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The Virulent Pull of Tribalism

Tribalism is resurging. One of its most obvious manifestations can be seen in politics. Today what seems to matter first and above all else is loyalty to one’s political tribe and its leaders, not the facts about an issue, not the truth on any given controversy, not the right policy to adopt — all of these are pushed to the background.

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The Rise of Hitler’s Germany, Explained

The effects of German Nazism are horrific and indelible. The overall death toll in World War II, which began eighty years ago this summer, “dwarfs the mortality figures for the Great War of 1914–18, obscene as those were,” observes historian Tony Judt. “No other conflict in recorded history killed so many people in so short a time.” By one reckoning, between September 1939 and the war’s end in 1945, an average of 27,000 people died each day as a result of the global conflict.

But what was the cause of all this carnage? Before the war, Germany was renowned for its elevated culture, famed as the land of poets and philosophers. And yet, it became the land of the secret police, concentration camps, the Holocaust.

Hitler had spelled out his vile ambition and perverse views in a book, which sold more than two hundred thousand copies between 1925 and 1932. Voters knew what the Nazi ideology stood for. And yet Hitler became chancellor of Germany and transformed the country into a totalitarian state.

What explains the rise of Hitler’s Germany?

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Why Economic Nationalism Is Un‑American

In the name of “economic nationalism,” the Trump administration has called for “fair trade” and has launched a “trade war” on Chinese goods, seeking to impose a variety of tariffs to “protect” selected American industries.

But Harry Binswanger argues that the seemingly patriotic goal of protecting American industries and encouraging people to “buy American” is in fact profoundly un-American. It is “un-American in its goal and in the coercive means employed to achieve it.”

Why? What animates “economic nationalism”? What approach is consistent with America’s founding ideals?

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Trivializing the Islamist Menace

“More people die in the bathtub than from Islamist attacks.” Therefore, … what? How we understand the “terrorist threat” is critical to defining a sound policy for addressing the problem. Yet there’s something deeply, dangerously wrong in the way many of us think of the threat. That’s manifest not only in the prevailing view, but also, especially, in the outlook of some of its fiercest critics. Continue reading.

Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash