Populism, as both ideology and political movement, is nearly a universal, albeit sporadic, feature of all modern democratic political systems. One basic problem in identifying and assessing populist movements can be traced to definitional questions because their basic features are similar to those found in conventional democratic politics. For example, references to “the people” by charismatic leaders who emphasize the need for a “redeeming break” with current practice and who exploit the anger of citizens are all features of populist protest as well as staples of electoral practice. Further, the causes of populist movements are quite varied and can include a wide range of both economic and cultural issues.
In the United States after the Civil War, farmers protested against the impact of industrialization, particularly in regard to railroad rates for their crops, the cost of new machinery, and bank lending policies. These complaints coalesced into a mass movement led by the Farmers’ Alliance. Populists formed their own political party in 1892 and approved a platform that expanded on these initial protests. The party later merged with the Democrats and the movement declined in part as a result of the defeat of William Jennings Bryan by William McKinley in the 1896 presidential election. Populist movements in somewhat different forms, however, continue to reemerge as a factor in American politics. While populism is possibly the only example of an indigenous radical mass movement in the United States, it is a subject of controversy among democratic theorists.
The Farmers’ Alliance was a complex collection of state and local organizations, including two broad groups in the Midwest and the South, that sometimes competed with one another. Since the Southern Alliance did not admit African Americans, these farmers formed their own organization (Colored Farmers’ Alliance). These groups used a variety of inventive measures to increase the price of crops. The price of cotton, for example, had declined below the cost of production. Cooperative trade agreements were made with merchants for lower prices for equipment and higher prices for produce. In some states, the alliance built its own mills for crops. Speakers and lobbyists were hired to publicize the farmers’ plight. The Colored Farmers’ Alliance created aid programs for needy farmers.
Differences in strategies and tactics, however, plagued the movement. Some Texas “alliancemen” favored the polices of Andrew Dunlap, who emphasized a “strictly business” approach of self-help, while others, including S. O. Dawes and Charles William Macune, sought broader goals and focused on reforming the currency system, which they had concluded was the core cause of the farmers’ plight. There were also disputes between relatively economically secure farmers who could afford the “cash and carry” agreements of the cooperatives and indebted farmers who could not.
The goals of the movement began to expand in the late 1880s as the impact of these cooperative plans proved to be more limited than hoped and farmers became disenchanted with politicians who failed effectively to promote agendas that helped elect them to office. Mary Lease, a Kansas activist, allegedly urged farmers to “raise less corn and more hell.” Independent candidates with alliance support ran with considerable success in midwestern states in 1890. In the South, the alliance focused upon taking over the Democratic Party. While these local efforts produced elected officials such as Tom Watson of Georgia and “Sockless” Jerry Simpson of Kansas, who would become major figures in the populist movement, the alliance leaders increasingly came to the conclusion that a national third party was the only hope for farmers.
After series of meetings in Ocala, Florida; Saint Louis, Missouri; and Cincinnati, Ohio, a national convention was held in Omaha, Nebraska, to form a new political party. The Omaha platform itself became a revered document among Populists who regarded it as a “second Declaration of Independence.” The preamble, written by Ignatius Donnelly, announced that “a vast conspiracy against mankind” was about to take “possession of the world.” “If not met and overthrown at once … terrible social convulsions, a destruction of civilization, or the establishment of an absolute despotism” was certain to follow. The proposals themselves were organized into three categories: finance, transportation, and land. The new party demanded the “free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold,” an increase in the money supply, a graduate income tax, limits on state and federal spending, postal savings banks, public ownership of railroads, privatization of land now held by corporations “in excess of their actual needs,” and reclamation of land owned by aliens. The convention also approved an “expression of sentiments,” including support for a strike led by the Knights of Labor against clothing manufacturers in Rochester, New York, and urged a boycott of the firm’s products. Specific endorsement of a subtreasury plan that provided for government-backed credits for farmers, which Macune had long supported, did not appear in the final document. Nor was a proposal for female suffrage included on the platform, although it had been endorsed at the Saint Louis meeting.
