The enduring appeal of ideological necrophilia


Populism, Peronism and Maoism are all forms of ideological necrophilia – the blind fixation with dead ideas, notes Moisés Naím, a distinguished fellow in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But ideological necrophilia can be found in all schools of thought: on the right and the left, among environmentalists, secessionists, and nationalists, faith-based politicians and atheists, defenders of the free market, champions of big government, or supporters of economic austerity, he writes for The Atlantic:

In a world in which a few keystrokes on a computer can lead to a wealth of information about the track record of a particular economic or political proposal, it’s surprising that ideological necrophilia is still so common. There are many reasons why bad ideas endure, but perhaps the most important is people’s need to believe in a leader when faced with the grave anxieties and uncertainties associated with rapid change—and the demagogue’s inclination in these fragile moments to promise anything, even the discarded notions of demagogues past, in order to obtain and retain power.


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