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Volume 37, 2020

Populism and Globalization

Paul James
Pages 21-44

Defining Populism and Fascism Relationally
Exploring Global Convergences in Unsettled Times

What is the relationship between right-wing populism and contemporary fascism? How has fascism changed since the 1920s? And how do the answers to these questions concern a global shift that can be called the Great Unsettling—including a postmodern fracturing of prior modern ‘certainties’ about the nature of subjectivity, political practice and meaning, deconstructing the consequences of ‘truth’? This essay seeks to respond to these questions by first going back to foundational issues of defnition and elaborating the meaning of populism and fascism in relation to their structural ‘moving parts’. Using this alternative scaffolding, the essay argues that right-wing populism and an orientation to postmodern fascism represented by Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro have converged. The context of this convergence is a globalizing shift that now challenges democratic politics.