The State as a Firm

Understanding the Autocratic Roots of Technocratic Populism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Why, when, and how does populism emerge in a stable democracy? This article investigates the political logic and ideological appeal of a rarely explored form of populism: technocratic populism. Technocratic populism uses the appeal of technical expertise to connect directly with the people, promising to run the state as a firm, while at the same time delegitimizing political opponents and demobilizing the electorate by instilling civic apathy. Technocratic populism is an anti-elite ideology that exploits competence to create the appearance of authenticity and proximity to ordinary people. It is less exclusionary than nativist or economic forms of populisms and its broad appeal is therefore arguably more threatening to representative democracy. In order to understand the appeal of technocratic populism, as well as why it arises at critical junctures when dominant ideologies are in turmoil, we argue that one must not ignore its historical roots, which shows that it transcends both regime changes and the traditional left–right divide. The article develops and examines these points using evidence from communist-era populist campaigns against “elitist” dissidents (from Charter 77) in the Czech Republic, and demonstrates how post-1989 politicians have exploited and also adapted ideas and strategies from the authoritarian past for the new democratic setting. The article highlights the adaptive character of technocratic populism across political regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEast European Politics and Societies
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

populism
firm
appeal
apathy
representative democracy
dissident
political regime
Czech Republic
charter
authenticity
Ideologies
politician
expertise
elite
ideology
campaign
regime
democracy
evidence
economics

Keywords

  • Czech Republic
  • dissidents
  • legacies
  • political parties
  • technocratic populism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

@article{baba7ce8040b4b0d944ca79a4668d681,
title = "The State as a Firm: Understanding the Autocratic Roots of Technocratic Populism",
abstract = "Why, when, and how does populism emerge in a stable democracy? This article investigates the political logic and ideological appeal of a rarely explored form of populism: technocratic populism. Technocratic populism uses the appeal of technical expertise to connect directly with the people, promising to run the state as a firm, while at the same time delegitimizing political opponents and demobilizing the electorate by instilling civic apathy. Technocratic populism is an anti-elite ideology that exploits competence to create the appearance of authenticity and proximity to ordinary people. It is less exclusionary than nativist or economic forms of populisms and its broad appeal is therefore arguably more threatening to representative democracy. In order to understand the appeal of technocratic populism, as well as why it arises at critical junctures when dominant ideologies are in turmoil, we argue that one must not ignore its historical roots, which shows that it transcends both regime changes and the traditional left–right divide. The article develops and examines these points using evidence from communist-era populist campaigns against “elitist” dissidents (from Charter 77) in the Czech Republic, and demonstrates how post-1989 politicians have exploited and also adapted ideas and strategies from the authoritarian past for the new democratic setting. The article highlights the adaptive character of technocratic populism across political regimes.",
keywords = "Czech Republic, dissidents, legacies, political parties, technocratic populism",
author = "Lenka Bustikova-Siroky and Petra Guasti",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0888325418791723",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "East European Politics and Societies",
issn = "0888-3254",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The State as a Firm

T2 - Understanding the Autocratic Roots of Technocratic Populism

AU - Bustikova-Siroky, Lenka

AU - Guasti, Petra

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - Why, when, and how does populism emerge in a stable democracy? This article investigates the political logic and ideological appeal of a rarely explored form of populism: technocratic populism. Technocratic populism uses the appeal of technical expertise to connect directly with the people, promising to run the state as a firm, while at the same time delegitimizing political opponents and demobilizing the electorate by instilling civic apathy. Technocratic populism is an anti-elite ideology that exploits competence to create the appearance of authenticity and proximity to ordinary people. It is less exclusionary than nativist or economic forms of populisms and its broad appeal is therefore arguably more threatening to representative democracy. In order to understand the appeal of technocratic populism, as well as why it arises at critical junctures when dominant ideologies are in turmoil, we argue that one must not ignore its historical roots, which shows that it transcends both regime changes and the traditional left–right divide. The article develops and examines these points using evidence from communist-era populist campaigns against “elitist” dissidents (from Charter 77) in the Czech Republic, and demonstrates how post-1989 politicians have exploited and also adapted ideas and strategies from the authoritarian past for the new democratic setting. The article highlights the adaptive character of technocratic populism across political regimes.

AB - Why, when, and how does populism emerge in a stable democracy? This article investigates the political logic and ideological appeal of a rarely explored form of populism: technocratic populism. Technocratic populism uses the appeal of technical expertise to connect directly with the people, promising to run the state as a firm, while at the same time delegitimizing political opponents and demobilizing the electorate by instilling civic apathy. Technocratic populism is an anti-elite ideology that exploits competence to create the appearance of authenticity and proximity to ordinary people. It is less exclusionary than nativist or economic forms of populisms and its broad appeal is therefore arguably more threatening to representative democracy. In order to understand the appeal of technocratic populism, as well as why it arises at critical junctures when dominant ideologies are in turmoil, we argue that one must not ignore its historical roots, which shows that it transcends both regime changes and the traditional left–right divide. The article develops and examines these points using evidence from communist-era populist campaigns against “elitist” dissidents (from Charter 77) in the Czech Republic, and demonstrates how post-1989 politicians have exploited and also adapted ideas and strategies from the authoritarian past for the new democratic setting. The article highlights the adaptive character of technocratic populism across political regimes.

KW - Czech Republic

KW - dissidents

KW - legacies

KW - political parties

KW - technocratic populism

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85058863314&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85058863314&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0888325418791723

DO - 10.1177/0888325418791723

M3 - Article

JO - East European Politics and Societies

JF - East European Politics and Societies

SN - 0888-3254

ER -