Donald Trump

Understanding the Failure of 'Globalism' Is Key to Understanding Donald Trump's Appeal

Us vs. Them author Ian Bremmer says that worldwide populism is a response from people who are being left behind economically.

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All around the globe today, voters in democratic countries are electing populist leaders rather than presidents and premiers who pledge loyalty to the international community and global institutions. In significant ways, Brexit in England, the yellow vest movement in France, the rise of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and the election of Donald Trump in America represent the triumph of nationalism and populism over globalism. Many people in advanced economies feel as if they are falling further and further behind while people at the top of society get more and more money, prestige, and opportunity.

Donald Trump invoked these concerns as a candidate and is acting on them as president. Globalists, he says, are elitists who care more about their own well-being and international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and NATO than they do about their fellow citizens who are being left behind. Globalists believe in open borders and free trade because their quality of life isn't threatened by low-wage migrants or cheap goods produced overseas. Nationalists such as Trump say they care first and foremost about taking care of their countrymen. They show their commitment to this by pulling out of international accords they believe don't serve American interests and limiting the type and number of people who can come to the United States. Since taking office, Trump has stuck to his nationalist guns by withdrawing from international agreements such as the Paris Climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Iran nuclear deal, as well as by restricting immigration and laying tariffs on Chinese goods.

Today's guest says it's absolutely imperative not only to understand this, but also to empathize with the concerns of nationalists and populists in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. A political scientist by training, Ian Bremmer heads up the Eurasia Group, the world's largest political-risk consultancy. He's also the host of the weekly PBS show GZERO World, which investigates how economics and politics are playing out in a world in which the United States is retreating in significant ways from the global stage. His most recent book is Us vs.Them: The Failure of Globalism—a bracing, provocative analysis of why political polarization is growing and how we might best address the anger and alienation that is fueling nationalist and populist sentiments around the globe.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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70 responses to “Understanding the Failure of 'Globalism' Is Key to Understanding Donald Trump's Appeal

  1. His most recent book is Us vs.Them: The Failure of Globalism—a bracing, provocative analysis of why political polarization is growing and how we might best address the anger and alienation that is fueling nationalist and populist sentiments around the globe.

    It’s them damn deplorables, ain’t it? The ones that aren’t smart enough to know what’s in their own best interests, which is global communism socialism togetherness where we’re all just like one big happy family, all sharing a common culture and values because deep inside we’re all the same. It’s anger and resentment that causes these knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers to cling tighter to their guns and their Bibles and fly aircraft into buildings full of their richer, smarter, better-looking superiors, ain’t it? If only they would realize that, even though they’re being condescended to because they’re stupid, nobody is implying in any way that it’s their own fault they’re so stupid. But still, it’s not like we can let stupid people run their own lives – it doesn’t matter how the monkey got ahold of the grenade, you still have to take it away from him.

    1. The Rev will no doubt be along shortly to explain it better than I can.

      1. Something about Ouachita Baptist

  2. Let me guess what the upshot is – “How do we keep the peasants happy and quiet while we continue doing the same damn things that are pissing them off?”.

    1. Bread and circus worked, once upon a time…

    2. Another layer of weld around the lid of the pressure cooker should do the trick. In fact, it should allow the burner to be turned up…

  3. “…from people who are being left behind economically.”

    Hard not to be left behind when you refuse to get off your fat ass…

    1. Full disclosure; the ass I refuse to get off of is not fat.
      I sat on that ass for 45 years earning enough money to have paid the maximum social security tax, and now am going to sit on it for as long as Medicare can keep me alive.
      Now; go back to work and pay taxes to support me.

  4. “Globalists believe in open borders and free trade”

    Sure, open borders, with the cheap labor…. but free trade? Hardly

    When talking about the globalists, most of which is a “pro-business” crowd, it’s important to remember that to them competition is the enemy, one that they’ll happily throw under the bus through lobbying for taxation and regulation, even if it destroys free trade.

