PolPsy notes on Muller

PolPsy class notes re Jan-Werner Müller (2015).


Populists are:



Morally absolutist.

pp 2-3


“The major differences between democracy and populism should have become clear by now:

democracy                                                                                                                 populism

one enables majorities to authorize representatives whose actions may or may not turn out to conform to what a majority of citizens expected or would have wished for; the other pretends that no action of a populist government can be questioned, because ”the people” have willed it so.
The one assumes fallible, and contestable judgments by changing majorities; The other imagines a homogenous entity outside all institutions whose identity and ideas can be fully represented.
The one assumes, if anything, a people of individuals, so that in the end only numbers (in elections) count; the other takes for granted a more or less mysterious ”substance” and the fact that even large numbers of individuals (even majorities) can fail to express that substance properly
The one presumes that decisions made after democratic procedures have been followed are not ”moral” in such a way that all opposition must be considered immoral; the other postulates one properly moral decision even in circumstances of deep disagreement about morality (and policy).
Finally—and most importantly—the one takes it that ”the people” can never appear in a non-institutionalized manner and, in particular, accepts that a majority … in parliament is not “the people” and cannot speak in the name of the people; the other presumes precisely the opposite.”

pp 77-8