The politics of hearts not minds

Ben Horton on an analysis of the rise of populism in the West

The World Today Published 7 December 2018 Updated 9 November 2020 3 minute READ

Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World
William Davies
Jonathan Cape, £16.99

Political pundits were hit in 2016 by the twin shocks of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union and the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election. Neither outcome was predicted and endless column inches have since been devoted to working out why both electorates declined what seemed to be the ‘rational’ choice.

While some commentators point to the structural hardships felt by the ‘left behind’ working classes in post-industrial economies, others complacently argue that voters were simply stupid or misled. Too often these criticisms come across as the petulant cries of an out-of-touch elite that, for once, has not had things its own way. In a refreshing and wide-ranging assessment of modern society, William Davies avoids these clichés and provides a convincing analysis of the new political reality.

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