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AI brings disconcerting change. Beware the “weaponised nostalgia” of populism
By Calum Chace  |  Feb 23, 2024
AI brings disconcerting change. Beware the “weaponised nostalgia” of populism
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The populism that has recently surged can be summarised as ‘weaponized nostalgia.’ Best-selling AI author, keynote speaker and London Futurist Podcast co-host Calum Chace cites historical examples to warn of the perils that demagogues will pose in the age of AI.

LONDON - The first political party to receive the populist label was the People’s Party, a powerful but short-lived force in the late 19th-century United States. This left-wing movement opposed the oligarchies running the railroads and promoted the interests of small businesses and farms. Populists can be either right- or left-wing - in Europe and the US they tend to be on the right, while in Latin America they lean more often to the left. 

Populist politicians pose as champions for the ‘ordinary people’ against the establishment. They claim a metropolitan elite has stolen the wealth that rightfully belongs to the virtuous ‘real’ people and pledge to restore it. At the heart of their political offer lies nostalgia and opposition to change. Ironically, populists themselves are almost always members of the same metropolitan elite they excoriate. 

They espouse and extol traditional values, including allegiance to established religious and social norms. They sneer at social progress and belittle attempts to improve the conditions of oppressed and underprivileged groups. Many also allege that immigrants are unfairly favored over locals and are cutting into the line to obtain better social services - especially housing. Authoritarian and illiberal, they select minorities - e.g., Jews or gays - as a common enemy for their supporters to rally against. 

These days, populists rarely use the word to describe themselves. They are demagogues, offering simplistic solutions unable to cure any of society’s ills. They deride experts and shun evidence-based policy-making. Many are brazen liars - pure political entrepreneurs who adopt whichever slogan wins votes. Some are ideologues who genuinely believe in the policies they promote. 

Whatever their orientation, their fundamental dishonesty makes them bad for democracy. Once in power, they move quickly to neuter potential opposition. Judges are labeled as ‘l

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