    1. Free trade for corporations. Controlled trade for you.

      Reason has so much rage against violations of the free market. Except when it helps those who Own over those who Labor.

      Benjamin Tucker’s critique of Herbert Spencer in 1884 applies to most all of Reason’s articles on economics.

      It will be noticed that in these later articles, amid his multitudinous illustrations (of which he is as prodigal as ever) of the evils of legislation, he in every instance cites some law passed, ostensibly at least, to protect labor, alleviate suffering, or promote the people’s welfare. He demonstrates beyond dispute the lamentable failure in this direction. But never once does he call attention to the far more deadly and deep-seated evils growing out of the innumerable laws creating privilege and sustaining monopoly. You must not protect the weak against the strong, he seems to say, but freely supply all the weapons needed by the strong to oppress the weak. He is greatly shocked that the rich should be directly taxed to support the poor, but that the poor should be indirectly taxed and bled to make the rich richer does not outrage his delicate sensibilities in the least. Poverty is increased by the poor laws, says Mr. Spencer. Granted; but what about the rich laws that caused and still cause the poverty to which the poor laws add? That is by far the more important question; yet Mr. Spencer tries to blink it out of sight.

      The intellectual hole at Reason is the failure to account for the endless violations of free market principles that favor those who own over those who labor.

      It’s almost as if, like when feminists advocate for equality for women they really only advocate for more for women, when Reason advocates for free markets they really only advocate for more for corporate power.

      1. Reason has so much rage against violations of the free market. Except when it helps those who Own over those who Labor.

        Where’d you get this idea from? Reason frequently rages against corporatism.

        1. It’s the narrative. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, if you want the HnR points you need to go with it.

      2. It seems like you get a different version of Reason than I do. For example, I’ve read countless pieces here against licensing laws. The argument is not only do these laws limit opportunities for lower end labor (hair braiders, for example), they also limit a lot of professionals from being able to easily move to different states.

        I don’t see how that benefits rich employers or corporations at all. Being a skilled worker who can easily move to take advantage of new opportunities is favorable to workers.

    2. Yeah, that’s the problem with “pro-business” factions: What they mean is they’re pro-particular-businesses, and can point to the help they give them, or intend to give them, even though at the expense of others.

  5. “worldwide populism is a response from people who are being left behind economically”

    Exactly right. As anyone who pays attention to Mr. Buttplug and Rev. Kirkland knows, the fact is that #PoorPeopleVoteRepublican. This has been true in US Presidential elections for at least the past few decades.

    Of course by voting GOP, poor people are acting against their own self-interest. We in the progressive / libertarian alliance must convince the economically disadvantaged that our agenda — although promoted by billionaires — actually benefits everyone.

    1. Say what you want about poor GOP voters, but their not the ones screwing up a state only to move to another state and then start screwing up their new state like they did with their old state.

      1. Yeah, they tend to screw up the entire nation and then stay put, continuing to screw up the entire nation. In general, poor, rural GOP voters have done more than their share to perpetuate the Wars on Drugs, Terrorism and (Senior) Poverty. They overwhelmingly support a bloated DoD, individual rights violations by law enforcement and runaway entitlement spending.

        1. They voted for Biden?

        2. Kidding aside. Most of what you mention has had bipartisan support.

    2. “#PoorPeopleVoteRepublican”

      If you really paid attention to Rev. Kirkland, you’d know that the poor voting for Republicans aren’t really people.

    3. Meh. Voting for either one of the two stupid and corrupt parties is voting against one’s interest (unless you’re a paid operative of either crap party).

      The more people who refuse to ever vote for either a giant douche or a turd sandwich, the sooner the two parties will collapse.

