An Excerpt on Populism and Protest

From James Butler’s excellent A Circular Motion (London Review of Books, Feb 8 ’24). Here he references¬†Vincent Bevin’s book If We Burn which asks why the monumental protests of the decade following the 2008 financial crisis bore so few dividends:

“Populism has various paradoxes. Why does it so often produce a politics of personality? Why do the masses so often turn out to be Potemkin armies? If anti-corruption is such an important rallying principle, why do populist movements often elect crooks, and its politicians abandon their principles when in office? […] The lessons [of] defeated [Occupy Wall Street and similar-minded] protesters bear repeating: plan for the day after; progress isn’t inevitable, and a better world doesn’t automatically emerge from protest; hierarchy isn’t an enemy; if you reject representation, someone else will represent you; cultural visibility and political power are separate things; power rushes to fill a void.”