Trendy leftwingers are the new ultra-conformists
Many observers still tend to simplify political analysis on a one-dimensional left / right spectrum. We might use many other scales such as state ownership vs private enterprise, libertarian vs authoritarian, individualism vs collectivism, local vs national, national vs international or environmental friendliness vs economic growth, equality vs meritocracy or cultural diversity versus social cohesiveness, but somehow we still try to place each opinion somewhere on the elusive left-right scale. One could be a libertarian capitalist or an authoritarian environmentalist or even a green advocate of private enterprise or, heaven forbid, a libertarian socialist (namely someone who believes people may one day freely choose to share the fruits of their labour with others). I could go on forever, but I find another key differentiator a much better gauge of political leanings, pro-establishment vs anti-establishment or conformist vs anti-conformist. Rebels just love to exhibit their anti-establishment credentials. But the new-age hipsters who rebelled against the old guard back in the 60s and 70s have become the new conformists. On issue after issue, the radical chic elite are at odds with the more conservative traditional working classes practically everywhere. Most people welcome higher living standards and better working conditions, but they do not necessarily want to redefine culturally entrenched concepts of family and ethno-religious identity. Indeed the most successful way of persuading people to abandon cherished social customs is to lure them away from local communitarian values towards global culture of atomised individual consumers, micro-managed and monitored by a new class of marketers, social workers and supervisors. This transition is beautifully described in Adam Curtis's 3 part documentary The Century of the Self Whenever you consider the merits of any policy, just ask what does the establishment want and why?
Of even greater importance is the real composition of today's power brokers. For some reason the wishful-thinking left clings to the outdated belief the UK establishment still comprises a bunch of White Anglo-Saxon Male Tories, Hereditary Peers and Church of England bishops. They imagine the British establishment would love to turn the clock back to some mythical Victorian golden age when women could not vote, the poor starved and much of the world was subject to racialist colonial rule. Based on this logic all reactionary conservative views are pro-establishment, while enlightened universalist policies are by definition anti-establishment or at least break with the ancien régime. If you measure progress by the demise of the Victorian British establishment and their antiquated values, then we have made huge strides towards a new era of ubiquitous consumer culture.
The spectre of a reactionary nationalist status quo may well have reflected reality at the turn of the 20th century, but today power is very much in the hands of a bunch of global corporations, banks, non-governmental organisations and supranational unions. Organisations as diverse as Tesco, Goldman Sachs, the London Stock Exchange, Microsoft, Google, George Soros's Open Society Foundation, the BBC, CNN, News International, HSBC and the WPP Group (world's largest advertising agency) are all infinitely more powerful that the last remaining British aristocrats and are fully committed to the universalist vision of a new multicoloured borderless world order of happy consumers managed by myriad local agencies. They speak the same politically correct, environmentally aware and culturally inclusive language as the aspirational left. Indeed many former leftists have ended up working for the multifaceted tentacles of our new globalist establishment.
Of the top ten billionaires in the UK, only one descends from the old British aristocracy, The Duke of Westminster at No. 9. Of the other nine, only one other, George G Weston, descends from a British, albeit Anglo-Canadian, family. The other 8 are foreign nationals, recent immigrants or stem from the wider Anglosphere (e.g. the Reuben brothers, Iraqi Jews born in Bombay and migrated to England). Britain's board rooms, media empires and financial institutions are chock-a-block with non-natives, i.e. people whose grandparents did not live in the country before 1945. Now you may welcome this great internationalisation of British society, but it still stands in contrast with most of the resident population, who identify as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish and whose surnames dominated phone books in the 1950s and 60s. As late as 1997, 75% of the British population could trace their roots to the first settlers of these Isles after the last ice age (as evidenced by Stephen Oppenheimer in the The Myth of British Ancestry) and most of the rest had assimilated almost totally over several generations. Second or third generation Glaswegian Italians or Mancunian Poles have more or less the same outlook on life as their autochthonous neighbours. Naturally most migration before the 1950s occurred within the British Isles, especially since the advent of the industrial revolution. Our elites have always been much more cosmopolitan than their underlings (the Royal family is largely of continental European extraction), but the rapid pace of global convergence has swept aside even the old elites, descended from the Norman French with an admixture of later arrivals from the Huguenots and East European Jews.
Localism vs Globalism
However hard we may try, it is almost impossible to take an absolutist stance on localisation or globalisation, though the direction of travel has accelerated towards the latter. For instance I may argue that we should source food more locally and cut waste, but in many densely populated areas an absolutist interpretation of this policy could mean starvation or having to adapt to a narrow range of staple foods available locally. By contrast if a city were to depend wholly on imports from afar, people could starve within days in the event of a banking collapse or other natural or man-made calamities that may disrupt trade. Both total interdependence and complete isolation have their prices in terms of personal freedom, living standards and happiness.
The upcoming EU referendum in the UK exposes the growing divide between globalist elites and nativist working classes. In the UK this may manifest itself as oppsosition to the European Union, but elsewhere it is expressed as left or right-branded opposition to neoliberal mercantilism, whether in the guise of the French Front National or the Italian Movimento Cinque Stelle (5 Star Movement led by Beppe Grillo). Universalists claim to stand for progress and lend lip service to ideals such as democracy, womens' rights, sexual freedom and multiculturism, while overseeing the transfer of power away from local institutions to remote organisations that can override any decisions taken locally. Having sold the illusion of democracy to a sceptical public, the cosmopolitan elite now frown upon any expressions of popular opinions as reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic or just plain ill-informed. This is why elitists are keen to give voice to strategic victim groups, whether ethnic minorities, recent immigrants, disability rights' activists, transexuals or careerist women, as long as their aspirations serve a long-term agenda of global convergence with all power vested in a handful of universal corporations. This doesn't mean these perceived victim groups do not have valid grievances, just that the proposed solutions tend to empower remote entities at the expense of traditional institutions. Thus a globalist is more concerned about the rights of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe than those of Muslims in the Middle East or North Africa. If Muslims had viable, stable and largely self-reliant home countries, then they could seek their own path to social betterment. Their culture would evolve in parallel to Western European societies. They could choose which aspects of our culture they wish to adopt and further develop the aspects of their culture that best suit their needs and aspirations. Over a century of Western interference in the Middle East has destabilised the region, leading paradoxically to the emergence of a new more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, while Christianity in the West has given way to a new atheistic consumer culture devoid of strong family values. The rising cost of parenting in the affluent world has led to a growing demographic divide between the fertile Islamic world and cautious European and East Asian worlds. Mass migration will almost by design create a culture clash that will further empower surveillance bodies. Some believe the end result will be the Islamisation of Europe and indeed in some European cities Muslim children already outnumber those of other religious affiliations. However, I very much doubt the same globalist elite that helped destabilise the Middle East and incessantly promotes fun culture among the world's youth would like to see the transformation of Europe into a new enlarged Caliphate. Rather they trust the immense emotional and technological power of the world's largest media conglomerates to undermine traditional values everywhere and usher in a brave new borderless world of happy consumers and international commuters. Democracy will be little more than petitions asking Starbucks or Apple to pay a little more tax to other global organisations over which we have no real control.