home Commentary Global Comment: Resisting populism in all ways and in all places

Global Comment: Resisting populism in all ways and in all places

Today, the United States is preparing to swear a populist demagogue into the office of the presidency, overseeing a Republican-controlled Congress and a conservative majority in most U.S. states, save for the loyal opposition in regions like California. It’s a moment that many people refused to believe could ever happen, leading marchers to jam the streets, protesters to clog Congressional phone lines, people in the private sector to seriously consider runs for office. Many are participating in a general strike today as the United States enters a new era of resistance.

We thought this marked a good time to step back and reassess our editorial mission and future. It is not just the United States that is teetering into conservative extremism. In the UK, UKIP and other white nationalist groups are gaining ground. In Poland, authoritarianism is on the rise. In France and the Netherlands, conservative parties are growing more and more popular. Across the Middle East, in South Africa, in Brazil, in Colombia, populism is on the rise, with the globe as a whole making dangerous shifts.

They are also shifts with a long-established and complicated history. They say that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, and there is a certain cyclical nature in the rise and fall of negative populism — the false rhetoric, misleading policy promises, and manipulation of demagogues who traffic on social anxieties to secure power. We are interested in the series of events that led to the collective global backlash of authoritarianism, about the broad patterns at work as well as the individual stories of individual nations. We are interested in the votes that did not go as expected, in the goalposts that gradually drifted right, in the development of a new normal in nations big and small.

We are also interested in the people who are resisting these movements. In the politicians, the artists, the activists, the everyday citizens who are taking a stand and saying: ‘No. Enough. Never again.’ We are interested in the cohort of US legislators who refused to attend the inauguration, in the British doctors protesting slashes to NHS funding, in the Dutch people who are opposing Geert Wilders, the Middle Easterners who are identifying shifts in religious ideology and pushing for reforms to change the world they live in. We see populism but we also see the response to same, the voices of those who are standing firm to resist it.

And we want to join them. We are shifting and realigning our mission, paring it to two words: Resisting populism.

We want to provide a coherent and thoughtful response to the populism sweeping the world, and a comprehensive examination of factors past and present that enable it, and how to resist it. We want to explore the newfound fascination with authoritarianism and how we got here. Why did the United States elect Donald Trump, while less than a month later, Austrian voters turned out in force against the far right? What were the differences in circumstances there? How can people living under populism effectively resist it? Why do people vote for populist leaders, and what forces lead them to feel as though they’re being left out and in need of a radical political change?

Resisting populism takes many forms, and we want your participation. We want your essays and commentaries from all over the world on what you and the people of your nation are doing to build coalitions of resistance, to create political art, and much, much more. We want dispatches from your community on the issues you are facing and how people are dealing with them. We recognize that populism is intersectional and interconnected, and that sometimes resistance has to take the long, slow way around before it can arrive where it needs to be.

We view populism as a global phenomenon. This isn’t just about a string of countries falling one by one, but about a web, which twists and turned when tugged, dragging the world in its wake. We don’t want to focus exclusively on any one nation when we can look at the world as a whole, because there are too many commonalities to ignore, and we can learn many valuable things by pulling together.

Which is where you come in.

We invite your submissions at editor at globalcomment dot com. Tell us a little about yourself and what you’d like to write — if you have samples of previous work, please do send links so we can get a sense of your style. While our theme may feel limited, it’s just the opposite: ‘Resisting populism’ is a vast and complicated subject with considerable room for nuance, whether you’re memorialising a revolutionary artist or musician and talking about how their work changed the world, charting the way ‘normal’ moves in response to populism, reporting from the front lines of an NHS protest, exploring the rise of Jacob Zuma, discussing unrest in the favelas, marching with teachers and nurses, delving into the racialised nature of domestic work, challenging rape culture, interviewing a previous generation about their resistance, exploring religious and cultural reform movements, writing about your personal experience living under populism, or much, much more.

In coming months we have some exciting changes ahead, including a new look for the website, the debut of a periodic podcast series, and more standing columnists. We hope you’ll join us in the comments and among the subscribers to our newsletter as we look forward into the future.

But we also need your help to do this. We pay our writers, and believe that valuing their contributions is important. While some of our work is funded by a generous angel investor, we need readers to step up with contributions of their own, whether you want to make a one-time donation or set up a subscription. Subscribers can help sponsor specific writers and columns to help us grow and thrive in addition to getting access to our exclusive monthly letter from the editor.

Photo: Swithun Crowe/Creative Commons


Global Comment Editor

We welcome contributions from readers and writers all over the world. Email editor at globalcomment dot com with your pitches and ideas!