Populism is, at the moment, one of the fastest growing political and social trends and it has a few important characteristics. After observing and analyzing this trend throughout the world, it is easy to notice that at the root of populism are people who hold the idea that political structures need to serve the people who are all socially equal. So, this trend is growing in popularity recently.
Populism is especially appealing to the young and elderly who are convinced the world is full of inequalities. They focus on the great differences between the rich and the poor which is partially supported by the envy culture very present in the media today, especially mass media. These people are convinced there is a need for a strong leader who will redistribute the wealth. They often see that leader as someone who will put himself above the law and democracy.
The other important characteristic of this trend is the question of truth. Populism appeals to emotions and distorts the truth. Very often, people are convinced someone is doing good for them and they accept that distorted truth. So, emotions start to take over and there is little or no place for reason. From an historical perspective, it is well known that similar situations created excellent conditions for totalitarian rule.
There are three main actors involved in this trend, and they include political structures, media, and people. Political structures are actors who make all the important decisions. Media include actors who promote their ideas and influence people who, at the end, accept these ideas. So, this triangle creates a potential security situation at a global level. Propaganda on the internet and especially on social media spreads much faster than at any other time in history.
From an historical perspective, as previously mentioned, there is a parallel with totalitarian regimes of the past that can be drawn. The propaganda of these regimes also appealed to people’s emotions and spread hate and intolerance with consequences like genocide, hate crimes, war crimes, and other similar things. For example, Nazism. Strongly appealing to people’s feelings, Nazi propaganda very successfully created a situation for the regime to do some of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century. Communism, more or less, wanted to aggressively convince people they are happy and that they live in a happy society. Everyone who thought differently was treated with suspicion or prosecuted.
Today, the situation is more complex. There is a developed media machine more and more relying on social networks. Fake news has become a very powerful tool in distorting the truth. Posts, tweets, and portals tweak people’s emotions while leaving out reason or critical thinking. All the mentioned successfully creates ideal conditions for destabilization on a global level and for the evolution of new and extreme ideas that could jeopardize the existing democratic system.