William A. Galston, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy
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William Galston’s book title – Anti-Pluralism – and dedication – “To Václav Havel and Liu Xiaobo, who never lost hope” – captured me from the start. After all, Liu, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner not allowed by the Chinese government to receive the award, died at 61 in state custody in 2017. Czech playwright and statesman, Havel, once a political prisoner himself, wrote that “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Anti-Pluralism certainly makes sense. It is a concise substantial work on populism, whether political, social, or economic, right or left, national or international, in theory or in practice. Considering populism as a threat to liberal democracy, Galston inevitably tackles the meaning of the latter with precision. He defines terms and offers examples and explanations, echoing Robert Dahl’s On Democracy (2015) and Jan-Werner Muller’s What Is Populism?(2016). Galston...