The word 'populism' has come to cover all manner of sins. Yet despite the prevalence of its use, it is often difficult to understand what connects its various supposed expressions. From Syriza to Trump and from Podemos to Brexit, the electoral earthquakes of recent years have often been grouped under this term. But what actually defines 'populism'? Is it an ideology, a form of organisation, or a mentality?
Marco Revelli seeks to answer this question by getting to grips with the historical dynamics of so-called 'populist' movements. While in the early days of democracy, populism sought to represent classes and social layers who asserted their political role for the first time, in today's post-democratic climate, it instead expresses the grievances of those who had until recently felt that they were included.
Having lost their power, the disinherited embrace not a political alternative to –isms like liberalism or socialism, but a populist mood of discontent. The new populism is the 'formless form' that protest and grievance assume in the era of financialisation, in the era where the atomised masses lack voice or organisation. For Revelli, this new populism the child of an age in which the Left has been hollowed out and lost its capacity to offer an alternative.
About the Author
Marco Revelli, born 1947, is a historian, sociologist and political scientist, a tenured professor in the Political Science department of the Universit degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale. For several years a member of Lotta continua, today he frequently writes for Il manifesto daily. His historical works include several studies on workers at FIAT and the defeats of the Left.
"In his book, Marco Revelli aptly defines today's right-wing populism as a `senile disorder' of liberal democracy, a `revolt of the included' who have been pushed to the margins." - Enzo Traverso
"For whoever wants to find their bearings and guard against the seductive power of empty words, I recommend Marco Revelli's book." - Gustavo Zagrebelsky
"If we want to place Trump's victory in its proper context, I think a good book to read is Marco Revelli's book." - Rossana Rossanda
"Marco Revelli weaves political theory with sociological analysis to provide the first definitive analysis of post-2008 populism. The New Populism demonstrates that, with the right critical and empirical mindset, it is possible to understand these movements, without either deploring or embracing them." - William Davies, author of Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World
"Marco Revelli accurately sees a new populism arising out of the ashes of Social Democracy in Europe and liberalism in the United States. His book is a tour of the rising populist parties and movements and a tour de force in his trenchant analysis of how they came about and where they may be headed." - John B. Judis, author of The Populist Explosion and The Nationalist Revival
"A very timely and lucid introduction from one of Italy's most distinguished social scientists" - Paul Ginsborg
"Enlightening." - Rob Doyle, Times Literary Supplement