I'm David Kertzer.
I'm happy to welcome you to this event.
It's actually the first in a series of activities
that we've organized jointly between the Watson
Institute and the Population Studies and Training Center
as we explored initiative in political and demography
And our guest today is one of the most active promulgators
of that field and one of the most influential people
in that field, Jack Goldstone.
Jack is currently the Hazel Professor
of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy at George
He began his career teaching at Northwestern University
throughout most of the 1980s, then moved on
to University of California Davis,
where he was professor of sociology
and international relations from 1989
until 2004, when he moved to George Mason.
He's held a series of visiting positions.
I won't list them here.
I'll just mention last year he was
in Hong Kong involved in consulting
on forming a public policy program in Hong Kong.
But he held in-- let's see, what was it-- in 2011,
the Richard Holbrooke Distinguished
Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.
And I hope you realize that Holbrooke was a Brown alumnus.
So we have some connection anyway there, however indirect.
Jack has won many awards for his work
and his publications, his books and articles
in political sociology, historical and comparative
I won't go through those.
He's also been deeply involved in the application
of social science to the policy world
and has consulted for various US an international governmental
and NGO organizations.
Among his many important books, I'll just mention a couple--
Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World
that the University of California Press
published a number of years ago, then in 2008, Why Europe,
The Rise of the Western World History from 1500 to 1850.
So as you see, Jack thinks big, which we appreciate.
He's also, as I mentioned, the author
of a number of influential works on political demography
and promoting the further work in political demography.
I'll Just mention here his recent co-edited volume titled,
Political Demography, How Population Changes are
Reshaping International Security and National
Politics that Oxford University Press published.
His talk today, after which we'll
have the usual opportunity for questions, which I'll
ask Jack to handle directly, his title
is "A World in Revolution, the Inevitable Backlash
Against Global Elites."
Please join me in welcoming our guest, Jack.
Thank you very much, David.
And it's a real pleasure to be here.
I thank so many of you for coming
to this talk when you could be waiting for the latest
update on current events.
It seems like almost hourly there's something
that grabs our attention.
But I'm going to try and do the reverse here,
and that is to step back and place what's
happening in the world today in a longer-term context.
I actually thought about what might
be happening when I did the first edition of this book.
It's now out in second edition just last month.
It's called Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern
But the argument that it makes, first,
is that population trends make a big difference in driving
cycles of instability.
But the bigger point is that cycles of political instability
are not driven by kind of a long-term movement
They're not driven by some inevitable conflict of forces.
They're driven by the ability of institutions
to adapt to the demands that we put upon them.
And I believe that for the last 20 or 30 years,
the institutions of the post-world War II global order
have been failing.
And so the wave of political changes
that we're seeing across the world now
should not be a shock, although some of the individuals
may command all the attention.
I think if Donald Trump had not become president,
I'd still be giving a very similar to today.
It might have been about President Sanders.
It might have been about something else.
But what we're seeing everywhere is
a collapse of what had been the mainstream political center.
So in France, the main political parties now
appear to be out of the race.
It looks like Marine Le Pen is going to be
one of the main protagonists.
And the other, Macron, is from someone
who started a new political party essentially
in just the last couple of years.
We've seen in Britain, the Labour Party go through
something of an internal collapse under Jeremy Corbyn.
They're losing constituencies they've never lost.
And yet the Tory Party itself was
driven into a kind of sudden disgrace with Brexit
that vote and David Cameron's sudden resignation from office.
So if you're a mainstream party politician these days
almost anywhere in the world, you're either
changing the dialogue yourself or you're
having it taken away from you.
So how did this come about?
Well, I actually wrote in the first edition of this book
about revolution and rebellion, there
was a chapter, now expanded for the new edition,
on the decline of the United States.
And what I wrote is that nations that
had been the richest countries in their day
and suffered fiscal crises because elites preferred
to protect their private wealth got into trouble.
The elites would separate into competing factions
and starve the national state of resources
that were needed for public improvements
and international competitiveness.
I wrote that factionalism within the elites paralyzed decision
making and struggles for prestige and authority
took precedence over a united approach.
