The Populist Moment

The Populist Moment:The Left After the Great Recession

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The operative term for modern politics is “populist”

After thirty years of retreat, the last decade has witnessed a resurgent left in the United States and Western Europe. This upsurge of anti-establishment candidates was not only left-wing but also populist. Though in most cases these movements ran out of steam before getting to a position to wield state power, many of the parties and figures associated with this wave of left populism have entered government and others are still contesting high office.

Providing a blow-by-blow history of the rise and defeat of this movement, Arthur Borriello and Anton Jäger guide us through the conditions that shaped it. Extreme and rising inequality, the collapse of civic life, and a lack of trust in traditional institutions have all played a part. In these circumstances, some form of populism was all but inevitable. And, despite defeats, left offensives will remain populist in nature for the foreseeable future. The formative conditions of crisis are still very much with us.


  • In The Populist Moment, Borriello and Jäger provide much needed clarity and a grounded understanding of the origins, character, appeal, and limits of post-class populist mobilization as the basis for the left challenge to the dominant regime of intensifying global inequality. The book is a must-read for anyone serious about understanding the current political moment and especially for those seriously committed to generating an effective anticapitalist politics.

    Adolph Reed, author of The South
  • A fascinating and original analysis of our current political economic conjuncture and an invaluable guide for socialists attempting to organize in this brave new world. Required reading for those struggling to understand the failures of the populist movements of the 2010s, and those trying to build new hegemonic coalitions in a world of permanent crisis.

    Grace Blakeley, author of The Corona Crash
  • Populism is a problem, but not for the reasons that any of its opponents or defenders think. With a few deft cuts, a series of sharp claims, and a voluminous catalog of historical examples and precedents, Jäger and Borriello brilliantly show how populism tries, again and again, to break the constraints of neoliberalism and hollowed-out democracy with none of the tools that once might have enabled it to do so—leaving us all with a pervasive sense of disappointment and dread.

    Corey Robin, author of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas