The protests in France, symbolized by yellow vests, cover an increasingly large part of society. Political experts have already called this movement a “new revolution”. The scale of the “yellow vest” movement is already so serious that it is absolutely necessary to analyze this phenomenon in a detailed way.
We are dealing with a vivid manifestation of modern European populism. The meaning of populism as a phenomenon rising from the political structure in the societies formed in the wake of the Great French Revolution, and based on the confrontation between right and left, are changing radically.
Populist movements reject this classical political left/right scheme and do not follow any strict ideological attitudes, either right or left. This is the strength and success of populism: it does not play by the preset rules. Nevertheless, populism has its own logic: for all its spontaneity, it is quite possible to trace some logic and even the beginnings of a populist ideology taking shape before our eyes.
First of all, the fact that populist movements are directed against the political elite as a whole, without making a distinction, whether it is right or left-wing, is striking. This is the ‘uprising of the periphery of society against its center’. In his famous work, the American sociologist Christopher Lasch (1932–1994) designated the form of government that prevails in modern Western society as the “elite revolution”.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it was customary to follow José Ortega y Gasset’s discourse about the “revolt of the masses”, whose increasing influence on politics threatened, it seemed, to destroy Western culture – the European Logos.
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