  6. What could be better for us than the UN or Brussels overriding our 1st and 2nd (and 4th and 5th and 9th and 10th) Amendments, and chaps at Davos realigning our economy to be “green”. We poors need to get with the program

    1. Globalism can mean different things. It can mean global government /governance or it can simply mean the removal of international barriers to trade and travel. So, you people should clarify what the mean when they use the term.

      1. What do you mean “you people”? Not sure how that “you” got in there.

      2. It can mean global government /governance or it can simply mean the removal of international barriers to trade and travel.

        ^ This. It’s not unlike the conflicting interpretations of “Manifest Destiny.” The fellow who coined the term was talking about the inevitable spread of popular governance and individual liberty. Others decided it meant the inevitable destiny of American Empire. Two very different things.

        1. The inevitable spread of popular governance and individual liberty. IS the American Empire.

        2. Globalization is not globalism.

          1. Exactly. Was it a poor choice of words by the article’s author? I don’t think so.
            The populist revolts are over GLOBALISM, as in global governance, not over KFC and McDonalds and iPhones coming to their country

            1. Right.
              Globalization is a process, a dynamic.
              Globalism is a belief system, moral code.
              Globalization is a means.
              Globalism is an ends.

    2. They don’t even need to override the 9th and 10th. We did that to ourselves a long time ago.

    3. Newsflash: it’s not Davos elites who are rescinding the Bill of Rights, it’s your idiotic neighbors who live right on your street, helicopter parent their kids, and live in mortal fear of the latest “zombie-making” drug, stranger kidnapping, terror attack, and getting butthurt by something they read and online.

      It would be easier to combat the attacks on freedom of they were coming from a small cabal of elites.

  7. Globalism is, I want to buy affordable stuff from where-ever I want to buy it from, get outta my business, except for when I am building widgets at the widget factory, then y’all must cater to MY needs to preserve MY job!!! I was GUARANTEED a job by my union and Government Almighty, dammit!!!

    (Free trade in EVERYTHING except widgets, I say!!!)

    1. So much rage against violations of the free market. Except when they help those who Own over those who Labor.

      The Free Market Uber Alles, except…
      Corporate limited liability
      Government monopolies in “intellectual property”
      Differential tax treatment for wages and capital gains as income
      Tax on income instead of property
      Violation of Lockean Proviso

      1. Reason has raged against IP, income taxes and LLCs at various times. Not all of Reason’s contributors agree on every issue.

        1. Not all of Reason’s contributors agree on every issue.

          Then how can they present themselves as “free thinkers?”

        2. Reason has raged against IP

          “Raged” is a bit excessive. Unless you’re digging something up from prior to the 80s, it’s more “safely opposed the excesses and absurdities of” rather than “raged against”.

    2. Notice that a 5% tax on foreign goods is considered an outrage, but there’s not a peep out of the “Muh Free Markets” crowd about a 14% payroll tax plus income tax on domestic labor.

      1. That’s different

      2. And I’ve yet to see Reason say a fucking thing about excise taxes.

  8. I have a different take. People will put up with economic disparity as long as they think they have a shot at improving their own lives. US financial mobility is well-known; there is more churn in US top-500 lists and in the IRS reports of the top tax returns than elsewhere.

    What sets people’s teeth on edge is the constant nagging, such as what shape constitutes a valid cucumber (rejects cannot be sold), and the manner in which it is done, by elites who know what is good for everybody else. It really galls people to see gas tax money being spent on bike lanes which are never used, or California using tax dollars on health care for illegal immigrants, or idiotic occupational licensing which keeps people from earning a living or even just a little side money.

    Over and over again, government rags on people for the damnedest nonsense, and people are told over and over again how stupid they are for wanting soft drinks, or french fries, or sugar.

    When people get a chance to vote for anyone else, they grab it.

    The problem is monopolistic coercive government, as it always has been. People don’t get to vote for who they want. They only get to vote for one clown or the other. You don’t get to vote for policies. You can’t choose to be left alone. Someone is going to mind your business, and the only way to mitigate it at all is to mind their business right back, harder, and the feud is on.