Delegates would likely have nominated Leonidas L. Polk, head of the National Farmers’ Alliance and renowned orator, for president, but they turned instead to James B. Weaver, a former Union general, after Polk’s sudden death. James G. Field, a former Confederate general, was nominated to give the ticket regional balance. Weaver campaigned widely and attempted to trace the ideology of the party back to Andrew Jackson. “The whole movement,” he said, “can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Equal rights for all and special privileges to none.’” The Populist Party received a million votes and twenty-two electoral votes in the 1892 presidential election. Populist candidates at the state level did quite well, although the party was unable to win control of any state government without Democratic Party support.
Several decisions proved to be crucial to the course of populism after the 1892 election. Grover Cleveland’s victory as president was the result in large part of the Populist Party, which drew Republican votes, particularly in western states. The Democrats were severely weakened by the panic of 1894. Some Populists, called “fusionists,” argued that they should now attempt to take control of the Democratic Party away from its conservative leaders. Others argued for a continuation of a separate third party, and others believed that a regionally based party should be the focus of the next elections. When Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan with Populist support at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1896, Populists feared that two presidential candidates supporting populist proposals would assure a Republican victory. Some Populists now argued that the new party should endorse Bryan rather than nominate him as their candidate. At their convention in Saint Louis, Populist delegates nominated Bryan but refused to accept his running mate, Arthur Sewall, a conservative shipbuilder, and nominated Tom Watson instead. Populists did not anticipate that the outcome of the election would be a major national party realignment that made Republicans the dominant party for the next thirty-six years. Antifusionists claimed that Bryan’s defeat was largely the result of his emphasis of monetary issues over other Populist ideas. The majority of Populists again nominated Bryan, although a faction of the party dissented and nominated their own candidates. Tom Watson ran as the presidential candidate of the Populist Party in 1904 and 1906 but received only 120,000 and 30,000 votes, respectively.
Despite the collapse of the movement, the themes of the Populist Party have sporadically remerged in American politics. Antipathy to elites, an interest in monetary plans as a fulcrum for political change, support for rural and small-town values, and acceptance of conspiratorial theories are featured in whole or in part among those who supported Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s and the presidential campaigns of George Wallace (1968) and Ross Perot (1992) as third-party candidates. Several presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Jimmy Carter in 1976, and George W. Bush in 2004, have employed some populist themes.
The “golden age of populism” in Latin America occurred later than in the United States. These movements were responses in part to the Great Depression. They grew in the context of unstable regimes, and some were more successful than their earlier North American counterparts. The exemplar was Juan Perón, who governed Argentina for two terms as president (1946–1955; 1973–74) with the support of urban workers (derisively called the “shirtless ones” by his opponents) through the promise of numerous economic benefits, the nationalization of major corporations, and the incorporation of trade unions into the government. Perón called his programs the “third way,” but Peronism was in fact a volatile mixture of right- and left-wing elements. Gertúlio Vargas in Brazil and Lázaro Cárdenas in Mexico pursued some of the same policies. Vargas was an admirer of Mussolini, and Perón welcomed fascists to his country after World War II, while Cárdenas invited Leon Trotsky to Mexico after his exile. While those sympathetic to the Peronistas are still a political force and Cárdenas’s regime gave birth to the Party of the Mexican Revolution, or PRM, the current rise of populism can be directly traced to reaction against the “neoliberal” policies of political leaders in the 1990s. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, among others, have rejected programs encouraging foreign investment and privatizing social services as policies of U.S. imperialism. Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” emphasizes redistributive programs based on state oil revenues, and Morales promotes the economic and cultural goals of indigenous farmers. Both frame their policies as correctives to the power of local elites and foreign economic interests.
Many scholars locate the basic features of populism in the rise of fascist regimes in Europe and thus conclude that populist appeals are a significant threat to democratic regimes. On the other hand, political leaders such as David Lloyd George in the United Kingdom and Leon Blum in France employed populist themes and programs within a democratic context. Recent populist movements reveal the same range of alternatives. Protests against immigration and economic centralization have produced populist challenges in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria, and France.
