Yannis Stavrakakis & Giorgos Katsmbekis: Research Handbook on Populism

Yannis Stavrakakis & Giorgos Katsmbekis (eds.), Research Handbook on Populism (Edward Elgar, 2024)

As I suppose everybody knows, populism is a wildly popular academic subject at present. The number of papers and books coming out that focus on the concept is mind-boggling. And, naturally, Comparative Politics and Political Philosophy Departments are promoting new programs for both faculty and students to immerse themselves in populist studies. That, one must suppose, is the main reason for the appearance of this gargantuan collection. At a retail price of $345 (Disclosure: I received a free review copy from the publisher), this “handbook” (which will hardly fit in anyone but a giant’s hand), must surely be intended for university libraries, rather than private bookshelves. The tome, some 548 (small-print) pages, was compiled and edited by a Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a Researcher in Comparative Politics at the Greek Institute of Political Research. It contains 46 articles, ranging from those that hone in on various geographical  or historical differences in populist ideologies, to those focusing on such penumbral topics as populism’s use of religion or its effects on the fine arts.

As there is so much current literature cheaply and readily available on populism to be found at nearly every venue that features politics or political philosophy, from The New York Times and The Guardian to American Political Science Review and Philosophy and Social Criticism (as well as numerous monographs and edited volumes), one may wonder what this book adds to this mountain besides incremental heft. The editors respond to this query in their introduction. One thing they trumpet is the diversity of the authors. “This group is truly global and indeed highly diverse….representing scholars from different regions around the world, that range from people who are just now finishing their doctoral research projects to well established senior colleagues.” This is important in the editors’ view, because “the field of populism research remains quite Western-centric and male dominated.” They then apologize for the fact that their effort to extend this sought-after diversity to the area of “gender balance” didn’t go as well as they wished. But however that may be, I feel compelled to note that no mention is made of racial balance in authorship, which, given right-wing populists’ traditional desire for a “homogeneity” that is race-based, might be considered more important than gender diversity in this context. I also think it may be worthy of mention that while there is, again, not one entry for “race” in the index, there are quite a few, not only for “gender” but for “feminism.

I will also mention that, while I have no idea of the religion of any of the authors and don't mean to suggest that I think such categorization is important, I was surprised by the fact that the index has no entry for “Judaism,” “Jewry,” “Naziism,” “National Socialism,” “Hitler,” or, perhaps most mysteriously to me, “Carl Schmitt.” I would have expected a giant reference book on populism that contains a substantial section devoted to the history of the phenomenon, to discuss the frequency with which the hated elite that is claimed to pose the greatest danger to “the people” around the world are predominantly of Jewish extraction. It might be suggested in the book’s defense that these apparent index lacunae could be at least partially a fault of the indexer since, for example, Ruth Wodak’s “Discourse Studies” entry does discuss the use of Nazi ideology, particularly with respect to Hungary’s obsession with George Soros.  Wherever one comes down on that conundrum, one may still wonder about another, related question: Should a rigorously “diverse” anthology on populism be expected to contain as many articles by those who support the Orbans and Trumps around the globe as by those who are clearly (and in my view, appropriately) disgusted by those autocrats? I leave that question to experts on diversity, and note here only that, if an interest in heterogeneity should require something resembling that sort of ideational range, this particular collection seems not not to come anywhere near reaching that bar.)

Naturally, a work of this size has to be broken up into various  sub-categories in order to be easily usable by the researcher–especially,where the book is not available in a digital version. The editors have done a nice job of this parsing. To wit: Part 1 attempts to provide definitions for the most important concepts that will be used in the book; Part 2 gets into the history of populist ideologies as they arose (mostly) in the 19th and 20th centuries; Part 3 focuses on a few key thinkers and their contribution to earlier populism research, notably Richard Hofstadter and Margaret Canovan; Part 4 directs attention to “the diverse and expanding scope of disciplines….involved in researching populist phenomena,” including foreign policy and legal studies; Part 5 gets into parties, politics, and things like the personal charisma of populist leaders; Part 6 stays in the political realm, with investigations about connections between populism and other notions of popular democracy, as well as its connection with right- and left-wing movements; Part 7 is a region-specific guide to populist politics; and Part 8 discusses research challenges and includes chapters on such matters as feminism and aesthetics from populist perspectives. As I, a septuagenarian, cannot hope to read every paper in this work before I expire, I will here not only omit discussion of most of the individual entries, but even completely miss several of the main divisions. That is obviously a serious defect in any review, and it particularly applies to mine, since it  covers such a small sampling of the whole. But, you know, one does what one can.

