Step into the shoes of a UK supermarket manager. You have gained experience in dealing with customer complaints, some more reasonable than others. Now you are confronted with an irate woman in her thirties, pointing to a cabinet full of fresh produce. She cannot bear to touch any of the items because they are emblazoned with Union Jack packaging.
“Why are you promoting nationalism? This is so divisive.”
A perfect illustration of social divide: the privileged, progressive middle class taking umbrage at the parochial, patriotic sentiment of ordinary people.
“Well”, you calmly reply, “many of our customers like to support British farmers.”
“It’s disgusting”, she shouts back. “I won’t come back to one of your fascist shops again.”
This was an actual exchange described by a woman on Facebook. A perfect illustration of the British social divide: a member of the privileged, progressive middle class taking umbrage at the parochial, patriotic sentiment of ordinary people.
For this person, any expression of national pride or belonging is offensive jingoism. Not surprisingly, her profile identified herself as a Remainer who wants Britain to stay in the European Union.
Much has been written of the schism in society since the EU referendum. Notably David Goodhart’s dichotomy of rooted ‘Somewheres’ and cosmopolitan ‘Anywheres’. Traditional political party allegiances are being turned upside-down. The Labour Party, like the Democrat Party in the U.S., has turned its back on the working class in favor of the cultural Marxist project of identity politics. Listen to a typical Labour politician and you hear a patronizing social science graduate who alternates between hectoring and virtue-signaling.
The Conservative Party HQ is more interested in signaling progressive virtue than defending faith, flag, and family.
The Tories are worse.
Just as Labour has favored Remainia over Brexitland, Conservative Party HQ is more interested in signaling progressive virtue than defending faith, flag, and family. According to one moderniser, Ben Kelly, it would be a mistake to appeal to “older, patriotic and zealous” people who are dying out.
“Affluent, liberal middle-class voters don’t want nostalgic politics or culturally insular values.” So forget the folk north of Watford Gap.
Neglect of poorer, predominantly white communities has become institutionally acceptable. Consider the massive donations for a Syrian refugee following a YouTube clip of him being bullying in the playground. Contrast this with the lack of response to the thousands of schoolgirl victims of mostly Pakistani-origin rape gangs. Or consider the constant media focus on the gender pay gap among highly-paid presenters or lawyers. All while ignoring the impoverishment of poorer women whose wages are undercut by the flood of cheap foreign labour.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour may be regarded as old-school socialist, but it is really a new left movement. Momentum activists are urban progressives who can hardly relate to council estate residents, as seen in Guardian writer John Harris’ video of futile EU referendum campaigning in Stoke-on-Trent.
Until recently, the upper middle class reserved its animosity for the lower middle class, as expressed in the film Abigail’s Party.
Modestly aspirational Middle England folk were lampooned for their pretensions. Hence Daily Mail readers were the main target of scorn as opposed to those who read the Sun. Apparently it is thought that Sun readers are thick and harmless, while Mail readers bring their bigotry to the office. Sun readers can’t be bothered with politics and don’t vote, but Mail readers flock to the polling booths to cling to the 1950s.
As there aren’t enough of the intelligentsia to win elections, they must shepherd a flock. Having given up on the indigenous lower social orders, the liberal-left has co-opted the rapidly growing immigrant communities, alongside other purportedly disadvantaged groups.
Diversity of thought is as necessary as it is natural.
The formula is: metropolitan middle-class + minorities, versus traditional working class + lower middle class.
This strategy may work. Demographic patterns are against the white working class, while the lower middle class is being taught the progressive agenda by carrot and stick. The Peterborough by-election, tipped for a win by the Brexit Party, returned a Labour MP, aided in no small party by a Muslim block vote (by the Labour Party’s own admission).
There are major flaws in the assumptions of the snob class, who patronize ethnic and other minorities by perpetuating victimhood. A black Brexit supporter, for example, has committed a double crime. Not only having the wrong opinion, but having the wrong opinion while being black. Diversity of thought is as necessary as it is natural.
There are looming threats to the cultural hegemony. The headline value of identity politics is ‘tolerance’, but this will surely eat itself. For all the rainbow murals, tension inevitably arises between favored identity groups.
The authorities constantly warn against ‘Islamophobia’. But mandatory LGBT teaching of young children offends Muslim parents, who in turn have offended liberal sensitivities. As David Kurten argued on Human Events, the establishment can hardly maintain simultaneously uncritical positions on both LGBT activism and Islam.
Identity politics are really an expression of hate. As suggested by Professor Robert Tombs: “vehement Remainers motivated less by affection for the EU than by contempt for those they think support Brexit – above all the white working class.”
Meanwhile populism is gaining ground throughout the West, confronting the globalist elite. Of course we will be lectured about the dark past of fascism, war and genocide. But critics casually ignore the tremendous progress in democracy and human rights afforded by the nation state, and lasting periods of peace and harmony. Such denigrators should be referred to The Virtues of Nationalism by Yoram Hazony: since Biblical times, globalism and imperialist projects have caused more harm than harmonious sovereign states.
Rulers and the ruled should be of the same place.
Rulers and the ruled should be of the same place. The pan-Europeans and global idealists should wise up to what the common people want: a civic nationalism that is inclusive, sustainable, and genuinely democratic.
Our middle-class monitors must relearn the lessons from the past: working class folk are the salt of the earth. They deserve more respect than they currently get. Trash their identity, and they will destroy your identity politics.
Dr. Niall McCrae is an author and senior lecturer in mental health at King’s College London.