“A spectre is haunting the world: populism. A decade ago, when the new nations were emerging into independence, the question asked was: how many will go Communist? Today, this question, so plausible then, sounds a little out of date. In as far as the rulers of the new states embrace an ideology, it tends more to have a populist character.”[1] This observation was made by Ghita Ionescu and Ernest Gellner forty years ago. A period of time long enough for “populism” first to disappear and then to re-emerge as the global phenomenon it is today. Now, like then, the significance of populism cannot be doubted, though now, like then, it is unclear just what populism is.

On the one hand, the concept of “populism” goes back to the American farmers’ protest movement at the end of the nineteenth century; on the other, to Russia’s narodniki around the same period.

more from Eurozine here.