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Populism is a political philosophy or rhetorical style that holds that the common person's interests are oppressed or hindered by the elite in society, and that the instruments of the state need to be grasped from this self-serving elite and used for the benefit and advancement of the people as a whole. Hence a populist is one who is perceived to craft his or her rhetoric as appeals to the economic, social, and common sense concerns of average people. Most scholarship on populism since 1980 has discussed it as a rhetorical style that can be used to promote a variety of political ideologies. Leaders of populist movements in recent decades have claimed to have been on both the left and the right (Canovan, Kazin, Betz) of the political spectrum, while some populists claim to be neither "left wing," "centrist" nor "right wing."
Populism is often thought of as in opposition to elitism.
Leaders of populist movements have variously promised to stand up to corporate power, remove "corrupt" elites, and "put people first." Populism incorporates anti-regime politics, and sometimes espouses, especially among the right wing varieties, nationalism, jingoism, racism or religious fundamentalism (Canovan, Kazin, Betz, Brass). Many populists appeal to a specific region of a country or to a specific social class, such as the working class, middle class, or farmers (for the latter, see Brass). Often they employ dichotomous rhetoric, and claim to represent the majority of the people. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism [Nov 2006]
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