From underdog to demagogue:
the rise of populism through Trump, Hitler and Mussolini
Vol. 3, no. 1, pages 34-52
University College Utrecht
In this essay, I examine the rise of populism in the context of Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in light of the cultural backlash theory. To do this, I compare propaganda in the form of Trump’s tweets with propaganda posters in Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy prior to World War II. I examine the sources based on three criteria that comprise the cultural backlash theory: reference to the past, nationalism and nativism and attitudes towards foreign policy. I find similarities between all three leaders, namely that all allude to a golden past, that they all stress nationalism and nativism and that their attitude towards foreign policy is mostly negative and non-collaborative. I therefore show evidence of Trump, Mussolini and Hitler exhibiting populist tendencies. This means that fascism and populism share similar characteristics, since Mussolini and Hitler are typically described as fascists.