History never really repeats itself, neither as tragedy nor as farce nor as something else entirely. Donald Trump is both a narcissistic and megalomanical fool and a tragedy for the U.S. and the planet. Yet, although there are certainly some alarming resemblances with Trump, he is not a reborn Mussolini or Hitler or some other fascistic demagogue from 1920s Europe. Trump comes out of a very American background of anti-intellectualism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Andrew Jackson, a president with those attributes and a faux claim to support the interests of the “little man” is an apt model for Trump.
Left-wing scepticism about open borders and migration may not be rooted in racism and xenophobia, but it takes the same troubling form as its right-wing counterpart.
The left-wing case against immigration hinges on both a pragmatic and a principled argument. The former appeals to the constraints of electoral politics in representative democracies. Across Europe, in working-class strongholds that have become increasingly susceptible to anti-immigrant rhetoric, the left is losing votes to the far right, who point to the failures of globalisation and blame liberal elites’ relaxed stance to open borders. In response, the left becomes complicit or confused.