Populism – Power To The People From Rome To Trump

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“Clodius was born into a rich, powerful, established, patrician family. What he did in order to gain political power was both unprecedented and remarkable: he turned his back on the patrician roots of his family and asked to be adopted by a plebeian family. As the inimitable Mary Beard puts it: “[Clodius] has gone down in history as the mad patrician who not only arranged to be adopted into a plebeian family in order to stand for the tribunate but also put two fingers up to the whole process by choosing an adoptive father younger than himself.” - Vittoria Bufacchi

In the past few years across the world there has been a trend for individual politicians to lean over backwards and come up the other side protesting that they are not politicians, and that they represent the will of the people against the “elite” and the “deep state”. In claiming to be outsiders themselves they direct their attacks on the media, corporate multi nationals, foreigners, immigrants, and conspirators.

It is a phenomenon as old as history in which demagoguery and opportunism come to the fore at times of economic depression and social unrest. The promises made to the electors are overly simplistic and emotional. Frequently offering the unacceptable and the unattainable. It has been used by the Left wing as much as the right wing pushing forward ideas of conspiracy that go beyond the bounds of reason.

The cult of the individual is often the lynchpin of such movements; names echo across the generations such as: Watt Tyler, Oliver Cromwell, Marat, Robespierre, Mussolini, Hitler, Nasser, Gaddafi, Peron, Berlusconi, Boulanger, Castro, Corbyn, Farage, Palin and Trump.

This talk will examine the origins of such movements, the economic and social background and consider whether there was ever a populist movement that genuinely satisfied the expectations of the people. Do these recurrent cycles offer real hope or merely unleash the whirlwind?

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Dec 14, 2021 07:30pm - 9:00pm

About the teacher

Frank Vigon

Frank Vigon has been a headteacher of an...

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