European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091130 (forthcoming)

Populism – which positions a ‘true people’ in opposition to a corrupt elite – is often contrasted with liberalism. This article initially outlines the incompatibility between populism and normative theories of political liberalism. It argues that populism is an unreasonable form of politics by liberals’ standards because: it unfairly excludes those who are not deemed to be part of the true ‘people’; and it is objectionably anti-pluralist in the way that it assumes unity amongst the ‘people’. Despite this, it is hard to derive specific duties to contain or challenge populism per se from a liberal perspective, though such a duty might be present for some forms of contemporary right-wing populism that combine populism with illiberal goals. Underpinning this view is a belief that many populist movements articulate grievances that are at least somewhat legitimate. The article concludes by arguing that there might be circumstances where a populist movement could, against this backdrop of injustice, advance the liberal cause. However, this is not because there are ways of dissolving the tension between political liberalism and populism, but because political liberals might be justified in violating the regulatory norms that they believe ought to govern politics in some, exceptional, circumstances.
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DOI 10.1177/1474885120911305
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References found in this work BETA

On Populist Reason.Ernesto Laclau - 2006 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (4):832-835.
Rhetoric in Democracy: A Systemic Appreciation.John S. Dryzek - 2010 - Political Theory 38 (3):319-339.
Assessing the Global Order: Justice, Legitimacy, or Political Justice?Laura Valentini - 2012 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (5):593-612.

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