This election could be the birth of a Trump-Sanders constituency

If anything, the issues in Europe are more complicated because of the euro and the European Union and the predominance of Germany, but basically what these different populist movements are advocating is an economic nationalism very similar to that which Trump and Sanders are calling for.

What is happening to the United States and Western Europe now can be compared to what happened from the 1870s to the beginning of World War II. During this earlier period, capital and a laissez faire view of the economy initially reigned supreme, and, as Thomas Piketty has demonstrated, economic inequality grew apace, as it has over the past 40 years.

There were initial outbursts similar to those that the United States and Western Europe are experiencing now — the populists and socialists in the United States, the socialist and Labour parties in Europe — but they didn’t cohere into a powerful challenge until the decades after World War I and the onset of the Great Depression.

When they did come together, however, the challenge took two very different forms. In the United States, the breakdown of the old order led to the triumph of the New Deal on the left. In Europe, it resulted in the rise of fascism.