Why is intellectualism viewed as inherently elite?


Karin priest

To person

Dr. phil., born 1941; Prof. em. for sociology at the University of Münster, Institute for Sociology, Scharnhorststrasse 121, 48151 Münster. [email protected]

Populism is not a substance, but a relation. It is characterized by anti-elitarianism, anti-intellectualism, anti-politics, hostility to institutions as well as moralization, polarization and personalization of politics.


While people outside of Europe have long been familiar with populism, it did not appear to any significant extent in Europe as a predominantly right-wing phenomenon until the 1970s. The terms inclusion and exclusion can be used to differentiate between left and right-wing populism. Left populism strives for through participation and redistribution of resources inclusion underprivileged sections of the population in a para-state, directly tied to the person of the "Führer", parliamentary uncontrolled clientele system. Right-wing populism operates the other way around Exclusion of people ("welfare state parasites", immigrants, asylum seekers, ethnic minorities) and reserves political and social participation rights only for their own, autochthonous population.

The first big wave of right-wing populist parties - the rise of the progressive parties in Denmark and Norway, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the French Front National (FN), the Belgian Vlaams Belang - began in the 1970s and is unlike previous populist movements , not subsided. Rather, some of these parties are among the strongest in their countries. In the 1990s there was another wave with the Swedish New Democracy, the True Finns, the Lega Nord in Italy, the older Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the Dutch, but only transformed into an ethnonationalist party by Jörg Haider since 1986 Lijst Pim Fortuyn, the Danish People's Party as a split from the Progress Party and numerous Central and Eastern European parties. Some either did not survive or spawned successor organizations such as the Dutch Party for Freedom under Geert Wilders.

In Germany, the right-wing populist field is fragmented, but here, too, there have been a number of movements, some of which have disappeared, since the 1990s, such as the offensive for Germany founded by former FDP members and the Bund Freier Bürger, whose chairman maintained close contacts with Haider's FPÖ , the Schill party, the pro movement and the party Die Freiheit under the former CDU member René Stadtkewitz. Although these parties often have older roots, they represent a new challenge for parliamentary-representative democracy, as they manage to bundle a widespread unease under the sign of anti-parties and primarily against "party rule", the EU and channeling immigration.