Opposition demonstrators on February 12. Armed pro-government groups attacked and shot at people protesting against Maduro’s government late last Tuesday in the Andean city of Merida in western Venezuela, injuring five, activists said. Photo Credit: Reuters

What the Crisis in Venezuela Tells Us About Populism in Today’s Time

Artile in The Wire
14 September, 2017

Ranabir Samaddar will be O’Brien Fellow in Residence at the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from October to December 2017.

“The Oxford Dictionary of Sociology defines populism as any political movement which seeks to mobilise the people against a state which is too powerful or controlled by vested interests. Too often, states have been captured by populists towards furthering a particular set of interests in the garb of the interests of the people. In this sense, no democracy is complete with its quota of populism…

Populists have become the ruling strata in many countries with nationalist-populist, ethnic-populist, racist-populist and masculine-populist with high degree of xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric buttressing the stance…

Left populism blames the system and seeks a systemic change. It wants to end austerity by increasing social spending. It rejects ultra nationalism, racism and religious fanaticism. On the other hand, Right populism blames the political elite – but not the economically ruling class – and a political system that shuts the “the people” out. They embrace nationalism and religious fundamentalism. They blame “cheap labour” from abroad for “stealing” their jobs. Yet there is a common link between Right wing and Left wing populism. It is the question of class and classes”

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