When the populist tide ebbs: What’s left behind? (H. W. BRANDS, FEB 24, 2024, A User’s Guide to History)

Populists in the 1890s attacked globalization, particularly international finance. Populists today are equally anti-globalist. As president, Trump launched tariff wars against America’s foreign competitors, and as a candidate again, he has promised more of the same. The 1890s attack hardly slowed the growth of international trade. Today’s attack has been equally unsuccessful. After a covid dip, world trade resumed its steady growth of around five percent per year. It’s more than twice as large as it was when the 1999 Battle of Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization kicked off the current anti-globalist campaign.

Populism is as much a mood as it is an agenda. Sometimes parts of the agenda stick. The mood always passes.