Populism, democracy, and the publicity requirement

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

It is common to ask whether populism is a threat or a corrective to democracy. In the empirical literature, the conclusion tends to be that it is both. Some normative accounts promote populism because of its alleged ability to deepen democracy. The shortcoming of these approaches is that they take an observer attitude to the question. This article instead takes a participant attitude and asks whether you as fellow participants in democracy can endorse and promote populism because it has positive effects on a non-populist understanding of democracy. Applying the publicity condition first suggested by Kant and latter expounded by Rawls, it argues that you cannot. You cannot publicly both endorse populism and say you do so because it improves democracy understood in non-populist terms. The publicity condition rules out the possibility of promoting one set of ideas (populism) for the sake of another set of ideas (non-populist democracy). The argument for promoting populism for the sake of non-populist ends cannot be made in public without frustrating that very end.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConstellations: an international journal of critical and democratic theory
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)276-289
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 305014873