© Juergen Bauer

Dinner parties and populism

» Whenever people begin to use concepts as though everybody knew what they are, I become alarmed. «
Wolfgang Streeck

Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt opened its doors on 26 April to the first The Great Regression launch event in the German-speaking world. Alongside panellists Arjun Appadurai, Donatella della Porta, Bernd Pickert from die tageszeitung and volume editor Heinrich Geiselberger, Wolfgang Streeck also joined the discussion. Several of his most interesting observations from the evening have been collected in a short video.

Streeck understands modern democracy as a chance for those generally ignored by the rest of society. For those segments of the population not lucky enough to enjoy an Oxford education in history or politics, modern democracy offers them the opportunity to make their voices heard.

When it comes to the newly emerging political formations relating to these groups’ concerns and demands, then, we ought to be sceptical of blanket condemnations of populism. Political arguments do not become illegitimate simply because they are not expressed in intellectual terms.

Much more problematic, in fact, is how often mainstream politicians cajole us into believing there can be no alternative to globalisation. In this regard, the more pressing political task is to wrestle back political space from the supporters of the »There no alternative« (TINA) mantra.