Scholars are divided over whether populist outbursts represent a desirable form of democratic protest against economic and political centralization or whether they pose a threat to democracy in their emphasis on the authority of the “people” and opposition to economic change.
SEE ALSO Ballots; Chavez, Hugo; Elections; Jingoism; McCarthyism; Peronism; Personality, Cult of; Progressive Movement; Racism; Radicalism; Social Movements
Canovan, Margaret. 1999. “Trust the People!” Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy. Political Studies 47 (1): 2–16.
Goodwyn, Lawrence. 1976. Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hicks, John D. 1931. The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s Party. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hofstadter, Richard. 1955. The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. New York: Knopf.
Kazin, Michael. 1998. The Populist Persuasion: An American History. Rev. ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Mazzoleni, Gianpietro, Julianne Stewart, and Bruce Horsfield, eds. 2003. The Media and Neo-Populism: A Contemporary Comparative Analysis. Westport, CT: Praeger.
McMath, Robert C., Jr. 1993. American Populism: A Social History, 1877–1898. New York: Hill and Wang.
Peal, David. 1989. The Politics of Populism: Germany and the American South in the 1890s. Comparative Studies in History and Society 31 (2): 340–362.
"Populism." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045302004.html
"Populism." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 2008. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045302004.html
POPULISM arose in the late 1880s and 1890s as a movement of farmers, laborers, and other reformers protesting the inequities of American life. The late nineteenth century was an era of rapid innovations in telecommunications, steam transport, industrial organization, and global trade. The Populists believed that these changes unfairly benefited the leaders of industry and finance, and impoverished the men and women of the farms and workshops that produced the nation's wealth. Because of this belief, scholars have often described Populism as an expression of the resistance of tradition-bound small producers to the modernizing ethos of progress. Yet many late-nineteenth century farmers and laborers showed as much commitment to the ideals of progress as any other group of Americans. Instead of rejecting change, the Populists sought to put their own stamp on the technical and market revolutions. Farmers, mechanics, and other ordinary citizens were confident that they could collectively shape commerce and government to serve their own interests. Therein lay the significance of the Populist movement.
After the Civil War (1861–1865), the combination of Indian removal and railroad expansion opened up vast areas of the trans-Mississippi West to wheat and other staple-crop farming. In the South, too, cotton growing expanded into new territory. The global market for American cereals and fibers, however, failed to keep pace with the rapid growth of American agriculture, which placed a steady downward pressure on market prices. Between 1870 and 1890, the wholesale index of farm products in the United States declined from 112 to 71. For many farmers, their highly mortgaged and indebted farms offered scant prospects of sustainability, much less of prosperity.
Reform-minded farmers resorted to organization. In the upper Midwest, they affiliated with the Northwestern Farmers' Alliance led by Milton George, and with the Illinois-based Farmers' Mutual Benefit Association. The National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union, or Southern Alliance, represented the largest and most influential farm organization. Originating in Texas, the Southern Alliance organized farmers from Georgia to California, and from the Dakotas to New Mexico. By 1890, it claimed over 1,200,000 members in twenty-seven states.
Charles Macune, the president of the Southern Alliance, believed that farmers had to organize as a business interest on a par with other commercial interests. Accordingly, farmers' organizations lobbied to raise the position of agriculture in the national economy. They sought diffusion of commercial, scientific, and technical knowledge. They advocated cooperative business principles and experimented with large-scale incorporated enterprises to regulate cotton and other agricultural markets. They also pressed for an expanded government role in the farm economy. They took the federal postal system as a model of potential reform, and demanded postal savings banks, a postal telegraph, and nationalized railways. Macune also proposed a subtreasury system that would provide low-interest federal loans on staple crops to be stored in federal warehouses.
Farm reformers also sought rural education. They campaigned for public schools and colleges. At the same time, the Alliance movement itself was to serve as "the most powerful and complete educator of modern times." The Alliances created an extensive system of literature networks, lecture circuits, and adult education across much of rural America. Farmwomen took part in this educational work in numbers then unmatched by any secular mobilization of women in American history. Roughly one out of four Alliance members was female. Their ranks included the famous orator Mary Lease, the editor Annie Diggs of Kansas, Marion Todd of Illinois, and Bettie Gay of Texas. Women often joined the rural reform movement in pursuit of female suffrage and temperance. They also
sought to ease the burdens of rural labor and realize a more independent, modern life.
