Trump, International Trade and Populism

  • Lukasz Gruszczynski
  • Jessica LawrenceEmail author
Part of the Netherlands Yearbook of International Law book series (NYIL, volume 49)


This chapter argues that Donald Trump’s particular brand of populism should be seen not as a rejection of neoliberalism, but rather as a variant of it. Both Trump’s ‘populist neoliberalism’ and orthodox ‘globalist neoliberalism’ share the core markers of neoliberal political rationality: the conceptual centrality of the market as the site of veridiction in political and social life; a vision of the individual—at least in the aggregate—as the rational, self-interest maximizing homo economicus; and a reliance on government to create the optimal conditions for market functioning. While Trump indeed differs from globalists when it comes to assessing the value of current international economic governance structures, he has by no means rejected the broader tenets of neoliberal political reason. Rather, his policies aim to promote a free market-oriented neoliberalism domestically, while advocating competitive policies in the international market that clash with the cooperative globalist neoliberalism of the centrist ‘elite’. This alternative neoliberal vision of the global economy differs only in that it is oriented toward competition rather than cooperation on the international front. The chapter thus argues that Trump’s economic policies are not a sign of the victory of ‘the people’ over neoliberalism, but rather of Trump’s opposition to the internationalism of the globalist neoliberal political platform.


Globalism Globalization International trade Neoliberalism Neoliberal populism Populism Protectionism Trump 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kozminski UniversityWarsawPoland
  2. 2.HAS CSS Institute for Legal StudiesBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Central European UniversityBudapestHungary

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