But as clear as the answer to this question may ap pear much more difficult

But as clear as the answer to this question may ap

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But as clear as the answer to this question may ap- pear, much more difficult seems to be the answer to the next question: what to do to successfully combat popu- lism, stabilize our liberal democracies, and foster a rules- based, multilateral international order. Neither the politi- cal left nor traditional conservatives seem to have found the necessary recipe yet. So, here a few hints at what could be helpful remedies to this extremely dangerous disease of our time. To help the “working poor,” there should be joint ef- forts of governments—through tax legislation and other levies, trade unions, and the private sector, to secure a sus- tainable growth of purchasing power that counters feelings of deprivation and brings back trust in our economic system. Regarding federalism and decentralization, Washington and Brussels have been serving as ideal scapegoats in terms of allegedly aloof technocrats that despise ordinary people and are out of touch of real life. This might be partly true, even though a good por- tion of hypocrisy is behind this all too often. Anyway, more real decision-making in the French provinces or outside of London and even in federalized countries such as the United States or Germany may help to reduce alien- ation and reinstall a basic sentiment that people can hold decision-makers accountable. In the case of rural and de-industrialized regions, here again joint efforts are needed. Investing in modern public infrastructure is as important as private investments and, as we know, they are fundamentally intertwined. Populists’ strong efforts to destroy serious medias’ credibility is key to their ascension. Credibility needs to be restored. Economic models that help sustain quality press and broadcast are in demand. Helped by so-called “social media,” we have wit- nessed, during the past couple of decades, the develop- ment of “closed loops”—people just communicating with their like-minded peers, avoiding any exposure to those with different experiences and values. But democracies need dialogue and a deeply rooted sense of the value of compromise as the only possible way out of confrontation and division.
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28 THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY WINTER 2019 If populism means something like illiberal democracy, then the central feature of today’s political moment is not populism but its opposite. J. W. MASON Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College-CUNY, and Fellow, Roosevelt Institute A s a political category, populism is uniquely slippery. Far from describing any consistent doctrine, pro- gram, or form of organization, it is applied to Die Linke and Alternative for Germany, Geert Wilders and Elizabeth Warren, Podemos and Le Pen, Bernie Sanders and Jair Bolsonaro—to people and organizations whose substantive programs and bases of support are diametri- cally opposed on every point.
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