chapter  10
Populism, Authoritarianism, and the Historian
Norman Pollack (1964)
Pages 16

Admiration for the Populists had been commonplace among progressive historians as they traced the roots of modern American reform to the late-nineteenth-century agrarian protest. Norman Pollack agreed that there were indeed sources of authoritarianism in American culture, but he denied that Populism was one of them. The question Pollack posed was why Populism had been criticized by historians in the years after World War II. Thus, Populism becomes for the historian and the larger society what the Jew is for the anti-Semite. Populists sought the establishment of a just social order founded on a democratized industrial system and a transformation of social values, each reinforcing the other in the direction of greater concern for the welfare of all. They rejected unbridled individualism and the competitive mentality, maintaining instead that neither a few nor a class should enjoy the benefits of civilization.