Opinion Politics Society, 23/01/2017

All You Need to Know about Populism to Prevent Infection

Taras Danko

Professor of International Business at National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute”

If someone thinks that a wave of populism, which now covers the world, is something brand new, he or she is mistaken. Populism is a proven tool of control over society since the time of Rome Empire. “Divide and rule”, “Bread and circuses” – the Romans were as good in copywriting as in distracting and manipulating fragmented people. And they were severely punished for that.

Other experts in populism promotion were Russian Empire secret police who used it to undermine any responsible and reasonable political movement or institution. The Bolsheviks and the Black Hundreds were key secret police puppets paralyzing and discrediting the Duma after it had emerged in 1905. Czar Nicholas 2, the ultimate producer of those performances, was severely punished for that as well.

Chaos absorbed Russian empire, but not all of it. In summer 1917 Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, Russian general then, fed up of watching helplessly passive Odesa earls and dukes hypnotized by surrounding collapse, travels to Helsinki. There he has some important conversations with calm and prudent Finnish leaders. This eventually results in decisive and relevant efforts to prepare Finland for sustaining its sovereignty and security.

Populism is contagious. It spreads like the virus. But the choice is always there – either to join the general hysteria, approaching the abyss or to stay sober and keep acting reasonably following your own agenda.