TIME

How the Enlightenment predicted modern populism

The Enlightenment romanticized the pursuit of scientific knowledge (as depicted in this 1766 Joseph Wright painting of a philosopher giving a lecture), which was disruptive for those accustomed to tradition and religion

BY NEARLY ALL OBJECTIVE SIGNS, THE 2016 election should have been a cakewalk for a mainstream candidate. The economy had mostly recovered from the 2008–2009 recession. Unemployment was low, and despite the occasional small bump, so was violent crime. The Middle East may have been in bloody chaos, but few U.S. soldiers were dying there, as they so recently had by the hundreds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet it was the

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