Philosophical alternatives to populism
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This thesis supports Jan-Werner Müller’s claim that populism is an inescapable consequence of representative democracy. While it is true that populism cannot be detached from this form of government, I will argue that alternatives and safeguards against it can already be found in representative democracy’s framework. The thesis also gives an historical account of populism and describes the aspects of its appeal. This work turns to the writings of Jean- Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Carl Schmitt, particularly their concepts of the general will, the tyranny of the majority, and existential threat, respectively, to analyze the philosophical roots of populism. Lastly, this thesis not only argues for safeguards against populism (mainly in the form of active and responsible citizenship, grassroots politics, and communal organization), but it also proves that those solutions already exist in representative democracy.
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