“The New Populism Isn’t About Economics”

That is the title of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one pithy excerpt:

Among emerging economies, the Philippines moved from being an Asian growth laggard into some years of 8 percent growth. Voters responded by electing as president Rodrigo Duterte, one of the most aggressive and authoritarian populists around. In eastern Europe, Poland has been seeing average 4 percent growth for more than 25 years, yet the country has moved in a strongly nationalist direction, flirting with sanctions from the EU for limiting judicial independence. Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and now the Czech Republic all are much wealthier than 20 years ago and mostly have been booming as of late. Yet to varying degrees they too have moved in nationalist, populist and possibly even anti-democratic directions.

And the closer:

So the next time you hear material discontent cited as driving electoral results, just remember that economic data are usually interpreted through a cultural lens.

And yes, I cover New Zealand and the Czech elections too.


Unless, of course, inequality may be the driver.

My anecdotal experience over a decade of regular visits is that NZ's prosperity has been both readily apparent and viscerally uneven. Both, aspects, I think, have ready explanations in National's policies.

This seems rather obvious. Economists can't seem to come to grips with the fact that "relative status" and a sense of "fairness" are important drivers of human utility.

How many people would take a new job for a 5% raise if everyone else at the firm made 20% more for the exact same work? Not many I'd guess.

People's perceptions of "inequality" are shaped by a "cultural lens" (the envy mongers) too.

Agree, which is why I think it's important to strive for a sense of "fairness" (yes, hard to define exactly). Bailing out banks on easy terms during a crisis is the exact opposite. Relying on monetary policy transmission mechanisms which create a "wealth effect" is the exact opposite, etc etc.

Well, how about listening to what these politicians are saying? Inequality was nowhere near Trump's platform, and I doubt very much these other populists are different in this aspect. Of course, you can argue that anti-immigration sentiments are related to inequality but that's a stretch in my opinion. This seems like a cultural backlash movement, hard to see it differently...

I think the process of discontent begins with economic stagnation and inequality. Especially when the winners of the globalization lottery then try to push their cultural values on you. But the causes of the economic problems are complex, hard to understand, and even harder to fix. In lieu of a proper outlet for frustration, an "enemy" becomes an easy outlet. Foreigners are an easy scapegoat. I blame the system that creates the root cause more-so than the knee-jerk reaction. What good are the elites if they can't even produce a sense of fairness?

I thought this piece started off strong, but then withered. Perhaps, because the author wished to avoid "concern trolling" a more positive vision or alternative.

And maybe he is right.

After all, if the top of the class gets the subtext, we can ignore the populist horde, and go off to explore western China.

proffered thesis is that economic issues no longer primarily fuel populism/nationalism, but no evidence presented that economics was indeed the previous standard. seems a strawman is erected and flailed

we learn that cultural issues may be a big deal to the masses -- did anyone ever suspect that before today?

That is not the point made: he is instead arguing against conventional wisdom, that populism is caused by economic downturns, a point frequently made in media and political discourse.

I think to get a more complete picture of what is going on, you need to include the so-called anti-Trumps – Marcon and Trudeau – in your analysis. While they may be offering up different policies than Trump and Duterte, their lack of political credentials are similar.

Good point.

May be its a greater willingness to throw out the status quo whether from the left or the right.

Agree. I doubt very much that we would have elected Trump if Obama was not in power...

In Israel we have Yesh Atid, considered anti-populist in the Israeli context.(though its platform would still be considered far-right in the US or Europe.) I think one cause is that people are getting more familiar with the electoral systems, in most of these countries proportional representation is used. People don't intuitively understand PR, thinking "why vote for small parties which aren't going to win" and being ignorant of how exactly seats are distributed. But as more elections go by and they wonder why, for example, the party with the most votes isn't leading the government, they start understanding that you can vote for small parties and they might end up as kingmakers. So its easier for them to go from 1% support to 5% support to 25% support. You could never have something like En Marche in America even though a solid ~25% of people would back its platform.

First of the Phillipines is an outlier take away the drug violence and a Muslim insurgency and populism probally doesn't play as well.

Maybe the economic growth has allowed them to attain the requisite strength to avoid being bullied by external organizations like the EU into pursuing less preferred policies.

Additionally this same exact concern troll could be deployed against American blacks never have they been more affluent and better treated than they are today and yet the radicalization of blacks in the US is at arguably its highest point in terms of scope if not intensity.

People ask for what they can get away with. Maybe after the next ten to fifteen years of populist dominance Cowen and the globalists will understand that.

Says Sam Fulsome, who has never been to the Philippines. There's no drug violence in PH before Duterte. Duterte (pronounced "Do-Dirty") is popular with poor people. I disagree with TC who says in PH a rising tide raised all boats; I think Duterte was elected since he promised he would end corruption, and poor people think corruption is holding them back from making money (I disagree that's the reason they are poor; I think there are too few people controlling too many resources in PH, same problem as in Russia).

Ray people who don't pay for sex are talking about things that aren't chess.

