If I say the word "globalization," what images come to your mind? Do you think of downloading music from around the world, buying exotic food, flying across the globe for prices that your parents wouldn't have believed? Do you think of Colombian villagers watching "Breaking Bad," or Malaysian teenagers knowing the words to "Hamilton" the musical? Do you think of the magic that brings wares from every continent and archipelago to the convenience store in your street?
Or do you think, instead, of padlocked factory gates? Of unemployed coal miners sitting listlessly outside liquor stores? Of Bangladeshi women wearing out their fingers making sneakers? Of immigrants pouring across United States borders?
Which camp you're in will have had some bearing on how you voted in the presidential election. It won't have been the only determinant: you might have voted on the basis of the candidates' views on taxes or guns or whatever. This was not the Emmanuel Macron-Marine Le Pen election, where globalization was pretty much the only dividing line. Still, the two American candidates could not have been further apart on the issue.
In Hillary Clinton, voters saw the epitome of the global elite: aloof, wealthy despite never really having had a job outside politics, more comfortable in Davos than in Detroit.
Donald Trump, obviously, is a billionaire, too. But he looks like the kind of billionaire that anyone might be if they suddenly got their hands on a billion dollars. If you lived in the most deprived town in the U.S., you could still say, "Yep, if I were a billionaire, I'd buy Miss Universe and build myself a vast tower with a golden elevator and get my revenge on people who had crossed me." Try, by contrast, to empathize with Clinton.
The Donald has backed away from several of the things he said during the campaign but, when it comes to his hostility to globalization, he is sticking to his guns. Fresh from telling the Germans that they were "very bad" for selling too much stuff, he is now delivering on his opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement.
Both these actions are anti-globalization. But they are opposed to two very different kinds of globalization. One is aimed at arresting free trade, the other at reducing the power of international bureaucracies.
Economic globalization is a bottom-up process. It is driven not by governments, but by consumers. The reason goods and services cross borders is that someone wants to buy them. If a local business loses out, it is because consumers prefer someone else's product. Free trade reduces the power of the state and magnifies the freedom of the individual.
Political globalization, by contrast, is about imposing common rules, even when those rules are rejected by local leaders and their voters. It elevates technocracy over accountability.
To lump the two together is a category error. President Trump might argue that, in renouncing the Paris Agreement, he is doing what Americans want. But he can make no equivalent argument about keeping out German imports: if Americans didn't want those, they wouldn't buy them.
Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with having a trade deficit with Germany, or with anyone else. Germans can do only two things with the American dollars that they get for their goods. Either they can import American products, or they can invest those dollars back in the United States. At the moment, they are doing a lot of the latter – to everyone's benefit. The trade deficit is matched, down to the last dime, by the investment surplus. That is why we talk of a trade "balance."
That is a very difficult concept to grasp. We naturally fret about trade deficits, worrying that we are failing to pay our way. The idea that exports are better than imports – an idea known as mercantilism – is more intuitively plausible than its successor, free trade. Yet the spread of international competition from the early 19th century has coincided with a jump in living standards beyond anything previously imaginable.
As the economic historian Deirdre McCloskey has shown, most human beings lived on $3 a day until around 200 years ago. Since then, our average global income has increased by 3,000 percent. That incredible take-off is the central fact of my life and of yours – and it coincided with the globalization that so many of us rail against. Indeed, the places where people still live on $3 a day are those which have rejected globalization, such as Zimbabwe and North Korea. There is, in short, a difference between autonomy and autarky, between sovereignty and socialism. America used to understand that difference.
Dan Hannan is a British Conservative MEP.