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Ian Buruma writes about politics and culture for a variety of major publications—most frequently for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Corriere della[…]

How America’s Tea Party movement connects to the larger anxieties about globalization.

Question: How does the Tea Party movement reflect broader global fears about multiculturalism?

Ian Buruma:  Well I see the Tea Party movement as something that is part of a phenomenon that is going on all over the world now that there is a general anxiety caused by globalization, by the influence of international corporations, of super-national organizations and so on... people feel that they’re in a world where they’ve lost their grip on who they are, where they belong.  They don’t know who represents them anymore and so on.  And this has led often to defensive reactions and often hostile reactions, partly against the political elites that are blamed for this state of affairs, that are blamed for these anxieties, but also against the alien elements. And the two are linked because in Europe is it the elites that are blamed for bringing in the immigrants and for dismissing everybody who complained about tensions that come out of large-scale and not-very-well-managed immigration, that dismissed such complaints as racism. And so there is a populist reaction against the elites which has taken this immigration issue somehow as a sort of focal point.

Recorded April 21, 2010