If I want advice on how to conceal cold sores or which Philipina hookers have the friendliest pimps then maybe I'll ask you. But I'd have to lose a lot of money, charm and probally use of my legs before I'd ever need to pay for sex. And you still don't know what fulsome means. You are the epitome of suck.

For those who have not seen, Noah Smith was willing to go there:


That view will probably be confirmed a half a dozen places on this page.

"willing to go there:"

That certainly is a rare view for an MSM writer to hold. He deserves a medal for bravery!

Leftism is so flaccid and passive aggressive. I deserves every bit of its destruction. Where that leaves moderates like me I don't know.

His biographical squib says:

I admired economists like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman, and writers like Matt Yglesias,

Yglesias is sorosphere employee of no special distinction and deLong and Krugman are most notable for being obnoxious. (deLong's professional publications between 1993 and 2008 were bupkis, btw). That he would say he 'admired' this trio is a self-indicting remark.

"Krugman [is] most notable for being obnoxious"

How many nobel prizes do you have?

Bradford deLong and Matthew Yglesias have none.

He explicitly admires Krugman for his topical commentary, not the trade theory he published a generation ago.

I like Krugman for his hot takes on interest rates and the stock market. While many economists are content to babble in their ivory towers, Paul shows us how to apply this wisdom in the arena of the real world.

Sam Fuckstick: Where that leaves moderates like me I don’t know.


You're not a moderate. You're a reactionary.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

I like all the proof you furnished. No wait that's your spittle.

He makes the mistake of thinking class is about money. It isn't. It is about barriers to entry.

I had this conversation today. Part of my youth was spend in Quebec where there are definite classes, and the rest of my life in Western Canada where class dynamics are very different. There are wealthy people in both places, but in the west, generally, the wealthy don't look down on the working class.

The animosity between the Trump supporters on the right and the never trumpers on the right isn't economic; it is class. The deplorables against the proper thinking classes.

You ruined something that might have worked. I go to parties that cut across status and wealth. We have a good time. And as it happens, I have rented a small house in Fernie, in the summer.

"The deplorables against the proper thinking classes."

I don't think I need to hang with anyone who knows what the word "deplorable" means, and attaches themselves to it.

The inversion, the "we are deplorable" is the problematic evolution of the new right.

I think you misread. That is exactly what I meant. There are exceptions of course, but what you describes is my experience.

Hillary defined deplorable as probably 3/4 of the population of the US. There may be some circles where being well thought of by Hillary Clinton means something.

Speaking of Fernie there was a nasty accident at the ice rink this week where three people were killed by an ammonia leak in the ice plant. It is fascinating to listen to people come to the understanding that this toxic and explosive refrigerant is being encouraged as a safe replacement for current refrigerants.

There are many toxic and explosive substances in daily use, gasoline, propane, natural gas, and so on. Sometimes errors occur resulting in fires and explosions. But people still drive cars, cook on gas ranges and ride around in airplanes. In a corollary of ammonia and ice rinks consider the use of chlorine in swimming pools and other water treatment. Chlorine is probably more dangerous than ammonia, which is still commonly used in an industrial setting because of its efficiency, but no one seems to refuse to go swimming because there's a possibility of chlorine exposure.

This explains why Trump got 30% of the Latino vote.

We live in an era when 30ish percent approval is often treated as a win.


Noah says Trump is about race.

His share of the Latino vote is in line with other notable racist ogres, like Romney, McCain, and GHWB. Bob Dole is of course the biggest racist of all, garnering just 21%.


It seems to me that Noah and GWB have been on the same vibe recently.

It would be good, but not quite great, if the 70/30 rule applied. That is, 70 percent of us do support a values based and inclusive vision for America. It would just be sad that they are afraid to say so, and are so willing to let the 30 percent sustain themselves in forums like these.

It would be sad if as positive a message as that GWB speech was treated as "concern trolling" by the people who need it most.

BTW, note that my first link complements your datum perfectly, 70/30.

Let me spell it out for you: Noah is identifying a trend that isn't there, at least among Latino voters over the past three decades.

Of course Dubya did better, with the Spanish speaking and whatnot, which offsets the fact that he was the worst President in my lifetime, right? Nice guy though. No argument there.

I guess these are comments, and you can be as micro-focused and pedantic as you want to.

But I would say that if you like the GWB vision, and the old time American values Noah has championed many times, you should go there.

Example thread:


When I was a kid, we had this blow up clown with sand in the bottom. Every time you punched it in the nose, it popped back up with a shit-eating grin, having learned nothing.

Not sure what sparked that memory...

You are one weird dude. If you have one theme in your comments it is to avoid moral responsibility in yourself, and to attack it in others.

Just to be clear about how I read this thread, you seized on *minority* support by Latinos to say Noah was wrong. You ignored the 70% of Latinos leaning the other way in election and polls. You even used the preposterous logic that if Latinos traditionally vote Democratic, the right can't be .. all the things the alt-right explicitly say they are.

