Working PaperPDF Available

Political economy of 'right-wing populism' – Moving forward against the fallback.

Authors:
!
1!
Peter%Herrmanni%
Political(economy(of('right2wing(populism'((
–(Moving(forward(against(the(fallback.(
The!fundamental!first!question!is!if!we!can!still!speak!of!a!political!left!and!right.!
And! a! definitive! affirmation! is! underlying! the! main! argument! of! the! following.!
The!reason!for!raising!this!issue!is!not!the!general!‘totalitarianism!doctrine’! but!
its!specific!resurgence!based! on!the!view!of! both,!left!and!right,!being!populist@
authoritarian! –! as! such,! the! currently! fashionable! argument! is! actually! not!
referring! to! any! concept! of! totalitarianism! in! the! normally! suggested!
understanding.! Instead,! Dalio! et! altera! insinuate! that! ‘[p]opulism! is! a! political!
and!social!phenomenon!that!arises!from!the!common!man!being!fed!up!with!1)!
wealth! and! opportunity! gaps,! 2)! perceived! cultural! threats! from! those! with!
different!values!in!the!country!and!from!outsiders,!3)!the!“establishment!elites”!
in!positions!of!power,!and!4)!government!not!working!effectively!for!them.!These!
sentiments! lead! that! constituency! to! put! strong! leaders! in! power.’1!They!
interpreted!this!as! ‘a! rebellion! of! the! common! man! against! the! elites! and,! to!
some!extent,!against! the!system.’2!There! is!on! the! other!hand! too! little!concern!
with! more! detailed! analysis,! i.e.! an! analysis! that! engages! as! well! openly! in! the!
contradictory!nature!of!the!shifts!in!the!political!landscape,!and!the!fact!that!we!
should!not! be! simply! concerned! with! ‘enemy! bashing’! but!instead! !looking!at!
the! details! –! we! have! to! move!towards!searching! for! concrete! utopias!as!
alternative.3!In! fact! that! requires! also! that! the! left! fully! returns! to! sound!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1!! Dalio,! Ray! et! altera;! Bridgewater! Associates,! 2017,! March! 22:! Populism:! The! Phenomenon;! Bridgewater.! Daily!
Observations:!2;!https://www.bridgewater.com/resources/bwam032217.pdf;!31/03/17!
2!! Ibid.!
3!! see!in!this!context!an!interesting!study,!on!Italy,!problematising!the!background!in!the!overall!political!patterns,!past!
and! present,! not! least! issuing! the! secular! changes! of! the! p olitical! culture:! The! Economist.! Intelligence! Unit,! 2017,!
March! 24th:! More! fragmentation:! back! to! the! first! republic?;!
http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=265252810&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWVdJM1pUTXpZamMzTm1JMyIsInQiOiI
0bzU0Tmlad2xyVlVqUms2K3diSVJxNUt1c1RVdU1SUzVsZzRTRWpvcEhFa0U5cnBVaFBvbUY1YVBhaDNzRFU0cW5lY
1A4SHRZd1JOMHZVa3J0WWFTMDF2UGhYckxcL2QyUkZpRnBVNDZyaGdBUWF3N3FyZHE5VWowXC84R0xLXC9KM
SJ9;!31/03/17;!see!in!this!context! also! Anderson,! Perry,! 2017,!March:!Why!the!system!will!still!win;!in:! Le! Monde!
!
2!
arguments,!not!denying! any!problems!nor!suggesting!arguments!on!the!basis!of!
moral!sentiments.!
Looking!at!the! many! reflections!and! studies,! there!are!in! my!opinion!especially!
two! limitations.! First,! they! are! working! mainly! on!the!basis!of! a! political@
institutionalist!paradigm!–! a!perspective! that! is!also! maintained!when!it! comes!
to! assessing! aspects! of! social! class/stratification,! economic! development! or!
changes! of! political! culture.! Second,! debates! sustain! a! dichotomy,! suggesting!
many! different! forms! of! political! ‘opening,! inclusion,! participation! etc.! but! –!
going! hand! in! hand! with! the! first! factor! –! developing! such! arguments! on! the!
basis! of! an! accepted! ‘we! and! them’:! searching! for! mechanisms! that! allow!
inclusion,! though! there! is! little! consideration! concerned! with! questioning!the!
system!itself,! i.e.! probing! inclusion! in[to]! what,! participation! in![it! should!read:!
