As of now only a few populist movements have been able to pivot from promising

As of now only a few populist movements have been

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As of now, only a few populist movements have been able to pivot from promising to dismantle the past to building a better future. Most of them have either ended in the position of the Syriza party in Greece, an early example of the current phase of populism in ad- vanced countries, or that of Brexit—namely, either end up by essentially following, or being forced to follow the approach of prior establishment parties; or remain suspended in an unsettled and ultimately unsustainable situation of “no war and no peace.” There are good reasons for such messy and incom- plete transitions. Campaigning is far easier than governing. National, regional, and global structures often have built-in checks and balances to slow or limit radical changes, even when desirable. It’s not easy to undo years of under-invest- ment in the social sectors (such as health and education), in productivity-enhancing initiatives, and in other enablers of high, inclusive, and sustainable growth. And once un- leashed, it is takes a lot of time and effort to turn back fears of cultural alienation and loss of identity. A more effective focus on promoting inclusive pros- perity, while not sufficient, is a necessary part of chan- neling the current malaise to a constructive and sustain- able place. It starts with greater investments in people, infrastructure, and other enablers of individual accom- plishments and attainments. Economists mostly agree on what’s needed and even how, from an engineering dimension, to get there. What is required is determined and steadfast implementation— a task not only for politicians and governments, but also for companies that can play an important supportive role through their labor retooling/retraining, apprentice- ship and mentorship initiatives, and social responsibility programs. The situation is not unlike the build- up to the French Revolution in 1789. JØRGEN ØRSTRØM MØLLER Associate Senior Fellow, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, and former State-Secretary, Royal Danish Foreign Ministry T he cocktail composed of capitalism, market econo- mies, and technology has turned toxic. For decades it worked wonders lifting millions out of poverty, but no longer. A considerable number of people in the United States and Europe feel ignored, blocked from getting their share of increasing wealth by social and educational bar- riers nullifying social mobility. For them, society is unfair, turning them into social losers. For decades, they have voted for the opposition only to discover that the promise of change was an electoral slogan. A sense of hopelessness and despair led them to look for a way out. Having tried other options, they have nothing to lose by giving a chance to politicians outside the system. Voting for these politicians allows them to give sub- stance to their grievances against the establishment and the elite while at the same time blaming foreigners for their misery. As Hitler clearly saw, telling social losers that problems are due to foreigners and not their own fault is a winner. They are not able to adapt and adjust to the
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