Each article (or chapter) contains an opening Introduction as well as a Conclusion. Neither can be counted to clearly summarize the content of the entire piece. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when the chapters are written in what one might call poly-sci-ese, as Genevieve Nootens’ opening “Populism, Democracy and ‘The People’” is, such a format is likely to be troublesome to those not in that field (like me). Nootens’ main thesis seems to be that populism may be thought of either as a “discursive” or “ideational” concept, where the first focuses on the specific policy results being sought by the populists in question, and the second revolves around the changes to democratic procedures being advocated by the group. But this taxonomy fails to work perfectly according to Nootens, largely because these two categories bleed into  each other. She writes that “Scholars generally agree on two key features of populism as a way to frame politics: the central place of ‘the people’ as an agent or source of democratic legitimacy…and an antagonistic worldview that pits ‘the people’ against an elite or establishment.” She designates the first of these features as (at least generally) to be ideational, the second, discursive. This may seem relatively straightforward, but Nootens also suggests that when populism has been portrayed as being at odds with liberal democracy, it can’t have been solely an ideational matter because that tension has often resulted from populism’s challenges to pluralism and a sometimes xenophobic promotion of homogeneity, and such stances seem essentially discursive. This intermixing seems to me undeniable, and I would add that while there are certainly tensions between what Nootens calls “ideational” populism and so-called liberal democracy, I believe they are often a function of (classical) liberalism’s promotion of “natural rights” beyond the so-called political ones required for the existence of authentic democracy (the paper on Canovan here is good on this subject). My own inclination is therefore to shove homogeneity pressures over to the “discursive” side of the ledger, thus relieving largely democracy-focused ideologies from the requirement of responding to accusations that may be unfair.

I want to concede, in any case, that the differences I THINK I have with Nootens may well stem from misunderstandings on my part. When I see a phrase like “many of the basic issues raised here actually point to some problems in the very way political modernity has been framed,” I generally conclude that I should make my way back to the shallower end of the pool before I hurt myself. I will point out as well, that, although it is only this first part of the book that is explicitly asserted to be involved in defining populism, nearly every essayist here gives it their own shot, so if I did missed something important on that front in the Nootens, there’s a good chance that I was able to pick up something similar from one of the later essays (assuming, of course, that the something like the definitions proposed in Part 1 continue to be used in later sections).

The second paper in the book, by Michaelangelo Anastasiou and Jacopo Custodi, addresses the interesting question of whether populism and certain types of excessive nationalism are inextricably connected. In its opening, the authors point out that “this nexus harks back to the long-standing historical identification of ‘the people’ with ‘the nation.’” The literature on this subject has sometimes considered populism to be interchangeable with bellicose nationalism, but the authors argue that such an understanding neglects movements like Spain’s Podemos that have explicitly claimed to be “plurinational” and to be fostering “a country of countries.” That conceptual separation seems to me correct: the connection isn’t necessary or universal. I also agree with the authors’ claim that any “entrenched theoretical inclination” that populism must be inherently undemocratic reflects an analytical bias. I do think, however, that populism, to be authentically democratic, really does need to reflect certain types of “illiberalism”--and I therefore believe that an assumption requiring that restrictions on liberalism must result in reductions in democracy is itself a result of a confused analytical bias. The article concludes by suggesting that the doubt it casts on the claim that the “close empirical association between populism and nationalism” requires a clear disconnect between the two features suggests additional research rather than  dismissal of importance of this association in part because the overlap has been plausibly suggested to be causally useful to populist movements. Following Gramsci, the authors write that the use of a “national-popular collective will” to gain political power “drives many Western political actors in their hegemonic ambitions.”