from,! i.e.! taking! part! from]! what?! etc.! The! populist! right! actually! is! very! much!
exploiting!these!underlying!issues!by!questioning!such!limitations!and!divisions!
and!proposing!own!utopias!as!concrete!alternative.!On!the!other!hand,!the!left!is!
too! much! caught! in! operating! within! the! given! framework,! not! sufficiently!
considering! that! a! return! to! a! previous! normal! will! not! be! possible! nor! even!
desirable!–!much!of!that!normal!was!actually![i]!itself!an!exception!and![ii]!based!
in! structures! that! not! least! the! left! itself! questioned!over!long!periods!
fundamentally.! Four! dimensions! should! be! looked! at,! seeing! in! them! major!
gateways!for!populism! and!also! major! challenges!and! openings!that! have!to!be!
addressed!for!developing!a!left!alternative:!
1. Distribution!and!Production!
2. Consumption!as!!‘productive!factor’!
3. Political@economic!systems:!comparative!versus!cooperative!advantage!
4. Superiority!of!the!latecomer!
First:%Distribution%and%Production%
Undeniably!a!major!issue!is!extreme!inequality,!seemingly!based!in!mechanisms!
of! distribution! that! are! considered! to! be! unfair,! not! sufficiently! remunerating!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
diplomatique;! https://mondediplo.com/2017/03/02brexit;! 02/04/17;! Anderson,! meaning! populist! movements!
from>>>>!the!right!speaks!of!‘anti@systemic!movements’!
!
3!
‘decent! work’.! This! point! can! easily! be! made! –! and! it! is! often! centre! stage! on!
populist!agendas.!However,!in!this!formulation!we!can!also!see!the!crux!of!such!
an!argument:! underlying! is! the!idea! of! a! ‘fair! wage’,! building! not! least! on! such!
vague!notion!as!that!of!decency.!Thus,!it!pushes!us!very!much!towards!accepting!
the!idea!of!fair!wage!which!Marx!put!into!context:!
Upon%the%basis%of%the% wages% system% the% value% of%labouring%power%
is% settled% like% that% of% every% other% commodity;% and% as% different%
kinds% of% labouring% power% have% different% values,% or% require%
different%quantities%of%labour%for%their%production,%they%must%fetch%
different% prices% in% the% labour% market.% To% clamour% for% equal% or%
even%equitable% retribution%on%the%basis%of%the%wages%system%is% the%
same%as%to%clamour%for%freedom%on%the%basis%of%the%slavery%system.%
What% you% think% just% or% equitable% is% out% of% the% question.% The%
question% is:% What% is% necessary% and% unavoidable% with% a% given%
system%of%production?4%
In! other! words,! the! left,! without! refraining! from! attacking! the! current!
distribution! and! demanding! change,! has! to! bring! the! issue! to! the! level! of!
criticising!the!current!mode!of!production!which!defines!‘What!is!necessary!and!
unavoidable! with! a! given! system! of! production’.! And! it! has! to! do! so! by!
addressing!the!value!generating!aspect!of!labour,!treating!the!latter!in!a!way!that!
grasps! the! real! social! value! of! work.! Furthermore! –! and! this! makes! things!
complicated,! it! has! to! be! highlighted! that! the! changing! ‘composition! of! the!
population’!is! indeed! a! problem!!or!better!said:!should!indeed!issued!being!a!
problem.! But! this! does! not! concern! the! inflow! of! people! but! the! pressure! it!
causes! with! regard! to! the! composition! of! capital! in! form! of! the! devaluation! of!
labour!power.!
Second:%Consumption%as%‘productive%factor’%
An!important!point!on!which!the!‘success!story’!is!established!is!concerned!with!
consumption.! This! is! seen! as! matter! of! competition,! for! instance! by! blaming!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4!! Marx,!Karl,!1865;!Value,!Price,!Profit;!20_Marx@Engels@1864@68.pdf:!129!
!
4!
external! and! ‘alien’! obligations! for! the! need! to! limit! national! and! private!
consumption.!
Furthermore,!this!is!linked!to!conceptualising!consumption!simply!along!the!line!
of!a!liberal!double@orientation:!as!matter!of!growth!of!commodity@production!of!
which! the! purpose! is! seen! as! final! consumption;! and! as! matter! of! final! use! by!
individuals.!In! terms! developing!a! political!strategy! it!is! a!simple! !and!easy!to!
utilise!–! way! to! spark! competition! and! to! direct! as! hostility! and! ‘anger’! against!
