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Populist Civilizationalism Transcending Post-Soviet Cleavages: Evidence from Estonia
This event is Stanford-only.

Speaker: Piret Ehin, University of Tartu
Hosted by The Europe Center, Stanford University

The rise of right-wing populism has emerged as one of the most significant threats to democracy and liberal values worldwide. While populism is increasingly viewed as a global phenomenon, it takes on many forms and has different causes and consequences in diverse contexts. This presentation addresses the potential of populist civilizationalism to transform political cleavage structures in the Baltic states, notably by downplaying and transcending deeply entrenched post-Soviet political cleavages (geopolitical, mnemopolitical and ethnic ones). Construing ‘self’ and ‘other’ in civilizational, as opposed to narrowly national or ethnic terms, expands the notion of ‘self’ to include various internal others, notably Russian-speaking minorities, and shifts the focus from historical grievances, the Russian threat and the demographic legacies of Soviet occupation to alleged current threats to the European civilization, such as immigration, Islam, and global liberalism.

This transformation of cleavages entails a significant shift in the position assigned to the European Union: instead of being seen as the guarantor of the (post-Soviet) national ‘self,’ the EU is construed as a liberal globalist threat to the civilizational ‘self’. These claims are supported with examples of rhetoric used by the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE). This analysis leads to the conclusion that, paradoxically, the rise of right-wing populism has rendered Estonian politics more global and less post-Soviet.

*If you need any disability-related accommodation, please contact: Shannon Johnson (sj1874@stanford.edu) by May 19, 2022.

This event is part of Global Conversations, a new series of talks, lectures, and seminars focusing on the benefits and fragility of freedom. The series is co-sponsored by Stanford Libraries and Vabamu.

May 26, 2022 01:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Webinar is over, you cannot register now. If you have any questions, please contact Webinar host: shannon johnson.