Revisiting his comments on the retreat of democracy, Pope Francis cited the threat of “populism” to world peace in comments to Kathimerini.
“Democracy is a treasure, a treasure of civilization and it must be preserved. To be guarded not only by a higher entity, but also by the countries themselves, it is necessary to safeguard the democracy of others,” he said during a brief in-flight press conference.
“Today I see two dangers against democracy: One is that of populism, which is here and there, starting to show its claws,” he said, and referred to the populism of the previous century that was expressed by Nazism, which, he said, was one that purported to defend national values but “ended up annihilating democratic life, and in fact life itself with the death of the people, by the fact that it became a bloody dictatorship.”
He also sought to clarify definitions of populism.
“I am not saying right or left, I am saying something else – be careful not to slip down this path of political populism,” as opposed to “the free expression of peoples, which is expressed by their identity, their folklore, their values, their art,” he said.
He also referred to the gradual slide toward a “kind of supranational government.”
Democracy, he said, is slowly weakened when national values are sacrificed to this supranational government.
“This is something we have to think about,” he said, stressing that the world should neither stoop to populism, “which leads to a dictatorship of ‘us and not the others’ like Nazism… nor drown our identities under an international government.”
He also referred to the novel “Lord of the World,” written in 1907 by the Englishman Robert Hugh Benson, which imagines a future in which an international government governs all other countries through economic and political measures.