The Corner

World

Some Lessons from Britain?

A long read, but, as usual with John Gray, this analysis of the British political landscape after the Conservatives’ election victory is very well worth the effort, even for those focused mainly on the US.

There is this for example:

Other progressives prefer a demonological interpretation. Doodling their fever-dreams in green ink, they portray the election as having been hijacked by sinister global forces. Officially, they believe values and beliefs other than their own are errors that can be corrected by reason and education. In practice many among them have invoked an idea of omnipresent evil to explain humankind’s stubborn resistance to their efforts to improve it. Communist regimes pointed to saboteurs and foreign spies to account for the systemic failings of central planning. More recently, liberals have invoked Russian meddling and a global far-right network masterminded by Steve Bannon to explain their political defeats. Delusions of conspiracy are part of the mass psychology of progressivism, and will intensify in the coming months and years.

And this:

If only people aged between 18 and 24 had voted in the general election, Corbyn would have won an enormous majority. No doubt this is partly because of Corbyn’s promise to abolish student tuition fees and the difficulties young people face in the housing and jobs markets. But their support for Corbyn is also a by-product of beliefs and values they have absorbed at school and university. According to the progressive ideology that has been instilled in them, the West is uniquely malignant, the ultimate source of injustice and oppression throughout the world, and Western power and values essentially illegitimate.

Humanities and social sciences teaching has been largely shaped by progressive thinking for generations, though other perspectives were previously tolerated. The metamorphosis of universities into centres of censorship and indoctrination is a more recent development, and with the expansion of higher education it has become politically significant. By over-enlarging the university system, Blair created the constituency that enabled the Corbynites to displace New Labour. No longer mainly a cult of intellectuals, as in Orwell’s time, progressivism has become the unthinking faith of millions of graduates.

The idea that the ideology of the social justice warriors can safely be confined to universities (and in softer forms) schools is nonsense. Indoctrination has consequences. The woke are the voters of tomorrow and, increasingly, today. They will also be the judges, the civil servants, the writers, the CEOs, and, of course, the teachers. The current progressive advance into (and, in some cases, domination of) the institutions is not something that can be wished away.

And turning back specifically to Britain and, even more specifically, Brexit, there’s this:

Whether Johnson can retain his commanding position depends in the short term primarily on how well he maintains his pact with his new voters. If working-class jobs are hit hard by tariffs in the event of a hard Brexit, Labour has a chance to revive rapidly. The votes that have been lent to Johnson were part of a transaction in which greater economic security was a vital component. Working-class Labour supporters who turned to Johnson after a decade of Conservative austerity did so, in part, because they perceived him as a different kind of Conservative. A spate of closed factories and bankrupt farmers could discredit this perception.

The economic problems, incidentally, that will be created by a hard Brexit are rather more than a matter of tariffs. Non-tariff barriers (many of them arising out of the fact that, so far as the EU’s regulatory regime is concerned, the U.K. will be a ‘third country’) are likely to be even more damaging. The answer to this, if the option is still available, is for the U.K. to participate in the European Economic Area on something like the same basis as Norway — as regular readers will not be surprised to see me say.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

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