And I asked you twice to come to the inclusive conservative vision, as championed in the Bush speech, and each time you refused.

You would rather fight Noah and I on your weedy patch of dirt. That Latinos must see no racism, because a minority got carried along with Trump.

Brian - "he was the worst President in my lifetime, right? "

So that makes you under 37 yrs old and still missing one worse. I know you're older so that'd make him no worse than 3rd worst.

@TMC: What are you talking about? You're saying Bush II was not worse than Reagan and Bush I?

No, I'm saying he wasn't worse than Carter or Obama.

Inequality may contribute to financial and economic instability, but not authoritarian populism. Oddly, economists deny the former while providing non-economic economic explanations for the latter. I agree with Cowen: populism is a cultural phenomenon. And every culture has a different reason for authoritarian populism. An extreme case is Sunni Muslim populism, reflected in extreme actions for the stated purposed of achieving extreme goals (the apocalypse). America's populism has its own flavor, white nationalism. Why is populism coming together all at once all over the globe? Globalism is the glib response. My view is that authoritarian populism has been ever-present, we are just more aware of its presence. The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution is bringing out a treasure trove of books about the revolution and Soviet Russia, including a new book about Stalin by Stephen Kotkin (part of a three-volume set). This volume includes the years leading up to WWII and the war years and considers Stalin’s initial decision to sign a nonaggression pact with Germany (Stalin considered Britain a grater threat to the Soviet Union than Germany) and Hitler’s fateful decision to break the pact. But of greater significance is Stalin’s terrorization of his own people including those serving in his own government. How did he do it: “Kotkin’s most striking contribution, though, is to probe reasons Stalin encountered little opposition as he wrought mayhem on his nation. Careerism and bureaucratic incentives in the Soviet Union’s formidable apparatus of repression had something to do with it, Kotkin writes, but so too did the party’s monopoly on information and the public’s receptiveness to wild claims about the danger of subversion from within. Stalinism was, in this way, as much enabled from below as imposed from above.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/books/review/stephen-kotkin-stalin-biography.html

"Inequality may contribute to financial and economic instability, but not authoritarian populism." - that whole sentence is wrong. For one thing, you have no cites.

I'm glad you are about to take a vacation from commenting at this blog - you need it. I look forward to your return after a much needed rest.

There's definitely a populist wave in the West. About the rest of the world I think you're looking for a pattern that's not there. You and your class have been moving toward even more radical cucking, but to you it looks like you are stationary and everyone else is moving away. "European values" didn't used to mean gay marriage and Muslim immigration, but now they do(in the West European conception of "European values") so it looks like they are "moving away from European values." Not sure how China can be said to be more nationalistic now. They were always nationalistic, can you provide an example of this supposed new direction? And the case of the Philippines is different, it's not nationalism that distinguishes him from his opponents. There's no immigration problem there and Duterte actually captured a larger percentage of the votes from Muslims than from Christians.

"gay marriage and Muslim immigration." Eventually they'll likely have to choose one or the other.

Not to mention choosing between taking the Jews out of the ghettos and not having them poisoning my wells and conspiring with my cats against me. I am undecided.

The problem with far left progressives (the most idealistic) is that they do not see this as a choice. They believe that Muslims, as an oppressed "phobicized" group, will eventually awaken to their solidarity with the gaily married, another oppressed group, as they see it.

And they will ignore evidence to the contrary.

Why? In the US, we got legalized gay marriage despite the opposition of a huge religious slice of the country. If more Muslims enter the country, how does that overturn Obergefell v. Hodges?

It's a reference to Europe, and the reasoning is obvious. Muslims immigrants tend to be far more outspoken about taboo subjects such as Gay marriage. Often going beyond outspoken to pure violence. It's likely that a much larger Muslim minority will lead directly to increased violent homophobic crime. At the very least, a larger Muslim minority will try and enact legislation that will suppress public gay activity.


Good thing Supreme Court decisions never get overturned I guess.

That actually is pretty rare. Some Court decisions are nullified by later amendments, others are sidestepped by later Court reasoning-- that happened with Plessy vs Fergusen and Brown vs Kansas Board of Education where the latter decision was based on the observation that "Separate but equal" might be constitutional but was a real world impossibility. The Supreme Court does not like to say "We (or our predecessors) were wrong."

Best comment so far. I think Tyler's point is interesting but he weakens it when he adds not-comparable examples, throwing in China and Ethiopia.

It was an excellent comment and it illuminates by reflection the American left's oft invoked propositional nation fallacy. The historical values of Europe where never creedal. The cyncism it takes to claim they were underscores just how cynical left wing evocation of so calledAmerican values are. Our posterity that is the American creed per the constitution. If that sounds like blood and soil patriotism then take it up with James Madison.

Well Tyler, you don't like argument.

But somehow a hands-off blog on "small steps to a better world" descends to "blood and soil" damn near every time.

An untended garden, with noxious weeds.

"An untended garden, with noxious weeds."

