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Globalism and Nationalism

Why Interconnectedness Does Not Threaten Sovereignty

Donald Trump, then U.S. president-elect, at a rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, December 2016. Mike Segar / REUTERS

Speaking in Washington in April 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declared that “we will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism.” Trump’s supporters on the American far right, such as the pseudonymous “Virgil,” who writes for the Breitbart website, similarly attack the “old globalist vision” as a “gospel,” a “new kind of religious faith” of “murky international enterprises” seeking to abolish national borders and undermine democracy.

These views caricature globalism as a liberal, capitalist, and anti-democratic alternative to nationalism. This understanding, however, is far from the historical meaning of the term. Indeed, as I explain in my book The Emergence of Globalism, the idea that globalism is fundamentally at odds with national sovereignty is a false and misleading narrative.

To understand the meaning of globalism today, we need to look back at the emergence of the idea in the 1940s. After World

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