‘outsiders’,!be!it!migrants,!members!of!the!LGBT@community,!foreigners,!women,!
disabled!etc.!–!there!is!no!need!for!any!other!criteria!than!‘not!us’,!‘not!according!
to!our!norm’.!And!it!makes!forget!what!the!actual!strength!could!and!should!be!
when!it! comes! to! consumption:! [i]!it! is! part! of! the! productive! process,! feeding!
into! the! production! of! goods! [e.g.! as! raw! material];! [ii]! it! is! a! social! force! –!as!
much! as! a! tendency! towards! individualisation! is! inherent! in! private!
consumption,! there! is! also! a! tendency! towards! bringing! people! together! and!
allowing! them! to! be! together! with! others! [where! would! we! be! without! the!
consumption!of!electrical!energy!by! the!high!speed!train!and!the!tram,!bringing!
us!together!for! political!conferences,!regional! and!international!sport! events!or!
the!table!of!regulars!in!the!pub!of!the!city!quarter];![iii]!it!is!not!least!within!the!
current!mainstream!the!social!fuel!and!social!glue,!‘giving!individual!production!
social! value’,! i.e.! acknowledging! individual! labour! on! the! market! as!
exchangeable;![iv]!not!least!it!is!about!‘producing!the!social’!for!instance!in!form!
of! social! funds! used! by! way! of! active! industrial! policy,! social! security!
mechanisms,!health! systems!etc.! –!These! factors,!forgotten! and! even! denied! by!
populist!strategies,!are!important!points!for!developing!a!sound!strategy!by!the!
left.! This! way,! such! policy! can! gain! ground! as! going! beyond! strategies! of!
distribution;!and!this!way!it!is!also!possible!to!identify!in!a!clearer!way!that!some!
property! is! theft:! turning! social! products! into! private! property.!Such!wider!
understanding!does!not!only! include!external!cost! into!standard!calculations! of!
enterprises,!but!it! embraces! also! the! social! benefits! that! are! privately!
appropriated.! Not! least! this! has! to! be! an! important! aspect! in! the! debate! on!
distribution.!
!
5!
Third:%PoliticalKeconomic%systems:%comparative%versus%cooperative%advantage%
A!fundamental!matter!guiding!populism!is!founded!in!the!economic!paradigm!of!
comparative! advantage,! in! principal! terms! concerned! with! competition,!
competitiveness!and!quest!for!trade!surplus.5/6!Several!critical!points!have!to!be!
made;! the! most! important! however! is! also! the! most! trivial:! trade! surplus! can!
only!be!archived!if!there! are!trade!deficits!‘balanced’!against!it.!This!means!that!
we!have!an!overall!imbalance!–!with!all!the!necessary!negative!consequences!for!
the!global!economy!and!for!national!and!international!political!orders.!There! is,!
of! course,! the! claim! that! comparative! advantage! would! suggest! by! definition!
some! balance:! if! A!is!better!in!producing!product!α! than! in! producing! β,! all!
production!will!be!drawn! towards!producing! α.!However,!it!means! also!that!an!
excess!demand!exists!for!product!β!which!then!should!be!produced!by!country!B!
!though!it!is!not!necessarily!the!case!that!the! opportunity! cost! are! better! for!
country! B! producing! product! α,! the! marginal! rate! of! disadvantage! is! lower! so!
that! all! or! at! least! most! of! the! production! will! be! drawn! to! the! production! of!
product!β.! Leaving! the!detailed! discussion! of!the! many! flaws! of! such! approach!
aside,!the!point!that!needs!to!be!made!at!present!is!that!we!are!today!more!than!
ever! concerned! with! complex! products! and! complex! processes! of! production.!
This! means,! the! other! way! round,! that! the! simple! comparison! is! not! anymore!
possible!as!long!as!we!are!concerned!with!extended!reproduction,7!and!that!
much! of! the! real! advantage! actually! stems! from! cooperation! !the!linkage!
between! different! productive! processes! is! in! itself! an! increasingly! important!
factor! –! this! goes! very! much! in! the! direction! of! taking! the! question! of! value!
chains!serious.!A!thorough!discussion!on!this!topic!has!to!be!taken!up!in!order!to!
rebuke!populism!on!the!basis!of!economic!analysis!instead!of!moral!standards.!
