I’ve been trying to make sense of the term populism which has been in the news so much lately. I’ve always thought being popular meant acceptance by a large segment of people-the populus, I guess.

I’m familiar with the idea of popular culture: art forms like comic books, easy listening music, feel-good movies, reality TV and such that are easily accessible to many. On the surface, it sure seems like popularity ought to be a good thing.

But, whereas one might suppose populism might be about bringing everyone together in support of the common good, what it appears to really be about is dividing and conquering. I guess, when it comes down to it popularity generates the ‘Other’. In popular culture the ‘Other’ is the antiquated or out of style, in religion, those on the wrong path. In the political realm a populist seeks to gain popular support often times by demonizing those less virtuous than his own constituency, who are characterized as in opposition to the traditions and values so dear to his followers.

Given the disparate values –realities, really-of so many, I guess it’s probably unreasonable to expect wide spread agreement about political or religious issues. Still, it does seem reasonable to assume that everyone should be in favor of seeking the common good.

near vilnius 3

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