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You’re the Enemy: How resisters play a supporting role in populist movements

When “We the People” becomes “You the Enemy”

In his article about “how to let a populist beat you, again and again,” Andrés Miguel Rondón describes “four easy steps” to productively (and unproductively) working against a Trump-style populist movement. For many, however, those steps will seem very counterintuitive. Why is that? At least part of the answer has to do with basic human psychology.

While Rondón’s steps nicely illustrate why we shouldn’t do certain things we probably think we really should do — or, perhaps more importantly, why we shouldn’t do them the way we feel like doing them — he unfortunately overlooks the step that leads us to this particular path in the first place.

That overlooked step involves acknowledging our own shadows. As we begin to acknowledge and reconcile with our shadows, we stop projecting them onto others and become more aware of how others might be projecting their shadows onto us.

We see a glimpse of this shadow process in Rondón when he mentions how his “political awakening was set off by the tectonic realization that [Venezuela’s former populist leader, Hugo Chávez], however evil, was not actually stupid.” This awakening suggests a recognition of the shadow and a turning point in Rondón’s thinking. The true moral of the story is that, by developing a better understanding of the shadow’s projection as enemy / demon / scapegoat, we also become more aware of what roles we unwittingly play, why, and how we might change the script.

The recipe for populism is universal. Find a wound common to many, find someone to blame for it, and make up a good story to tell … Capture the people’s imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a tale. One that starts with anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in …

There’s something soothing in all that anger … The narcotic of the simple answer to an intractable question. The problem is now made simple. The problem is you …

Never forget that you’re that enemy … just like all religions need a demon. A scapegoat. “But facts!” you’ll say, missing the point entirely.

How to Let a Populist Beat You, Over and Over Again | The Washington Post: Andrés Miguel Rondón
How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps [Original Article] | Caracas Chronicles: Andrés Miguel Rondón