Common sense versus best knowledge: two faces of punitive populism in the XXI century

The current clash between the various forms of populisms, on one hand, and constitutionalism and the rule of law, on the other, can be correctly described as a crisis of liberal democracy or as a clash between people’s common sense and some sort of best knowledge, embedded in traditional frameworks and institutions (elites), as shown by the French gilets jaunes crisis. Using this consideration as a starting point, the paper will focus on the criminal law doctrine, with its theoretical system and highly analytical adjudication method. In the last decades, this traditional legal framework has been stressed due to two agents of punitive populism: legislators and judges. On the other hand, the victims’ new role (victims are trying to “regain” its role in the criminal conflict) is stressing the whole criminal doctrine, not just from the outside, but from the inside (by scholars). The result is a mix of reasonable and dangerous proposals and attitudes, whose assessment is becoming urgent.