Practising International Thought as a Critique of Populism: Realist Accounts for a Democratic Political

Felix Rösch, John Grima


Starting the third decade of the twenty-first century feels like a hundred years before: a virus has led to a pandemic, economies are struggling, unemployment is rising, and democracies are under threat by populist demagogues. In contrast to the 1920s, however, particularly countries with long democratic traditions are threatened by populism today. To identify potential pathways to protect democracies, this paper returns to the 1920s by focusing with Hans Kelsen and Hans Morgenthau on scholars who had first-hand experiences with populism in Europe. While both pursued contrasting approaches to deal with their experiences, they took a similar stance to anti-democratic forces. A reengagement with their thought helps to sensitise current scholarship to understand why such demagogues are resurfacing again.


Democracy, Hans Kelsen, Hans Morgenthau, Pluralism, Populism, Realism


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