    Populism is the natural reaction to SJWs and nannies of all stripes.

    1. This guy gets it.

    2. We don’t live in the 17th century anymore. We can travel to Washington D.C. electronically in an instant. How about we amend the Constitution to do away with the Senate and have a House of Representatives that put forth legislation and a House of Commons that has to concur for approval? The Commons, of course, being the actual people, who can submit to a popular vote or vote by district.

      All of the law-making efficiency of a republic without the power imbalance that the senate gives small states and a lot more reason for ‘the people’ to actually participate in the process other than once even 2 years. Votes could take place quarterly or even monthly.

      1. Nice dream. Would take a bloody revolution to get anyone in DC to give up power. We have the technology to make all government projects “go fund me”, but that’ll never get implemented either.

        1. “Would take a bloody revolution”

          I’m down.
          Faggots (stronger together!) like Gillespie and Bremer don’t realize that this rise of “populism” is the peaceful response to their push for ever more totalitarianism

          1. Faggots (stronger together!) like Gillespie and Bremer don’t realize that this rise of “populism” is the peaceful response to their push for ever more totalitarianism

            Purge them! For liberty!

            It’s what Lenin would do.

            1. “Bend over! Be a pussy!”

              You do you.

        2. We have the technology to make all government projects “go fund me”

          Thank you for making me chuckle at this. My brother-in-law just posted a meme this very afternoon about wanting to pay for PBS and not wanting to pay the defense budget. If proggies had to pay out of pocket to fund PBS, NEA, federal parks, etc., I have no doubt those programs would disappear immediately. Most national projects are only worthwhile if they can force others to pay for them. On the other hand, we probably could have fully funded a wall on the north as well as the south border in October of 2001.

      2. All of the law-making efficiency of a republic without the power imbalance that the senate gives small states”

        If it weren’t for the small states senators the whole country would be ruled California and New York. and those two states are not what most states want to emulate thankfully

        1. If it weren’t for the small states senators the whole country would be ruled California and New York

          I anticipated this exact response, to the extent that I thought about rebutting it in my OP. However, I think you would get a much different response from an empowered House of Commons than can be seen in the current voting patterns in even those states. It’s one thing to make a cynical choice to elect the lesser evil candidate when they are all promising stuff they can’t deliver without big taxes and onerous regulations and something else entirely to vote to approve legislation that takes money out of your own pocket or that limits your own personal freedom.

          The people who actually care enough to participate on an ongoing basis are much closer in political thought than we are lead by the media to believe. Plus, a House of Reps that actually had to educate the people to get stuff passed would be so much more accountable.

          A huge plus would be, sans a Senate, there would be no reason not to split CA into multiple states and for some smaller states to consolidate. Idamontwing Just Dakota, and for crying out loud, make Puerto Rico a fucking state already. Hawguamoa would be awesome, but the treaties with the kingdoms may prohibit that.

          1. Have you heard of Illinois? New Jersey?

            They’ll do it.

            1. The mob can’t intimidate every person in Illinois. New Jersey may be different story, where the mob is like the teachers union; if you are not a member, you are most likely related to someone who is.

  9. The problem is that Trumpists equate this Globalist Elitism with plain old fashioned trade. And are thus against trade itself. And by extension, immigration. Throw in a bit of scaremongering about rapists crossing the border in hordes to steal out jobs and sell us crap, and suddenly the dude that used to be conservative now wants to build a giant bubble around the country.

    1. Right.
      You’re smart, they’re dumb.
      There’s only either/or, never nuance.

    2. We seem to be really stomping the Globalists today.

      They’re busy arguing with visions of straw men dancing in their heads.

  10. It really has much less to do with falling behind and more to do with forking over our national sovereignty to global political bodies filled with people we didn’t elect. Free markets have transitioned into global markets that aren’t actually free, but are relatively free and regulated by more influential member states and bureaucrats. When you tell someone else what to do with no skin in the game yourself, don’t act surprised when people resist.

