Full of hot air: at the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro, Brasília, Brazil, January 2019
SIPAPRE / SIPA USA VIA AP

There appears to be one indisputable global trend today: the rise of nationalism. Self-described nationalists now lead not only the world’s largest autocracies but also some of its most populous democracies, including Brazil, India, and the United States. A deepening fault line seems to divide cosmopolitans and nationalists, advocates of “drawbridge down” and “drawbridge up.” And it seems that more and more people are opting for the latter—for “closed” over “open.” 

They do so, many commentators claim, because they feel threatened by something called “globalism” and crave to have their particular national identities recognized and affirmed. According to this now conventional narrative, today’s surge of nationalist passions represents a return to normal: the attempts to create a more integrated world after the Cold War were a mere historical blip, and humanity’s tribal passions have now been reawakened. 

This, however, is a deeply flawed interpretation of the

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