Why I think Populism fails in the modern world-Knowledgeable Elite institutions are irreplaceable

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,617
USA
#1
The recent elections have shown a rise of populism. However, I do think that populism will hit a wall eventually. A good example is the election of Barack Obama, however he could never fill his hyper liberal promises(cutting defense spending by a huge margin, getting rid of tax loopholes for rich etc). Similar with Donald Trump, promsing a wall, cutting immigration, ending wars in the Middle East. They all fall flat. Why is this?

The Deep State. Now I am not talking about some conspiracy theory with lizardmen led by George Soros, but elite instutions have ruled over nations for many nations due to their expertise on issues.

Every state has to rely on
-The government
-The military
-The private entities and financial institutions
-The public masses

in order for survival. If Financial institutions falter, people can't afford stuff. If the military can't protect the nation, anxiety rises. etc. Therefore demonizing the military is often guaranteed suicide. Generals want to serve their country but also want glory. Badmouthing the military is a good way to have a bunch of veterans end your political career during elections by supporting the other side. Therefore military spending always has to be in a delicate balance, even though a lot of the stuff is unnecessary. Also, with the rise of Russia and China I don't see major military cuts for any Western nation.

The corporations and rich have so much power because workers are easily replaceable while a genius working for a trust fund or tech giant is not. Think of people like Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs, talent like that is hard to come by. Of course they will support policies that favor their institutions, by. financing the media, buying off politicians etc. Things like tax loopholes, increasing immigration, and free trade is what is often desired in a modern world. Lets say a populist candidate like Bernie Sanders is ever elected. Government, military, and corporate elite triangle will simply pounce on him. Veterans will bash his policies saying he is weak. Experts in diplomacy(who want to keep their jobs and legacy) will bash him saying he is not a friend to Israel and allies. Corporate leaders push the media to bash him. He will have to suck or have a bad presidency.

And I don't think this is a "conspiracy" per se. as a mass plan. It is simply what will happen.
 
Mar 2016
874
Australia
#3
As usual, people dramatically overestimate how much power and authority the US president actually has. Even the supposedly powerful executive orders are easily overruled after a short period of time. Accusations of a president being a dictator or tyrant are nothing more than baseless and emotional hyperbole.
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,645
US
#4
Of course there will always be elites. And, to a large degree, we need those who are skilled and effective to make life better, in general. However, typically, elites seek power and there is a real truth to the adage, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The "masses" have every right to seek checks and balances on elitism that seeks to dangle the carrot of technological innovation or efficient markets or optimal governance or whatever perceived benefit they offer, if means they lose their basic freedoms. It's the slave versus free man ideology. Some prefer to abdicate their freedom for security. What's the proper balance?
 
Aug 2010
15,657
Welsh Marches
#5
The powers of an American President tend to be limited because of the way in which powers are divided according to the constitution, he doesn't directly hold all the levers of power. A European PM iwith a good majority is less limited in that way. (I'm not actually sure that the American system is well suited to the modern world, especially when attitudes are polarized, it can all too often result in gridlock.)
 
Last edited:
Oct 2016
1,079
Merryland
#6
totally disagree.
certain technologies are so advance they need special cadres of trained professionals to operate.

governing is making policy decisions based on values and judgment.

your techs can operate a missile than can blow up the capital of a neighboring country. who decides if its to be used? based on what?
what happens if a state selects graduates from one or two universities for their bureaucracy? they will hire later grads from the same schools and we end up with the whole state being run by a handful of elites of shared background. no intellectual diversity.
I suspect this is why certain states fail. a permanent ruling class increasingly loses touch with the real people of the realm and eventually there's revolution.
 
Mar 2019
506
Kansas
#7
The powers of an American President tend to be limited because of the way in which powers are divided according to the constitution, he doesn't directly hold all the levers of power. A European PM iwith a good majority is less limited in that way. (I'm not actually sure that the American system is well suited to the modern world, especially when attitudes are polarized, it can all too often result in gridlock.)
However in creating that you do avoid creating a reactionary government. The longer something takes to get pushed through, the more level headed the ultimate solution becomes.
 
Likes: Rodger

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
32,481
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#8
The powers of an American President tend to be limited because of the way in which powers are divided according to the constitution, he doesn't directly hold all the levers of power. A European PM iwith a good majority is less limited in that way. (I'm not actually sure that the American system is well suited to the modern world, especially when attitudes are polarized, it can all too often result in gridlock.)
I think the limitations are more a product of the adversarial nature of Anglo-Saxon politics, compared to the consensus politics of continental Europe.
 
Oct 2013
13,786
Europix
#9
I think that You are wrong, not about the fact that populism would eventually fail (any populism will inevitably fail) but on Your explanation.

No, actually there is not such a thing, nor in the conspirationist sense, nor in the sense You see it. That idea is based upon a false definition of "elite".

"Elite" is nothing else than the small fringe of persons that are the best in their domain:

Oxford dictionary: "A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society".

NBA is regrouping the world's best basketball players. It is basketball's elite.
Mafia is the elite of criminals.
Congressmen are the elite of politicians.
"Red Devils" are the elite of soccer.

This push in displacing the meaning of the word "elite", the redefinition of the concept of "elite" is nothing else than a populist driven move and the manipulation of the "new sense": "elites" are "those up there", a politico-economico-mediatic clique, having achieved a huge power unworthily. Any person achieving a high position (political, economical, mediatic) is automatically put into the box of "elites", without any judgment on what his real qualities are. In some way it isn't in anyway different from anti-Semitism (considering Jews not what they individually are, but what anti-Semitic consider Jews are) or racism (considering people not what they individually are, but what a racist consider colour of skin determines as persons' "characteristics").

From that POV, pushing the new "understanding" of the "elites" concept is fundamental for any sort of populism: it is canalizing all societal griefs towards a global, uniform class, the one responsible of all deeds without the need to get into explanations, arguments, concepts, thinking.



Populism, in the end, regardless it's ideological/political orientation would be is based on a couple of things:

1. offering simple, definitive solutions.
2. promising what people like to hear, not what should be done.
3. positioning itself as "true", "unstained", "from out of the system".

Those three characteristics contain the reasons why eventually, all populisms, everywhere, every time, are irremediably failing.

Society isn't simple, and it's getting more complex everyday. There is no simple solution to a complex situation. There is no definitive solution to a continuous evolution. What we want to hear is extremely rarely what is good for us.
 
Likes: Ficino
Apr 2018
814
Upland, Sweden
#10
However in creating that you do avoid creating a reactionary government. The longer something takes to get pushed through, the more level headed the ultimate solution becomes.
Ideally yes. But it can also cause problems.

The way I see it there has to be some kind of congruence between the checks and balances and various social interests somehow. For example, the US senate is ideally supposed to represent the states, right? If the various delaying institutions don't add any new input into the system you just risk ending up with a situation where the main division becomes one between "powerholders" and "powerless" rather than between different "kinds" of power.

At least that's my take on it.
 

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