Now I wrote that 20 years before we had the sequester.
But that was what we saw coming.
When you have struggles between different elite factions to put
their own interest in escaping taxation ahead of all else,
you cannot govern.
And the results are growing public debts,
even as private individuals become enormously richer.
And at the same time, basic public services
that support the economy as a whole
are neglected, overburdened, and deteriorating.
Now how did I see that coming?
This was written in 1991.
We had a baby boom.
The baby boom generation was moving into the workforce.
And one of two things were going to happen.
We were either going to greatly increase productivity, so
that the output of goods and services
would grow enough that taxation didn't have to expand
and the government would still be
able to provide all of the infrastructure and public goods
that a rapidly expanding workforce would need.
Or, and this is what I've seen in countries
that ran into revolutionary problems in the past,
you'd have a struggle in which the government would not
raise taxes as needed to keep up with this demographic change,
productivity would falter, wages would stagnate,
and incomes would become polarized while government
would become dysfunctional.
And that is what has indeed come to pass.
And I say the key element in this decay--
and people have sometimes said, well, this
is the decline of the West.
It's a decline of America's manufacturing.
We just have to fix this or that.
I don't believe that's true.
I think what happened was an erosion of public institutions
and public services.
And this decay threatens to undermine the foundations that
supported American economic growth for the first three
quarters of the century.
And I wrote, "If unchecked, the long-term results,
which are now only slightly apparent,
will be a relative decline in living standards,
freedom of decision, and international position
of the US."
Now, is the US still the most powerful country in the world?
Yes, I don't want to be accused of overstating or being
However, the advantage that the United States
and particularly that the average citizen of the United
States has with regard to the global income distribution
has certainly deteriorated.
Now that was the a lot of text up there.
I won't do that again.
We have shorter bullet points now.
So what happened?
We've seen rising inequality to be sure.
And a lot of people have pointed to that.
But I don't believe in equality per se is the social problem
that people think it is.
Why do I say that?
Because people judge their life opportunities in comparison
to the people they know.
They look at their families, their friends, their parents,
And that's where they judge, are things getting better or worse?
Frankly, it's irrelevant to them whether billionaires
have 95 foot yachts or 125 yachts or 150 yachts,
or whether they have gold fixtures in their bathrooms
What matters is, do they see their own lives getting better?
And that we have not seen.
Instead, in the last 20 years, we've
seen stagnant real incomes for about half of Americans.
The other half have still continued to move forward.
But about half of Americans have seen virtually stagnant incomes
and, this is important, a decline in social mobility.
Stanford recently came out with a new study
showing that the proportion of people
who could count on having higher incomes than their parents
has fallen from about 80% to 45%.
That is it used to be most people who did reasonably well
could look forward to living with more
resources than their parents and their children more than them.
And that was a great source of faith in the future.
But when it's now less than half of people
do better than their parents, and they're
worried that their kids may not do better than themselves, that
takes away faith in the future.
We have had a changing labor market.
And a lot of people talk about, well, you know,
we'll bring manufacturing jobs back,
or we'll train people for higher tech jobs.
It's actually more complicated than that
because we've had a shift in the nature of the labor market
The service sector is now dominant.
So Wal-Mart employs about 2 million people domestically.
All the major auto firms in the US
together employ about 50,000 hourly workers.
So what happens to Wal-Mart in terms of productivity
and wages, their labor force, that's
more of the exemplar of what's happening than what
happens to workers at General Motors or Cummins
Service sector suffers from great difficulties
in raising people's productivity.
There are things that can be done, but for service jobs,
whether it's retail, food preparation, tourism,
medical care, even university teaching,
it's not as easy to simply amplify productivities
by adding power tools or by mechanizing processes.
It's true that I no longer have a secretary
since we have wordprocessing.
I have to do all my own correspondence and book
all of my own travel.
That saves the university a secretary.
But I don't think it makes me any more
productive as a teacher, as a faculty member.
So we've seen efforts to bring automation
to the social sector, but we haven't really succeeded.
And without rising productivity there,
the economy is in trouble.
The access that people have to what
I call the key public goods and social mobility goods
And we're having big debates about this obviously.
