“There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”
–Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin
Populists such as Rollin and Putin want to gain and maintain power. They game emotions in order to achieve their aims. I used to have Boris Johnson on a high pedestal but he fell, and continued to fall, presently lying there next to Rollin on the ash heap of history where, ideally, all populist should end posthaste before they fall even further and take lives with them.
Here there is irrationality, a catering to the lowest common denominator, a deployment of fear, doubt, uncertainty and outright lies. Hatred is growing in this fetid cesspool of base negative instincts. How can people with a good mind and acute sense of history deny that the assassination of Jo Cox isn’t a consequence of their vitriol? History is replete with examples of how one leads to another.
Still what the people vulnerable to the hatred and fear need most isn’t more elitist mud slinging at their station, they need understanding of their vulnerability to the rapid changes in society today. More jobs will be lost to technological change, more labour outsourced to less expensive locations. More insecurity is in the cards for those who already are least secure and most vulnerable. Rather than toss them on the same heap as their leaders, we should seek to insulate them from the rabble rousers and offer them a future. That is a difficult job but the only way forward if we want to maintain our liberal democracies.