5 December 2019

Populism in the World 

Updated 3 December 2019

Time: 13:00-15:00
Place: Tampere University, Pinni B3117, Kanslerinrinne 1, 3rd fl.

Session Chair
Laura Ahva, IASR,Tampere University

Papers to be presented:

Arto Sillanpää

The mainstreaming and the meanings of the term “deep state” in American political discourse

This paper will analyse the meanings and the conspiracy theories that the term “deep state” has been attached to as it moved from the margins into the mainstream. When applied to the context of the U.S., the term was initially used largely in a nonpartisan manner by various actors outside the mainstream to criticize undemocratic practices of an entrenched and mostly clandestine power elite. Now, however, it is mostly used by supporters and allies of president Donald Trump to undermine actors that are perceived as threats to his position in power. Since the right-wing populist conspiracy discourse around the term portrays Trump and his allies and supporters as underdogs struggling against a powerful, shadowy, nefarious, conspiring, and illegitimate other, the term serves as an instrument that justifies the consolidation of power by potentially delegitimizing anyone purportedly not loyal and devoted to Trump, who in turn is portrayed as the personification of “the people’s” will. The term’s use today is not only limited to hyper-partisan media outlets and their personas who in some cases closely coordinate with the White House, but it is also used—along with the many conspiracy theories that surround it—by some Republican senators and congressmen. As such, the mainstreaming of “deep state” also mirrors the increasing influence of conspiracy theories in American politics.

Robert Imre, TAPRI, Tampere University

The Political Ecology of the Far-Right in Mitteleuropa

In tracing the origins of current problems in Central Europe, there is a thread that has been somewhat unexplored in terms of the ‘dark green’ or eco-nationalist strains of political ecology. In this paper I discuss how the realized socialist period was able to maintain and nurture eco-fascist elements in Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rhetoric about the Carpathian Basin as a home to special people has a direct lineage in explaining current racist and anti-migrant politics in Hungary and Poland in particular. The more current political messages around both ‘Christian nations’ as well as Roman Catholicism in Poland are clearly designed to point to some form of denizen peoples captured by their ‘ecological homes’ thus legitimating or delegitimating their presences. In the ‘transition period’, and the establishment of post-socialism in the 1990s, this version of politics was strengthened by local oppositions to the ensuing neo-liberal version of corporate capitalism driven by MNCs and the EC/EU, and then further strengthened by the ensuing surveillance state in the post Sept-11 era in the 2000s. This brings us to a number of contemporary problems, of which I seek to discuss three: how can activists halt eco-fascist approaches in the midst of this kind of ‘green nationalism’, what sorts of options are available for a more humane politics in Central Europe, and at a theoretical level what kinds of insights does the political ecology approach bring to the political theory of totalitarianism.

Bonn Juego, Dept. of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä

Twelve Dimensions of an Asian Type of Populism: The Case of Duterte’s Authoritarian Populism in the Philippines

The presentation will be based on updates on the published article ‘Duterte-led Authoritarian Populism and Its Liberal-Democratic Roots’ (Asia Maior, 2018), upon which an ongoing research project for a book chapter on Asian Populisms for 2020 is drawn. It will offer a critical examination of the sustained popularity of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte among the Filipino majority amid continued criticism from various opposition groups and negative publicity from sections of the liberal media. It will do so by first introducing the concept of authoritarian populism, which captures the self-contradictory political phenomenon whereby Duterte enjoys considerable social legitimacy despite—or because of—his arguably anti-democratic ideas and autocratic style of governance. In particular, it will discuss at least a dozen dimensions in Duterte’s populist politics as these have become manifest halfway through his six-year term. The concluding remarks take on a historical perspective to support the argument that the popular consent given to an emergent Duterte-led process of autocratization is rooted in the accumulation of democratic deficits in the Philippines during the past three decades.

Assyl Tuleubekov, Doctoral Student, University of Jyväskylä*,
& Aizhan Doskozhanova**
*associate professor, IITU, Almaty, Kazakhstan,
** assistant-professor, IITU, Almaty, Kazakhstan,

Populism in countries with limited democracy

Today it is believed that populism has become a real threat to liberal democracy, especially in Europe. Many politicians and political organizations often have hidden populist motives. The definition of populist traits is one of the important tasks for a simple citizen, especially if it concerns any political elections.

Populism has no generally accepted strict definition, but there are a number of its features. According to them, populists can be distinguished from everyone else and it can be assumed how they will behave in big politics, including if they come to rule a country.

Here, there are 5 main features of populism:

  1. Populists always divide society into ordinary people and elite. They believe that only they express the will of ordinary people.
  2. Populists like to use people’s fears and anxieties about consequences of globalization.
  3. Populists believe that a government does not want to discuss important issues, and explains any criticism as people’s ignorance.
  4. As a rule, when populists gain power, this leads to a political crisis.
  5. In authoritarian countries, populism is perhaps the only effective way to resist official authority.

Populists often dramatize the situation in which society finds itself. They are often called “parties of a single problem”, since they usually have only one or two most problematic issues (for example, immigration, exit the European Union or on fight against oligarchs).

In this regard, the main objective of this paper is to give a general description of populism and describe characteristic differences of populist movements in authoritarian countries.

Finnish Populism

Time 15:30-17:30
Place: Tampere University, Pinni B3117, Kanslerinrinne 1, 3rd fl.

Session Chair
Mahmut Mutman, IASR, Tampere University

Papers to be presented:

Matias Nurminen, Tampere University

Seizing narrative control. The rhetoric tools and populism in online antifeminism

The paper studies the use of literature and narrative strategies of online masculinity movements, that are known collectively as the manosphere. Especially radical manosphere groups construct populist narratives to endorse a misogynistic worldview.

