Thursday, December 07, 2006


I've been participating in an interesting discussion in the comments on a post at Bloggings by Boz about populism. It centers on how to define populism and neopopulism, and then what Latin American political leaders should be labeled as one or the other, or as neither. So, for example, is Daniel Ortega a populist of some stripe?

"Neo" is being applied to so many labels, and it seems that "leftist" is the only one that remains the same. Neoliberal, neopopulist, neofascist, neoconservative, etc. It does make me wonder whether the "neo" helps us analytically, or just makes everything more confusing.

Nonetheless, the debate itself is useful to the extent that it helps us get beyond the left/right dichotomy that is currently being applied to governments in the region, at least by the media and politicians.


boz 9:34 PM  

And thanks for participating in the discussion. I really do appreciate it.

As I mentioned over there, I used "neo" simply to mean "the contemporary brand of...". That's probably not correct on many academic levels. However, it is interesting that the prefix neo does seem to simply mean "contemporary" in many definitions.

It takes some hubris to imply that the current version is the "neo" version as if the present is constantly the tipping point between past and future.

I've been convinced to just go back to "populist" in my next draft. Arguing the definition of "populism" is hard enough without having to argue whether it's some new version of it.

Greg Weeks 1:59 PM  

I agree. It might just muddy the water more than necessary.

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