It’s a curious thing that one’s credibility as an American anti-globalist now seems dependent on one’s possessing detailed opinions on everything from German refugee policy to who should sit in the Italian senate.
Take anti-globalist superstar Steve Bannon. He’s been globetrotting non-stop since leaving the White House, giving speeches in Hong Kong and Japan, counseling candidates in Italy, and stumping for political parties in France. Similar things are happening in the other direction too, of course: Marion Maréchal–Le Pen, of France’s stridently anti-globalist National Front, was a keynote speaker at this year’s CPAC, while various other leading lights of the European anti-globalist Right, such as Holland’s Geert Wilders and Britain’s Nigel Farage, routinely offer political commentary in and about America.
Conventional wisdom declares these characters to be part of an ideological fad called “populism,” which is said to be worryingly nationalistic, yet also generic enough to make its messages, themes, and leaders universally relevant. That a sensationalistic press would uncritically swallow such an apparent paradox is predictable; that the anti-globalists themselves would be similarly untroubled is more perplexing.
In this new populism-driven world order, the identified foe of the nationalist forces are not boring local politicians, but a sensational medley of the most broadly disagreeable initiatives from around the Occident — the immigration policies of Angela Merkel, the corruption of Hillary Clinton, the bureaucracy of the European Union, the political correctness of Justin Trudeau, etc. — which are collectively blamed on these disparate leaders’ “globalist” agenda. Since the villains are shared, their victims are equally transcendent. A self-proclaimed American nationalist may be as deeply invested in Brexit as a British nationalist is in the success of Donald Trump. The struggle against “globalism” thus can’t help but become globalized, sustained by a worldwide infrastructure of news outlets, Web forums, YouTube channels, podcasts, social-media accounts, and celebrities, all thoroughly literate in the politics of multiple nations — to say nothing of English, the language once dubbed “Globish” for its planetary reach.