September 2nd, 2022 | john miller

The Populist Delusion Is A Must-Read

Author Neema Parvini lays it all out.
The Populist Delusion by Neema Parvini is crucial reading for anyone interested in right-wing politics. It deconstructs a lot of falsehoods related to “Our Liberal Democracy” that are much needed and long overdue. The palooka nature of conservatives following liberal progressive rules in a system that is ever moving to the left can only truly be stopped if we understand more fully the nature of power and the means to force change by wielding such power.

This is a book about the realities of power and how it functions, stripped of all ideological baggage. It has at its core a thesis, which absolutely contradicts the democratic or populist delusion, that the people are or ever could be sovereign. An organized minority always rules over the majority. Perhaps as a testament to that fact, a recent empirical study showed that public opinion has a near-zero impact on law-making in the USA across 1,779 policy issues.
– page 3. The Populist Delusion (Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens)

Parvini begins with an overview of Gaetano Mosca’s The Ruling Class and unpacks the general thesis of that work. In short, societies are always ruled by minorities, or elites. He suggests that the only way to overthrow the ruling elite is for dissidents to form their own counter-elite. Mass uprisings and street protests are never going to amount to anything, because change requires the same focused pursuit of power that the current ruling elite has.
Parvini provides points and counterpoints, but I found this line of thinking credible. There was a famous saying by former US Secretary of State Alexander Haig about a massive anti-war demonstration: ‘Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes.’
In other words, protests don’t effect change.
What immediately comes to mind recently is the Freedom Trucker Convoy in Ottawa. What was a grassroots campaign for freedom and civil rights ultimately got squashed by the heavy hand of government. The leaders of the convoy were arrested and made examples of and anyone who contributed funds had their bank accounts frozen and identities published.
The ostensible goal was to remove the vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers and that goal was not achieved. At the time of this writing truckers are still required to be “vaccinated” in order to cross freely between Canada and the U.S.A.
One could argue that the protests turned the tides of public opinion and pressured other levels of government to ease up on Covid restrictions, which did happen shortly after the protests began. However, there isn’t much solid evidence that this populism was the catalyst. One could also argue that these restrictions were nearing their expiration date with or without the Ottawa protest.
Nevertheless, no real political or governing change occurred directly from the protests. Justin Trudeau is still in power, as are most of the provincial Premiers. One could argue that Jason Kenney and Erin O’Toole were victims of public sentiment, but the knives were out for both of them long before the truckers showed up and it was machinations inside caucus that pushed them both out. Mosca drives home the point that the only way for fundamental change to occur is for a new elite to organize and replace the old elite and these decisions and actions don’t stem from the masses honking horns…they require an almost conspiratorial level of preparation and competition. Just winning an election isn’t exactly what he has in mind.
The next section looks at Vilfredo Pareto and his work dealing with sociology. The Pareto Effect (80% of the effect is due to 20% of the causes) has become better know recently through the pop psychology found on podcasts and YouTube videos. (The dating principle that 20% of the men are having sex with 80% of the women has annoyed many men in the 80% category since the days of Roosh V writing his seduction booklets.)
The Pareto Effect can apply to this work in some respect in that 20% of the people rule over the other 80%, but this isn’t the point of this section. Pareto divides different levels of elites and further investigates Mosca’s ideas regarding elite rule and how change is truly effected.
Chapter 4 gets us into Robert Michels work looking at Organizational structures and the power of leadership within them. The Iron Law of Oligarchy is applied to society and we see how systems unfold regardless of “democracy”. Michels suggests, like Pareto, that the only way to effect change is to form a counter elite and then vie for power against the current elite. This is very difficult but not impossible.
Can we use democracy to compete against that elite? Is Michels simply advocating forming another political party to compete within our democratic system, or is the real power over the system somewhere else? Is it in the deep state/bureaucracy? James Burnham and his book The Managerial Revolution seems to think so.

In the new form of society, sovereignty is localized in administrative bureaus. They proclaim the rules, make the laws, issue the decrees. The shift from parliament to the bureaus occurs on a world scale […] The actual directing and administrative work of the bureaus is carried on by new men, a new type of men. It is, specifically, the managerial type […] The active heads of bureaus are the managers-in-government, the same, or nearly the same, in training, functions, skills, habits of thought as the managers-in-industry.
– page 92. The Populist Delusion (The Managerial Revolution)

Burnham wrote his seminal book in 1941 and much of our current malaise can be traced back to his assessments. The woke culture of today is the outgrowth of a variety of converging factors including; the Left’s long march through the institutions, the nature of democracy and liberalism to grow and warp to their ultimate conclusions, the technological development of a post-industrial society, and the consolidation and centralization of managerialism since World War 2.
Burnham talks about challenging this system and it’s no surprise that populism is not the answer. He identifies six ways in which revolutions effecting real change occur…

There is revolutionary change (1) when the elite cannot or will not adjust to the new technological and social forces; (2) when a significant proportion of the elite rejects ruling for cultural and aesthetic activities; (3) when the elite fails to assimilate promising new elements; (4) when a sizeable percentage of the elite questions the legitimacy of its rule; (5) when elite and non-elite reject the mythological basis of order in the society; and finally (6) when the ruling class lacks courage to employ forced effectively.
– page 103. The Populist Delusion (The Political Philosophy of James Burnham)

You’ll notice that elections and petitions and marches in the street aren’t on the list.
Parvini then wraps up the book with excellent entries from Sam Francis and Paul Gottfried, two heavyweights of the dissident right, leading to some interesting conclusions from the author himself. I don’t want to give it all away with a cheap summary and the point of this review isn’t to just boil down the main ideas, it’s to inspire our side to read up on some right-wing literature (before it’s banned).
These ideas are very heterodox and politically incorrect and it’s one of many titles published by Imperium Press, and I highly recommend checking out their library of right-wing classics and dissident outlaw books that the woke progressive left doesn’t even know exist. If you want a copy of The Populist Delusion order it here.
This book will help you to avoid the misdirection of putting too much time into system politics and thinking you’re effecting change when really you’re just performatively wasting time. People on our side are all too often encouraged to avoid empty actions like social media hash tagging and virtue signaling and instead “get involved” with democratic politics, or at least get out to vote.
At a glance, this seems concrete and practical, but the reality is you will be quickly exploited by these systems if you aren’t careful or savvy. As for voting, it’s debatable that it matters much especially if the real power is behind and above our elected officials.
This book will help the reader realize the nature of power and offer some very cynical and jaded advice for preparing for real political change. There are things that regular people can do to both protect themselves from the regime that rules over us and effect real political change in the long run, but playing by official, standard, traditional rules of civic engagement is not the way to succeed. Forget lawn signs and door knocking and street marching, it’s time to get more serious and sophisticated before we’re all living in pods, eating the bugs, owning nothing and being “happy”.
Read The Populist Delusion and let us know what you think.