- The real danger of right-wing populism lies in its ability to forge broad societal alliances
- The role of white supremacists is to shock the elite
- The Alt-right offers reassurance in a world seemingly out of control
Why is right-wing populism so successful in almost every Western society?
- Right-wing populism gives reassurance in the vertigo of change.
- Right-wing populism promises to restore lost privileges
- Right-wing populism promises protection for the losers of globalization
How can we wage a more successful struggle against right-wing populism?
- End the lack of alternatives through a political paradigm shift
This is why we need to be alert when the success of right-wing populism is explained solely by blaming diehard racists, xenophobes, sexists and homophobes. Red herrings (“The aloof middle classes must learn again to show empathy for white workers”) divert attention from overdue policy shifts by explaining away fears of social decline and rage over inequality as the cultural ignorance of a hopeless few. On the contrary, it has been the neoliberal policies of enriching the elite, eroding the middle classes and excluding the “redundant” that have provided the fertile ground for right-wing populism. A truly transformative agenda, on the other hand, has the potential to rob right-wing populists of their greatest asset: to be the only alternative to the neoliberal mainstream.
- Don’t step into the framing traps of the Right
A promising communication strategy needs to establish proper counter frames. This means first to stop telling right-wing populist supporters what they want to hear, as this will only reinforce the “Strict Father” frame underlying much of right-wing populist communication. Second, by using “Nurturant Parent” frames which emphasize communalities, stir up empathy for the weak and awaken hope for a better tomorrow. Progressive communication needs to rediscover its utopian heritage, and again offer alternative visions for a better future.
- Progressives need to offer a collective identity narrative
- Only a broad societal alliance can stop right-wing populism
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