The blowout victory of Emmanuel Macron in France last night has thrown a monkey wrench into the global-revolt works.
Since the rise of Donald Trump, the “anti-globalists” have been consumed with a globalism of their own: The idea that they are part of a worldwide (or at least a pan-Western) trend. Donald Trump and his followers were excited to claim commonality with Brexit when the British voted to leave the European Union in June 2016 —even though the British resistance to European integration had been a central feature of UK politics for more than 40 years and was therefore nothing new. It’s one of the reasons why they have been so weirdly sympathetic to Vladimir Putin’s challenges to international norms and law—because he openly scoffs at the very idea of international norms and law. (There are other reasons as well.) And it helps explain the bubbly excitement at the electoral prospects of Marine Le Pen and the National Front. (Yes, here too, there were other reasons as well.) The Le Pen excitement followed similar enthusiasm for Geert Wilders’s nationalist bid in Holland, which fell short of expectations and proved a disappointment.
Whether these results represent a decisive turn or are merely a pause in the forward march of populist nationalism, we cannot know. Anyone who pretends otherwise is being silly. What we do know is that the eagerness of Trump and people further to his right to imagine themselves a part of a trans-national movement is, let’s face it, pretty damn ironic.