    1. Absolutely. The best description I have seen for all of the populist movements in various countries is that the elites have demonstrated more loyalty for each other than for their fellow countrymen, who have understandably rebelled.

    2. forking over our national sovereignty to global political bodies filled with people we didn’t elect

      As mentioned above, it wasn’t the Davos elites who instituted the surveillance state or the welfare state. It was native-born Americans themselves.

      This ranting against the “global political bodies” is just an excuse to blame outsiders for the problems that Americans themselves created. Which is the entire essence of Trumpism. Americans screw something up, then scapegoat foreigners as the source of the problem, and if anyone dares to point that out, why, it must be because you hate America.

      1. #LibertariansForTheGlobalDeepState

      2. Americans screw something up, then scapegoat foreigners as the source of the problem

        We need to get Jeffy a helmet, because I worry that he is going to hurt himself running into walls all the time. We can’t prevent the brain damage already incurred, but we can encourage him to protect what he has left.

        Your ignorance of history causes you to oversimplify. The surveillance state was constructed to monitor and then counteract the efforts of the USSR. The notion that it was not an absolute necessity in the face of an implacable enemy is naive to the point of stupidity. The Soviets were absolutely dedicated to the spread of communism and would happily have killed ten of millions more innocents if allowed to spread further than they did. The Chinese are still doing it.

        That it would not be dialed back at the end of the cold war was as predictable as it was inevitable. The people whose jobs depend on war, find more wars when the one that got them the job ends. And the foreign interests who have depended for decades on American hegemony to protect their wealth from the socialists continue to exert tremendous pressure to influence America to stay in those places. Their wealth all resides in the tiny countries and city-states that exist only to protect that wealth and they only get to keep it if US hegemony remains to keep their bankrupt neighbors from taking it. Maintaining hegemony may be unreasonable, but not making them pay for it is insane.

        You threw in an asinine reference to the welfare state as well, but you have been refuted on that argument too many times to bother rehashing it for you.

        1. To your specific point:

          it wasn’t the Davos elites who instituted the surveillance state

          No, but they have lied and bribed everyone they could for it to continue indefinitely.

          1. And it might be noted that the surveillance state was developed with a great deal of aid from the British.
            Welfare and nationalized education were Bismarckian innovations enthusiastically embraced by Europhiles such as Wilson and FDR

      3. Sure, I agree about that with regards to our organic domestic policy, but there are international agreements that set and influence domestic policy as well. Also, I wasn’t referring specifically to American policy. Many European countries hate how the UN Migration Pact and Schengen zone are ultimately violating their national sovereignty through demographic replacement. The level of influence someone like Jean Claude Juncker has over Britain or Hungary really isn’t all that different than the influence Britain had over us when we were still colonies. I think you can understand why people want to resist a Communist bureaucrat elected by Luxembourg and the elitist, one Europe, globalist MEPs who backed his election as President of the EC.

        Maybe we’re just ignorant about the mechanics of the EU, but in many ways, the EU really has become the Fourth Reich by another name.

        1. I’m still shocked that so few people see that. Maybe the fact that France is equivalent to the VP of the EU clouds that from most.

  11. I wonder if the French aristocrats were this oblivious as they were getting dragged off to the guillotine?

    1. I wonder if the French aristocrats were this oblivious

      Absolutely. If you know French, you can read it in their own words.

  12. Another “Literate” person who doesn’t get it. Its not about the economy its about who gets to tell us what we can and can’t do and Americans don’t like globalist saying that we have to do “x” or “y” or etc… and that includes them deciding what jobs we can and can’t do that does hurt peoples economy.

  13. I’m not buying the argument here. People’s standards of living are improving well enough, but you can’t justify elitism with economic growth–and the populism we’re seeing is a reaction to that elitism.

