Populism and the New World Order

On the 19th of September, Wednesday night, our College had the new semester’s first lecture. Máté Szalai, a researcher at the Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Institute, assistant lecturer at the Corvinus University of Budapest, and the mentor of GyDSz/CASDP, talked about a truly current and influential topic, providing also the title of this lecture: Populism and the New World Order.

The overture of the lecture included two pieces of art, providing the audience with food for thought: firstly, Grant Wood’s American Gothic painting, and the widely known institution of the Jedi Council from George Lucas’s Star Wars universe. According to Máté Szalai, while the former is a typical, recently widely cited and parodied illustration of populism, the latter is intended to display the elite and the intellectuals in movies.

The idea of New World Order made its debut in former US President George H. W. Bush’s speech in 1990 when the former US president announced the dawn of a beautiful new future. With a basis provided by capitalism, western dominance, and international institutions, however, far less by democracy and liberalism. Following this, the lecturer illustrated on diagrams how much has the world developed in the past decades – but this economic well-being did not reach everyone in an equal matter. Although, in an absolute sense, everyone, without exception, has a better life than before at any point in history; in a relative sense this is not true. Even in Hungary, only a small group benefited from the 1989 Regime Change, while a part of the Hungarian society was directly badly affected; thus also leading to an increase in demand for populist politicians, which is also due to the sense of insecurity and peril, the absence of political consequences, corruption, and due the possibility of cognitive mobilisation on account of technological development.

Despite the fact that it is hard to find a specific definition for populism, and the brave speakers of the audience approached the phenomenon from different aspects; it is indubitable that today’s expansion of populism is the result of four “rebellions”: of the voters, of the working class, of the members of the nation, completed by the rebellion and public anger against globalisation. In turn, the emergence of populist foreign policy can have tremendous effects on a global level, far more serious than those of the ceaseless presence of the “populist theatre” frequently experienced nowadays.

We were able to listen to a lecture that is thought-provoking and – according to Máté Szalai – is even sometimes provocative; however, permuting every participant’s way of thinking within this topic.

We would like to thank everyone for honouring us with your presence, and we hope you enjoyed your time!

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