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Well I will just draw attention to that too. Notice Tyler that they would keep the barely cryptic references to "blood and soil." For them, that is not the problem.

" For them, that is not the problem."

Yep, the problem is concern trolls who change their usernames and think it fools people.

It was the "cuckmeister" era on MR that convinced me names really don't matter, and that the rules for content are pretty bizarre as well.

What do you have against James Madison's vision. Be explicit the onus is on you.

What portions of either the US Constitution, or Madison's individual writings, do you believe reflect a "blood and soil" vision, whether in the 19th century German sense, the Nazi sense, or in some other sense? Or do you just mean that Madison was personally suspicious of commerce when compared with some of his compatriots?

"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; "

None of it. It secures the blessings of liberty for the founding demos and their posterity. It offers no propostion to affirm nor issues an invitation to any tired or weak.

My point is that the left has at least rhetorically come to see this as a species of blood and soil nationalism. It was anon that evoked the specter of blood and soil. I just pointed out how silly his concept of it was and how it would readily apply to James Madison. Madison was suspicious of the ideas in the Declaration of Independence.

"anon that evoked the specter of blood and soil"

Nope. Not on this page, and not in national discussion.

The alt-right protestors at Charlottesville brought the term to national attention, and former President George W. Bush used the term in his recent speech.

If I were to guess, you are pushing back on Bush, trying to sell as a progressive agenda something that is actually an old conservatism, one supported by George and I.


A few points then:

1. I am not sure if we can be certain that James Madison's vision excludes an "invitation" to immigrants based on the fact that the Constitution does not address the issue. Madison likely believed immigration was an issue for the states, covered under his Tenth Amendment. This is distinct from naturalization, which is of course addressed in the U.S. Constitution. But in neither case is there any bar to admitting new Americans, whether tired, weak or otherwise.

2. In fact, by specifying that the president must be a "natural born Citizen," as JWatts helpfully points out, the Constitution implicitly recognizes that there will be citizens other than those naturally born (consistent with the Naturalization Clause, of course). Madison's "vision" further contemplated amendments to the Constitution, and so from a meta-level, it also contemplated the possibility of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And of course, even during Madison's tenure as President, there was both immigration and naturalization, albeit at a lower rate than following subsequent humanitarian crises in Europe and during the gold rush in California.

3. Even assuming Madison had a vision of America that explicitly barred welcoming the "tired and weak" (a premise I do not accept), why would that settle any issues if the vision is not both a) reflected in a governing document and b) that document is unalterable? I suppose if you really care about legislative intent, maybe you could argue that we should be swayed by Madison's unexpressed vision. Do you love legislative intent? But of course even if Madison was the primary author of the Constitution, he was not the only one involved in its negotiation or drafting. Hell, his co-Publius was born in el Caribe as the illegitimate child of a Scotsman and a half-British/half French woman, and that co-Publius had a notoriously different vision of America's future.

4. Ultimately, I take it your argument is that Madison is an heroic founding father who had views that would be considered nativist, perhaps even alt-right/19th century German/Nazi style agrarian-antisemitic-nativist, and because a constitutional hero had those views, holding those views now should be at least the default view, if not immune from criticism. I take issue with the premise that Madison had those views, let alone that such views are reflected in the founding documents of the United States. But even if your premises were accurate, I do not think your conclusion follows. Many great people, and even more not-so-great-people with great accomplishments, have had views and opinions that have since been relegated to "the dustbin of history," or at least are now subject to serious criticism and debate. And I am not talking just about silly superstitions and antiquated science, but also issues of politics, governance, and rights. Whether you like it or not, it is a historical fact that large scale immigration and naturalization has been a tradition in the United States for, at the least, nearly 200 years--the vast majority of our nation's history. Of course such immigration has always had its proponents and its detractors, and the wisdom and morality of immigration policies have always been subject to debate. But there is no reason to think that the default historical rule should be a blanket refusal to "invite the tired or weak" into our country. As you can probably gather, I instinctively want to keep our doors open because I view my "tribe" broadly and want more people to be safe, happy and successful. But I also recognize that the issue is not immune from debate, and certainly there are a lot of details around the borders of the issue (pun) that are fuzzy for all involved. But I also believe that any resort to the purported views of Madison as a defense of such closed doors is false, irrelevant, and tacky.

For what its worth, my ancestors came to North America nearly a century before Madison was born, and their descendants fought as officers under Washington. My wife's family came here during the 1970s, worked their asses off and made huge sacrifices to give their children unbelievable opportunities (while also saving money to live a comfortable retirement of golf and travel). I believe that both types of Americans will, and have already, brought a lot of value to the nation. My children, who will grow up with both of these traditions and with great opportunities built on the work of my family, my wife's family, and the entire American system, will almost certainly do more good than I can imagine. So maybe I am biased.

Putting aside the motivated reasoning that likely follows from having married a recent arrival (my family on both sides predates this nations founding so I'm afraid your attempt at point scoring failed), and the bad faith argumentation here goes.

My argument is simple it is non-debatable that many of the founding fathers saw themselves as effectively establishing an ethnostate (whether this is good or bad doesn't matter it is a fact). the ink was barely dry on the treaty of Paris before even hyper cosmopolitan FFs like Franklin were carping at the Germans (among whom were several of my ancestors).

Clearly Madison did as well as he explicitly pushed back at the propagandistic universalism of the declaration with those two very important words, our posterity. This is buttressed by the fact that constitutional protections weren't even seen as applying to resident aliens- so they fact that the constitution is silent on immigration as opposed to naturalization. The contents of the constitution where immaterial to non-citizen residents. The bar to new Americans was naturalization which again is discussed in the constitution. Just rolling into the US did not make you an American. Keep in mind there were ships sailing into American ports weekly that disgorged thousands of people that Madison certainly would not have considered Americans. He would have considered them property. My father was a senior executive at Solvay as a result of which I grew up in Belgium. That did not create new Belgians in the least.

Your contention about natural born citizens is equally weak. Even in the ethnostates of Europe citizenship was granted to distinguished foreigners. Madison was likely envisioning a similar process unfolding in the US. Lafayette for example was made an American citizen and was baron von Steuben i believe. Madison would have been wary of allowing these type of figures to obtain the office of the presidency. These figures existed even in periods of almost zero immigration. Therefore the term says almost nothing about the existence much like the extent of naturalization.

Hamilton was by birth an Englishman just like Madison. The circumstances of his birth no matter how exciting a broadway musical they make does not change that fact. It is highly ironic that someone who invokes the Federalist Papers would be so dismissive of the founders intent. As for Hamilton's vision of the United States it certainly didn't call out for multicultural immigration to the US. If anything Hamilton was the most ethnocentric of the founders. He was a huge support of the 1790 immigration act and constantly railed against non-English cultures eroding the American ethos. Maybe a broadway musical shouldn't be the basis of an argumentation point. So that dispenses with the intent argument. The constitution is the operative basis for our governmental system. To reject Madison's views is to reject the founding legitimacy of this nation. It hardly matters that his intent has been disregard (and it's pure mendacity to claim that wide scale immigration has characterized this nation for 200 years.) those aiming to restore his vision speak with the authority of this nations founding ideals. You can pick and choose your finding principles.

Finally, your attempted smears are noted. No where in my comments did I suggest the slightest bit of sympathy for agrarianism or anti-semitism. My ancestors made their money fast (they were the work smart type) and haven't been farmers in centuries so any kind of sympathy for agrarianism would be insincere. Clearly you are henpecked husband likely brow beaten by her pushy relatives. It would be natural for you to lash out incontiently. Thankfully in addition to working hard my famiy also is quite polished something if I can put on your uncharitable characterization hat is likely lacking on your wife's side of the family. And yours too perhaps but again it's clear who wears the pants so I'm reluctant to blame your relatives.

Finally I don't give a damn how hard your wife's ancestors worked. People can work hard anywhere on earth and their hard work benefited me not at all. Compared to my relatives crippled and killed in this nations wars their "sacrifice"seems kind of small and insignificant and awful self serving. Working hard just isn't enough contributed capital anymore.

Whoah! Why so emotional? Let me guess, dey terk ur jerbs? Just kidding; I am sure you're doing just fine.

Anyway, I probably cannot argue that at least some founding fathers "saw themselves as effectively establishing an ethnostate," but good lord, your next line says: "whether this is good or bad doesn't matter it is a fact." That is just unbelievable. If we are going to consider as relevant the personal views of some of the dudes who spent years debating, writing, re-writing and then agreeing to a constitutional compromise two centuries ago, we'd damn well better decide whether that fact and that position is good or bad. Even the most reactionary thinker recognizes that the collective wisdom of the past should be questioned. The idea that whether it is good or bad doesn't matter is Stephen Miller, "the Powers of the President will not be questioned," level crazy.

With respect to your other contentions:

1. Do you have any evidence for your theory that by adding "and our Posterity," to the following portion of the Preamble was intended by Madison (let alone all the other signers) to limit the scope of the Constitution's protections: "..and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"? It seems to me that it actually expands the phrase. I was not even aware that Madison added those words specifically. Note that they are already included in Federalist 84 (Hamilton).

2. "Madison likely was envisioning a similar process..." etc. Do you have evidence? I understand that this is your preferred interpretation, but I have not seen any evidence. My interpretation of the naturalization clause is based on the text. I leave it to the reader to judge which method of interpretation is the more reliable.

3. The constitution, as amended, may be the foundational basis for our governmental system. But it is only one part of the law of the land, and is subject to interpretation and implementation by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Rejecting Madison's views (which you have yet to establish), is not to "reject the founding legitimacy of this nation," it is rejecting the personal views of one of many people involved in drafting the framework around which millions of people have subsequently built a government.