    Globalism is about unaccountable elitists making choices for the rest of us that correctly belong within the proper purview of democracy rather than an unaccountable elite.

    It isn’t about people getting left behind. It’s that people are sick of being treated like shit by elitists for being white, Christian, heterosexual, patriotic, and not being willing to sacrifice their standard of living and sense of pride on the altar of climate change, social justice, or open immigration.

    The reaction against globalism is a reaction against elitism, and a reaction against elitism is what populism is all about. This is no different than it’s been in the past. Line 1 on the Wiki gets it exactly right:

    “Populism refers to a range of political stances that [emphasize] the idea of “the people” and often juxtapose this group against “the elite”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populism

    1. It’s especially grating to see elitists lecture the pro-Brexit heathen horde about the UK losing all the benefits of free trade with the EU–when the EU itself, especially France, is about as anti-free trade and pro-protectionism as can they can get. In fact, whatever economic stagnation the French are struggling with is largely attributable to their rejection of free trade principles.

      What the EU is doing is locking the UK out of French markets with protectionism! Is there anything more disingenuous than an EU politician lecturing the UK on the merits of free trade? The EU isn’t an excellent example of the glories of free trade. The EU is an excellent example of elitist protectionism.

    2. Really Ken? I’ve read a lot of your comments on here, and whether or not I agree with them all I will say they are often well-considered, often principled, and often well-stated. But “It isn’t about people getting left behind. It’s that people are sick of being treated like shit by elitists for being white, Christian, heterosexual, patriotic, and not being willing to sacrifice their standard of living and sense of pride on the altar of climate change, social justice, or open immigration.” is frankly, just pathetic whining.

      First of all, would you seriously argue that most of the “elites” in our world, particularly in this country, are anything BUT white, Christian, male heterosexuals?

      Second, define “patriotism.” I love this country, I do believe it’s the best country in the world, and I want it to be successful. But that doesn’t mean we have to shit on the rest of the world, so I don’t just wholesale rah rah wave the flag no matter what we do or how we act.

      Third, unless you are advocating that a certain group should be able to write their religious beliefs into law, and feeling like the inability to do so somehow makes you “persecuted,” I’m not sure how exactly you are being “persecuted or “treated like shit” on any real level. Unless you are buying into the ever-growing sense of victimhood and identity politics which is now the hallmark of the demographic which ironically has been railing against, wait for it…victimhood and identity politics. It’s even sadder when you compare the so-called “Christian values” to the leaders the right has chosen and how they actually act, e.g. DJT. The right gave up any ability to seriously claim “Christian values” or “morality” when you made your deal with the devil to go all in on Trump.

      This notion you have expressed in the quoted section belies another fallacy…that being asked to reconsider our effect on the environment somehow means a personal attack on your standard of living. Sure, you may feel more comfortable being able to just throw trash in the ocean or whatever, but that also intrudes on the right of others to enjoy a a world that isn’t ever-increasingly poisoned and eventually potentially dangerously polluted/unstable. It reveals one bad side of typical American beliefs…that being against “globalization” somehow insulates us from the rest of the globe’s environment. Like there is a special version of air and water for only Americans that somehow doesn’t play into the global condition.

      One last thing…you can believe in whatever you want, but if people continue to insist that our laws and lives must be controlled by some people’s belief in an unprovable sky god, well yeah, in that sense, maybe some people should be “left behind” in that the rest of us don’t want to have our society held back by religious taboos based on old fairy tales. YOur stated position also implies that to be one of “the people” as opposed to “the elites” one must share your demographics and beliefs. Which is about the most un-American thing one could say, and sadly typical of the biggest failing of thought on the Right these days.

  14. Pretty it up any way you want. Globalism will lead to a significantly reduced quality of life for the majority of Americans. There is NOTHING that the UN, IPCC or any other legion of euro-socialist elitists run that will improve the day to day lives a Joe Average taxpayer.

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