Sunday, January 14, 2018

Populism is not about being popular

In the last year or so, everybody is talking about the new political "movement" -- Populism. Donald Trump's election, Brexit, the raise of right-wing nationalist parties in Europe (for example, in France, Hungary, Netherlands, Germany), return of neoliberals to parts of Latin America, anti-immigrant policies in Australia and Europe, etc.

I think all this talk about Populism is actually off the mark. Instead, I actually see a more worrying trend -- Corporatocracy.

The first worrying thing is that these "populist" politicians (and yes Trump is a politician -- you have to be to become a business tycoon) is the fact they are using the populist "movement" to hide their real motives. What they want is for businesses to be able to do what whatever the business like to do, and that these businesses will also be able to dictate all other government policy.

Look at almost all of the major populist movements today and there are some interesting similarities. First, they are almost all led by rich businessman or rich conservatives that claim to represent business.

Secondly, the corporatocracy movement is not actually interested in democracy. Understand that a corporation is not a democratic institution. CEO's control the organization with very little input from the workers (or anybody else). They are top down organizations with absolutely no responsibility to anybody. They, therefore, think that they should also dictate the policy for the country. (Interesting to note is how democratic countries often embrace capitalism - one of the most undemocratic systems there is.)

Thirdly, they use the tools of business to push their political agenda. These include slick marketing campaigns, using money and political connections to influence people, being sparse with the truth and hiding unwanted facts, etc. They also use the economic argument that increased "growth" will increase jobs, etc. (See this article for a rebuttal to this argument)

The corporations want to reduce regulations so they can make more money, even if those regulations are to protect workers, consumers, others' human rights (especially privacy), or competition.

This populism should be of serious concern. It wishes to erode basic human rights, privacy, labor laws, consumer protection, and most importantly environmental protections.

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