Supporters of these disparate movements are protesting not just globalization—the process whereby goods, capital and people move ever more freely across borders—but globalism, the mind-set that globalization is natural and good, that global governance should expand as national sovereignty contracts.
The new nationalist surge has startled establishment parties in part because they don’t see globalism as an ideology. How could it be, when it is shared across the traditional left-right spectrum by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron ?
.. In the 1930s, nationalists were also expansionists who coveted other countries’ territory. Today, Mr. Trump and his ideological allies mostly want to reassert control over their own countries. Their targets are such global structures as the EU, the World Trade Organization, NATO, the U.N. and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
.. Little unites the new nationalists other than their shared antipathy toward globalism. Mr. Trump’s economic program is as far to the right as Ms. Le Pen’s is to the left. Nor do they have credible plans for replacing the institutions of globalization that they want to tear dow
.. In 1957, six European countries signed the Treaty of Rome, creating what would become the EU, hoping that economic and political integration would make war unthinkable.
.. Between 1987 and 2008, total U.S. wages adjusted for inflation rose by 53%, while the profits that U.S. companies earned abroad soared by 347%.
.. President Bill Clinton signed Nafta in 1993 in part to embed a pro-American government in Mexico
.. The late political scientist Samuel Huntington applied the caustic label “Davos man” to those who see “national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing.” For globalists, this was a badge of honor, symbolizing not just an outlook but a lifestyle of first-class departure lounges, smartphones and stock options.
.. In 2000, Mr. Clinton blessed China’s entry into the WTO. Echoing Truman, he predicted China’s membership was “likely to have a profound impact on human rights and political liberty.”
It didn’t. China adhered to the letter of its WTO obligations while systematically violating their spirit with discrimination against foreign investors and products and an artificially cheap currency.
.. Economists warned that Italy, Spain and Greece couldn’t compete with Germany without the safety valve of letting national currencies periodically devalue to offset their faster-rising costs. Sure enough, their trade deficits ballooned, but low-cost euro loans at first made them easy to finance. The loans proved unsustainable, and the resulting crisis has still not run its course.
.. Chinese and German trade surpluses could wreak havoc thanks to expanding cross-border finance. To globalists, its growth was as inexorable as that of trade. In early 2008, President George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, put out a report arguing that globalization had made much of U.S. financial regulation obsolete. The priority was to maintain “American preeminence in the global capital markets.
.. Globalists were blind to the nationalist backlash in part because their world—entrepreneurial, university-educated, ethnically diverse, urban and coastal—has thrived as whiter, less-educated hinterlands have stagnated.
.. Many globalists now assume that the discontent is largely driven by stagnant wages and inequality. If people are upset about immigration, they reason, it is largely because they fear competition with low-wage workers.
In fact, much of the backlash against immigration (and globalism) is not economic but cultural
.. in the 1980s, economic issues such as taxes and welfare became less important than noneconomic issues such as immigration, terrorism, abortion and gay rights.
.. voters were bothered less by competition from immigrants than by their perceived effect on the country’s linguistic, religious and cultural norms.
.. Europeans’ opposition to immigration was driven less by pocketbook concerns than by worries about how changes to “the composition of the local population” would affect “their neighborhoods, schools and workplaces.”
.. Yet the new nationalism often thrives on xenophobia. Mr. Trump has been criticizing free trade since the 1980s, but his candidacy took off when he started attacking Mexican immigrants and Muslims. American Jewish groups heard unsettling echoes of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories when Mr. Trump accused Mrs. Clinton of meeting “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty.”
.. In short, there is ample reason for skepticism about whether the new nationalists can prove themselves a genuinely secular, democratic alternative to globalism.
.. That globalization’s winners can compensate its losers makes impeccable economic logic, but it rings hollow among those too old to retrain or move.
.. globalists should not equate concern for cultural norms and national borders with xenophobia. Large majorities of Americans, for example, welcome immigrants so long as they
- adopt American values,
- learn English,
- bring useful skills and
- wait their turn.