Populism vs. Progressivism: What’s The Difference?

Populism vs. Progressivism: The main difference between populism and progressivism is that populism is based on a “we vs. them” mentality in both politics and society.

What is Populism?

The Latin word “populus,” which means “people,” is where the word “populism” comes from. In the last ten years of the 1800s, farmers and others involved in agriculture started the populist movement in America.

People who believe in this political philosophy think that industrialists and bankers have too much power in government and that their policies are meant to make farmers’ finances unstable.

Populism vs. Progressivism

People who supported this movement were called “populists,” and they later formed a political party to protect their interests.

The main goals of this group were to raise taxes on the top business class and get the 16th Amendment passed so that a part of the income tax could be set aside for a specific purpose.

Populists didn’t believe in laissez-faire at all. Instead, they wanted the government to take direct control of everything, from banks and businesses to telephone and telegraph systems.

This bottom-up campaign helped them reach their goals step by step. Eventually, their demands for reforms in the civil service, control of banks and industries, and eight hours of work for labour were all met.

What is Progressivism?

In the early 20th century, the movement was started by the urban middle class. Its only goal was to stand up to the powerful (the rich) because people thought that unfair election systems, corruption in the business class, and the exploitation of workers, women, and children were the norm.

Keeping this in mind, they stood up against the wealth when they became very unhappy. Other problems, like inflation and a shaky legal system, made them decide to fight against the system.

Even though the main characters were educated middle-class people who lived in cities, the idea caught on with people from all walks of life.

Men and women both worked to stop the inflation that the influx of immigrants caused. The idea was that political changes would make the country better.

Populism & Progressivism Examples

Populism Example“All this is (group of people)’s fault! Life is so miserable”
Progressivism Example“We can work together to make everyone’s life better!”

Main Difference Between Populism And Progressivism

From revolutions to philosophies, American culture has contributed a lot to the “modernization” of the rest of the world.

Populism and progressivism are two ideas or philosophies that turned into movements in America over the last 150 years. Populism was a movement that started in the late 1800s and was led by farmers who wanted economic change.

Progressivism, on the other hand, was a movement that began in the early 1900s and was led by the urban middle class against the political system, which they believed was corrupt and that the electable were chosen through unfair elections.

The Beginnings of Populism vs. Progressivism

No movement starts on a different planet, so let’s look into where populism and progressivism came from.

Populism Beginning

A populist academic named Cas Mudde (Ref. 1) thinks that representative democracy can be passed down.

In the 1890s, when the movement of American populists really got going, the word “populism” started to be used more and more.

This seemed strange to urban intellectuals, who thought it was a new idea. This was a radical movement among farmers that was caused by unequal pay, being alone, and bad crops.

Progressivism Beginning

The Enlightenment movement, which was sparked by how quickly technology was changing in the West, led to the birth of progressivism in the early 1800s.

Progressivism says that the human experience will be better if Darwinian human drives and technology are controlled by good social programming and laws.

The Anatomy of Populism vs. Progressivism

Let us categorize each movement. Even though populism and progressivism have some things in common, they are also very different.

Populism Anatomy

You will be better off if you have a few populist movements on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum. Either the left or the right can use populism as a tool. The way a political group responds to events

Getting motivation from political and social differences.

Populists try to make a politically dominant, privileged group of people look bad, or, in some cases, they try to make a minority group look bad.

They build their sense of who they are by separating themselves from their dangerous enemies. This is a way of thinking that is driven by real and imagined differences and conflicts between different parts of society.

Have an interest in their interests, but not in their social interests.

Unlike progressives, populists don’t want reforms and changes that affect a wide range of groups. They do try to promote and protect their own interests, though.

Populists are divisive because the people who supported the populism movement were never judged on how honest or fair they were. It comes from the idea that most of them need to be heard, even if they are spreading racist, bigoted, or xenophobic ideas.

Populism vs. Progressivism

Always take the trope of the working-class hero into use.

Most populists are from the working class. They believe in the power of ordinary people and work hard for a society where people left behind by class struggles and technological changes can always get back on their feet.

Try to mask themselves as an inclusive concept.

Progressives believe that democratic and political power should be used to make society fairer and better.

Populists, on the other hand, are against established laws and social and civil protections for people who don’t support the populist caste and minority groups.

It was moral, which is a benefit, because one group could claim to be right and be in charge of the rights of the whole society.

Progressivism Anatomy

Let’s now explain what progressivism is. Progressivism and populism are very different in a number of important ways. Progressivism is not the same as populism, even though it is sometimes supported by people from the working class.

Believes in the power of plurality.

Populism, on the other hand, gives some room for pluralism, which is the idea that different interests and groups can live together in a political community and work together if there is a strong social welfare system and good laws.

Optimistically cautious about institutional changes.

Progressivism is based on the idea that people, especially those in the working class, should be freed from their struggles.

Seeks for the improvement of society as a whole.

You shouldn’t care as much about the needs of a single group as populists and progressives do. Instead, you should care more about improving society as a whole.

Progressivism is very adaptable.

Progressives try to make society’s problems seem like they affect everyone, and they fight for rights that are important to most people in a certain socioeconomic group. This strategy gives a lot of room for change when society’s needs change and it makes sense to make changes.

A constant evolution.

Progressivism still has the same goals as it did in the past, but it is always changing to meet the needs and problems of the current political environment.

Modern progressives are concerned with how a fair distribution of resources will help make health care more accessible and safe, close the growing gap between rich and poor, and make education more affordable.

Populism vs. Progressivism

The Importance of Being Open-Minded

It’s a big difference between the two ways of thinking about politics. Even if someone calls themselves a populist or a progressive, they are still an individual with their own beliefs and frames of reference.

Even though the information gives some insight into what each thought system is based on, it is not conclusive and doesn’t apply to everyone who has joined any of the thought systems.

The Future of Progressivism vs. Populism

People think that progressivism has a more complete view of the conflict between established social and political forces and can imagine a future that will meet a number of expectations.

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