The Demagogue’s Cocktail of Victimhood and Strength


For the European demagogue, victimhood and strength go hand in hand. In the agitators’ worldview, a host of powerful forces—domestic and foreign—are targeting their people, their nation, and their values; and only a single leader, or party, has a chance of holding off these threats. Take Europe’s diversity as an example. To the liberal democrat, the continent’s greatest strength is that it is home to an array of cultures, each with its own history and language, packed tightly next to one another. For European populists, however, diversity is a handy propaganda tool. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Poland. The latest scapegoat: sexual minorities. For months Law and Justice, known here by its Polish acronym PiS, told voters that stances supportive of the LGBTQ community were “imported ideas” anathema to Polish values.

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