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Megatrend Global Populism? From South America to the Occupy Movement

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the continuities or the “elective affinities” between the recent populist wave (or populist come back) in South America and the current Occupy Movement in order to trace the contours of an original populism at a global scale. The article starts with a brief definition of populism, continues with a brief evaluation of the recent return of populism in South America finishing with the analysis of the main connections with the current Occupy Movement: the experience of a crisis; the claims for more democracy and the exploration of a postneoliberal political economy. In societies with obscene levels of inequality such as what exists in many South American countries, populism does not seem to be a heresy or a pathology, but a rational alternative to solve problems rooted in a failed nation building processes. Increasing indignation as a generalize perception of non-experienced levels of inequality in the concentration of resources and power at the global level is at the basis of one can call a populist moment. It has to be discussed, if this populist moment also contains an original populist movement with global contours inside.

Keywords

  • Political Regime
  • Populist Movement
  • South American Country
  • Global Economic Crisis
  • Global Civil Society

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    This is also one of the five characteristics traditionally associated with populism listed by Roberts (1995: 88) “a top-down process of political mobilization that…bypasses institutionalized forms of mediation”.

  2. 2.

    Translated by the author.

  3. 3.

    “After 2000, however, the maneuvering space for left governments expanded. Not only did the orthodox policy consensus erode in the aftermath of the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis and its sequel in Argentina, but beginning in 2003, the region experienced a dramatic improvement in macroeconomic conditions, rooted in a classic commodity export boom. The commodities boom generated high growth rates, dramatically improved fiscal and trade balances, and reduced Latin American dependence on U.S. and international financial institutions, providing governments with greater policy latitude than they had enjoyed since the onset of the Debt Crisis. New left governments thus took office at a time when there existed at least some opportunity for social and economic policy experimentation” (Levitsky and Roberts 2011: 21).

  4. 4.

    This is what some critics considered as mere continuation of the hegemony of global capitalism under the label “neodevelopmentalism” or “neodesarrollismo” (i.e. Féliz and López 2012).

  5. 5.

    In Brazil it is rather the political class supposedly more concerned about making the country an “emerged” and not simply an emerging country which receives the more intense claims (Souza Santos 2013). The other unprecedented betrayer – especially in a football loving country like few others – is the lead agency for a specific sphere of authority as FIFA (and to a lesser extent, the International Olympic Committee).

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Pelfini, A. (2015). Megatrend Global Populism? From South America to the Occupy Movement. In: Lenger, A., Schumacher, F. (eds) Understanding the Dynamics of Global Inequality. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44766-6_10

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