John Keane | A Thought on Populism [Chinese translation] 论民粹主义
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A Thought on Populism [Chinese translation] 论民粹主义

  |   Democracy in the 21st Century   |   No comment
约翰·基恩(John Keane), 悉尼大学

古希腊人知道,民主制度可能毁于富人与权贵之手。蛊惑人心的政客暗中支持他们以人民的名义统治人民。希腊人甚至发明了一个(现在已不再使用的)动词来形容人民是如何在掌握权力的幻觉中被统治的。他们将它称之为: demokrateo。而我们则正好需要这一词汇来理解现代民粹主义中的矛盾。民粹主义是民主政治的一个现象。数百万人感到愤怒、无力、不再受到社会的关注,于是他们运用民主政治中的各项自由权利,集结起来进行公开的抗议。分析家 D.W.温尼科特运用 demokrateo 这个概念提出警告:那些感到失落的人们正在反击。人们感到被羞辱之时,就是民粹主义兴起之日。他们会毫不吝啬地支持那些允诺给予他们尊严的煽动者。他们这样做并不是因为“天生”渴望领袖,或者屈从于福柯所说血脉中的“法西斯主义”。民粹主义之所以如此诱人,是因为它能唤起人们对改善生活的期望。但这样的改善是有代价的。作为允诺人民主权的交换,民粹主义很容易大量塑造一些像波拿巴、墨索里尼、欧尔班和埃尔多安一般的典型形象。与 19 世纪专注于解放运动的民粹主义不同,今天的民粹主义常常引发排外的效果。要求对话或者错误地期待民粹主义会走向自我毁灭早已不是能阻止demokrateo 蔓延的良方。我们需要一些更加激进的民主:公平地重新分配权力、福利和机会,并以此来证明民粹主义只是一种虚假的民主。曾经,这样对政治权力进行重新分配的活动被称为“民主制”、“福利国家”或“社会主义”。

Ancient Greeks knew democracy could be snuffed out by rich and powerful aristoi backed by demagogues ruling the people in their own name. They even had a verb (now obsolete) for describing how people are ruled while seeming to rule. They called it dēmokrateo. It’s the word we need for making sense of the contradiction that cuts through contemporary populism.

Populism is a democratic phenomenon. Mobilised through available democratic freedoms, it’s a public protest by millions of people (the demos) who feel annoyed, powerless, no longer “held” in the arms of society.

The analyst D W Winnicott used the term to warn that people who feel dropped strike back. That’s the populist moment when humiliated people lash out in support of demagogues promising them dignity. They do so not because they “naturally” crave leaders, or yield to the inherited “fascism in us all”.

Populism attracts people because it raises their expectations of betterment. But there’s a price. In exchange for promises of popular sovereignty, populism easily mass produces figures like Napoleon Bonaparte, Benito Mussolini, Viktor Orbán and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

And in contrast to the 19th-century populist politics of enfranchisement, today’s populism has exclusionary effects. The dēmokrateo of it all isn’t stoppable by anodyne calls for “dialogue”, or false hopes populism will somehow burn itself out. What’s needed is something more radically democratic: a new politics of equitable redistribution of power, wealth and life chances that shows populism to be a form of counterfeit democracy.

Once upon a time, such political redistribution was called “democracy”, or “welfare state”, or “socialism”.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original articles here and here.