The renowned historian Ivan Berend discusses populist demagoguery through the presentation of eighteen politicians from twelve European countries from World War I to the present. In this book, Berend defines demagoguery, reflects on its connections with populism, and examines the common features and differences in the demagogues’ programs and language.
Mussolini and Hitler, the “model demagogues,” are only briefly discussed, as is the election of Donald Trump in the United States and its impact on Europe. The eighteen detailed portraits include two communists, two fascists, and several rightwing and anti-EU politicians. The series runs from Béla Kun, the leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, through Codreanu and Gömbös from the 1930s, Stahremberg and Haider in Austria, Ceaușescu, Milošević, Tuđjman, Izetbegović, Berlusconi, Wilders, the two Le Pens, Farage and Boris Johnson, Orbán and the two Kaczyńskis. Each case includes an analysis of the time and place and is illustrated with quotations from the demagogues’ speeches.
This book is a warning about the continuing threat of populist demagogues both for their subjects and for history itself. Berend insists on the crucial importance for Europe to understand the reality behind their promises and persuasive language in order to impede their success.