5.a.2 – Demagoguery, populism and political apathy are synonymous?

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June 13, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

Demagoguery, populism and political apathy are synonymous?

Demagoguery can be defined as the ability of politicians to obtain some advantages from people with misleading speeches and then pushing them to act against their own interests. So in turn feeds the hatred toward immigrants, increases the fear an authoritarian state, makes unattainable promises, declares to be against drugs; this is a very old technique known since the time of the ancient Greece and even then was seen as a degeneration of democracy. Reflecting a moment, however, it appears obvious that in a true democratic system, demagoguery could not exist, it would have the same social organization, with a provision of an efficient training and information to citizens, to make it unworkable. The demagoguery is based on the root problems of misinformation, ignorance and social fragmentation, cannot be a degeneration of democracy and indeed is a striking proof that a true democracy has never been realized.
Populism is a term with different meanings: sometimes it is used as a synonym for demagoguery and sometimes to identify those political movements which, riding the wave of popular discontent towards the ruling class, try to make a political replacement to their own advantage by using an aggressive language that is easy to take on the population. Politicians in power use this term in its depreciatory meaning, considering it as an improper behaviour on the part of opponents, “not very correct” between competitors, but in reality it is yet another deception for the population, a population uninformed, ignorant and fragmented to manipulate anyway.
The political apathy is also based on lack of confidence in institutions and in political parties, seen as distant from the people, not representative and therefore an obstacle to freedom, but there is the tendency to identify it as a physiological situation of democracy, leading to dangerous anarchist drifts. Also, the word political apathy is used as a synonym for demagoguery and populism when it is attributed to political actors who want to oust those in power stirring up the crowds.
It is important to know well the meaning of these terms because very often they are used improperly, but effectively, against one’s opponents. It happens that those who are teachers of demagoguery accuse of demagogy their antagonists, the most populist politicians blame the emerging politicians of being so, those who have won their parliamentary seats using massive political apathy now speak with anger about it against new opponents. Not knowing the true meaning of these terms means to allow the expansion of demagoguery, populism and political apathy, can mean not to recognize the carriers of social healthy reforms, which is why we wanted to do some clarity before starting to talk about possible solutions to our problems.




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