The case at hand concentrates on the faction of neomasculinity, an antifeminist group that wages, in their own words, ideological “narrative warfare”. In their website, they produce reinterpretations of the Western canon of literature, as in neomasculine readings of novels such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. These opportunistic and careless interpretations of literature borrow from post-truth rhetoric.

Neomasculinity also uses renarrativization as a narrative strategy and, for example, the faction contests media’s ability to read correctly: when confronted over their controversial views, neomasculine figures renarrativize their readings and blog posts to promote neomasculine perspectives. Renarrativization is a rhetoric tool that aims to ridicule and to seize control over the narrative and force a certain way of reading. Some of these narrative strategies have also been adopted by other radicals, like alt-right and white supremacists.

Christopher Lizotte, University of Helsinki

Seeing like tomorrow’s far-right activists: Mapping the geopolitical assemblages of nativist and nationalist youth political party organizations

In Europe, several of the insurgent far-right political parties that have upset their respective countries’ long-standing political ecosystems have vibrant youth auxiliary organizations. There is little research on these organizations, and yet they play a vital role in producing the next generation of far-right leaders. In particular through their rhetoric and activism, they articulate a radical alternative to the conventions of an integrated Europe with open borders and multicultural values: a return to distinct national entities that celebrate their idealized Judeo-Christian origins and that exercise strict border controls. This paper situates these visions not as static reproductions of “adult” far-right ideologies of sovereignty and the nation, but as emergent geopolitical assemblages of discursive, material and affective elements harnessed by the larger far-right’s political apparatus.

The paper is a proof of concept for a research project focusing on material from Finland’s youth far-right auxiliary party, the Perussuomalaiset Nuoret (Young Finns; abbreviated PSN). Like other similar organizations in Europe, the PSN and its activists are ambiguously positioned in several ways: they are positioned within the far-right’s entry into “respectable” parliamentary politics even as they transgress against this respectability by maintaining ties with radical identarian groups and communicating taboo racial attitudes. They are nationalist in orientation while participating in a transnational ecosystem in which far-right symbols and ideas are shared across borders. And they are youth participating in a political arena designed for and by adults. On the basis of preliminary social media research, this paper examines how PSN members experience, know, and form affective relationships with concepts that underpin their geopolitical worldview, such as bordering, national identity, and territory.

Sanna Ryynänen, University of Jyväskylä

Bad for any good reason: Jews in the Finnish press before the Second World War

Attitudes towards the Jews have not been especially tolerant or warm in Europe during the current era. The darkest hour for the Jews was, of course, the holocaust. It was preceded by hardening views and talk: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prejudice, distrust, and contempt about the
Jews were spread through religious and educational texts, novels, and media.

In Finland, the number of the Jews has always been very small: In the 1880s there were around 800 Jews in the country. Their amount reached its peak before the WWII, even then being only about 2 000. Thus, they formed no “threat” to Finland – and yet, the idea of the “invasion of the Jews and Jewish capital”, familiar from European media, spread also in Finnish papers. The intimidation could not have been successful without a prior, extremely negative image of the Jews that followed the trends of other Europe and Russia.

In my presentation I will go through findings from my PhD study on how the Finnish newspapers and magazines represented the Jews during the years 1855–1939. The study shows that the Jews were always depicted in a negative manner – only the reasons given for the antipathy varied as
times, needs, and ideologies changed.

Duckitt, J. H. (1992). The Social Psychology of Prejudice. New York, NY: Praeger.
Jokisalo, J. (1996). Antisemitismin traditiot, kansallissosialismi ja Euroopan juutalaisten
kansanmurha. In J. Jokisalo (ed.) Rasismi tieteessä ja politiikassa : aate- ja oppihistoriallisia
esseitä Helsinki: Edita (122–147).
Kantor, D. (2012). Suomen juutalaiset. [online] Available at: http://magma.fi/post/2012/4/24/
suomen-juutalaiset. [Accessed 25 Apr 2019].
Laitila, T. (2014). Uskonto, isänmaa, antisemitismi. Helsinki: Arator.
Rattansi, A. (2007). Racism : A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Marie Cazes, University of Jyväskylä

Evolution of the immigration rhetoric of the radical populist parties: The case of Finland

Due to its geographic position, Finland has not been a country where people have to migrated, the flux went rather to the opposite direction from the late 1950’s to the 1970’s when many Finns moved to Sweden to find a job. Since the 1990’s, small groups of people, especially Somali, started to migrate to Finland. This has given new popularity to nationalist parties who have sought to defend what they consider as the Finnish identity and nation.

In summer 2015, Finland saw a ten-fold increase in the numbers of asylum seekers, compared to previous years, due to the recent movement of people fleeing political conflicts in the Middle East. A bit earlier in the same year, the national-populist Finns party, joined the governmental coalition. The Finns Party is well known for being Eurosceptic and critical toward migration. Indeed, as the numbers of migrants in Finland rose, the populist party adopted a critical rhetoric that became more and more radical on this societal challenge. One of the most critical against immigration and multiculturalism, Jussi Halla-aho, also convinced for incitement to ethnic or racial hatred, was elected as leader of the party in June 2017, which created a split in the party.

In this paper, I will focus on how the migration and multiculturalism rhetoric of Finnish national-populist has evolved since the 1990’s. How despite a low level of migration, compared to Sweden for example, those national-populist parties formulate and legitimize the need to defend and re-define the nation. And how the recent migration to Finland has influenced their rhetoric with more weight to nationalism and criticism of immigration.

Marie Cazes is PhD candidate at the Department of Social science in the University of Jyväskylä. Her research focuses on the construction and evolution of populism identity in Finland since the late 1950’s until nowadays.