On Tuesday the 27th March 2018, The Red House held its 3rd Ideological Trajectories: The New Dissidents discussion, with Ivan Krastev speaking to Frank Furedi about his defence of populism.
About the debate:
In his latest book, Populism and the European Culture Wars, the sociologist and retired academic Frank Furedi turned his attention to populism. In this book, Frank Furedi associates the rise of populism with culture wars, as he looks at the dissonance between the EU and Hungary and the way in which populists and populist causes are often negatively portrayed in the media. He concludes that anti-populist moral panic reveals how European liberal elites have lost faith in the power of democracy and the ability of ordinary people to be responsible citizens 1.
In this debate, Frank Furedi spoke about his defence of populism with the Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, who has published several in-depth articles on the topic. In his articles and in previous discussions, Ivan Krastev has, on the one hand, spoken of how the spirit behind movements which are typically labelled as populist can actually be seen as being a “by-product of the wave of democratisation [which arose] during the long 1990s” 2. However, on the other hand, he has also stated that populism often leads to a dualistic polarisation of politics and democratic illiberalism 3 and that advocates of liberal democracy must now fight a two-pronged battle “…against populists and against those liberals who hold democracy in contempt” 4.
So, what is populism, what affect is it having on our societies and what can an analysis of it tell us about our own prejudices? Can there in fact be a radical democratic justification of populism? To find out more, watch our English-language video highlights at the top of the page.
About the series:
Radical changes are taking place within our political landscapes. In the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Spain, Germany and the United States, new anti-elite parties and candidates with little to no experience within classical politics are gaining broad support, winning elections and, in general dictating, the political agenda. Their positions are varied, leaning both to the left and the right, but they all claim to champion a common criticism of traditional elites who have lost touch with the concerns and interests of the so-called ordinary voter. These new players have been met with a great deal of opposition amongst the political establishment and are often defined as populists, with public appeals for their exclusion from politics. After decades of scepticism and apathy amongst voters, confrontation and passion are, however, returning to the core of political life in Europe. Yet, while this also has its positives, the negative side of this development is the trend towards conflict-based identity politics and the ever-narrowing space for dialogue it creates.
In this series, Time to Talk centres seek to analyse without prejudice the ideological displacements in contemporary societies and the to find out which origins a series of prominent public figures believes these changes to have. Why, for example, are politicians and intellectuals who were actively engaged in the first years of democratic change in the former Eastern bloc countries now turning against the suddenly omnipresent conceptualisation of a European elite? What turns a convinced pro-European into an advocate of Brexit? Which recent changes have made such ideological shifts possible? What does it cost to leave the comfort zone of your own reference group, and does such behaviour constitute a new form of dissidence? Are we seeing the end of liberalism’s hegemony and the end of the “end of history”?
Frank Furedi – Sociologist, Social Commentator and Author of Populism and the European Culture Wars
Ivan Krastev – Bulgarian Political Scientist and Commentator, currently Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.
Dessislava Gavrilova – Initiator and Coordinator of Time to Talk and Co-Founder and Chairwoman on the founders’ board of The Red House Centre for Culture and Debate in Sofia.
English-language video highlights of the discussion will be produced and posted on this page post-debate for those who were unable to attend/watch the debate on the day. The full-length Bulgarian/English-language recording of the live stream can also be accessed by clicking here.
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You can also see other debates from The Red House, by clicking here and visiting their YouTube account (please note that these videos are predominantly in Bulgarian).
- European Disunion by Yascha Mounk
- New Frank Furedi book puts focus on Europe’s populism by Martin Herrema
- Populism: a defence by Frank Furedi
- The era of populism – seasonal fluctuation or permanent change? by Hannu-Pekka Ikäheimo
- The populist moment by Ivan Krastev
- Three paradoxes fuel the drift towards populism in Europe by the CEU
- Dilemmas of post-liberalism
- Europe and its dissenters – with Gisela Stuart
- Good populism, bad populism
- Is there a culture war against populism?
- Should we be afraid of populism?
- The Hungarian far-right in the light of the election results
- Understanding the populist turn: populism, an east-west divide?
- Understanding the populist turn: 10 lessons on populism
The Red House‘s Ideological Trajectories: The New Dissidents series of discussions is part of Time to Talk‘s Understanding the Populist Turn: The Ex-Debates series and has been supported by a grant from the Open Society Foundation Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.