mixture between outright disgust and helpless perplexity. This cannot come as a surprise, since the one thing that left and right populism have in common is that they consider the elites their enemy. The essay argues that the choice the elites have is either to openly voice their contempt for the uneducated masses, or to help educate them. However, as the contributions of Ernesto Laclau and Jacques Rancière on the topic show, this is more easily said than done. Moreover, to simply discard right-wing populism on the basis of its racist tendencies often simply serves to deflect the focus away from the legitimate grievances of those who follow – or ‘fall for’ – populist parties.