On How to Deal with Populism

  • Volker Kaul
Part of the Philosophy and Politics - Critical Explorations book series (PPCE, volume 10)


We can distinguish between three approaches on how to deal with populism: exclusion and isolation; conscious ignorance; and instrumentalization. Jan-Werner Müller’s analysis of populism points in the direction of the first approach, which is generally adopted by liberals. Social democrats, on the other hand, prefer to ignore populism and rather focus on key social issues. Last but not least, the radical left sees in a certain form of populism a powerful instrument for realizing social claims. The aim of this paper is to review the different approaches to populism and to point out their limitations and weaknesses. Whereas left-wing populism risks to be no less nationalistic than right-wing populism, liberalism and social democracy may not address people’s true concerns that bolster the populists’ ranks. Liberalism does not recognize that people might have needs other than reasons and social democracy has a too-reduced concept of needs that does not take into account questions of identity.


Populism Pluralism Liberalism Nationalism Identity Social democracy Radical left 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Kaul
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceLUISS ‘Guido Carli’ UniversityRomeItaly

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