The opening paper in the second (historical) section is Federico Tarragoni’s engrossing and informative “Populist Sensibilities Before Populism.” Proto-populist tendencies are here shown to stretch back to ancient Athens and Rome, to flower again in 14th Century Florence and in Leveller-era England, and to continue through the time of the Jacobins, Chartists and London Corresponding Society. According to Tarragoni, during this later period, “populist sensibility [came to rest] on two inalienable rights of the people in a democracy: their right to sovereignty (including the political primacy of the majority’s will) and to political representation (including the right to vote and to be elected).” But it is argued that those historical movements should still not be deemed episodes of populism proper. For that, it is claimed that the views needed to undergo a metamorphosis involving romantic and utopian socialism. The article then moves on to an acute criticism of Marxist interpretations of Chartism. It is argued, in sum, that although a number of the prior movements were certainly spurred on by economic discontents, there were no intrinsic socialist demands until about the time of the creation of The People’s Party in the U.S. It is a thoughtful and educative survey that seems to depend to a significant extent on the prior writings of E.P. Thompson, who is frequently cited. I was heartened by Taragoni’s comment that the “tyranny of the MINORITY” does not receive nearly as much press from writers on democracy as it should. Amen.
One item I would have liked to see discussed here is the point at which allegedly anti-oligarchical “demagogues” began to occupy beds with their own set of moneyed elites. Obviously such trysts were in full flower by the time Mussolini’s fascists and Hitler’s national socialists had risen to power. And, of course, corporate toadying –generally via the gifts of large tax breaks and the revoking of regulations–is part and parcel of U.S. Trumpism and Hungarian Orbanism today. But there is nothing here on how those sorts of unholy alliances got going and why no self-respecting right-wing populists have ever seemed to mind them very much. Fortunately, that topic is handled in other entries.

Charles Postel’s meaty and fascinating “Populism and Anti-Populism in the United States” pushes a controversial proposition. It is well-known that while many contemporary observers automatically take the term “populism” to entail various right-wing attitudes like xenophobia and white supremacy, others are quick to deny this by pointing out the numerous current and historical examples of progressive populist parties and factions around the world. Such movements have pushed for, e.g., womens’ rights, labor and banking reforms, wider suffrage, the Single Tax, etc. But on Postel’s understanding, no such recognition of the possibility of left-populism is sufficient, because he thinks the term is strictly inconsistent with right-wing proposals of ANY kind. He blames the current confusion about this matter on “the pundit class,” which he thinks began to call old-fashioned rapacious and xenophobic corporatist conservatism “populism” only because they had been tricked. On Postel’s view, crafty purveyors of deregulation, tax reduction, the return to a gold standard, the suppression of blacks and immigrants, etc. had, beginning in the 1890s, simply picked up a few campaign tricks from REAL populists (who, except for some occasional bouts of racism, had mostly hung out only with angels since the birth of the National Grange in the 1860s). The claim here is that authentic populists have always been redistributionists and sincere (small “d”) democrats who have given their all to assist the poor and downtrodden, particularly those in the agricultural world. My own view is that such infusion of the concept of populism with either right- or left-wing doctrines is not a terribly helpful analytical tool, and I suggest, e.g., that neither Theodore Roosevelt nor Woodrow Wilson can be coherently classified using Postel’s taxonomy (or maybe any other non-ad hoc one). However this may be, Postel has written a fact-filled article which will certainly be valuable to many students of American history.

In his “Richard Hofstadter, Modernization Theory and the Birth of a Global Populism Debate” Anton Jager continues mining the Kansas- Pops-were-wildly-different-from-the-heinous-groups-people-now-call-populists vein. Perhaps because of my general indifference to that sort of historiographical name filtering, in spite of this article’s large and delightful helping of academic gossip, it seems to me a good example of what happens when scholars spend too much time worrying about words when it’s really the things that matter. Hofstadter, whose works I have long enjoyed, seems to have made a number of university enemies by shifting the cause/focus of certain right wing movements in post-World War II America from class to “standing” or “status”--but calling those movements “populist” in spite of this shift. His adversaries felt that he had boiled down what were once seen as legitimate class interests into ugly attitudes of bigoted resentment. At the time of the publication of Hoftsader’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (and, it seems, still today) a number of progressives not only thought/think very highly of American Populists of the 1890s, but because they see that old Party as a pluralist entity, (mostly in the sense of trying pretty much any tact available to further the economic prospects of Midwestern farmers), they have strenuously objected to the use of the term “populist” to describe current, clearly NON-pluralist movements that might better be called “fascist,” even when they are nominally plebiscitary. According to Jager (and I’ve no doubt he is correct) the academic snit involving Hofstadter resulted in numerous internecine quarrels, and may have decimated at least one lifelong friendship. I suppose it also affected both the dissertation topics and subsequent careers of numerous graduate students, especially at Columbia. The question of “Who gets to be called ‘populist’?” certainly seems to have been the central topic of several high-powered international conferences.

