Anglosphere crisis: backlash against liberal excesses

Anglosphere crisis: backlash against liberal excesses, by Paul Kelly, a somewhat PC editor of the Australian.

The liberalism of the Anglo­sphere is being torn to shreds. These societies are now split far beyond the usual party politics. They are divided about their core national destiny and national identity in a way that was inconceivable until a few years ago. …

What is this turning point?

It is the cultural schism in the democracies between loyalty to place, heritage, religion and nation on the one hand, and the aspiration for cosmopolitanism, mobility, diversity and an education legacy that promotes success and income in the globalised world on the other.

Simplified, it is the conflict between nationalism and internationalism or between cultural traditionalism and progressive diversity. This schism is emerging as the defining split in contemporary politics, more than the usual left-right divide. … This is the main thesis of British author David Goodhart … in his new book, “The Road to Somewhere”. …


Goodhart argues that elites who adhere to what he calls the ideology of “progressive individualism” have enjoyed the balance of power in recent times in the West. But they have overreached and have provoked a backlash from a mix of conservatives, traditionalists and populists who feel economically deprived or culturally marginalised in their own country. …

The cosmopolitan elites whom Goodhart brands as Anywheres have shaped the West’s power, tenor and values in recent times. Their flexible identities derive from success in education and the marketplace — they are typically university graduates, in the top quarter of income earners, enjoy professional status, welcome change, value self-realisation, have progressive social values on race, sex and gender, and back European integration, immigration, open markets, multiculturalism, human rights law, gay marriage, international travel and the notion of work across different nations.

They do not long for a lost Britain. Goodhart calculates 20 per cent to 25 per cent of Britons fall into this category, with about 5 per cent being pure Global Villagers, dedicated to their ideology.

Their opponents, the Somewheres, have typically missed higher education, they are older, come from towns and suburbia — where nearly 40 per cent of the British population lives — hail from more rooted middle and working-class parts of society, and priori­tise security, patriotism, traditional values and established habits. They worry about immigration and want it reduced. They are alarmed at the growth of the Muslim population, sceptical of the EU and nostalgic for a lost Britain. Goodhart says Somewheres claim about half the population, with about 5 per cent to 7 per cent falling into the category of authoritarians or bigots.

PM May:

Give May her due. She understood the real significance of the 52-48 per cent vote to quit the EU — it was a vote to reclaim Britain’s heritage, traditions and national sovereignty. It was a vote in which the Somewheres said: there are some things more important than incomes and the EU single market. They may regret that later. But it was their sentiment and it carried the vote.

Why the Anywheres will fail:

The idea that society must be structured to service the desires and norms of “progressive individualism” sounds wonderful but is the path to social breakdown and conflict. As New York University professor Jonathan Haidt says, the mistake the liberal globalists make is to downplay or reject the “binding” values of loyalty, authority and sanctity. There is such a thing as society and these values are pivotal.

Haidt’s survey work reveals when these factors were put to liberals, their hostility was manifest. Liberals rejected such concerns as immoral. They felt loyalty shrank the moral domain; they saw authority as repression; and they branded sanctity as religious mumbo-jumbo designed to suppress female sexuality and justify homophobia.

It is not hard, therefore, for conservatives to conclude their most cherished values are under assault. …

Liberals and globalists think morality is essentially about preventing harm and resisting unfairness and injustice. Haidt says these are important but insufficient values. For most people loyalty, authority and the sense of the sacred (not necessarily religion) underpin the social and moral order. …

Liberals think people are inherently good and when constraints are removed this goodness will flourish. Conservatives believe that external structures and constraints are needed to bind a moral order and this can be achieved through laws, institutions, customs, religions, patriotism and honouring traditions. …

Goodhart quotes a 2011 YouGov poll putting to people the statement: “Britain has changed in recent times beyond recognition, it sometimes feels like a foreign country and this makes me feel uncomfortable.” As many as 62 per cent agreed, with only 30 per cent disagreeing. …

Immigration is a polarizing issue:

In Britain, tensions over immigration have been central to the liberal-conservative fracture and to the Brexit vote. Immigration brings to a zenith the competing values between the human rights universalism of the left — that people seeking entry have equal rights with British citizens — and the insistence of conservatives that governments prioritise the need for trust and integration into British society.

The Brexit vote revealed a country divided into separate cultural blocs that can barely comprehend each other.

Goodhart offers two revealing anecdotes. When former right-wing UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage complained about feeling uncomfortable in a train carriage with no English speakers, there was an outcry in the liberal media — yet for many people this remark was plain common sense.

On the other hand, conservatives were infuriated when Corbyn declined to sing the national anthem on one of his first public appearances as Labour leader.

Once competing and irreconcilable morality becomes the dominant story in Western society, then decay, division and demoralisation are assured.