The Alliance movement organized along strict racial lines. Many rural reformers advocated Chinese exclusion, and the Southern Alliance enforced a "whites only" rule. Although blacks joined their own Colored Farmers' Alliance, the white and black Alliances were very separate and unequal. In part, this reflected the gap between white Alliance members, who tended to be middling farmers with property, and black Alliance members, who tended to be poor renters working white owners' land as tenants or sharecroppers. It also reflected the commitment of the white Alliance to segregation and white supremacy.
The People's Party
The Alliance movement originally embraced a policy of nonpartisanship, which meant effecting reform by supporting sympathetic candidates within both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Many reformers, however, grew discontent with this policy, convinced that the existing parties were too bound by graft and corruption to challenge corporate privilege. Such discontent provided the impulse for a third party. After a series of preliminary meetings, farm, labor, and other reform groups held the founding convention of the People's Party of the U.S.A., also known as the Populist Party. in Omaha, Nebraska, in July 1892. The Populist platform contained the fundamental Alliance demands regarding money, transportation, and land. This included the subtreasury plan, an expanded national currency and the coinage of silver to stimulate the economy and provide debt relief, a graduated income tax, government ownership of the telegraph, telephones, and railroads, and the prohibition of speculative land ownership by railroad corporations and foreign investors. The People's Party also favored the adoption of the secret ballot, direct election of Senators, legislation by referendum, and other measures to break the corrupting influence of corporate lobbyists over the political process.
Populist efforts to win the support of the labor movement produced mixed results. Most urban wage earners, especially in the Northeast, where Populism had only minimal organization, showed little interest in the third party. The Populists, who were mainly native-born and Protestant, never succeeded in appealing to large numbers of Catholic and immigrant workers. Nonetheless, especially with the onset of a severe economic depression in 1893, significant sections of the labor movement looked to Populism for answers. In Chicago and other cities, socialists and trade unionists made political agreements with the People's Party.
More importantly, miners and railroad workers—two of the largest and most dynamic forces in the labor movement—shared much in common with the rural Populists. They, too, sought systematic organization as a counterbalance to corporate power. They, too, believed in government intervention in the form of regulation and mandatory arbitration, and they believed in public ownership as the ultimate means to restrain the corporations. Mine workers provided the main support for the People's Party in several Midwestern and Rocky Mountain states. Many railroad employees also joined the third-party effort. The Populists supported the railroad workers in the great Pullman strike during the summer of 1894. After the suppression of the strike by federal authorities, the imprisoned leader of the railroad workers, Eugene V. Debs, emerged as one of the most highly regarded champions of the People's Party. Jobless workers also looked to the Populists. Jacob Coxey, a People's Party candidate from Ohio, led the "Industrial Armies" on a march to Washington to demand a federal "Good Roads" bill to provide jobs for the unemployed.
Populism also provided a meeting ground for the nation's nonconformists, iconoclasts, and free thinkers. It attracted advocates of every type of social and mental innovation. Of these, the most influential were the adherents of the economic panacea movements, such as the Single Tax leagues inspired by the tax doctrines of Henry George, and the Nationalist clubs that pursued the state-capitalist utopia sketched in Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward (1888). The People's Party also embraced religious nonconformists. Populists were often raised in Protestant homes and held strong religious beliefs. Yet many reformers abandoned ideas of traditional piety in favor of a social gospel more fitting to the demands of secular reform. Other Populists embraced agnosticism, spiritualism, mental science, and other belief systems that they considered to be more suitable to a scientific age.
Fusion and Decline
The People's Party stirred deep anxiety among upper-and middle-class Americans. The political establishment attacked the Populists as "cranks and heretics" who threatened to subvert the republic with "anarchy and lawlessness." Nevertheless, Populism scored a number of electoral victories. William A. Peffer of the Kansas People's Party gained a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1890. In the 1892 presidential election, the Populist candidate James B. Weaver of Iowa carried six states with twenty-two electoral votes. That same November, the Populists elected two governors, Davis Waite of Colorado and Lorenzo D. Lewelling of Kansas. Populists in the U.S. Congress included Thomas E. Watson of Georgia, Marion Cannon of California, and "Sockless Jerry" Simpson of Kansas.