Well, not only do I personally enjoy fragrant academia tea, I have nothing against the turn-of-the-20th-century American progressives. In fact, I’m particularly fond of the Oregon Georgist W.S. U’Ren, who tirelessly agitated for such democratic reforms as the referendum and the short ballot largely because successive legislatures kept killing his beloved Single Tax. But for heaven’s sake. What is apparently STILL a big deal in the world of political historiography seems like it could have been put to bed in the 1950s with the use of a dummy variable.
To try to avoid any such purely verbal controversies in my own democracy book, I coined the term “distilled populism,” which I believed would allow me to talk about the requirements of authentic democracy without engaging in a 300-page sidebar on appropriate  usage. My own view is that the latter sorts of discussion are better off eliminated in favor of empirical investigations into what this or that group actually thinks (or thought) about various issues. What would remain after such inquiries seems to me a purely academic quibble regarding the political correctness of using a particular word for some item, group or concept. I understand, however, that “democracy” has, since ancient Athens, also rubbed a number of scholars the wrong way, so I suppose people should take my thoughts on this matter with a grain of salt.

Jager quotes Isaiah Berlin as closing an international conference of eminences gathered in Berlin to discuss this monumental matter “with an admonition against a so-called ‘Cinderella Complex’”: the belief that because there is a ‘populism shoe’ and any number of feet that almost fit it, there must somewhere exist the ideal foot. Berlin warned of the danger in any inkling that one of the nearly-fitting feet might be perfect if a corn were just filed down or it were padded out with a bit of mole skin. I think Berlin was dead right here, but it may be that few scholars in Jager’s field agree with me about the importance of the moral to Berlin’s fairytale.

Another writer on populism (or at least what she and I have called it) whose works I have enjoyed over the years, Margaret Canovan, is discussed in Paris Aslanidis’ arresting “Margaret Canovan, Populist Gadfly.”Somewhat strangely, the piece opens with the remark that its author (i.e, Alsanidis) was not constrained by consideration only of Canovan’s published works. “[B]ased on five interviews conducted with former colleagues, students and a family member” as well as on “a close reading of her entire work,” Aslanidis sets out to “reveal Canovan as a distinctly conservative thinker, a passionate polemicist, and an iconoclastic contrarian…[who was a] fierce critic of progressive liberalism and….staunch defender of the nation-state in the global order.” But if many of those characteristics seem untoward (as they may well to most of the authors included in this volume), Aslanidis notes in Canovan’s defense that calling her a conservative doesn’t do her justice, since she was simply an “irreverent populist gadfly that enjoyed poking holes in lofty academic theories,” as well as goading her “utopian peers out of the Ivory Tower and into the real world, where the common people dwell.” (Those activities, I take it, are more likely to be thought by most of the authors of this volume to be GOOD things).

I am happy to report that the opening warning about the paper being journalistic, in the sense of not relying solely on Canovan’s published writings, but in utilizing interviews as well, is not borne out by what follows. (Perhaps a future book is intended?) Instead, every position Canovan is asserted to have taken over her career, as well as their relationship to the influential views of Arendt and Chesterton, is supported by on-point quotations from her published work. Aslanidis demonstrates by Canovan’s writings that her populism consisted mostly of her consistent anti-elitistism and plebiscitary majoritarianism. The paper goes on to discuss Canovan’s apparently pragmatic support for nationalism based on the “What else could provide anybody with ‘rights'?” theory. I note that Canovan’s take on nationalism was not theoretical or philosophical, but rested mostly on what she took to be prudential considerations, human nature being what it is. [I think about such matters constantly each time I watch an episode of “Welcome to Wrexham.”] For good or ill, it is my view that assertions of social psychology of that type are generally more important for politics and punditry than for democratic theory. In any case, my overall sentiment on this article is one of gratitude for Aslanidis’s careful and comprehensive discussion of someone I take to have been a very important thinker–as well as a fun read. I’m sorry that this chapter of the Handbook needed to be as defensive as it is, but perhaps the current academic environment requires such a stance.

