In recent weeks, Judge Paul Rouleau presided over the hearings of the Commission on the State of Emergency. Unsurprisingly, there are no scandals or startling revelations. The Trudeau government’s decision to invoke the Emergency Measures Act in connection with the blockade of downtown Ottawa and key locations on our borders is still marked, despite the efforts of Judge Paul Rouleau and the hearings of the Commission, an area of different shades of gray.
Finally, we will never have a definitive answer to the question of whether or not it is appropriate for the Trudeau government to have invoked this draconian law. It should be noted that the coming into force of this Act coincides with the end of the illegal occupation of the city of Ottawa and of a movement that made Canada the laughingstock of the world. This feeds our desire to better understand one of the important aspects of this crisis: the rise of populism and radicalism in the Canadian political sphere. Attempts to explain…
Populism and Radicalism in History: Trump and Lenin
The French historian Pascal Ory published in 2017 at Gallimard, an interesting historical essay : Sovereign people. From popular revolution to populist radicalism. Pascal Ory’s contribution to our understanding of the phenomenon of populism and radicalism is major. It traces the birth of these phenomena that we believe to be contemporaneous with events that are at the crossroads of modernity, industrialization and urbanity. Two events seem to him to be decisive: the October 1917 revolution in Russia and the American Trumpian revolution of 2016. You will tell me that there are no events further apart than those featuring Donald Trump and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
For the French historian, the two societies have nothing or almost nothing in common 100 years apart, but they are both marked by a similar conjuncture: “Like Lenin, Trump knew how to speak in the ear of those who judge dominated by a establishment, like Lenin, he benefits from a whole network of agit-prop which sovereignly ignores the media of reference, but which effectively irrigates the depths of the body politic, starting with the Internet, operated by multiple computer robots. Deeper still, Hillary Clinton’s supporters will turn out to have reasoned from intellectual schemas unsuited to contexts of serious collective crisis. (Pascal Ory, sovereign people. From popular revolution to populist radicalism, Paris, Gallimard, 2017, p. 256 p., [Débat]).
Alternative facts: new reality?
For Pascal Ory, we are living in a completely new era where intelligence, despite its efforts, is unable to think of the world as before: “But the succession and superposition of contradictory interpretations have led to the present situation where, just as all cultural heritages are considered worthy of being highlighted ‒ a situation without precedent in the history of humanity, opened up by cultural modernity ‒, the ideological state of the world has all the features of a market ideologies, including religious ones, in which increasingly individualistic individuals make their choice, indefinitely retractable ‒ a situation unprecedented in human history, opened up by political modernity” (Idem p. 221)
Clearly, Pacal Ory demonstrates our inability to think about the world with the right mental patterns at a time when the individual is king and the regime of truth has today become that of the relative truths of its speakers. Trump’s alternate realities are triumphing and this is paving the way for all populists and radicals to make their voices heard. It is the reality that underlies events like those of the Freedom Convoy and the rise to power of a form of populism that calls for violence. Despite the quality of the work of Judge Paul Rouleau, I believe that our mental patterns are unsuitable for dealing with such situations. This is why I am deeply convinced that the Trudeau government was right to appeal to the Emergency Measures Act. As the Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus wrote: “to misname an object is to add to the misfortune of the world. I would add that for an unprecedented situation, an unprecedented solution…
Does populism have a future in Canada?
With the triumph of Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and his populist rhetoric, should we be worried about the rise of populism in Canada and the manifestation in our democratic space of its festering effects? The resurgence of populism is linked first of all to a crisis of legitimacy of our institutions and inadequate leadership of the political class. Elements that are very present in Canada. Then, the strength of the populist ideology is due to its intrinsic characteristics, the artistic vagueness around its true nature. This today is an advantage. Populism can thus adapt to different social situations and assert its ability to attract people.
We must also take into account that our collective intelligence has succeeded in clearly delimiting the camp of the populists and their opponents around characteristics that allow clashes between clear positions and which can be nourished by effective rhetoric. Intellectuals, media, activists and citizens define the terrain of populism by the following characteristics: The fundamental assumption of confiscated popular sovereignty. Trump was talking about the media elites gathered in the Washington swamp. Strong identification with a national community, Trump’s America First. Finally, a personalization of leadership like that of Trump and his movement.
Clearly, the Trump episode is a populist moment in American history. Will the recent propensity of Canadians to borrow from American culture and import its practices pave the way for a populist moment in Canadian political history? That remains to be seen.
Understand so as not to sink
If you really want to live in a democracy, it is important to understand that our usual mental patterns do not allow us to grasp the totality of reality, especially the alternative reality of movements driven by individualism and selfishness. There is a deep and clear link between political modernity and popular sovereignty. The zeitgeist gives a clear advantage to the advance of populism in one form or another. We must deconstruct the confiscation of our freedoms and real sovereignty. “A not legal, but historical definition of the nation would therefore make it the democratic figure of collective identity. (Pascal Ory. Ibid.)
Understanding the phenomenon of populist ideology must therefore be seen as an ongoing historical process. We must appropriate it rather than submit to it. Thus, we could challenge our inadequate thought patterns to grasp the alternative reality of opponents of democracy. We will then be able not to ridicule or humiliate these deplorable, according to Hillary Clinton’s word about Trump supporters, who will then be more inclined to dialogue than to violence. This democratic process must be upstream rather than downstream, as demonstrated by the unfortunate experience of the occupation of Ottawa by the Freedom Convoy. It’s not easy, but it’s the price to pay to understand populism…
We would love to say thanks to the writer of this post for this outstanding content
Understand populism! – COLUMNISTS – L’Agora – Estrieplus.com – Le journal Internet
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