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Nationalist Populism Is Not An Enemy

Amitai Etzioni
Published 2018 · Political Science

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The recent history of American and European politics has been marked by the ascension of right-wing populism, evidenced in public support for Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, several right-wing political parties throughout Europe, and the Brexit referendum. This chapter first outlines the defining traits of populism, especially in contrast to globalism, and argues that liberalism offers an insufficient response to the populist fever, as the individualism endorsed by liberals does not soothe the wounded sense of community that leaves the populist estranged. For this reason, the chapter argues, elements of communitarianism are needed to offer effective and acceptable guiding principles to quell radicalism and xenophobia, ones that would address typical populist issues: free trade, immigration, and rights. The chapter concludes by acknowledging that liberal and communitarian positions may come into conflict, and thus proposes a method to reconcile competing principles to protect individual rights and shore up the common good.
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