Health care, education, should we use the Affordable Care Act?
Should we go to vouchers or not?
Do we have adequate access to public parks?
Do we protect and provide adequate nutrition?
Can people live in safe neighborhoods?
These have all become gut instincts.
President Trump talks about them all the time.
People respond to a discussion of those things
because we can't take it for granted anymore.
We used to assume that the government would provide
decent public education, fair recreation, safe neighborhoods.
But all of these things have actually
become much more difficult for lower and middle income
families to attain.
And the result has been this great educational polarization.
We have these enclaves of higher education, high levels
of cultural capital, what people have called the protected
class, where people do live great lives.
I mean, you go to restaurants in New York, San Francisco, Los
Angeles, you need a reservation because they're
overflowing with successful, young professionals.
But you don't see that everywhere.
Less educated, less healthy people
voted for Trump, not because they have less education
or they know less, but I would say they know very well what
happened to them.
They have been left behind and disrespected by the knowledge
workers that have managed to stay ahead
in the kind of digital, high tech economy.
You can see this from the map.
The small number of counties that voted blue, Democrats,
it's very concentrated in those areas where knowledge workers
dominate the economy, but everywhere ,
else by and large for Trump.
And it's not just a question of income or education.
There was a story in The Economist
just last week about this Cummins Manufacturing
town, Seymour, Indiana, very low unemployment, high wages,
but voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
It's not just they're economically doing badly.
They're doing well.
But they're concerned about the future of the country.
They're worried about whether their kids will
get the education to compete.
They're worried about whether America
will remain competitive with other countries in the world.
They're concerned about preserving
America's distinct culture.
And they're worried about, frankly, physical safety,
threats from terrorism.
They trust someone like Trump to cut
through what they've seen as political fighting,
And they say, Trump's a smart guy.
He'll figure out what we need to get America back on track.
Now why do they feel America has gone so off track?
This is a curve of income growth in different deciles
of the global income distribution.
It's called the elephant curve because if you
use your imagination, the right side of the curve
looks like the elephant's trunk up in the air.
And the left side looks like kind
of the backside of an elephant.
But what does it really mean?
If you take the entire population of the world--
China, India, Latin America, US--
and divide them up into the lowest, poorest 5% globally;
the next, the global middle of the barrel;
and then the very richest people in the world.
And you say for each of those groups, how much did
their income grow from 1988 to 2008, 20 years,
before the big recession hit?
Well, everybody knows that China and India
started to move into global supply chains.
Incomes in those countries went up.
So this kind of back of the elephant
reflects the globalization of manufacturing,
services, and very good income growth for developing countries
in those two decades.
The global elite, that is the richest people in the world,
whether they were oil barons in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria
or property owners in London or Manhattan or executives,
they also did very well.
They also had a similar level of growth.
But that kind of bottom of the elephant's
trunk, that represents the middle income groups in Europe
and the United States.
Now globally, that group was in the top 20%,
because the rest of the world, developing poor.
But although that group was high in income
compared to the rest of the world,
they did very badly in terms of growth.
That is real income for that group grew hardly at all
during those two decades, during which the very rich
were doing well and the global emerging working class
was doing well.
So this is a conundrum for people in that group.
Now part of that is, of course, related to demography.
If we see what happened to the key group
in the United States population, and this frankly
is the same curve largely if you look at Japan or Europe
as well, the '60s, '70s, and '80s,
the baby boomers entered the labor force.
And as the baby boomers entered the labor force,
there was a big demand for housing, furniture, education,
There was an underlying demographic driver of growth.
When you add to that the fact that the baby boomers also
were the best educated group, that we
had a big expansion of tertiary education,
big expansion of cities, all of that
meant that there was just a very strong bias
toward economic growth, expanding opportunities,
That all ended in the '90s.
Fertility fell back.
Growth in the number of young workers
and the number of young people starting families declined.
It popped up a little bit again, but not anywhere where it was.
And it's set to decline again for the next 20 years.
Now what this means is it's much harder
for people rooted in the domestic economy
to experience economic growth.
