Navigating the New Abnormal

The Trump administration lacks both a global strategy and anyone who could formulate and implement one. And unless anti-populists in general – and the center left, in particular – face up to some hard realities, the menace of a rogue US will only grow.

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The Populist Backlash

SS: You’ve written that Brexit and Trump are the same phenomenon. Do you think the populist wave that lifted both will spread further?

JS: I think societies everywhere are very divided. Whether it’s 51-49 or 49-51, we are not seeing landslide wins for populism, but rather a reflection of deep social divisions. And, yes, I think we’re going to see more of this, because there are so many anxieties that we don’t seem able to overcome.

Even the foundations of foreign policy are giving way. The Middle East crises are the result of America’s failure and fading global power, which are part of the social anguish many voters feel. Likewise, Brexit reflects a collapse in belief in the postwar order in Western Europe, which was forged during the Cold War but has now basically disintegrated.

SS: You attribute populism to four factors: rising nationalism, the weakening of American foreign policy, the crisis of the center left, and the refugee crisis. Yet you’re an economist. So what about economics?