"Le moment populiste", part 7. The people against the elites

With the gap widening between the people and the dominant class, political legitimacy and political reality are also divorced from each other. Photo: Pixabay
With the gap widening between the people and the dominant class, political legitimacy and political reality are also divorced from each other. Photo: Pixabay

“Without an implosion of the political traditional political system, the division and the break up of French society seems inevitable,” wrote Christophe Guilluy.

Such is the major characteristic of populism: it reveals an opposition, not horizontal (right-left), but vertical: the people against the elites, the ordinary folks from “below” against the privileged from “above”. This opposition doesn't recycle the old poujadiste [Translator's note: Referring to the protest movement of shopkeepers and smallholders against the Fourth Republic lead by Pierre Poujade] rancor of the “little” against the “big.” It rests on the conviction that a technocratic and financial elite, settled in the media as in the aisles of power, founded on incestuous connivance, if not corruption, has deliberately decided to dispossess the voters of their power in order to escape any control over its actions. This elite, which is only divided on the means of implementing the same goals, adheres to values and spreads slogans in which the people do not recognize themselves. It imposes orientations that the people condemn because they notice that it results in a deterioration of their way of life. Cut off from social reality, it is moreover perceived as foreign to the nation in the measure where it is both indifferent to national interests and profoundly de-territorialized. As in 1793, the elites are perceived as the “foreigner's party” - or more exactly, as the party that considers every form of collective identity obsolete and so that nothing is foreign anymore.

The opposition between the dominant and the dominated thus makes its great return. “People” have replaced the people. The dominant ideology, majoritarian in the powerful milieus, increasingly minoritarian in the popular classes, is usually linked to a new class. Seeking the guidelines that it has lost, the people show their allergy to a New Class that believes itself exempt from common rule that the “little folks” are subjected to and whose way of life separates them, apart (and above) from the people, manifesting an irresistible propensity for nomadism, perpetual change, the rejection of roots, contempt of communitarian and popular values, a headlong rush into the frenetic search for profit, a limitless permissiveness, a fascination with the “winners.” Elected through neo-capitalist globalization, this political-media New Class was formed as a result of an intensification of mobility in a climate marked by the deregulation of the market and technological innovations shrinking space and time. It unites political leaders, businessmen, and media representatives, all intimately linked to one another, all convinced of the “danger” of popular aspirations, in the same elitism of wealth and status .

It's this ruling class that finds itself confronted with the eternal return of the people today. And this confrontation surpasses all the old divides. “It is possible,” as Marcello Veneziani had already said in 1995. In turn, Christophe Guilluy observes today that “the fracture is not so much between left and right than between the dominant classes, indifferent to right and left, and the popular classes.”

The principal divide (but not the only one) henceforth opposes those who benefit from globalization, whether they are right wing or left wing, to those who are the victims of globalization – those who think in terms of peoples and those who only want to conceive of individuals and humanity. It's what contrasts peripheral France to urbanized France, the people to the globalist elites, the ordinary folks to the New Class, the popular and declining middle classes to the big globalist bourgeoisie, the advocates of borders to the partisans of “openness,” the “invisibles” to the “over-represented”, in short those on the bottom to those on the top. The true divide is the defense of the people – the cause of the people.

Source: Boulevard Voltaire