Western Civilisation

Modernity’s Miracle II: Practical and Romantic Nations

When you least expect it, politics pivots. A decade ago a multinational coalition had deposed Saddam Hussein, the European Union had recently acquired ten new members, and 15 per cent of the Mexican workforce was working illegally in the United States.[1] The number of active free-trade agreements between countries across the world had grown four-fold between 1990 and 2000 and two-fold between 2000 and 2008.[2] Then came the Global Financial Crisis. At first invisibly, then visibly, a wave of “tribalism, populism, nationalism and identity politics” washed over the West. The growth of free-trade signings levelled out at around 1.6-fold. The…

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