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Weinstock, Daniel M. “Confronting Populism.” Social & Legal Studies (2022): 09646639221143509.


The core populist claim is that ‘the people’ have been unjustly neglected by government. This core claim, while unexceptionable on its face, tends to be associated with claims that would corrode liberal democratic institutions. It is important that political and legal theorists identify the claims made by citizens who may be attracted by populist political forms, lest they manifest themselves in political forms toxic to (broadly understood) liberal democratic norms and institutions. They must address these claims, even as they also consider ways in which to confront these political forms. An example of how this work might proceed can be gleaned from some recent democratic theory and practice, which has ‘democratized’ membership in political parties as well as the process of selection of the party leader. This apparent democratization both disserves the cause of democratic deliberation, and opens the door to the risk of populist takeover of traditional parties.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.