Populism and Terrorism, the Illegitimate Heirs of Nihilism

Álvaro Lobo Arranz, SJ

 Álvaro Lobo Arranz, SJ / Politics / 29 April 2021

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The 21st century is no longer a child. However young it may still seem to us, the global events that we have lived through have already made this century as dramatic as the last one. Probably in the annals of history its beginnings will be remembered for the global challenges that characterized them, such as the economic crisis, climate change and Covid-19.

If we look back, we can see two endemic evils that our democracies have suffered from and that somehow may yet resurface: terrorism and populism. It is no exaggeration to state the need to carefully study their causes and consequences, at least if we want this century to be less violent than the one that preceded it.

This article will first describe separately the nature of the two phenomena, how they influence democracies and how they intend to impose their own worldviews. Then we will see how they draw their philosophical inspiration from some of the writings of Dostoevsky, Nietzsche and Sartre, and how totalitarianisms continue to perpetuate themselves in the post-truth era. Finally, we will show how nihilism causes both phenomena to share common traits with totalitarianism, as strange as this may seem.[1]

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