Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Modern Populism and Philosophy
As a World Community, we were all surprised in 2016 when the United Kingdom would vote “yes” in their referendum to leave the European Union. Brexit would be the major story for most of the western world. Then towards the end of 2016, setting itself up around the same time as Brexit won, Donald Trump would become the 45th president of the United States of America. In opposition to the Right Party we had Bernie Sanders, another Populist. The Dutch along with other european elections, more recently the French Presidential elections, ask if Populism is on the rise in the west. If so, why?
Populism as we know is the activism for ordinary people. History has also shown populism turned into authoritarianism (e.g. the rise of Dictators). Populism has good intentional movements as well, nothing is wrong with allowing the people to decide what is best for them. If Plato were still alive today I am sure he would have opposed everything that has to do with populism because Plato believed the educated elite should rule. However, if John Locke were still alive today he would have welcomed the new political climate. As would Thomas Hobbs, who were both closely associated with the social contract theory and that the people should have the last say. That is where the argument begins: weather or not this change, that the people know what is right for them, is for the better. Should we take sides with Plato or with Locke and Hobbs?
The arise of such populism is said to be caused by globalization and people’s fears of what will happen to the economy. All of these fears and anxieties are pushing back against progress and moving to a “safe” and predictable place. The European Union is not bad, Hillary Clinton is not corrupt, nor bureaucracies are perfect. Imperfections in the government does not make the entire system flawed and/or need for restructuring. I can understand why the public would freak out when having to deal with emerging markets, globalization, or new technology. The best way to deal with these sometimes harsh, innovating changes is to adapt and change with them. Going the in the opposite direction could only make things worse. I am sure that during the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution people experienced the same problems. When the world was changing dramatically, the people of that era experienced the same anxieties. I believe with that in mind that it is best not to worry about what changes are happening and to just adapt and change with it. It is for the better that the change comes because look were we are now: in a better place than before all of those revolutions.
I don’t think taking Plato’s ideologies verbatim nor do I think Hobbs and Locke would be completely right either. Instead I think finding a middle ground between the two different ideas would be best. Yes, people know best when they are not caught up in hysteria and the educated elite know best when they are not absorbed in their own self interest.