January 2, 2018

Pinkerton – The Spring of Nations: 2018 Brings Echoes of Europe’s Populist-Nationalist Rebellions of 1848

Here’s a headline that a lot of people—especially among the entrenched elite—won’t want to see: “2017 Was the Year of False Promise in the Fight Against Populism: The populist wave seems like it may have crested. The data proves otherwise.” In other words, the populists are still on the march. Uh oh. That headline appeared in Foreign Policy magazine, a publication not on the top of many populist reading lists. The two authors, Yascha Mounk and Martin Eiermann, are both associated with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Blair, as we all recall, was the prime minister of the United Kingdom for a decade; he was, and is, a devout apostle of globalism.  

So the co-authors come at their topic not to praise populism but, rather, to warn against it; as they write, it’s been “a scary couple of years,” what with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. And while they take note of high-ranking observers who have argued that populism is ebbing—one such is the conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, who opined in April, “The populist wave has crested, soon to abate”—they disagree with that conclusion. 

Indeed, just in October, the 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz was elected chancellor of Austria; he holds populist-nationalist views on immigration that can only be described as Trumpian. As the authors explain, 

Populism is now the predominant form of government in a huge, populous, and strategically crucial part of Central Europe. It is now possible to drive from the Baltic Sea all the way to the Aegean without once leaving a country ruled by a populist.

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