The anti-free trade populists must be defeated, not contained

Mounk may have painted a portrait of nationalism with too broad a brush. The distinctions he draws between the nationalism of France and Germany and that of America and Canada are of degrees but not kind. As he conceded, European nations with a “monoethnic” identity and a people with a historic attachment to blood and soil have traditionally managed to craft a more coherent nationalism than their cousins in the New World. European nationalism is, however, no less susceptible to hijacking by populist ideologues than its American counterpart. In that sense, nationalism isn’t the culprit at all; the hijacking is. Therefore rebooting patriotism so that it more closely resembles the Olympics is a prescription derived from a misdiagnosis.

Mounk has, however, correctly identified the source of the problem he is attempting to address: the unintended consequences of a globalized economy and mass migration from the developing world into the developed. These relatively new realities are destabilizing traditional democracies and rendering them vulnerable to the sway of what the called “authoritarian populists,” who have already undermined republican systems in nations like Venezuela. It isn’t nationalism, then, but economic and political chauvinism backed by popular demand that concerns him.