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This term was coined by Catherine Fieschi, who is the Director of Counterpoint and writer of a book titled ‘Populocracy’. Fieschi uses the word “populocracy” because she thinks populism has become a system. She wrote that “Populism is a form of politics that stigmatizes all elites as self-serving, untrustworthy, and incompetent — be they academics, politicians, journalists, experts, or bankers. It puts everyone in the same bag. While putting everyone else (The People) on a pedestal — the people are above reproach, naturally good, and naturally right.”

According to Fieschi, the expression of their will and common sense is the only compass. The only truth. “We run into trouble of course when we start to disagree about what counts as The People. Is it about a simple majority? Is it about those who have been here longest? Is it about those who pay the most taxes? Or are most useful?” asks Fieschi and replies these questions herself: “No one really knows, except we do know that in the hands of those politicians who appeal relentlessly to The People against the elite (the judges, the citizens of nowhere, the immigrants, the experts, to name a few), The People broker no nuance, no diversity, no compromise. This is, above all else, a politics of exclusion — of fragmentation and of polarization.

When she was asked “Why Populocracy is so bad?” her answer is “It is so bad because it leaves too many people out because it gives rise to the worst form of democracy – the one that everyone worried about, the oppressive, exclusive kind. And because, to add insult to injury, it is those people that support it, those who are manipulated into choosing it (out of despair, out of frustration, out of misinformation, out of lack of choice), it treats them worst of all. But, for our collective endeavors, the most worrisome aspect of populocracy, is that, at a time when the problems we face (climate change, new security threats, the mass mobility issues both create, etc.) require the highest possible levels of collaboration, of give-and-take, of solidarity and collective strength, populocracy trades in the very opposite: pulling up the draw-bridges and battening down the hatches.”

This is what Fieschi calls Jiu-Jitsu politics: “Populism, and our current state populocracy, have stolen democracy’s best moves: they claim to give the people a voice, they claim to understand them deeply and intuitively, their politicians claim to be one of them and to have a direct understanding of the needs of The People.”