Foreign Policy Digital

The Secret Sources of Populism

It is a direct response to the West’s loss of prestige and authority. And it won’t be the last political trend sparked from the outside.

The West’s understanding of globalization and interdependence is increasingly outdated. It imagines a global system in which Western countries radiate their influence all over the world but influence is never reflected back at them. Yet the rebalance of economic and political power has made that idea obsolete. And the phenomenon of populism in Europe and the United States is showing why.

The surge of populism in the West may seem surprising, but that is because Westerners lost the habit of thinking about the ways in which their societies are deeply influenced from the outside. The intellectual fashion is to see populism as a result of internal developments: A crisis of representation, distrust of politicians, growing inequality, austerity, and the rise of new digital technologies

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