MUSINGS FROM MOSCOW: Ten Political Science Questions On Today’s world


Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

1. Given that not every nationalist-populist movement is Alt Right, how can any serious, responsible commentator anywhere, confuse the distinction between the ‘Alt-Right’ and the ‘nationalist-populist’ and conflate the two?

2. Given that not everything ‘national’ is nationalist, how can any thinking person confuse ‘nationalist populist’ with ‘national populist’?

3. How can any responsible person not know that in the world today the viable choice is often within nationalist populism rather than outside it, and that what is outside nationalist populism today is elitist neo-liberalism, which is a major cause and accelerant of nationalist populism and its Alt Right version?

4. How can any rational analysis be unaware that nationalism is not homogenous and in many societies the choice that must be made is either between patriotism and nationalism or between types of nationalism, because what stands against these is elitist cosmopolitanism which cannot hold up in today’s world against the tide of patriotism/nationalism of some sort or another?

5. How can any literate person not know that populism is almost always joined at the hip with nationalism, especially in the Global South?

6. How can any intellectual or well-read person not know that the finest mind that grappled with the deadly Alt Right of the 1920s and 1930s was Antonio Gramsci and therefore no serious discussion on politics today—or politics in general—can take place without grasping Gramsci (though, absurdly, some do not make a single reference to him)?

7. How can anyone acquainted with Gramsci not know the distinction between nationalist-populism and the ‘national popular’ and that neither the Alt Right nor nationalist populism can be countered without a project which is authentically national-popular?

8. How many of those who frequently refer to Zizek, not know that he is a fine philosophical thinker but not so much a political one, and that in the realm of political theory and strategy it is necessary to study Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s later writings on Populism and their advocacy of a project of Left Populism? How can any serious mind not understand that the only viable project today globally is to identify the non-Right within the nationalist-populist camp and either to shift the left towards accommodating populism, or shift the populists to the left, or do both?

9. Is it impossible to grasp that in the face of a rising Alt Right globally, it is necessary to indentify the Right, Left and Center within rising national populism, and to counter-pose a national popular project to the Alt Right—and that this can only consist of an alliance of or with the left and center of the nationalist-populist tide against neoliberal elite Establishments?

10. Is it impossible to grasp that on a global scale, it is only by balancing off the center and center-left within global nationalism and populism, against both the neoliberals and the Alt-right globally; only by leveraging rational, Realist statism against the ‘state-degradation’ (as Putin denounces it) of neoliberal interventionist hegemonism and the irrational neo-tribalism of the Alt-Right, that global equilibrium can be achieved by humanity?