Auto-liberal politics #2 Stop fearing White Van Man

Posted by RDN under Politics & campaigns on 17 July 2016

In a  nutshell: nice liberals need to rethink their loathing of the rest of society.

The EU referendum, much more than any other campaign, showed us that substantial swathes of more rather than less educated opinion fear the Tories and the working class about equally. They do so to the point of thinking that there is a vicious, idiot-right, unwashed, illiterate, White Van Man virtual mob which the Tories must pander to. Can we please reframe this nonsense?
I have posted four linked posts on what bright, educated, nice, liberal-minded and especially young voters ought to do instead of feeling disquiet about Brexit, the disaffected white working class, and the Tories. This is #2

Auto-liberal politics #2 Stop fearing White Van Man
John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May have all transformed the Tory party. They have not undone Thatcher’s economic realism, nor Thatcher’s understanding that only strong individuals can make strong societies; but they have undone some of the wrong but pervasive sense that Thatcherism was the old Blue Rinse, hang ’em and flog ’em, queer-hating, philistine, curtain-twitching, judgemental lower middle class England rendered as a political Junta.

Harder to shift have been the wilful ignorance and denial of the Auto-liberal, for whom the Tories remain the devil take the hindmost party, delighting only in “austerity” for the working class and other undeserving unfortunates.

Indeed, the educated – or at any rate graduate – and semi-educated young, and especially the embarrassed middle class young, and very especially but not exclusively artsy hipsters, of postwar (and that means WW1 almost as much as WW2) Britain have fallen for any form of liberationist, liberal, anti-capitalist, anti-Empire, anti-Establishment class warfare they can lay their hands on. This is to say: they rather dislike their country, its traditions and mores.

The modern Auto-liberals anti-Christs are sexism and racism (class, they find trickier, being privileged or advantaged or lucky, themselves), and they think they alone are truly free of these evils. A world without bigotry or even stereotypes is their present Utopia: and their mistake is to believe that their good cause (it is in general quite a good cause) is all that’s needed for the good life and the good society. This is nonsense, simply because a country without bigotry would still be a country divided – necessarily – about how to run capitalism and crime and punishment, and all the rest.

Besides, Auto-liberal dislike of the neanderthal tendences of their fellow citizens is no solution to the fact that disaffected voters, and especially if they are under-educated, often turn to extremism. Indeed, Labour bled support toward Ukipp-ish grumpiness almost as much as did the Conservatives. Liberals of any stamp ought to be grateful to Nigel Farage for keeping some quite angry people inside the respectable political corral. His success in that should be a shaming token of their own failure to understand their fellow Britons.

Peculiarly, because they know very few people outside their own educated circle (so that middle class kids only know working class kids who have been deracinated by the university system), they are inclined to feel that anyone sporting the St George’s red and white (say, out of football team loyalty) may well – is probably – sporting it as a Fascist favour.

Auto-liberals ought to read their history on Fascism and its supporters a little more closely. (They could start here, maybe.)

Having done so, they ought to consider broadening their empathy to include even the less-educated, the more traditonal, or the more conservative. And then they should refine their liberalism to see that it rightfully (righteously, intelligently) can as easily see merit in ideas usually linked with the right as with those usually linked with the left.

 

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