If you are working in the United States in a community
not plugged into the kind of global trade networks,
your market is no longer growing the way
it was '60s, '70s, or '80s.
Now if you're exporting to the developing world or you're
taking advantage of supply chains in the developing world,
then you can do very well because you're
marketing to billions of people and you're
drawing on the lowest cost supplies and labor.
But if you're providing local services,
even if you're a lawyer or a doctor or a dentist,
even if you're comfortably retired,
you're just not in a high growth area anymore by the 1990s.
Now add to that we're also seeing
at the same time as this economic slowdown
a big boost in immigration.
We're a country of immigration.
We like to say we've always been welcoming to immigrants.
But in fact, it's gone in cycles.
When the United States gets larger volumes
of immigration and from new sources,
there's generally been a tightening of immigration laws.
And we're going through a cycle like that now.
Brian Gratton has written a nice article on this.
We used to have huge flows of immigrants from Mexico.
That's basically stopped.
Net immigration from Mexico is now slightly negative.
Why is that?
Well, Mexicans have gone from having four children
a family down to about two.
The Mexican economy has improved and has
been able to take advantage of global opportunities,
not just NAFTA for Mexico to export to the United States.
But Mexico exports to China, to Latin America.
Mexico's economy provides enough opportunities
for a slow growing population that there's
no longer this huge push factor or the even the huge pull
factor for the United States.
So most of the immigrants who come across the southern border
are now from central or South America, rather than Mexico.
Where we're getting immigrants still,
large numbers of immigrants, is from different parts
of the world.
It's much more varied--
immigrants from the Middle East, immigrants from South Asia.
My son is an engineering major and he's
one of the few Americans in his advanced engineering classes.
You probably all seen this, lot of Asians and Indians,
people from the Middle East.
They're willing to come here take engineering courses,
fail them, retake them, fail them retake them again.
It's not easy to get a degree in engineering,
but they're willing to do it because they
know if they get their degree, they'll
be able to work at home.
I joke about this.
I say that Americans are not willing to do
They're not willing to do differential equations.
Both are too hard.
Computer science appears to be in the happy middle.
We have a huge expansion of Americans
doing software coding.
But at both ends, we're seeing a change.
And there's obviously difficulty for Americans
in getting used to the idea that larger and larger numbers
of people from unfamiliar areas are coming to the United
In 1970, the US population was only 5% foreign born.
You may say, boy, that seems very low.
How is that possible?
Well, the answer is that there were immigration restrictions
that were fairly strong in place in the 1950s.
And the baby boom greatly increased the native-born US
So 1970, tail end of the baby boom, 95% of Americans
were native born.
All minorities, Hispanics, blacks, others were only 16.5%
of the US population.
Now that's doubled.
And people's perception is often that minority populations
are even larger, because in some places they are.
In California, it's about 50%.
So depending on where you go, you
can see where people would have a sense that, oh,
my gosh, America's population is being overwhelmed
by immigration and minorities.
It's not literally true.
But in terms of the perceived change
in the last couple of decades, you can see why it's credible.
Similar in Europe.
Europe, Muslim population was probably less than 1%
in most countries in 1970s.
Numbers are so small, we don't actually have exact numbers.
Today, 40 years later, most European countries
have a Muslim population many times higher.
Still only 5% to 8%, about 8% in France, which is
the largest in Western Europe.
But people's perception-- and we've
had polls where we asked people, what do you think
is the perception of Muslims in your country?
And people say, 20%, 30%.
It's not accurate, but they feel it's true.
And that is what matters.
It is, however, especially true if you go out and look
at younger people.
Immigrants tend to be preferentially drawn
from younger males.
And the age of European and American societies
has been rising.
The Median age in the United States
has gone from 27 in 1970 to 36 couple of years ago.
So if you look around and say, what
are the young men in our society?
A larger proportion of them are immigrant or foreign born
than is the case for the population as a whole.
I hope I do know one a disservice.
I look in this room.
I see it is a predominantly Caucasian background
room, but also median age, relatively high.
I'm part of that myself.
So don't take it wrong.
I'm 63 now.
And I'm part of this group that hopes that, you know,
80 is the new 60 when I get there.
But we are aging as a society.
And immigrants have been refueling our youth labor
But the result is when people look around,
they do see more and more young people that look foreign.
Now, the large volumes of immigrants from new areas--
Muslim countries, Asia and Africa--
now this is driven in part by income convergence.
That is as other countries around the world get richer,
it doesn't mean that they're going to send fewer migrants.
It actually means more people have access
to the information and the resources
to become aware of the opportunities
for international migration and to take advantage of them.
It takes some resources, some ability to take risks,
and some skills and energy to be an international migrant.
Most people just migrate to the next largest city.
That's where they think--
to take the leap to another country is very risky.
And you need to have some resources to do that.
So what we've seen is as developing countries get
richer, the flow of international immigration
And it's driven in part by labor market needs,
to be sure, and in part by more open immigration
policies, the fact that we put a big emphasis on uniting
So we have kind of welcomed this change,
but it's also been a shock to us.
Now this probably will get worse rather than
better in the future in the sense
that there will be more demands for people seeking to migrate
to the United States from unfamiliar areas,
and particularly from Africa.
What I've put up here is a graph of anticipated changes
in the global working age population.
And as you can see from that blue line,
the future really will be dominated
by increases in the working age population
in sub-Saharan Africa.
It's the one part of the world where fertility has not
So if you're looking at India, mothers in India
are trying to have about two kids on average,
not much more than that.
In China, of course, under the one child policy,
they had less.
So China's population, which is the green line there,
has already started to decline.
If you look from 1950 to 2010, you say, wow,
it's all China and India.
But the future is going to be different.
Populations in China and India are
going to start to stabilize or decline.
And it's really going to be Africa.
Now in a way, that's a great opportunity.
You know, if we need young laborers to fill
all kinds of jobs, they exist.
The fact that we have an aging society
need not limit our economic opportunities.
But it does mean we have to look outside
for some infusion of fresh labor or integrate our economies so
that the American and European economies can benefit more
from growth outside their borders.
But oddly, what we want to do now,
it seems we want to close up our borders,
build walls, limit migration, and trap ourselves
with an aging and declining workforce.
It's one of those things that makes
us feel safer and more secure in the short term,
but is not a very sensible prescription
for our economic growth in the longer term.
And now these numbers can be a little disturbing.
I just put them up here to be suggestive.
Nigeria, this is total population, not
labor force growth.
But the numbers are pretty frightening.
Most countries in Africa can be expected to double or triple
in population in the next generation.
Why is that?
Largely because population growth rates are not
falling as had been expected.
It turns out that we've put a lot of effort
into improving primary education and literacy that has worked.
We've put a lot of effort into trying to raise incomes,
and that has largely worked.
But it turns out that in Africa, where there's still
a desire for large families, if women leave school at age 12
after finishing primary school, they still get married young.
They still have lots of children.
They still don't have much control over their lives.
It hasn't changed the fundamental demography.
That will require changing women's access
to secondary education and professional jobs, which
has happened increasingly elsewhere in the world,
but not very much there.
So these projections suggest that countries like Nigeria,
Uganda, Niger, will have populations
in the tens or hundreds of millions
looking for work in the future.
Nigeria's population will be larger
than that of the United States probably by 2040.
Uganda's population, which is only 33 million
a few years ago, will likely be around 100 million
within a few dozen years.
China, on the other hand, which we've kind of worried
about as the great rising power, the great threat to the world,
their population is now falling rapidly.
And they may be in a period where they're
trying to get whatever gains they can
before they're forced into dealing
with their own domestic crisis from falling labor.
Now how do people look at what happened?
What do people see?
They see that for the middle class, the working class,
and not just working class, people in services,
but people who are kind of earning the $30,000 to $60,000
a year that was a really good income in Europe in the US
in the '60s and '70s people in that section
have seen the rich in their countries get much richer.
They've seen people around the world
who were previously much poorer than themselves
get much richer.
But they've gotten stuck.
We've stopped making progress.
And so, of course, they're going to ask what is holding us back
when everyone else around us, rich, poor, foreign, domestic,
seems to be doing well?