All!this!means! not! least!to!reintroduce! the!question!of! rights!into!the! debate! of!
international!relations,!linking!this!closely!to!a!process!of!revisiting!national!legal!
systems.! The! orientation! has! to! be! directed! towards!conceptualising!rights!as!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5!! With!the!latter!standing!to!some!extent!potentially!in!its!own!way!
6!! In!this!context!iris!also!necessary!return!in!detail!to!the!issue!raised!above!namely!the!pressure!on!the!composition!of!
capital.!
7!! If!it!ever!was!
!
6!
social!rights!!not!rights!that!are!‘granted’!to!individuals!or!based!in!simple!acts!
of!exchange.8!Instead,!it!is!about!understanding!rights!as!relational.!
Fourth:%Superiority%of%the%latecomer%
The!populist! anti@globalist!perspective! !leaving!the!demagogic!rhetoric9!aside,!
and! leaving! also! aside! that! we! do! find! indeed! the! negative! impact! of! globalist!
equalisation,!excessive!standardisation![in!the!form!of!‘cultural!imperialism!and!
hegemony],! downward! pressure!on!working! conditions! and! income! etc.! –!we!
find! also! and! even! more! huge! potentials! of! diversification,! enrichment! and!
exoneration.! In! general! terms! this! is! probably! widely! accepted.! Developing! a!
thorough!and! grounded! approach!suggests! applying!a! perspective!of! ‘historical!
advantage’.!While! arguing! against! Rostow’s! five@stage!model,10!we! can! see! that!
latecomers!had! been! frequently!advantaged,! being!able! to!learn! from!history.11!
Also,!history!clearly!shows! that!‘national!purity’!is! more!the!exception!than! the!
rule.12!
The! present! thesis! is! that! the! initial! ‘modernisation! pressure’! is! so! stark,! that!
development! frequently! leads! or! contributes! to! suffocation! of! temporary!
advantages,!not!least!by!overheating.!Originally!existing!comparative!advantages!
turn!into!halting!movement.!
Conclusion%
This! brings! us! at! the! end! to! emphasising! the! fact! that! populism! is! based! in!
exploiting! the! objective! disparity,! characterised! by! Joe! Guinan! and! Thomas! M.!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8!! following!the!principle!of!individuality,!mutuality,!formal!equality!and!exclusivity.!
9!! see!on!such!rethoric!also!Schalit,!Joel,!31.03.2017:!Trans@Europe!Express:!England’s!Dreaming.!This!week!in!Europe;!
http://brief.euractiv.com/2017/03/31/trans@europe@express@englands@dreaming/;!31/03/17!
10!! Rostow,!Walt!Whitman,!1960:!The!Stages!of!Economic!Growth:!A!Non@Communist!Manifesto;!Cambridge:!Cambridge!
University!Press;!19903!
11!! For!instance!German! economic!success!after! WW@II! was!to!a! large! extent!also!due!to!introducing!latest!technology,!
due!to!the!‘need!to!start!from!the!scratch’.!
12!! E.g.! the! migration! inflow! in to! the! Ruhr! area,! leading! to! the! economic! strength! of! the! Ruhr! area.! One! may ! call! it!
cultural!enrichment:!languages!clearly!show!that!their!development!is!a!mix!and!merger!of!different!origins,!this!way!
not!least!making!issues!‘thinkable’;!usually!going!unrecognised!for!non@linguists,!but!in!several!cases!we!also!see!it!in!
terms!we!use:! the! Berufsverbote! and!kindergarten/kindergarden! as!German!terms!being! used! in! English!language,!
the!computer,!originating!in!Latin![computare],!being!mainstreamed!in!English!as!designation!first!for!any!calculating!
machine,! and! then! for! the! ‘modern! use,! "programmable! digital! electronic! computer’;! see!
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=compute;!02/04/17]!
!
7!
Hanna!as!the!‘social!and!political!limits!of!our!economic!order13.!The!Polanyian!
question!is! then! not! so! much! concerned! with! pure! desembedding!but! with! re@
ordering! of! social,! political! and! economic! order.! I! propose! to! convert!this!by!
using! an! extended! regulationist! perspective! –!speaking!of!integrating!
accumulation! regime,! mode! of! regulation,! living! regime! and! mode! of! life! –! as!
ontological! point! of! reference! and! to! apply! furthermore! the! social! quality!
perspective!with!the!four!dimensions!of!‘biographical!development’!and!‘societal!
development’,! ‘institutions’! and! ‘communities’! dimension!as!epistemological!
frame!of!reference.!
