“The Morgans, Rockefellers and their ilk had captured the industrial revolution that dominated the U.S. after the Civil War. The farmers of the South and West fought back with a grass-roots social movement…They formed the People’s Party. Its socialistic platforms demanded public ownership of the major financial institutions, including banks, railways, power utilities and other private monopolies that were crushing the public well-being.”
“At their national conventions in Omaha in 1892, and St. Louis in 1896, and elsewhere, they demanded an end to corporate and foreign ownership of land. They wanted a national currency based on food rather than gold and silver. They endorsed universal affordable medical care, free public education and a general guarantee of the basics of life for all humans. They demanded equal rights for women, including the vote…They also preached racial unity, especially among black and white farmers in the South, and between native and immigrant workers in the cities.”
Contemporary populists worthy of the label are leftists. They back “human rights, social democracy, peace and ecological sanity” (Wasserman). They support racial and ethnic equality and unity in the interest of working class solidarity and struggle from the bottom up. They want government to serve the broad working class majority of the populace and the common good, not the wealthy corporate and financial Few.
The dominant media sometimes has the decency to distinguish between the “left populism” (democratic socialism) of an Evo Morales (Bolivia’s Indigeneous and ecosocialist president), a Jean-Luc Melenchon (the ecosocialist French presidential candidate) or a Jeremy Corbin (the left leader of the British Labor Party) on one hand and the “right wing populism” of a Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, or Steve Bannon on the other hand. But the makers of this distinction fails to understand that “‘Populists of the Right’ are fascists. Their goal,” Wasserman writes, “has a clear definition, as put forward by the term’s originator, Benito Mussolini: ‘Corporate control of the state.’” Further:
“When they take power, they become National Socialists, using the government to enrich the corporations and the rich, rather than Democratic Socialists, or social democrats, using the state to serve the people. Fascists support enriching the rich and to hell with the rest of us. They are racist, misogynist, anti-ecological, militaristic and authoritarian. They hate democracy, freedom of speech and an open media. They take power by fomenting hate and division. Le Pen, now in in the runoff for the leadership of France, is a classic fascist…”
Just more proof of the old adage, 'everything old is new again'.
the ABOVE copied from an article called 'Slandering Populism' at counterpunch.org