They can certainly see that there's great economic energy.
The new firms are all founded in a few places, Dallas, Houston,
LA, Miami, London.
But the rest of the country economically
does not seem to have that dynamism
that you find in those core metropolitan areas.
So how do people look at this?
Well, they answer simply, people that are getting rich
are taking what should be ours.
If we're not sharing--
if the world is growing and everything
seems to be getting better for other people, but not for us,
someone is getting in our way and taking what is ours.
We're being tied down by international agreements that
weaken and drain us and don't benefit us.
This international trade things seems
to work for everybody but us.
So others, minorities, global elites, foreign powers, that's
And the experts and governments have not helped us at all.
They only help themselves.
And that is an accurate view of the world
as viewed from the perspective of about 50%
of the populations in developing countries.
It's not a myth.
It's not a misunderstanding.
It's not a failure of elites to communicate.
It is, if anything, a failure of economic and political leaders
to recognize that the benefits of economic growth
and globalization were being very
concentrated in a few areas.
Now it's certainly true that if you're going to have
a revolution, it cannot just be an uprising of the unhappy.
We saw that with the kind of we are the 99%,
which petered out very quickly.
If you're going to have a revolution,
you need elites to lead it, dissident elites who
see themselves as enemies of the status quo
and who are going to be champions
of the popular movement.
And we have those anti-liberal elites for sure.
You have a lot of people who they're
living in a world of positional goods, that is you say, hey,
if you're a billionaire, what do you care about wanting more?
But that's not how things work now.
Even if you have $10 million, $50 million, $100 million,
you're competing for homes, art, travel, experiences,
even at the very top level, you're
always competing with other people who have more.
And so it seems like no matter how much money you have,
it's never enough.
You can be earning $10 billion and you're
worried if your taxes go up from 10% to 20%,
you're not going to be able to do what you wanted.
And so anti-liberal elites feel they are being held back
in a web of regulations, transfers, excessive taxes,
And they say, we want and deserve more
because we've earned it.
We built companies.
We've acquired real estate.
We've accumulated wealth.
And it's wrong for anyone to say that we
need to share it or take it or pile regulations on.
Anything that interferes with us increasing our profits
is somehow wrong headed.
Now elites with that view are willing to make common cause
with a broader population that has
become steeped in anxieties.
That is people who feel they're not safe.
They worry about exaggerated, perhaps, fears.
But they still worry about crime and terrorism.
They worry that their national identity and culture is not
safe due to immigration and foreign trade agreements.
And, of course, from their perspective,
their economic future is not safe,
because social mobility and cross-generational gains
have been threatened.
So if you say why is there a movement for Brexit
or a movement to support someone like Donald Trump or a movement
to reject the EU in France, it's not just one thing.
It is more complicated.
It's a coalition in a sense of people who feel
economically disadvantaged, people
who feel that their culture is threatened by immigration
and change, who feel that the wave of terrorism or crime
is going to grow and is not being stemmed, whether it's
coming from immigration or from just a breakdown in law
And although you could say these fears are exaggerated,
These comparisons that say you're
more liable to slip and die in a bathtub
than be killed by a terrorist reassure
no one because the threat of terrorism
is not a statistical risk that you can somehow
treat as a number.
Terrorism means there are people out there who have the intent
to do harm to people in Paris, people in New York,
people in Atlanta.
Wherever you are, terrorism is a threat from enemies
and therefore is completely different than like a risk
of being in a car accident even.
People view it as a directed threat,
and they want someone to do something about it.
I would argue that the result of all of these things coming
together-- threats to culture, threats to economic progress,
concerns about terrorism--
have combined to create a global revolt against the elites
that people feel have let them down.
The cry is you haven't done enough to secure
my economic future, but you also haven't
done enough to protect the integrity
of our national culture and our national identity.
You haven't done enough to make me
feel safe from the terrorist threat
despite all the troops that were sent overseas
and the money that was spent.
So the foundation for this revolt
was laid by the failure of elites
to comprehend how these multiple threats were impacting people.
Dissident elites who also feel that the system was not
working for them, they have their enemies.
