Populism trend needs to be curbed

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-10-14 0:28:01

Populism has been gaining momentum in Chinese public opinion following several public events. Though an unconsolidated trend of thought, it is easily stimulated and could flare up in the future.

It is generally held that populism can be traced back to mid-19th century Russia, but it is ubiquitous in modern and contemporary times. With its enormous anti-elite sentiment and insufficient tolerance for different opinions, it seeks for absolute equality for all the people in a country. Though an important driving force for social justice and fairness, the concept, full of ideals and passion, lacks rationality. Populism can hardly find a footing in a Western society that often adopts an indifferent attitude toward it, which faces restraint there.

Populism has limited influence upon China but shows overwhelming power on the Internet. Certain members of the web elite take advantage of populism to advocate liberalism and some liberalist lawyers attempt to expand their personal influence. This leads to the awful consequence that inconceivable values and political groups are shaped in China.

A society is unable to campaign against populism even with huge effort because the idea takes on different variations and always appears with specific ideologies or political targets. Therefore, what a mature society should do is to get a lucid picture of the reality and nature of its objective existence, strive to prevent political forces in support of the thought from breaching laws and regulations as well as make its pursuit a disgrace in mainstream society.

If not maliciously utilized, populism is supposed to be "innocent" in itself since it only expresses some people's sentiments accumulated in a natural way during the unbalanced development of society with no destructive power.

But such an assumption is all too idealistic, so mainstream society and in particular the government must identify targets in order not to fall into direct conflict with populism and get mired in a passive position in public opinion when cracking down on political extremism.

Given its clear-cut political direction, Internet populism has become politicized populism instead of pure sentiment or thought. Therefore, the general public needs to hold politics back from penetrating into this.

It must be noted that society's call for order will prevail over people's desire for catharsis with the gradual expansion of the middle class in China. Furthermore, those manipulating populism arbitrarily shall be given corresponding punishments in accordance with relevant laws.

Although populism should in no means be encouraged, the government must be prudent in tackling it to avoid defining such a trend as a complete opposition force. In a society with open public opinion, authorities have to remain resilient to a certain extent regarding populism, which constitutes a complicated topic in the realm of social governance.

Posted in: Editorial

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