Book Launch – Populism, Neoliberalism, and The Great Regression

Populist strategy generally consists of providing simple answers to complex problems. Tageszeitung editor Bernd Pickert, on the other hand, may have posed simple questions while moderating the German book launch of the new collected volume The Great Regression on 26 April, but did so in search of complex answers. Joining him on stage in Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt were Arjun Appadurai, Wolfgang Streeck and Donatella della Porta, together with the book’s editor Heinrich Geiselberger.

The authors briefly outlined the essentials of their respective contributions, while Geiselberger described what surprised him most in putting together the volume: »What really shocked me while working on the book was that many of globalisation’s side-effects – climate change, terrorism, financial risk, migration – were already being debated in the 1990s, but were subsequently forgotten for nearly 20 years.«

Most of the evening focused on populism and neoliberalism, with Bernd Pickert asking his guests »is the term ›populism‹ helpful, or do we need to redefine it?« The ensuing debate also touched on left-populism and why so many nationalist and regressive movements seem to be on the rise today.

Donatella della Porta tried to remain optimistic despite the undeniable challenges posed by the current historical moment: »The most recent electoral results have been very tight across the board. We shouldn’t forget that, alongside right-populism, progressive movements are also emerging.«

A video of the complete discussion as well as reactions from the audience are featured below: