You want a pithy, one-sentence summary of what happened in Britain's recent referendum on leaving the EU? Try this, from a woman in a call center in my district: "It's the working classes against the smirking classes."
Now the British class system is so tortuous and complicated that we struggle to understand it ourselves, let alone explain it to friends from overseas. But my hunch is that most Americans will recognize her sentiment.
She feels taken-for-granted, over-taxed, over-regulated, ignored, patronized, lied-to, laughed-at, disdained. She doesn't expect her politicians to do everything she wants. She'd just like them to listen from time to time.
Britain's recent vote exposed the chasm between what the Italians call the "paese legale" (civil servants, politicians, financiers, corporatists, lobbyists) and the "paese reale" (everyone else).
In this narrow sense, if in no other, it's fair to draw the parallel that every half-clever pundit is drawing between Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Both owed something to a widespread sense that the political elites were no longer acting in the interests of the general population.
In other respects, the two phenomena are very different. The case for Brexit was not nativist or nostalgic. On the contrary, we "Leave" campaigners argued that Britain would flourish as a global nation, freed from the constraints of a protectionist and over-regulated EU.
But we also benefited — there is no point in denying it — from a sense of insurgency. When, at an anti-EU rally in Kent, I told the audience that this was where an earlier generation of patriots had launched the Peasants' Revolt, they interrupted with prolonged cheers.
There is nothing especially new about railing against remote elites. Think of the classic early "Simpsons" episode where the evil Mr Burns wows crowds by repeatedly trotting out the line, "I'll shake up those pen-pushers in the capital!"
But, while this sentiment is present at some level in most democracies, it rises and falls in response to events. William Jennings Bryan didn't come out of nowhere: He was a product of the agrarian slump. The populists who swept to power in Europe between the wars were malign beneficiaries of the Great Depression.
What is now behind the success of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, the Leftist surges in Spain, Italy and Greece, the nativist parties in France, Sweden and the Netherlands? I'd identify three factors.
First, there has been an unprecedented increase in global migratory flows, made possible by rising wealth in the developing world. The Internet allows people from rural backgrounds in Asia, Africa and Latin America to make journeys that their grandparents, living on subsistence agriculture, couldn't contemplate.
Understandably, some people in the receiving nations fret that their politicians have lost control. Others suspect that those politicians are actively encouraging a level of migration that benefits big business but hurts unskilled workers.
Second, there were bank bailouts, which led to a widespread — and justified — belief that the system was rigged; that the super-rich could collect vast profits in good times, but then debauch the state when things got difficult.
Third — and this one may be tougher for conservatives to accept — there is the assumption that the Iraq War was launched on a falsehood. I have never believed that George Bush or Tony Blair deliberately lied about Saddam's weapons program. After all, if they had known that there were no weapons, they must have known that the invading troops wouldn't find any. It would have been the dumbest lie in history.
Still, I am in a minority. And, it must be said, Tony Blair did himself no favors last week in his response to the official report into the disaster. Adopting a histrionically wounded tone, he insisted, with that quavering voice he keeps for special occasions, that he'd do it all again. I kept thinking of a line by the 1960s theater critic Ken Tynan: "He turned away, risibly moved."
Put it all together and what do people see? Politicians who send boys into battle mendaciously; who flood the country with immigrants because they want cheap gardeners and nannies; and who force low-income people to rescue wealthy bankers and bondholders from the consequences of their own errors.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't softened in my attitude to Trump. He remains a vainglorious, dishonest boor, whose policies would do the most damage to the people he promises to help. But if we want to forestall Trump and Trumpery, we need to fix the problems that created him. It really is that simple.
Dan Hannan is a British Conservative MEP.