Keeping the ‘open society’ open

Janis Emmanouilidis

In recent years, populism and solidarity have been the focus of public debate. Both issues are very much interlinked: if one wants to avoid radical populists gaining the upper hand, solidarity with those who feel attracted by the simplistic rhetoric of populism, who feel they will be left behind in an age of massive transformation, is necessary. It is the best way to defend a way of life characterized by open, inclusive, liberal and internationalist societies.

The increasing polarization of our societies is playing into the hands of right-wing populists. It is the basis upon which they can develop an ‘us versus them’ logic undermining cohesion within and between our societies. This increasing polarization is fuelled by four key insecurities.

In this climate, traditional mainstream political forces are increasingly squeezed as they struggle to respond to the fundamental challenges posed by radical populists.

First, socio-economic insecurities as citizens (including the middle classes) fear that they will be negatively affected by the new economic realities. These insecurities are fuelled by an increasingly uneven distribution of wealth, job insecurity, social exclusion and the widespread perception that parts of society suffer the negative economic consequences of more integrated regional and global markets.

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