That Forgas essay is a great example of two things.

First, why the use of the term 'populist' should be completely retired as it has become meaningless and degraded "to the level of a swearword" as Orwell described hilariously in "What is Fascism?" 78 years ago.

Second, that it is

both dangerous and counterproductive to psychologize differing political opinions, as all it does it provide an excuse to engage in behavior one is purportedly trying to avoid, which is to dehumanize opposition and dissent and prevent the possibility of reasoned engagement in civil discourse because the other guy's beliefs are just a bunch of dumb primitive impulses which can be dismissed out of hand as unworthy of consideration by us, the good smart people. Sticking to the merits of object level claims can be annoying and exhausting, but the alternative is the road to the political abuse of psychiatry.

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The Foregas essay reminds me of Jan-Werner Muller's What is Populism? Another tract about how people voting in their own interest is some how anti-liberal and anti-democratic. One wonders what the many people who have voted at one time or another for a candidate who has been branded with the scarlet "P," but nevertheless appeared to be the lesser of two evils, are supposed to respond. If we are to be lumped in with the "ascendant and in-power populist movements from fascism, Marxism, cancel culture, the Proud Boys, Antifa, and woke-ism" because our "evolutionary vulnerabilities" have been manipulated, I suppose we must recognize our deficiencies, suffer in silence, and watch the evening news to be instructed on how we must vote.. As the great populist philosopher Simone Weil once said "Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity," so we should all just be grateful anyone pays attention to us at all.

According to Foregas, Weil would have to be considered manipulated and mentally defective because she fought against Franco for the Durruti Column during the Spanish Civil War. The Durruti Column was after all, the most recognized and popular group in the fight and she, gasp, embraced egalitarianism, collectivism, and individualism! Simultaneously! How ideologically confused! Obviously anti-liberal! Obviously anti-democratic! Nevertheless, I would hazard that one Weil has been worth more to the human intellectual endowment than a 100,000 or more of Foregas and his anti-populist ilk. But that was the Spanish Civil War. This is now.

So who would a typical populist today hold up as our living poster person representing the best of populism? Personally I would take John Cochrane and offer his column on Biden's "infrastructure" bill as a fine example of a populist mind at work: https://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2022/01/infrastructure-does-not-mean-roads-and.html

Of course I do not mean to disparage Cochrane in anyway and undoubtedly he would eschew the populist label. I am just saying that I, as an avowed populist, would want someone with Cochrane's psychology,courage, analytical ability, work ethic, and attitude to be the sort of person that best represented what I think of as populism. But I am a pluralist populist and I am sure that other people who identify with populism have their own ideas of the sort of people we wish that we had representing us. Nevertheless, if there is anything that unites people who identify as populists, I would guess that it is that the government spending a lot of money on things that don't yield broad benefits makes our hemorrhoids flare. So there, psychoanalyze that.

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Caplan on covid never ceases to amaze:

"And while I was not shocked by the Covid pandemic – far worse plagues have happened before – I remain horrified by the reaction. In 2005, I would have predicted a shutdown of two weeks before life roughly returned to normal. So far, I’m off by a factor of fifty."

Back to normal... just minus a million people.

This is not to deny that the response to the pandemic was far beyond optimal in all sorts of ways, but the guy does not live in reality.

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Of course, "claiming to understand the true motives of the other side better than they understand themselves" will irritate them; it does not make for a productive discussion. But suppose your claim is correct?

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