The 2008 financial crisis, which began in the United States but quickly spread to Europe with more enduring, destructive consequences, should in theory have been a boon to the global left. The vast scope of the collapse, after all, illustrated that free markets are far from unfailingly efficient. Governments across Europe stepped in to rescue banks, to save capitalism from itself. Both the origins of the crisis and the activism of the state in addressing it seemed to justify the social-democratic model that European nations traditionally championed: government intervention to tame the excesses of capitalism and harness its productive capacity for the greater good.
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The suspicion that immigrants are taking something they don’t deserve, the conviction that native citizens are being supplanted by foreigners, the growing sense that mainstream political parties serve the interests of privileged global elites rather than working people — all of this will be perfectly familiar to Americans who just lived through the last election. President Donald J. Trump’s campaign in many ways embodied the nativist, anti-establishment rebellion sweeping much of the West. In doing so, it replicated aspects of an older French model, in which the far right adopted the rhetoric of the far left to surprising success.
That’s from a story in yesterday’s The New York Times Magazine about the upcoming French election.