POPULISM by Ghita & Ernest Gellner--Eds. Ionescu

POPULISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of essays by academic participants in a London School of Economics conference. The first section explores historical instances of populism: there are discussions of Africa as well as Latin America and classical Russian narodnichestvo; Ionescu distinguishes Eastern European ""peasantism"" and ""neopopulism,"" Hofstadter puts 1890's movements in the U.S. in a context of ""entrepreneurial radicalism."" The second section deals with populism-in-general as an ideology, a political ""syndrome,"" a social product, an economic perspective. A not too surprising paradox: the first section includes some of the best historical remarks (e.g. Peter Worsley on Russia), while the papers in the second section recurrently bog down in linguistic philosophy as they consider the ""concept"" of populism. There are scattered references to populist elements in Maoism and Castroite communism, but a regrettable inattention to the populist dimensions of fascism; and though much of the book's immediate value for non-specialists lies in its relevance to Wallaceite movements, no one mentions them. The theoretical freight is borne by generally clear writing; a good deal of historical and methodological background is presupposed. It is a rigorous and stimulating book on an important topic which has received too little scholarly attention.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan