June 08, 2017

Michael Kimmage, professor, history, published commentary in the Washington Post on populism and the idea of the West.


The current wave of populism in the United States and Europe is often equated with mere nationalism. Populists from Marine Le Pen to President Trump claim to uphold the nation and its people against elites besotted by international, transnational and supranational commitments. Hence the need “to put America first” or to declare, as Le Pen’s supporters were urged to do, that it is the French who are properly at home in France.

Hidden within this populist-nationalist wave, however, is a curiously nonnational affiliation. It is with “Western civilization,” a Cold War rallying cry that had faded away in the 1990s. During the Cold War, “the West” was a ubiquitous phrase, signifying everything from NATO to the Enlightenment, from the Christian faith to the free market. The West was all that the Soviet East was not.

Continue reading in the Washington Post.