Meanwhile communities that have suffered from economic change mostly due to

Meanwhile communities that have suffered from

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Meanwhile, communities that have suffered from economic change (mostly due to automation, not global- ization) have often been neglected. No wonder many vot- ers feel the system is rigged against them. Populists tap into the resentment of people who feel ignored, looked down on, and hard done by—who have lost status or fear they will. Fears about the future include both economic worries that robots, Chinese workers, and immigrants are threatening people’s livelihoods, and cul- tural ones that white Westerners are losing their privileged status both locally and globally. Far-left populists tend to target their fire at billion- aires and big businesses that abuse their clout to buy po- litical power and screw workers and consumers. But there is a big debate about whether far-right populism—which focuses its hostility on foreigners in general and immi- grants in particular—is driven primarily by economic is- sues or cultural ones. In practice, these often can’t be neatly separated. In difficult times, distributional cleavages come to the fore— over access to shrivelled public services, for instance— and are often then overlaid with identity clashes. When people lose status as individuals, they often prize their group identity more. In insecure times, some hanker for the perceived security of leadership by a strongman. In times of economic decline, people are more nostalgic for the past. And so on. Our age of discontent provides rich pickings for op- portunists such as Donald Trump (who was previously a Democrat) and Hungary’s Viktor Orban (who was once a liberal). But successful politicians often are opportu- nistic: witness Emmanuel Macron, France’s self-styled Jupiterian president who earlier stormed to power posing as an anti-establishment outsider. To defeat the populists, mainstream politicians need to address the economic and cultural insecurities that create a wider constituency for populism in positive and constructive ways. That includes bold economic policies to promote greater opportunity and fairness and unifying cultural narratives such as progressive patriotism. Force the populists to define their objectives, giving them something to work towards instead against. MILTON EZRATI Contributing Editor, The National Interest, Chief Economist, Vested, and author, Thirty Tomorrows: The Next Three Decades of Globalization, Demographics, and How We Will Live (2014) T he answer to why global populism is on the rise is the more straightforward. These movements, diverse though they are, have all arisen because elites have failed: failed to meet the challenge of growing income in- equalities or even explain what the difficulties are; failed to cope with the complexities of globalization and in some cases even admit that such complexities exist; failed to take seriously citizen concerns over the elite social agenda
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30 THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY WINTER 2019 or even admit that such concerns are valid. Worse still, elites have shown a sad inability to reflect on their many
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