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With regards to the recent events in US and European politics — Trump's triumph, Brexit, etc. — Is populism an *inevitable* consequence of democracy, or is it avoidable by means such as educating the people?

The answer will depend on who you ask, and also how you are defining "populism" here. Plato suggested in the "Republic" that oligarchy would eventually so disenfranchise and hence enrage the masses of ordinary people that the latter would at last rise up and impose a democratic system on the wealthy class that had been dominating them; along the way to this popular revolt, however, the people would inevitably pick up a "populist" demagogic leader. The latter, once in power, would eventually betray the peoples' interests and impose an outright tyranny upon the whole state. In a way, the rise of right-wing authoritarian populist movements in Europe and the US would seem to be bearing Plato out. Nationalist extremism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiments, racism, and misogyny are in some sense a reaction against a liberal order that is more and more perceived as corrupt and ideologically bankrupt. One must keep in mind that "populism" can take a variety of quite different forms: it can take shape...

Many among the alt.right aren't white supremacist as such, but separatist. For instance, instead of claiming that there is such a thing as a white race and that it's superior, it might be claimed that the benefits of diversity aren't obvious, that intermingling of races leads to various social problems, and that therefore a government ought provide the opportunity for people, if they choose, to live lives free from racial diversity. There is some degree of precedent for governments actively providing space for people to live particular lifestyles: for instance, Indian reserves in America, or acknowledgement of Quebec as having a special status within Canada. What I wanted to ask is -- are there good moral philosophy or political philosophy objections against this sort of separatism? Is there anything philosophically meaningful to say to a white separatist; or, given that "racial diversity leads to discord" is an empirical claim that might be true or false, is this more a matter for sociologists? I've been...

There are a variety of problems here, I think, in the way you have framed the question. But that is less your fault than it is the fault of the debased and confused nature of our conversation about race and racism in the US (and elsewhere). The distinction between a white supremacist and a white separatist seems to me and to others who study hate groups to be entirely specious. Remember that the Ku Klux Klan also advocated racial "separation," but what they were really opposed to was miscegenation and racial contamination. Jim Crow laws supposedly existed to ensure "separate but equal" institutions and social spaces in the South. In reality, though, they existed to enforce white supremacy, i.e. a de jure white race hierarchy (upheld through terror and violence). Contemporary white separatists don't want to "mix" with other races because they hate them and see them as genetically and culturally inferior to whites. There is therefore nothing innocent about the desire for a separate white homeland-...

What do people mean, in a more philosophical sense, when we refer to predatory animals or apex predators as "strong" and to prey animals as "weak"? For instance, deer and elk can easily break the ribs of an attacking wolf, and deer and elk aren't necessarily easy to kill, but people think of wolves as strong while deer and elk are weaker. I'm not a science student, but I know enough science to know that apex predators are much more vulnerable than commonly thought and that it's more of a food web than a food chain. But wolves and lions are majestic and mighty while deer and rabbits are weak, easy prey. Can you help me to unpack the implied philosophies involved? Other than the Great Chain of Being, unless that's really what I'm looking for. I'm not looking toward the life sciences. Are there philosophical theories or schools of thought which consider strength and weakness in a sense that might be applicable to a predator/prey dynamic?

I am not familiar with any philosophical theory that uses the terms "weak" and "strong" in reference to predator/prey relations as such, and I doubt very much that such a framing is helpful to the development either of a sound ecological framework or to an adequate environmental ethics. The only time I have come across philosophical discourses about "strength" and "weakness" in nonhuman species is in the context of either (a) Nietzsche's critique of Christian morality (as a "slave morality"), or (b) fascist ideology (Mussolini, Hitler, and their propagandists). In both instances, categories of the "strong" and the "weak" were used either directly or indirectly to justify social domination, i.e. the supremacy of certain "superior" types of humans over other, "inferior" types. Nietzsche, thus, viewed "will to power" as a natural and healthy drive in all life forms, and correspondingly argued that the strong, "noble type" of human being, the one who created his/her own values, was superior to "weak"...