“Populist Constitutionalism” by Akritas Kaidatzis makes and develops the point that, not only is there populism and populism, there is also constitutionalism and constitutionalism. That is, one may want a democratic constitution to be created (or an existing one to be amended to be more democratic), an authoritarian constitution to be created (or made more authoritarian), or a liberal/libertarian constitution to be created (or made to put additional constraints on a government). Similarly, groups, including populist ones, may wish to eliminate their constitutions entirely if that seems to them a better way of reforming their polities. If populists choose an eliminative constitutional tack to take power from “elites” and give it to “the people,” not only will they reduce the power of (unelected) judges, they will likely also have to determine “the people’s will” in some non-electoral fashion. In other words, it seems that authentic plebiscitary democracy will not be on those anti-constitutionalists’ menu. Thus, while some democratic versions of populism can rightly be characterized as “illiberal” in some sense, one cannot both dump the ‘rule of law’ and be counted on to deliver fair elections–or any elections at all. We can, therefore, expect anti-constitutional populists to be interested in other things to the detriment of fair democracy.

Kaidatzis points out that as early as 1993, Richard Parker suggested that constitutional law might “be devoted as much–and even more–to PROMOTE majority rule as to LIMIT it” and reminds us that Mark Tushnet, Jeremy Waldron, Larry Kramer and Richard Bellamy have for some years pushed a less elitist conception of constitutionalism than is popular among the pundits and political campaigners heard daily on television. For within the world of media “experts,” it seems that constitutional law has, largely because of fears of majority tyranny, misleadingly come mostly to amount to widespread and strict judicial constraints on any populace actually getting what it wants. I mentioned earlier, in connection with the Tarragoni piece, that writers on democratic and legal theory have often paid insufficient attention to “tyranny of the minority,” but Kaidatzis’ list of majoritarian authors demonstrates that not every scholar has fallen into that trap. I think Larry Kramer’s excellent 2004 book, The People Themselves, is particularly compelling on this matter.

Near the end of Kaidatzis’s useful, if not terribly groundbreaking, survey of the literature on this subject, it is refreshing–though admittedly frustrating–to be reminded of the truth of Roberto Unger’s stinging 1996 remark that “The discomfort with democracy shows up in every area of contemporary legal culture: in the ceaseless identification of restraints upon majority rule, rather than of restraint upon the power of dominant minorities as the overriding responsibility of judges and jurists;…in the equation of the rights of property with the rights of dissent….” But Unger tells us that none of this should be surprising, because “fear and loathing of the people always threatened to become the ruling passions of this legal culture.”

Like constitutions, political parties can take populist and non-populist forms, and as pointed out in Giovanni’s Barbieri’s “Populism and Political Parties,” many of the populist varieties today can be recognized by their explicit denunciations of every other party as illegitimate, “because they act against the interests of their own people.” Barbieri makes the intriguing distinction between opposition to ALL parties and opposition to all-parties-but-this-one, and distinguishes between “extremist parties, which call for the elimination of parties, and populist parties, which call for a radical rethinking or selective rejection of parties.” Unfortunately, the chapter largely lets those matters drop in favor of a brief listing of populist parties that have popped up around the world since the late 19th Century followed by a detailed discussion of what Barbieri calls “cleavage theory”--with the cleavages in question being between “elites” and “the people.” Barbieri argues convincingly that the process of globalization has had significant effects on cleavages since the 1980s. It seems to me a shame, however, that the last couple of pages of the paper depart from questions specifically relating to political parties in order to provide one more historical discussion of the drivers of populism and how we should understand the concept.

In “Left and Right,” by Maria Esperanza Casullo, we are once again treated to an assortment of definitions of “populism,” in part because if one is to avoid conflation, attempted definitions of “left” and “right” will require a straining out of any explicitly populist taint. Casullo points out that left/right labels were coined during the French Revolution, based on where delegates sat in the Assembly. Over time, leftism began to be more and more associated with Marx’s views on the interests of the proletariat class, and rightism came to be the position of conservative or reactionary support for the status quo and maintenance of prevailing bourgeois prerogatives. But, at least according to Norberto Bobbio, as the Soviet Union fell apart and class distinctions began to seem more like stories than appropriate depictions of current reality, the right/left continuum began to focus less on class and more on willingness to accept existing inequalities of income and opportunity between the rich and the poor. Support or opposition to the maintenance of current social hierarchies thus came to be the key to right-left differences.