These modest achievements, however, only underscored the formidable institutional obstacles facing a third party that attempted to crack the winner-take-all, two-party system. Populism struggled to present itself as a viable political alternative. By 1896, many supporters of the People's Party favored electoral combination, or fusion, with one of the dominant parties. Fusion led to the election that fall of seven senators and thirty-two congressmen supported by the Populists. Fusion also led to Populist
endorsement of the 1896 Democratic presidential candidate, Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan. The Democratic-Populist Bryan campaign focused on the single issue of coining silver, leaving aside the more substantial Populist reforms. Bryan's defeat at the polls delivered a mortal blow to the Populist cause. Although the People's Party did not formally disband until the beginning of the new century, it lost political credibility. The Populist experiment had run its course.
Ayers, Edward L. The Promise of the New South: Life after Reconstruction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Barthelme, Marion K. Women in the Texas Populist Movement: Letters to the Southern Mercury. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.
Goodwyn, Lawrence. Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Hicks, John D. The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers' Alliance and the People's Party. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1931. Reprint, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981.
Larson, Robert W. Populism in the Mountain West. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986.
McMath, Robert C., Jr. American Populism: A Social History, 1877–1896. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
Ostler, Jeffrey. Prairie Populism: The Fate of Agrarian Radicalism in Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, 1880–1892. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.
"Populism." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401803331.html
"Populism." Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3401803331.html
Scholars differ on the question of when the tendency known as populism (narodnichestvo ) was most significant in Russian social and political thought. Some suggest that populism was prominent from 1848 to 1881; others, that it was a revolutionary movement in the period between 1860 and 1895. Soviet scholars primarily focused on the 1870s and 1880s. There is also disagreement about what populism represented as an ideology. There are three ways of looking at it: as a reaction against Western capitalism and socialism, as agrarian socialism, and as a theory advocating the hegemony of the masses over the educated elite.
As this should make evident, populism meant different things to different people; it was not a single coherent doctrine but a widespread movement in nineteenth-century Russia favoring such goals as social justice and equality. Populism in Russia is generally believed to have been strongly influenced by the thinking of Alexander Herzen and Nikolai Chernyshevsky, who during the 1850s and 1860s argued that the peasant commune (mir ) was crucial to Russia's transition from capitalism to socialism via a peasant revolution.
There were three strands in the Russian populist movement. The first, classical populism, was associated with Peter Lavrovich Lavrov (1823–1900), a nobleman by birth who had received a military education and later became a professor of mathematics. Lavrov was an activist in the student and intellectual movement of the 1860s, and a consequence was forced to emigrate from Russia in 1870. His experience in the Paris Commune during the 1870s convinced him of the need for change, especially in the aftermath of the Great Reforms of the 1860s. In his Historical Letters (1868–1869), Lavrov stated that human progress required a revolution that would totally destroy the existing order. Again in his Historical Letters (1870) and in his revolutionary journal Vpered (Forward ) from 1870 to 1872, Lavrov argued that intellectuals had a moral obligation to fight for socialism, and in order to achieve this goal they would have to work with the masses. As he saw it, preparation for revolution was the key. In The State in Future Society, Lavrov outlined the establishment of universal suffrage, the emergence of a society in which the masses would run the government, and above all, the introduction of the notion of popular justice.
