Trump may not be a true nationalist leader, after all.
Economic nationalism has become nothing more than the brink of theory in the later part of the century, due to large-scale proliferation of globalisation and international trade. For many latter-century leaders, nationalism, though experiential, was hard to implement because of economic positions of the countries. Today’s context relates to the popular American policies. These, to be specific, Trump’s ideas of policies have deliberated many a perspective. Be it the wall, the proposal to withdraw from trade agreements or the one to seal borders, they all reverberate with a common attribute – nationalism. Has Trump been the first to understand that globalisation is nothing but the fundamental harbinger of political exposure and vulnerability as well? Or is his nationalist attitude his political response to the worsening economic problems in the US? And can we actually juxtapose neoliberalism, which we are all bearers of, with economic nationalism?
Trump has managed to perceive that economic nationalism vitally deals with: economic significance for the country, and internal development of the economy with various initiatives and policies. He has begun to steer the economy towards this path of significance, albeit in a dubitable way. Policy ideas about improving employment rates and decreasing tax rates have been welcome only by certain sections of the population.
The debate between nationalism and liberalisation is not new, atleast since the EU policy initiatives on energy security. Back when market liberalisation was the most sought tool for meeting the global market midway, it was harder to imagine economies that were internally focused. Today, the situation seems otherwise; perhaps, globalisation has been exploited, rather than marvelled at. It has become an over-exerted, over-exhausted scenario. The land of opportunities has been the destination for the world, for greater scope of profession and livelihood, and has given a new home to several global citizens.
A fundamental inquiry has been made by its President, regarding the very existence of its markets. As a core nationalist leader, his policies seem very narrow, single-tracked and plainly belligerent to several segments of the population. Economic nationalism, if he is trying to bring in such policies, is as much about endorsing economic liberalism as nationalistic policies. And this economic liberalism is what Trump is missing out on comprehending. Making domestic industries competitive cannot come at the cost of retrenchment of trade agreements or ambiguity about purchasing power. Engraining the economy in a feckless trend of retrieving low-paying, low-stead jobs, and ignoring intellectual development is like taking a U-turn. Continuing the adaption process to America’s international presence and keeping nationalism to only a subtle extent that is feasible, must be the agenda. For a fully liberalised economy, going back to agreements that are bilateral may not recreate a complete package. Understanding the structural position of the economy before establishing nationalism and protectionism in policies, is necessary. Trump trying to keep his hands off trade and international relations, or trying to ‘reduce the burden’ of international agreements, would only give levy for further deterioration in global presence.
Globalisation is a quest for power; more specifically, political power. And the balance of power between economies, that is the substructure, cannot be compensated with policies that do not meet at middle-ground. Perhaps the world has seen several nationalist leaders, and NATO has dealt with an assorted version of them. But there are only certain policies that are fetching and non-intrusive to the general stability of economies. Above all, a nationalist leader invites fear of ethnocentrism and broad-based cultural bias. Implanting unnecessary immoralities into the society cannot be an endgame. Devising nationalist goals that enable liberal objectives must take precedence.