4. You claim without support that it is "pure mendacity" to claim that large scale immigration has characterized this nation for 200 years. But according to census numbers, the percentage of foreign born persons living in the United States was 9.7% in 1850 (appx. 170 years ago), and have ranged between 4.7% (1970) and 13.6% (1900) ever since. While I cannot quite get back to 200 years, that is getting close. Certainly not mendacity! What has changed over the last 170 years is the origin of those immigrants. Is it possible that change is what you really object to?

5. I do not know if you, personally, have benefited from the hard work of my family and my wife's family. Paying taxes and enforcing positive social values are benefits to other people, including other American citizens. So if my family or my wife's family paid taxes, were kind to neighbors and others in their community, created wealth and value through free mutual exchange, were positive influences as schoolchildren and parents, then I think it is fair to say that such hard work does benefit you. I am not arguing that "sacrifice" is the price of citizenship; I am arguing that immigrants who work hard and bring positive values can benefit you and others. The sacrifices of your relatives are admirable.

6. If you think my description of "blood and soil nationalism," was a smear, I fear for your delicate sensibilities! Note that I was responding to your post, which I was having trouble deciphering, which included this line: "Our posterity that is the American creed per the constitution. If that sounds like blood and soil patriotism then take it up with James Madison." I was actually not aware of the specific meaning of "blood and soil" until recently. I am certain I have read about the history of the concept, but did not recall it. If all you mean is that citizenship should be based on both bloodlines and living on American territorial soil, fine--but "blood and soil" has a very specific historical meaning, so you may want to be careful invoking the term.

7. No real "gotcha" on my potential personal bias. Literally my very last line was "So maybe I am biased."

8. Speaking of smears, you really went at it on the personal stuff! I will leave it to anyone unfortunate enough to still be reading these comments to decide whether you would prefer that your children to go to school with Sam's children, or the children of a foreign-born physicist, money manager, dentist (or even convenience shop owner) who "benefited [Sam] not at all."

Finally, I doubt that anything I say in a comment here will ever "score points" with you, and it is not my intent to do so.

Maybe don't accuse people of anti-Semitism. Like I said you clearly have a chip on your shoulder about your wife's family origins otherwise the whole interlude about your lineage was completely out of place. But as I made clear in my comment which you pretend after the fact to not be able to follow it is the left that is throwing around the blood and soil smear. I was pointing out that if you think a nation belonging to its people is blood and soil patriotism then take it up with James Madison. I defy you to point to anywhere in the comments where I even hinted at self-describing as committed to blood and soil. So in turn I matched your slur with some uncharitable inferences of my own.

1. Yes the clear meaning of those words. To paraphrase Lowell I imagine those words are like a fishbone stuck in your throat but they are there nonetheless. The Alien and Sediton act made it clear that constitutional protections did not extend to non citizens. This stuff isn't even up for debate.

2. Do you have any proof that it's not. I mean you were the one who started to ascribe meaning to the phrase. You presented no proof. I presented a more compelling more historically grounded explanation. Seems like the onus is on you.

3. This isn't how constitutions work. The constitution is the basis for all political legitimacy in the use it also supersedes all other law. Who cares if there are other sources of law. They are explicitly subordinate to the constitution and derive their power exclusively from the constitution. Constitutional principles can't be rejected they can only be superseded by amendments. With all those hard workers you got why don't you get to work on an open borders amendment. Until then the preamble is operative even if the political elites of this nation foil its spirit.

4. Those numbers make my point. 10 is a small percentage and 5 percent positively minuscule. At no point was America a nation of immigrants. Furthermore, as someone whose had a lot of sucess with native females its hard for me to say, but is it possible that your support for open borders is a product purely of your low status in the dating market but since you are again ascribing motivations to me let's just say the glove fits. a steady pool of submissive more desperate nationalities would improve your odds.

5. So have any of your hard working relatives served this country. Because paying taxes is an obligation that doesn't actually benefit anyone. Taxes are a reciprocal agreement between resident and the state. The fact that I pay my gym membership every month doesn't benefit the other gym members. Nor does my working hard at getting into shape. I mean yea if I stopped the gym would be marginal closer to shutting down. And maybe there's nugatory network benefits to my being there but ultimately I'm there to live longer. Same with working hard and being a good neighbor. At the very low end of national equity I guess it's better than not doing those things (which certain recent immigrant groups are notorious for) but compared throwing yourself on a grenade in Vietnam its not much. he didn't get a chance to pay many taxes but six people that wouldn't have gone home did.

There is nothing populist about the far right or alt-right. They have captured and euthanized the word populist.

Here is the definition from Wiki of the term "populist"

"populist (plural populists)

A person who advocates populism (a movement against ruling elites who are presumed not to act in the interests of the ordinary citizen) quotations ▼
A politician who advocates specific policies just because they are popular
A person who advocates democratic principles

How inclusive do you think a populist is? Are these populists advocating democratic principles? Are they inclusive of the entire population? Are they being elitist themselves when they seek to divide between an us and an other."

As one of the leaders of the US Nazi movement said, "You do not have to wear a brown shirt to be a Nazi."

