The problem with being a citizen of the world is that one day you’ll find you have nowhere to call your home
The idea of patriotism is anathema to Remain supporters who won’t accept EU result, says Nelson McCausland.
I was in London on Saturday and stopped off in a bookshop at Trafalgar Square. Browsing the shelves, my attention was drawn to a book with the title The Road to Somewhere by David Goodhart.
The subtitle was The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics, and in it Goodhart argues that the fault-line in politics today is between the ‘Somewheres’ and the ‘Anywheres’.
The Somewheres are the people with a sense of place and identity, people with an affection for their nation and a sense of pride in its history and achievements. They are patriotic and tend to be more socially conservative.
The Anywheres have little of that affection for the nation in which they live. Their interests are global, they are Europhiles and they are generally more socially liberal.
The Somewheres voted Leave in the EU referendum, while the Anywheres voted Remain.
Goodhart estimates that the Anywheres are roughly 20% to 25% of the population, with the Somewheres at 50% and the rest in between.
However, he points out that the Anywheres are the ones who dominate our society and culture and run so many of the institutions that matter.
Of course, he is not the first person to identify this societal schism, or fault-line, and Theresa May touched on it in her speech at the Conservative Party conference last year.
She said: “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.”
The Anywheres are the people who see themselves as citizens of the world, and for them the very concept of patriotism is anathema.
On the way home on Saturday night, I had time to spare in the airport and went into a shop selling books and magazines.
This time, my attention was drawn to a sentence on the font cover of Time magazine: “The war between globalism and nationalism is just getting started”.
Of course, Britain has its faults and flaws, and it has always been that way, just as it is for every other country, to a greater or lesser degree.
But many people across the United Kingdom still have a love for the land of their birth.
During the course of Saturday, I walked past the Central Hall, Westminster, where there was a two-day conference on Post-Brexit Britain is a New World.
The conference had started on the Friday, and one of the speakers was the novelist Ian McEwan, who attacked those who had voted Leave.
He said: “Brexit has stirred something not heroic, or celebratory, or generous, in the nation, but instead has coaxed into the light from some dark, damp places the lowest human impulses, from the small-minded to the mean-spirited to the murderous.”
So, if — like me — you voted Leave, you may wish to ponder whether you are “murderous”, or merely “small-minded”, or “mean-spirited”.
As if that wasn’t offensive enough, he suggested: “By 2019, the country could be in a receptive mood (for a second EU referendum)”.
He even explained the reason for that suggestion and said that by then: “Two-and-a-half million over-18-year-olds would be freshly franchised and mostly Remainers; 1.5 million oldsters, mostly Brexiteers, would be freshly in their graves.”
There was a certain irony in the fact that McEwan himself is 68.
I was struck by the fact that it seems almost impossible to avoid what has become a major divide in politics.
I was also struck by the arrogance of so many of the leading voices among the Anywheres, as exemplified by Ian McEwan.
Moreover, such trenchant views are not restricted to the globalists in the United Kingdom.
Last year, Hilary Clinton described a large section of the American electorate as “deplorables” — and came to regret it.
Thankfully, similar contemptuous attitudes on this side of the Atlantic only serve to strengthen the resolve of that large swathe of people who still value the United Kingdom, its history and its place in the world today.
Belfast Telegraph Digital