!Of!course,!a!challenge!for!the!left!is!to!deal!with!the!tension!between!hare!and!
hedgehog,14!the!latter!being!caught!in!danger!of!loosing!identity,!though!gaining!
from!cooperative!competition.!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i!!Dr.! phil! (Bremen,! Germany).! Studies! in! Sociology! (Bielefeld,! Germany),! Economics! (Hamburg,!
Germany),! Political! Science! (Leipzig,! Germany)! and! Social! Policy! and! Philosophy! (Bremen,!
Germany).!
!Since!2015!until! end!of!2017!holding!the! position! of! a!senior!foreign!expert!in!the! PRC,! based! at!
Zhejiang! University,! Hangzhou! and! a! founding! professor! at! Bangor! College! of! Central! South!
University!of!Forestry!&!Technology,!ChangSha,!PRC.!
Since!2013!living!in!Rome,!Italy!working!as!member!of!the!scientific!committee!of!EURISPIES!and!
globally! as! social! philosopher.! He! is! also! adjunct! professor! at! the! University! of!Eastern! Finland!
(UEF),!Department!of!Social!Sciences!(Kuopio,!Finland),!honorary!associate!professor! at!Corvinus!
University!in!Budapest,!Faculty!of!Economics,!Department!of!World!Economy.!
He!had!been!teaching!at!several!Third!Level!Institutions!across!the!EU;!currently!correspondent!to!
the! Max! Planck! Institute! for! Social! Law! and! Social! Polic y! [previously! Foreign! and! International!
Social!Law]!(Munich,!Germany).!He!holds!position!as!for!instance!that!of!a!senior!advisor!to!the!
European!Foundation!on!Social!Quality!(The!Hague,!Netherlands),!member!of!the!Advisory!Board!
of!EURISPES!–!Istituto!di!Studi!Politici,!Economici!e!Sociali,!Rome,!member!of!the!Scientific!Board!
and! its! coordination! committee! of! ATTAC! –! Association! pour! la! taxation! des! transactions!
financières!pour!l’aide!aux!citoyens,! Associate!Member!of!the! Eurasian!Center!for!Big!History!and!
System! Forecasting,! Lomonosow! Moscow! State! University,! Russia.! He! held! various! positions! as!
visiting!professor!at!different! universities!within!ad!outside!of! the!EU.!He! also!had!been! research!
fellow! at! National! Taiwan! University,! Taipei;! The! Cairns! Institute,! James! Cook! University,!
Australia;! Visiting! Scholar! at! Orta! Dogu! Teknik! Üniversitesi!(ODTU),!Ankara,!Turkey;!Visiting!
Scholar!at! the! Max@Planck@Institute! Institute! for! Social! Law! and! Social! Policy,! Munich,! Germany.!
Several!visiting!and!research!stays!as!at!the!Plekhanov!University!of!Economics!Moscow,!Russia.!
He!started!his!work! in!researching!European!Social!Policy!and! in!particular!the!role!of!NGOs.!His!
main!interest!shifted!over!the!last!years!towards!developing!the!Social!Quality!Approach!further,!
looking!in! particular!into!the! meaning!of!economic!questions! and!questions!of! law.!He!linked! this!
with!questions!on!the!development!of!state!analysis!and!the!question!of!social!services.!On!both!
topics!he!published!widely.!
Member! of! several! editorial! boards;! editor! of! the! various! book! series! andpeer@reviewing! for!
different!journals!in!the!social!area!and!book!series.!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
13!! Guinan,! Joe/Hanna,! Thomas! M.,! 2017:! Polanyi! against! the! whirlwind.! Editorial! of! Renewal,! A! Journal! of! Social!
Democracy:! Lawrence&Wishart! Volume! 25! No.! 1,! Spring;! 5;!
https://www.lwbooks.co.uk/sites/default/files/renewal25.1_01editorial.pdf;!01/04/17!
14!! Grimm,!Jacob/Grimm,!Wilhelm,!1812:!The!Hare!and!the!Hedgehog!
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.