Why the ‘New Nationalism’ Can Only Flourish in Conflict

Built on Hatred, and the Need for an Adversary, It Thrives on Contempt for Other Cultures, Religions, and Even Languages

Nationalism as we know it today—a global movement of states led by strongmen decrying globalization—is a recent invention. But a brief and broad history of nationalism reveals its important paradoxes and possibly a new way of understanding the current version.

Before the 19th century, most peoples, in most parts of the world, did not live in nations, but in those larger conglomerations of peoples we call loosely “empires”—or as they were often known, “universal monarchies.” Most of today’s nations are the creatures of imperial collapse: Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, …

Why Tariffs Have Backfired Throughout American History

As a U.S. Trade War With China Escalates, the Only Guarantee Is Unexpected Aftershocks

In a truly iconic scene from the 1980s comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a high school economics teacher played by Ben Stein fails to elicit even a muscle twitch from …

How Chicago Lifted Itself Out of the Swamp and Became a Modern Metropolis

By Building Canals, Laying Sewers, and Jacking Up Buildings, the Windy City Spurred Its Miraculous Growth

In 1833, Chicago was a wilderness outpost of just 350 residents, clumped around a small military fort on soggy land where the Chicago River trickled into Lake Michigan. The site …

The Centuries-Old Silver Jug That Conjures the Mysteries of the Silk Road

Stretching From Rome and Africa to Asia, the Ancient Trade Route Lured Invaders, Migrants, and Merchants—and Left Artifacts Rich With Meaning

As China has promoted its Belt and Road Initiative—an ambitious plan to open new markets for China by building logistics and trade infrastructure from Asia to Europe and Africa—the Chinese …

What the Path of Curry Tells Us About Globalization

Courtesy of the British Empire, the Spice Was Used to Pay Indian Workers Brought to South America to Replace African Slaves

One Sunday morning in 1993, “Bushman,” “Spider,” “Tall Boy,” and “Crab Dog” were gathered at a rum shop in the Guyanese coastal village of Mahaica. The rainy season had driven …

Your Complaints About Globalization Are Old News

The Ancient World Also Wrestled with Trade, Aggrandizing Elites, Destabilizing Religious Conflict, and Even Syrian Migrants

Syrian migrants were being rebuffed by their richer neighbors. Walls were being raised to keep out barbarian hordes. Old empires, having closed themselves off to trade, were in decline. Revolutionary …