Monday, May 29, 2006

Identity

David Goodhart in the Grauniad points out that Labour's shrinking base of 'traditional supporters' don't have the same worldview as the rootless cosmopolitans of Islington.

"Public opinion has been growing more polarised in recent years between, on the one hand, a cosmopolitan minority with a universalist, rights-based, post-national ideology that is comfortable in today's more fluid, pluralist society; and, on the other, a more traditional group that is sceptical about rapid change and more concerned with roots and reciprocity. In newspaper terms, it is the Guardian v the Sun.
Labour's problem is that both groups are part of its historic coalition. On the cosmopolitan side is much of the liberal middle class, and on the traditional side is a large part of the old working class. To try to accommodate both (as well as Britain's settled minorities, who occupy most points along the value spectrum), Labour rhetoric has swung, sometimes alarmingly, between the two poles - from celebrating mass immigration, "cool Britannia" and the Human Rights Act, to tough talking on crime, managed migration and ID cards."


I'm not sure he's completely right either about the traditional support being the old working class or about the cosmopolitans. You could argue that while Labour voters have traditionally been working class Brits, the traditional activist base has been middle-class and non-manual for a very long time. Orwell's description of the lecture audience in Coming Up For Air was written sixty years ago. When I worked in industry in the early Eighties it was the junior blokes in the office, and us techies in the labs, who supported the miners. The shop-floor, TGWU members all, thought Scargill should be shot.

And what's all this crap about Labour's middle class supporting a "universalist, rights-based, post-national ideology" ? Would that they did ! The Euston Manifesto crowd are universalists, fair enough. But most of the educated Left certainly haven't got a 'post-national' or 'universalist' ideology. They're happy with Welsh Nationalism, Scots Nationalism, Irish Nationalism, Indian Nationalism, and all the nationalisms of the former Imperial possessions. There are only two nations to whom the postnational discourse applies - Britain and England.

"Creating a plausible "third way" for the security and identity issues - appealing to both the liberal and the anxious - is hard but not impossible. Contrary to the leftist caricature, those citizens who are anxious about rapid change are not all xenophobes; and contrary to the rightwing caricature, most reasonable liberals accept the need for national borders and for balancing individual rights against national security."

Well, good luck, David.

Goodhart's still-optimistic piece is best read in conjunction with Robert Henderson's "Culturally Cleansing The English" at the English nationalist site Steadfast.

3 comments:

AntiCitizenOne said...

It's entitlement based, not rights based.

Most of the things the left call rights involve taking from others.

Anonymous said...

I think you will find that American, English Canadian, Australian, NZ nationalism etc etc is also to be roundly deplored along with that of any European country as they currently exist.

I wonder, what is it that these countries have in common? If only I could put my finger on it.

Charles Martel said...

i'm irish - and i read that piece in the guardian.

and to be honest - what a load of utter bollocks.

its as if they are trying to make some sort of pseudo Marxist intellectual justificaton for being a nationalist.

its like something out of alice in wonderland.

theres nothing wrong with nationalism - as long as its backed by a libertarian and non-socialist philosophy (as it is in the U.S. and possibly Australia)
that form of nationalism is "of the people" - and thats just fine. its not state imposed. and it can be fundementally democratic and open and non-bigoted. again, the prime example of this , is the USA

where it goes wrong , is where nationalism gets wrapped up with the state. then its not "of the people" , it become undemocratic, and it just ends up being fascist.