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Unpolitical solutionism: Wealth elite sentiments against democracy and politics

Hanna Kuusela, Anu Kantola


The last few decades have been marked by discourses that challenge many basic presumptions supporting liberal democracy. Populist parties in particular have raised criticism against democratic systems, and authoritarian programmes have made electoral gains. This article offers the elite's perspective on this phenomenon, which is often discussed in the context of lower income groups. Drawing from qualitative interviews with 90 Finnish top earners, the article shows how wealth elites sustain strong discontent towards liberal democracy and see it as an ineffective and sometimes fundamentally flawed system. They are concerned with its alleged (in)efficiency and disagreements typical of democratic processes and are correspondingly fascinated by solutions that are presented as self-evident but that no one has the courage to execute. In this article, we refer to this type of reasoning by introducing and developing the term unpolitical solutionism, which refers to a preoccupation with quick solutions to complex problems that are political in nature. The concept of unpolitical solutionism builds on discussions of unpolitical democracy (Urbinati) and technosolutionism (Morozov) and brings them to our dialog. By analysing wealth elites' views in a Nordic democracy and by developing the concept of unpolitical solutionism, this article contributes to recent discussions on different forms of unpolitical argumentation in the context of (liberal) economic thinking.