I am currently reading "Doublespeak: The Rhetoric of the Far Right Since 1945" (Feldman and Jackson eds.) which examines European far right movements and US far right movements and their rhetoric and tactics.

To me, "Populism" is a word progressives start throwing around when the outcome of the democratic process is different from what they want, like Trump/Brexit etc. It is an attempt to de-legitimize the other side.

Trump is the only "minority populist" . An oxymoron .

Viking, Why is populism a derogatory term? Ever heard of fighting Bob Lafollette? Teddy Roosevelt? Did you take a history course that listed Adolph Hitler as a populist?

Go read the definition of populism above. It's the right, not the left, that has captured the term even though they are NOT populists by the definitions above.

When you seek to divide people that's not populism--John McCain has it right.

Way to challenge yourself with your reading selection.

This is the second time in two days he's mentioned reading this book. Of course the title of the book is ironic, since Doublespeak is a direct reference to Leftwing agitprop.

As a citizen of Argentina, where we have been having populist governments for more than 50 years, I can assure you populism is not only saying what people want to hear. It is also using the country 's resources without a plan for the future, but with the intention of pleasing their voting group and staying in power.

"Doublespeak: The Rhetoric of the Far Right Since 1945"

Second rule of progressives, projection.

Speaking of things that have nothing to do with the rise of populism, here's an article from everyone's favorite progressive country:

"Many councils lack strategy for care of returning ISIS fighters’ children, Radio Sweden"


And getting to another Bloomberg article, I was pleasantly surprised by this one by Megan McArdle:


That parents care more about peer quality than school quality was obvious to me 20 years ago, but, hey, credit where it's due. She also doesn't consider how difficult it would be to figure out the value-added by a given school. One could conceive of a world where they all tracked it, but none of the schools, not the public schools and not the charter schools. It's like car dealerships. They compete with each other, but all want to preserve the status quo of hiding information from the consumer.

"One could conceive of a world where they all tracked it, but none of the schools, not the public schools and not the charter schools. It’s like car dealerships. They compete with each other, but all want to preserve the status quo of hiding information from the consumer."

It's not hard to determine the quality of an American high school. What's the average SAT/ACT score of the last 3 classes to graduate? However, most poor people with vouchers aren't using that as a metric or they still can't afford the best choice even with the vouchers (transportation costs, etc).

If peer quality and school quality aren't correlated, I'll eat my hat. As Fischer Black used to say, don't confuse me with the data.

Perhaps the parents sense something important: Good schools do not make good students; good students make good schools.

"Peer quality" is why Utah schools have good results even though per pupil expenditure is low and DC schools have poor results even though per pupil expenditure is high.

We all know this when it comes to colleges. Switch the students at Harvard College and Bridgewater State and the former Harvard students will still be substantially more successful than the new Harvard students.

"anti-democratic directions": aye, elections are bloody undemocratic.

P.S I didn't find the excerpt pithy.


"Yet to varying degrees they too have moved in nationalist, populist and possibly even anti-democratic directions."

Tyler that's just an elitist or ideological statement. Essentially it boils down to, the voters elected somebody I don't like, therefore it can't really be democratic.

It's a classic No True Scotsman fallacy.

I do not believe that bit was a Trump reference. More like the global 2016 trends noted here:


Agreed. Much of the so-called populist movement is a rejection of anti-democratic institutions like the EU, or non-representative policies on immigration.

The EU’s approach to migration for example, was remarkably dictatorial with one leader like Merkel essentially determining that Austria will suddenly receive an influx of people equal to 1% of its population. For Austrians or Czechs to reclaim these decisions for themselves is hardly anti-democratic. I wouldn’t even say nationalist. They’re still open to their neighbors, and of course it was national borders that were the real faultlines of nationalism.

GDP growth rates don't present the entire economic picture. Poland has had a lot of emigration and significant real estate inflation. Real estate inflation is generally not regarded as inflation by mainstream economics but for most people, it is a cost of living and a cost of having a family, which most people desire, rather than an investment vehicle.

Real estate price rises (not really inflation after all) pit the owners versus the non-owners. Owners seek to enhance regulations to reduce availability of housing, while non-owners seek regulations (like rent control) to be able to afford housing.

No one but "thinking elites" want less regulation to keep housing prices reasonable (not too high, and not weird solutions like rent control).

As someone who has served as an activist for the BNP and UKIP, I would say that the author is right to point out the lack of importance of economic matters in the rise of nationalism. I remember as the economy was improving from the nadir after the 2008 crash, some of us were worried that it would be bad for us, but in fact we kept on becoming more popular. And as an activist I found that class divisions were as often a hindrance as an asset in persuading people to vote for the BNP or UKIP. For everyone who responded positively to my anti-elitist message, there was someone else who told me they agreed on migration or Islam but were voting Labour because of "fucking Margaret Thatcher," "those rich banker pigs," blah blah. My constituency was a Labour safe seat before Brexit, voted Leave, and is now a Labour safe seat yet again.

