We are in the throes of a populist moment, as defined by the scholar Chantal Mouffe: All over the world, including Israel, a populist movement is expanding and winning many political victories.
This movement is usually characterized by protest against neoliberal globalization and the economic elites that spearhead it; against the spread of cultural liberalism/progressivism and the individualistic and cosmopolitan views it promotes; against the rise of anti-majoritarian mechanisms (such as the courts); and against the rule of “professional” bureaucrats who exacerbate the representational crisis of liberal democracy and make it difficult to realize the idea of popular sovereignty.
The research group at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute engaged empathetically with the populist phenomenon, in two main ways: First, on the normative level, it challenged the liberal explanation, including that given by critical scholars of society, who see the rise of populism necessarily as a threat to democracy. Second, on the conceptual level, it conducted an empirical examination of the social subject of most of the populist movements—the popular classes—exploring their characteristics and views and especially their views of what is moral economy. The product of the group’s work is to be an anthology of articles that is the first of its kind in Israel to deal with these topics.
The end of 2020 saw the publication in Hebrew of The Great Transformation, by the philosopher Karl Polanyi. The translation of the book is the result of collaboration between the Shaharit Institute and the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, as part of the attempt to propose an economic approach of common good.