What Lies Behind the Fashionable Contempt for “Populism”?
Democracy never had a smooth run, the Western mind long presuming the people’s consent to be a Pandora’s box of vexations. Yet two and a half millennia after Plato’s Republic first formulated democracy’s kinship with anarchy, all worthwhile regimes of government seemed to share, at least for a short while, a modicum of democratic features. That hiatus has come to an end, argues Frank Furedi, if it ever truly existed. The post-1945 liberal democratic consensus didn’t embrace democracy per se, but merely as a reliable mechanism for delivering liberal policy. The present furore around “populism” has merely exposed the frailty of democratic pieties, such as by typecasting Euro-realist and conservative victories as somehow foreboding authoritarianism. While elite British opinion came out of the Brexit referendum more distrustful of democracy, Furedi’s recalcitrant democratism inspired him to write Democracy Under Siege, which he discusses here with Jorge González-Gallarza.
The EU’s Environmental and Geopolitical Pipe Dreams
The European Commission’s unwillingness to re-examine the costs of its so-called Green Deal in the wake of Covid-19 is a testament to the dangers of environmental alarmism. In a different way, the opposing geopolitical persuasions of President Macron and his largely German contradictors on the issue of “strategic autonomy” point to similar forms of unchecked orthodoxy. Alexandr Vondra MEP is one of the European Parliament’s most sensible and heterodox voices in each of these two fronts of the EU’s future. Hear him discuss them in this episode with Jorge González-Gallarza, drawing on his experience as Czech defense and deputy foreign minister, as well as his more recent efforts to marshal the intellectual wherewithal to fashion a much-needed conservative environmentalism.