In truth, this populist moment consists primarily of ordinary people demanding a reckoning with the political system; confronting the technocratic style of politics; seeking out new forms of solidarity and new opportunities to have their voices heard.
To some people, especially those who inhabit the political bubble or the academic sphere, any politics that comes from below looks frightening. To these people who think decision-making should be done in seminar rooms and committee rooms, any politics that is formed in working-class areas or even in the street, as is the case in France, looks scary and unpredictable. They have a tendency to view any politics that is popular – and let’s remember that ‘populism’ means political positions that are popular – as inherently dangerous and prejudiced.
But the current populist moment is not dangerous. On the contrary, it is enlivening and exciting and radical. What it fundamentally represents is a challenge to the process of the past few decades whereby political decision-making has become more and more insulated from the public, from ‘the plebs’, from us and our pesky opinions.