Their enemies are this open world, multiculturalism,
the lack of clear moral rules.
And their goal, and this is true in Turkey, in Russia, in China,
as well as in Europe and the US, is to recover national control.
People want control of their borders.
They want control of their culture.
They want greater security.
They want to win self-respect and recover honor
in a sense for their livelihoods, their work,
and their country.
Now I argue that this actually is best understood
as a revolutionary movement.
It's not just an argument about policy.
It's not just, well, you know, we'll cut taxes here,
we'll have job retraining here.
That doesn't resonate with people's emotional feeling
that their very identity and future is under threat.
And that's where we get into this notion of this
is a revolutionary moment.
There is actually a coherent ideology
behind all of these disparate movements.
If you look at what President Erdogan is promoting in Turkey,
what breaks it promised, what Trump promises,
there's a strong emphasis on nationalism against globalism.
We're going to make our country great.
And you know, our country is important.
Russians have pride in Russia's larger role in the Middle East,
even though pensions and salaries are being reduced.
Nationalism still matters.
We didn't ban nationalism somehow
at the end of World War II when we founded the United Nations.
Nativism becomes part of this.
People are concerned if their nation and their identity
is under threat, then foreigners are somehow to blame.
People want toughness.
They're tired of expert talk.
They're tired of prescriptions that
don't seem to lead anywhere.
They want a strong leader, someone
like Duterte in the Philippines who says,
I'm going to kill drug leaders.
I'm not going to have programs to rehabilitate them.
I'm going to shoot the bastards.
And that has a lot of appeal.
Anti-internationalism is part of this feeling,
that we have to solve our own problems
because the international system just
drains resources and undermines what we're doing.
But it's also oddly anti-government.
Why is that?
How can people want to have nationalism and toughness
and yet be anti-government?
Well, the answer is if you depict government
as a bunch of corrupt bureaucrats
who line their own pockets, spew out rules that interfere
with other people's lives, and have no interest in protecting
people's livelihoods, have no interest in protecting
the nation, that their allegiance is
to some kind of abstract global elite,
you want to get rid of them.
They're part of the problem, not the solution.
Now you may want a government that has strong defense ,
so you're going to put more money into the military.
And you may want a government that will be tough on crime,
so you'll put more money into police and border patrol.
But you want to get rid of the government
officials and programs that just seem
to be gumming up the economy.
And that's the kind of program that's
part of the ideology we have.
It's anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-taxation.
The irony, of course, as I said, we got into this mess
because resistance to taxation helped starve
the public goods that would have provided people
with more economic opportunities in the first place.
But the nature of a revolutionary reaction
against a dysfunctional government
is not that people calculate out,
well, what do I need to do to perhaps change
the situation that got us into this mess?
That's not what you see.
In revolutionary movements, you see emotional recruitment that
is based on people's anxiety.
And you promise a simple solution, because that's
what people are hungry for.
We obviously had 20 years of elite factionalism
and dysfunctional government that turned people off
And we now have mass mobilization by slogans,
where elites are depicted as criminals and traitors.
Now you've probably heard a number of people
have picked up on this.
They say, populists present themselves
as the voice of the people.
Only I can speak for and save the people.
And that is the kind of most common revolutionary trope
that we've seen through history.
We are seeing it now in the advanced democracies
of the West.
Revolutions also almost always come as a surprise.
People in France in 1789 did not say, oh,
we're overdue for a revolution.
People in Germany in the 1930s didn't say, well, of course,
you know, we needed a strong man to take over.
Countries get into situations where
people hope that institutions will work,
but then the institutions fail and let people down.
And that creates the opportunity for a strong man type leader
In hindsight, you can usually see it coming,
but when it happens, it's almost always a surprise.
So typical revolutionary processes,
this is kind of what this book was all about.
It all seems very familiar now.
Revolutionary movements appeal to those
who are angry about blocked mobility, excessive taxes,
government dysfunction, and what they
see as cultural inauthenticity.
The attack on Obama as a foreigner, in a sense,
kind of prefigured all the attacks
we seen now on foreigners as enemies and so on.
It's typical that revolutionary leaders say,