Populism Now! The Case for Progressive Populism, David McKnight (2018)

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Populism Now! is a well-researched, accessible and highly readable diagnosis of
the ills of neo-liberal politics in Australia. It is presented, as its title and subtitle
suggest, as a case for ‘progressive populism’. There is much to like about this
book. It provides a clear chronicle of many of the basic problems surrounding the direction that Australian politics and policies have taken over the last 30–40 years, grounded in a discussion of case studies that support McKnight’s passionately argued critique. Whether it truly provides a case for populism, however, is something readers may find more questionable. This is not to say that McKnight’s convictions are necessarily wrong, but rather that populism occupies a less central focus than this book’s title and opening suggest. The book begins with a short introduction stating its concern to consider populism, particularly in the wake of the rise of the phenomenon of populist political platforms. Centring on President Trump’s successful US election campaign, McKnight draws on Thomas Frank’s analysis of Trump’s appeal as, in large part, the product of the Democratic Party’s continued advocacy of neoliberal globalization, in spite of the economic devastation this had wrought upon the US industrial heartland. Similar policies, McKnight argues, have also created gross inequality and widespread insecurity in Australia, and have similarly made Australians susceptible to the appeal of populist campaigns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-138
Number of pages3
JournalAustralian Journalism Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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