In my opinion two things that mattered most were the European migrant crisis and the recruitment of hundreds of West European Muslims into ISIS. The significance of the former is recognized by all, but the latter I found was quite shocking to people. I would tell them that, and they would say "no, no, it can't be that many" and then I would show them the proof. "It's just a dozen people, most Muslims are loyal" is much more convincing than "it's just 700 people, most Muslims are loyal." The fact that as many British Muslims have gone to Syria as serve in the British Army at any given time* shatters the worldview of many moderate liberals.

*I realize this is a somewhat dishonest comparison, as the number of Muslims who joined the army during the time period(rather than serving at any one time) is probably higher than the number of Jihadist fighters who joined during the same time period, but the fact that these numbers are in the same order of magnitude is still shocking to people.

700 Muslims in the UK is about .025% of the UK Muslim population. So I think you can still say that "most UK Muslims are loyal".

Keep in mind that fighting against Assad in Syria is clearly a mixed bag of ethics. IS is a pretty horrible organization, but they wouldn't exist there if Assad was not so horrible himself.

Do you honestly think that there is no gap between volunteering to go fight for Isis and loyalty to Britain. More than 20 percent of British Muslims support death for apostasy.

It's about bitterness and resentment. Not just ethnicity, but education level, type of work, where you live. As Kevin Williamson elucidated, a rather destructive tendency.

I imagine the DSA folks are more concerned with exposing the rot in the corporate Democratic message that has lost the majority of state and local governments. I welcome their critique while acknowledging that no one set of issues define a complex electorate.

Yes, bitterness and resentment. A big problem for both the left and the right in the richest country in the history of the world.

Bitterness and resentment is the fuel that drives both the Trumps and Bernies of this world.

Just more popcorn thrown at us by our international frugalist overlords. Enjoy it.

The left and corporate right has talked itself into believing the preamble to the constitution seems like blood and soil nationalism. This is a huge political problem that can't be solved by slurring some third rare poem at people.

Sam: "political problem that can’t be solved by slurring some third rare poem at people." -what? You feeling OK? Slurring your prose too bro. Sing along now: "good whiskey never lets you lose your place..."

You date hookers. Why do you keep doing this to your self? You can't win because you are the human version of the agony of defeat clip.

You suck at everything but chess and you might even suck at that too. I was too busy playing sports and getting laid in high school to know.

How is TC's column simply not the old observation that democracy of the mild American kind does not always follow economic prosperity? Nothing to get too excited about; that's well known for generations now.

Compare Democratic manifestos and talking points from the 1990's with recent ones.

Do the same with Republicans.

Who has changed more radically?

Similarly with Europe, perhaps?

In other words, at least in the US, it may indeed be a consequence of inequality: the elites have changed their views much faster than the rest of the society caught up.

So fast that even Jimmy Carter can't keep up.

"It’s time to admit that the nationalist turn in global politics isn’t mainly about economics or economic failures. Instead, the intellectual and ideological and cultural battles in some countries have led to these new political directions under a wide variety of economic conditions, some of them quite positive". [SNIP]

Your statement above is moronic.

All the economic gains since 2008 have been dragooned by the 0.01%. Its the precise opposite of your obfuscatory framing above.

Feeble try: 1 out of 10.

"All the economic gains since 2008 have been dragooned by the 0.01%"

This is among the stupidest things ever posted in the comments here.





Fuck off, you nong.

Maybe come back when you know what 'all' means and the difference between 1% and 0.01%

So you're some kind of expert in circumcising mosquitos?

Fuck off.

Feisty! When the other guy swears at you on the internet, you've won.

Late to the party but: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/our-biggest-economic-social-political-issue-two-economies-ray-dalio/

Looks like someone doesn't know the difference between median and mean.

+1, Yes, there are some good points an the link, and points that are ignored in Tyler's article.

Hat tip to John Edwards. Remember his "Two Americas" schtick? He was early and right.

Michael Harrington wrote "The Other America" in 1960.

Then hat tip to him, earlier and righter

Or three


All politics is local.

General growth rates do not capture the rate of change, the shifting relationships in an economy. Dynamic growth can often cause a dramatic change in relationships. Indeed the more rapid the growth the more shifts you may see in the economy. The reallocation of resources can cause casualties and pain, some times severe pain.

This can cause a breakdown of traditional relationships. Ruling governments can shift alliances between the new economy and the old economy. The conflict is more economic then cultural but under stress many people become tribal.

The reallocation of resources that we see in dynamic economies can mean a swifter reaallocation of resources, but human capital may be more sticky.

BTW increasing global trade, with each nation using it's comparative advantage, introduces a much more competitive environment, with more rapid change. This may be an advantage to most, it is not costless.

I'm troubled by a paradox that I'd be happy for someone to unravel: it's hard for people to be brought to hate or at least not favor themselves and their ancestors, but yet the left thinks it should be easy for Americans to do so - but that can only be true if Americans are the possessors of a post-history, selfless virtue.

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