You will have noticed that in everything I write I categorically refuse to discuss populism as if it were a political phenomenon in the materialist sense of the term, that is as a phenomenon linked to material causes. This does not depend on the fact that I consider the political debate based on facts to be useless (in fact it is, but for other reasons), but for a much simpler reason.
Political thought is, to all effects, a category of aesthetic thought .
But what is aesthetics? Aesthetic thinking, in logical terms, is that thought which aims to reach an understanding of things by studying the way in which they are perceived, rather than the way in which they are.
And when I say that political thought is a category of aesthetic thought, I do not mean that politics is "show" or "propaganda" or "communication". These three fields are in fact sciences, which have (in the world of Big Data and digital social media) measurement methods, such as appreciation, sentiment and others.
When I say that politics is a category of aesthetic thinking, I do not take into consideration altogether quantifiable concepts, such as the success of a show, the effectiveness of a propaganda or the impact of communication. I mean, instead, that to understand politics it is necessary to use the traditional categories of aesthetics, which are qualitative.
Categories such as beauty, taste and elegance, for example.
I mention these things because they are the most insistent categories of politics, and the main qualities we ask of a ruling class. The first thing that made the first king of the world was not to issue an edict: it was to wear a dress much more beautiful than all the others.
The obsession that the ruling classes around the world have with beauty, taste and elegance, that is, in cultivating a more beautiful, refined and elegant appearance, should already instill some suspicion. The fact that Nazism has had the most beautiful uniforms in history and has cultivated to the extreme the beauty of its soldiers, its parades, its symbols (the swastika is, aesthetically speaking, one of the most beautiful symbols ever designed : if it were not for the horrible memory that drags on, today all the big multinationals would use it, in their own logo). Communism itself has responded to this extreme aesthetic beauty of fascism by taking control of art, that is, once again, an aesthetic manifestation.
The efforts that twentieth-century dictators have made to control the aesthetic factor, far greater than the efforts they have put into controlling science, for example, should strengthen our suspicions.
In any case, we can expand the scene to the whole world, to all the ruling classes, and ask ourselves why they all started showing off beauty, taste and elegance.
And the answer is simple: political thought is a category of aesthetic thought.
But let's move on: why is aesthetics important?
Aesthetics is important because, when we fail to understand the thing, all we do is observe it, and this means that we try to get at it not knowing what it is, but observing it as we perceive it.
If you think that four African drug dealers who kill a teenage drug addict are an immigration problem, not a drug problem, it is precisely because you are using an aesthetic approach, that you are not trying to understand this by examining the thing itself, but through the observation of his appearance.
And for this reason aesthetic thinking is so common in politics: the average German of 1930 could understand almost nothing of the consequences, of the substance or of the complexity. He was too hungry: Germany produced only 50% of the food he served, the British practiced a naval embargo and people starved to death on the sidewalks.
All that people could know about Nazism was just that: it was beautiful . Every aesthetic aspect of the Nazi was well-kept: after all, it was not even possible to join the SS without being beautiful. The SS had to excel, to hear Himmler, both on the battlefield and at the stadium, and in the salons. The Aryan race, after all, was nothing more than an aesthetic canon of beauty , claiming to be a biological question.
Nazism was voted for the same reason it is still attractive: for its aesthetics. And the bad aesthetic of its current members is precisely the reason why it has remained a minority until today:
Saying that the first thing we can do to understand the rise of Nazism is to recognize its aesthetic beauty, we are not apologizing: we are understanding the key tool of its success, and we are beginning to perceive the concept underlying politics.
The consensus of a political group depends mainly on the appearance of its members.
That said, though, one thing must be brought into play: taste.
Because now that we have reaffirmed the aesthetic essence of politics we must ask ourselves what is happening today. The populists do not seem particularly beautiful to us, or even aesthetically appealing. We're talking about characters like this:
And then we must ask ourselves what are the aesthetic reasons for the victory of populist movements. And the answer is simple:
The rise of populist parties goes hand in hand with the tolerance that modern society has towards ugliness.
The photo of today's League does not represent that of a sloppy, inelegant and ugly person to see. It represents one of the modern canons of beauty.
And then we can make the comparison more explicit by asking a question:
Immediately understand what the problem is. Ask yourself which of the two Nazis would have voted the two men above, the elegant one and the unwatchable one:
As the ugly took hold of the society, the fascist adapted himself to the aesthetic taste of the population that loves the ugly, representing the canon of "beauty".
Go to any Lega gathering as well: the ultimate in elegance you will find is a corporate business suit, which is anything but elegant, with those awful black shoes worn in the morning, like gravediggers. For the rest you will find sciattumen, crude bifolchi lacking in elegance that try to appear chic covering themselves of expensive jewelry, and so much, but so much bad smell . The same that you will find in a PeGiDa gathering or at an AfD banquet.
Populism is nothing but inevitable politics in a society that loves ugliness: bad music, bad books, bad art, bad cinema, crude food and bad television. Why should voters be attracted to elegant, beautiful or refined politicians?
Salvini eating a horrible plate of greasy and overcooked pasta bare-chested, mummified Berlusconi, Grillo with his hateful face, Bossi in a vest: this political catastrophe is the inevitable result of an aesthetic catastrophe.
A population that loves the ugly cannot vote beautiful politicians, politicians who speak well, politicians who make good speeches: they will identify themselves in something horrid, ennobling it with the word "trash", but in the end by a people that loves aesthetics garbage you can only expect that he votes the same garbage in politics.
In the past, every party has evolved its own beauty category: conservatives cultivated a more classical elegance, normally progressives tended to follow fashion, to explain populism this is enough:
Politics can only be properly understood as a category of aesthetics. The consensus can only be explained as a similarity between the aesthetic canon of the people and that of politicians, both in dress and in speech, and in political subjects.
And that is why it is useless to discuss politics based on facts, which I do not do: since it is a category of aesthetics, it is possible to discuss politics only in terms of aesthetics, in my case of fiction. Because the politician who wins is what the population considers the most beautiful and best dressed, according to their taste.
Populism is such first of all because it does not have beauty, elegance or taste: exactly like its voters. Its success is linked to the spread of ugliness in pop culture, and it is here to stay as much as the ugly, until someone decides to give back to the middle class and to the ruling classes their most precious POLITICAL quality.