The word « populism » is a catch-all word that has always encompassed all our discontents. The Petit Robert tells us that populism is « a political discourse addressed to the popular classes ». And so does this populism, in this new world — which is in fact the old one, but who doesn’t know it yet — have a new face? My answer is clearly « no ». Populism today, in Belgium, does not have 1 new face, it has 12, those who compose the codeco! So here we have 12 faces that for a year have denied the very notion of popular sovereignty to replace it by an elitism that decides in the name of the people what is good for them. Let’s face it, they don’t speak for the people, they speak for their idea of them. It’s very different!
« Questioning government decisions, having public debates and holding decision makers accountable » are the pillars of democracy. To decide for the people what they should do and think is an insult and a lie to democracy. The people are free and sovereign individuals, each with a brain and a heart and the ability to connect them through what is called « common sense ». Mental infantilization and behavioral coercion are the opposite of democracy. This authoritarian drift of the executive power worries me much more for the future of our country than a virus that so far has spared 99.81% of us.
In history, it is the dictators who have always spoken « on behalf of the people ». In a democracy, shouldn’t we give the people a voice rather than speak on their behalf? When will we give voice to the hundreds of scientists, doctors, philosophers, artists, sovereign humans who do not think like those who arrogate to themselves the right to think for us? What right do 12 people have to decide the fate of 12 million others — yes, 11,657,774, but given the number of hours spent in confinement, I bet we will soon be 12 million! What right do they have to decide who gets a full belly and who gets an empty one? Who will live and who will die? What right do these new faces have to decide who is essential or non-essential, a nice euphemism for useless? What is essential?
Supermarkets are open and theaters are closed. You can crowd into buses, trains, subways, department stores, but not into a movie theater. The actors of the culture are put aside of the society. Isn’t it paradoxical that theaters and cinemas, which attract fewer people than large stores, are closed? What can be considered essential? I know a woman who one day hit rock bottom and thought about suicide, and well, it wasn’t the packet of pasta bought at the supermarket that morning that saved her, it was a song: « the first day of the rest of your life » by Etienne Daho. In essential there is meaning, isn’t the essential to give meaning to his life?
Our leaders think about themselves, they make decisions that concern them, they make sure that they cannot be blamed for not having done anything. They repeat « I have done everything for you, I have done everything for you » and for a year now, we have been suffocating. They always start from the point of view of the worst, whereas we, the actors of culture, have always believed in the best, which allows us, even when the worst happens, to draw the best from it.
Culture is the very soul of democracy, it links knowledge and makes it fruitful, it is the only way to escape stupidity. A culture is the way of life of a society, what makes the human being and feeds the soul, a magic thing that brings people together, abates the differences. It’s like happiness, you have to share it. Culture is what has made man something other than an accident of the universe. We are social animals. We feel a desperate need to be with others. It is a constant requirement as vital as breathing.
And since these new faces of populism impose their liberticidal decisions in the name of our « health », I will conclude with a semantic reminder: we are sovereign beings. Our body belongs to us. Health does not belong to medicine. Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being, not just the absence of disease or symptoms. And it is our most precious asset without which everything falls apart. So take care of your health, of yourself, of us, and remember that we only get what we love.
Clément Triboulet, actor and clown