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A left-wing defence of populism

October 27th, 2017

A left-wing economist debunks what he calls a self-complacent liberal theory whereby liberals fail in Hungary because the populace is backward, unlike the liberal élites themselves who match the high standards of western-type democracy.
On Mérce (Measure) the brand-new news portal twinned with Kettős Mérce (Double Standards), economist Zoltán Pogátsa recalls that liberal pundits used to contrast Hungary’s political culture to the supposedly much more mainstream European political culture of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. After the recent changes in those three countries, however, he continues, that argument is untenable. What’s more, similar developments are underway in core western countries as well. With Donald Trump as President of the United States, Pogátsa writes, it would be high time to stop laying the blame at the doors of everyday Hungarians. He disagrees with Cass Mudde, the number one expert on populism in today’s academic world, who condemns populism for falsely claiming that the people are ‘clean’ while élites are ‘dirty’. The left-wing Hungarian academic suggests instead that the populists are actually right to denounce the egotism of élites. He suggests that anti-elitist parties are becoming more and more successful because the income gaps have become so huge. Instead of singling out ordinary Hungarians, ‘we had better investigate the true causes of populism,’ Pogátsa concludes.

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