Tell me something I don't know as they say on CBS's Chris Mathews Show.
What the hell is a populist-libertarian or libertarian-populist?
In his book The Populist Persuasion Michael Kazin traces "two different but not exclusive strains of vision and protest" in the original US Populist movement: the revivalist "pietistic impulse issuing from the Protestant Reformation;" and the "secular faith of the Enlightenment, the belief that ordinary people could think and act rationally, more rationally, in fact, than their ancestral overlords." - Kazin, The Populist Persuasion, pp. 10-11.
- Producerism-the idea that the real Americans are hard-working people who create goods and wealth while fighting against parasites at the top and bottom of society who pick our pocket...sometimes promoting scapegoating and the blurring of issues of class and economic justice, and with a history of assuming proper citizenship is defined by White males;
- Anti-elitism-a suspicion of politicians, powerful people, the wealthy, and high culture...sometimes leading to conspiracist allegations about control of the world by secret elites, especially the scapegoating of Jews as sinister and powerful manipulators of the economy or media;
- Anti-intellectualism-a distrust of those pointy headed professors in their Ivory Towers...sometimes undercutting rational debate by discarding logic and factual evidence in favor of following the emotional appeals of demagogues;
- Majoritarianism-the notion that the will of the majority of people has absolute primacy in matters of governance...sacrificing rights for minorities, especially people of color;
- Moralism-evangelical-style campaigns rooted in Protestant revivalism... sometimes leading to authoritarian and theocratic attempts to impose orthodoxy, especially relating to gender.
- Americanism-a form of patriotic nationalism...often promoting ethnocentric, nativist, or xenophobic fears that immigrants bring alien ideas and customs that are toxic to our culture.
The resurgent right-wing forms of populism borrow from these traditions. (1)
These six characteristics above mark the establishment academic critique of populism as a proto-fascist movement.
I disagree. As I see it, the essential root of populism in the U.S. is debtor revolt against a creditor elite which has seized control of government to extract rents from the general population by debt and taxes. All the other characteristics cited by establishment academics are transitory contigenicies of historical circumstances. Secondary details, not irrelevant, but secondary consequentials.
Libertarian-populism is rooted in Austrian School economic analysis of money and credit. Populism is like an immune response to the parasitical effects of inflation and debt. The social immune response of populism can cause symptoms that are uncomfortable and even dangerous to an entire society of individuals. But criticizing those symptoms evades the core of disease. That core is best understood by Austrian/libertarian economic analysis.
In a nutshell, libertarian-populism is an accurate explanation of the sentiment for revolt held by the vast majority of people in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries against the Wall Street-Washington 'Axis of Evil'. It is a revolt against the elites' manipulation of money and credit.
Even more bluntly, it's all about the money, stupid!
1) This list is a compilation of points made previously by Canovan and Kazin, as well as John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1972); Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); and David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, (New York: Vintage Books, revised 1995, (1988)).