By CLAES G. RYN • October 12, 2018

In order to make sense of the term “populism” as ordinarily used today, we must first take into account that it has been defined almost exclusively by America’s permanent ruling establishment.

This establishment is sometimes called the “deep state,” but we should resist a narrow political conception of the power structure in question. To convey the nature and reach of it, we need something like the old Aristotelian term “regime,” which refers not merely to government in the modern sense but also to an entire socio-cultural ethos that sets the tone in society and molds the way in which people view the world.

America’s permanent regime consists most importantly of the elites in the media, the universities, Hollywood, Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley, and Washington. This multi-faceted ruling class, linked by similar sensibilities and perspectives on the world, has immense political influence, to be sure, but it has even greater power to shape the country’s moral outlook, its mind, and its imagination, through education, publishing, movies, music, and even advertising. It has the ability to define what is and what is not newsworthy, to lionize or demonize persons and phenomena. What the regime approves of is portrayed as “normal,” “mainstream,” or “moderate”—everything else it can dismiss as extreme, radical, or worse.