The second type of Russian populism was more conspiratorial, for it grew out of the failure of the classical variant to convert the majority of the Russian people to socialism via preparation and self-education. The major thinkers here were Peter G. Zaichnevsky (1842–1896), Sergei G. Nechaev (1847–1883), and Peter Nikitich Tkachev (1844–1885). Zaichnevsky, in his pamphlet Young Russia, called for direct action and rejected the possibility of a compromise between the ruling class (including liberals) and the rest of society. He argued that revolution had to be carried out by the majority, using force if necessary, in order to transform Russia's political, economic, and social system along socialist lines. Not surprisingly, Zaichnevsky's ideas are often seen as a blueprint for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Nechaev pointed to two lessons that could be learned from the failure of classical populism: first, the need for tighter organization, stricter discipline, and better planning, and second, the effort to go to the people had proved that the intelligentsia were very remote from the masses. In his Catechism of a Revolutionary, Nechaev argued that individual actions must be controlled by the party and advocated a code for revolutionaries in which members were dedicated, committed to action not words, adhered to party discipline, and above all, were willing to use every possible means to achieve revolution. Finally, Tkachev, who is probably the most significant of the three chief conspiratorial populists, advocated a closely knit secret organization that would carry out a revolution in the name of the people. For obvious reasons, he is often described as the forerunner of Vladimir Lenin or as the first Bolshevik. All three of these thinkers envisioned a revolution by a minority on behalf of the majority, followed by agitation and propaganda to protect its gains. The similarity to the events around the 1917 October Revolution is evident.
Populists of the classical and conspiratorial varieties rejected terrorism as a method, and Tkachev maintained that it would divert energy away from the revolution. The terrorist wing of Russian populism, however, insisted that agitprop and repeated calls for revolution would accomplish nothing, and therefore direct action was essential. This position was associated with the two main groups that grew out of the Land and Freedom (Zemlya i Volya ) organization, People's Will (Narodnaia Volya ), and Black Partition (Cherny Peredel ). The failure of the earlier populist movements and the situation in late nineteenth-century Russia (i.e., no political parties or real trade unions, government intervention in every area of life) led to a direct attack on the state, culminating in the assassination of Alexander II in March 1881. Although the clamp-down and greater censorship that followed this event reduced the degree of terrorism, they did not eliminate it altogether, as shown by the emergence of a workers' section and young People's Will after 1881.
The populists did not accept the idea that the Russian people had a unique character or destiny. Instead they emphasized Russia's backwardness, but in their view it was not necessarily a disadvantage, because backwardness would enable Russia to avoid the capitalist path and embark upon agrarian socialism based on a federal structure of self-governing units of producers and consumers. When this did not come to pass, some populists turned to more extreme measures, such as terrorism. All in all, the lessons learned from the failure of populism paved the way for a gradual move toward the emergence of social democracy in Russia during the 1890s.
See also: great reforms; land and freedom party; people's will, the; social democratic workers party
Geifman, Anna. (1993). Thou Shalt Kill: Revolutionary Terrorism in Russia, 1894–1917. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Offord, Derek. (1987). The Russian Revolutionary Movement in the 1880s. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Pipes, Richard. (1964). "Narodnichestvo : A Semantic Inquiry." Slavic Review 23(3):441-458.
Venturi, Franco. (1983). Roots of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in 19th Century Russia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wortman, Richard. (1967). The Crisis of Russian Populism. New York: Cambridge University Press.
WILLIAMS, CHRISTOPHER. "Populism." Encyclopedia of Russian History. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404101049.html
WILLIAMS, CHRISTOPHER. "Populism." Encyclopedia of Russian History. 2004. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404101049.html
Today, the term is most often used within Marxist and neo-Marxist circles in a broadened and transformed sense to refer to any political movement which seeks to mobilize the people as individuals, rather than as members of a particular socio-economic group, against a state which is considered to be either controlled by vested interests or too powerful in itself (see, for example, E. Laclau , Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory, 1978
). For this reason, too, and somewhat ironically since they were promoted by the state itself, the policies of British governments during the 1980s, and the ideology which informed them (so-called Thatcherism), were sometimes described by those on the political left as ‘authoritarian populism’.
Populism has been a potent political force in developing countries–Peronism in Argentina is an obvious example–and has emerged as a major phenomenon in post-Soviet Central and Eastern Europe. In both cases the connections with nationalism are important.
GORDON MARSHALL. "populism." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-populism.html
GORDON MARSHALL. "populism." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-populism.html
This entry includes two subentries:Latin America
"Populism." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3424300620.html
"Populism." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. 2005. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3424300620.html