Casullo points out that, on that schema, European, North American, and Australian populisms have, since the middle of the 20th Century, tended to be right-leaning, while those in Central and South America have tended to more frequently lean left. But, as noted in several of the articles discussed above, there is current opposition among current scholars to allowing any right-wing movement to be classified as populist. “[A]ccording to this approach, what is usually referred to as ‘right-wing populism’ should instead be recognized as ethno-nationalism, or even as something closer to the classical idea of totalitarianism….[and] the category of populism should be reserved for what are usually called left-wing populisms.” Casullo notes that there is an additional scholarly position according to which “any differences between left and right populism in terms of the economic and social policies…are dwarfed by populism’s overpowering tendencies towards illiberalism, anti-pluralism and even totalization.”  But as anti-pluralism is regularly taken to be a right-wing position, this neither-left-nor-right view generally collapses into an “always eventually right-wing” assessment.

Casullo herself prefers to follow Canovan, Laclau and Mouffe in distinguishing means from ends here, and mentions a wide variety of programmes that seem to share adherence to populist methods and marketing. As she puts it, for populisms “ideology is secondary to antagonism.” The main attraction of her article seems to me to be a table setting forth a summary of the various approaches that she suggests are available for populism research, a variety which seems to me to mirror the execution of the entire handbook in which her chapter occupies a central place.

In the opening to his intriguing “Populist Democracy or Populist Dictatorship?” Paul Lucardie points out that if we take the term “populist democracy” literally, we get a redundancy: “people’s power of the people.” But he recognizes that populism is currently most often seen “as a distinct type of democracy, an alternative to ‘Madisonian’ liberal or pluralist” types. Lucardie himself takes populist democracies to be one of four democratic paradigms, ideals that are mixed in various ways by actual governments.

The four paradigms Lucardie isolates are Elitism, which makes democracy a kind of technical task of constructing likely acceptable positions that only a few specialists are good at; Pluralists, who take politics to mostly be a matter of negotiating settlements between opposing groups; Populism, which prefers majority decisions to compromises, and, for that reason, distrusts parties; and Participationists, who call for regular deliberative activities by the people rather than elections as the solution to public policy issues. Among scholars, Lucardie takes Schumpeter and Riker as examples of Elitists, Dahl as a model Pluralist, Mouffe and Laclau as being at least in the general area of Populists, and Canovan and Barber as direct democracy (or Participation) supporters.

In the real world, of course, politicians, parties, and movements can be expected to take ideas from two or more of these archetypes. So, for example, both Canada’s right-wing populist party and Spain’s left-wing Podemos have tried to reconcile populism with pluralism. As may be expected, a number of populist movements have not cared very much about democracy–populist or otherwise, but what may be more surprising is Lucardie’s claim that “essential elements of populist democracy can be found in political systems not dominated by populists.” As examples of the latter, he gives California and Switzerland, two jurisdictions that are extremely fond of initiatives, referendums, and recall. On Lucardie’s view, however, they fail to qualify as populist: in California’s case because of its retention of “separation of powers and a strong civic culture”; in Switzerland, because of general acceptance of “the pluralist elements of the Swiss constitution.”

Lucardie closes with three conclusions he takes to be paradoxical:  “[1] Populist parties in power usually fail to implement the essential elements of stable populist democracy, i.e., frequent referenda, popular initiatives, direct elections and recall of officials….[2] Populist democracy seems to do better in polities without prominent populist parties, as in California and Switzerland….[and 3] A strong populist opposition party can strengthen the democratic pluralist quality of a system, by politicizing new issues and mobilizing support for alternative policies.” And he takes from these that “the relationship between populism and democracy may be considered ambiguous and ambivalent.”

I must say that my overall view of this Handbook is itself ambiguous and ambivalent. It is, obviously, encyclopedic, and so has the expected benefits and shortcomings of such projects. I am glad, e.g., that each chapter has its own bibliography, for a single reference list at the end of the book would likely span 100 pages or more; but having separate ones means that many works are listed numerous times. This result is similar, though not exactly the same, for the definitional passages in the book; for here, while there is again nearly endless repetition, the proposals are never exactly the same from chapter to chapter, perhaps since there does turn out to be at least SOME ideological diversity here. I don’t want to deny that the book will be useful for students in the field, but I have little doubt that there will be another similar (if possibly lighter) one coming out soon. That, I suppose, is the danger of any social science encyclopedia, indeed of any published overview of one or more areas of (at least ostensible) scientific inquiry. Surely one can’t blame either Elgar or the editors of this work for that inevitability. But I take it this is one reason why wikis have become so popular.

About the Author

Walter Horn is a philosopher of politics and epistemology.

His 3:16 interview is here.Other Hornbook of Democracy Book Reviews

His blog is here