The fifth in the ASA’s presentions of the Great Decisions program, prepared and sponsored by the century-old Foreign Policy Association (FPA), designed to be a “catalyst for developing awareness, understanding and informed opinion on U.S. foreign policy and global issues,” will be moderated by Dr. Dennis Anderson, a retired professor of Modern European and German history and an AV resident and ASA member since 2006. The program will deal with “The Rise of Populism in Europe.” As always, there will be some introductory and contextual comments, followed by a short video prepared by the FPA, and a group discussion.
While populism generically is a somewhat ambiguous term, it commonly refers to parties and movements that are nativist, illiberal, nationalist, opposed to multiculturalism, and often consolidating behind a charismatic leader. In the present wave of populist growth across Europe and the Americas, a major catalyst has been mass migration and the problems associated with it. While countries throughout all of Europe have seen the exponential influx of these refugee groups, the video focuses on western European countries, notably the U.K., France, and Germany, and personalities such as the English opposition leader Nigel Farage and France’s Marine Le Pen. (The FPA’s briefing book, to be recommended, does give appropriate attention to other European countries including Hungary, Poland, and Austria.) Because of anti-European Union, anti-NATO and to some extent anti-American attitudes and actions, the rise and activities of these groups make them a matter of serious concern for U.S. foreign policy.
Among possible topics for discussion are the relationship between current populism and past similar movements, a comparison of populist movements in Europe with current attitudes in the U.S., and the extent to which populism is primarily a Western phenomenon. And, of course, Brexit.
Written by Academy Village Volunteer, Dennis Anderson