Antitrust Populism: Towards a Taxonomy

49 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2019 Last revised: 17 Dec 2019

See all articles by Joshua D. Wright

Joshua D. Wright

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Aurelien Portuese

St Mary's University London; George Mason University

Date Written: May 20, 2019


Antitrust populism – or the populist use of competition policies – is currently on the rise again. This is mainly due to the challenges brought about by the digital economy to traditional competition tools. From a normative perspective, the economics of competition law should avoid embarking into the outdated populist reasoning of the early days of antitrust policy. From a positive perspective, there is a need to conceptualise such modern antitrust populism because its rampant influence requires further scrutiny. This is the main objective of that Article: it offers a taxonomy of antitrust populism, distinguishing between conceptual antitrust populism and political antitrust populism. It is argued in this Article that both facets of antitrust populism bolster and reinvigorate one another. This taxonomy of antitrust populism enables us to better understand (and subsequently tackle) the unprincipled use of antitrust laws for populist reasons. After having introduced the concept of antitrust populism (I), we shall decipher what we call political antitrust populism (II) before delving into the intellectual roots of conceptual antitrust populism (III). We shall conclude upon the implications of the taxonomy of antitrust populism henceforth proposed (IV).

Keywords: antitrust; populism; digital; competition

JEL Classification: K21

Suggested Citation

Wright, Joshua D. and Portuese, Aurélien, Antitrust Populism: Towards a Taxonomy (May 20, 2019). Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2020, Available at SSRN: or

Joshua D. Wright

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Aurélien Portuese (Contact Author)

St Mary's University London ( email )

United Kingdom

George Mason University ( email )

United States

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