Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Citizen of the World Is a Citizen of Nowhere

British Prime Minister Theresa May is working to undo the damage that Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have done.

In a recent speech she had the gall to denounce those who identify as citizens of the world.

May made her case for Brexit at a Tory conference. It is refreshing to see a politician make a cogent case for principle and policy. It is far more edifying than a debate between one candidate’s obscene language and gestures and another candidate’s husband’s criminal actions.

The online magazine Quartz reports the story. It is, dare I say, seriously upset at May’s political incorrectness. For a transcript of the full speech, see the Independent.

According to Quartz:

On one side: “citizens” who pull together, work hard, and, by implication, look inward. On the other: a hefty list of undesirables.

These are the people who should take the blame for the country’s problems, May suggested. They’re a disparate bunch. But if you weren’t born on British soil; or if you identify with “international elites”; or if your main identity isn’t based on the country for which you hold a passport—they include you.

“[I]f you believe you’re a citizen of the world,” May said in the hour-long speech on Oct. 5 to her Conservative party’s conference, “you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

Well said by May: a citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere.

The Prime Minister understands why the British people have had it up to here with illegal immigrants and with legal immigrants who refuse to embrace British values:

May said:

And if you’re one of those people who lost their job, who stayed in work but on reduced hours, took a pay cut as household bills rocketed, or - and I know a lot of people don’t like to admit this - someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration, life simply doesn’t seem fair. 

Quartz continued:

Next, May targeted the relationship between big business and politicians. That’s been a source of anger in a country where house prices have soared in part because of overseas investment in high-value property (but also because of a shortage of housing stock). “Too many people in positions of power,” May said, “behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road, the people they employ, the people they pass in the street.” There is a divide, the speech insisted, and business fat-cats are on the wrong side of it.

Hmm. Politicians who identify with international elites. That would certainly include our current, less-than-patriotic president. But it would also include Hillary herself. You know, the one who champions open borders and whose championing of open borders is currently being drowned out by a discussion of what Shakespeare called: “country matters.”

May also criticized the younger generation, a generation that has been indoctrinated and that voted to remain in the European Union.

One is pleased to see a political leader make a cogent case against the Obama-Merkel-Clinton open borders policies. And, to stand up for Anglo-American and Western values. Neither of America’s presidential candidates can or wish to do the same.

In her other remarks, not quoted in Quartz, May spoke to the average citizen, the one that paid the price for the economic crisis:

Our society should work for everyone, but if you can’t afford to get onto the property ladder, or your child is stuck in a bad school, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.

Our economy should work for everyone, but if your pay has stagnated for several years in a row and fixed items of spending keep going up, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.

Our democracy should work for everyone, but if you’ve been trying to say things need to change for years and your complaints fall on deaf ears, it doesn’t feel like it’s working for you.

And she argued for a Great Britain that embodied civic virtues:

Because the lesson of Britain is that we are a country built on the bonds of family, community, citizenship. 

Of strong institutions and a strong society. 

The country of my parents who instilled in me a sense of public service and of public servants everywhere who want to give something back. 

The parent who works hard all week but takes time out to coach the kids football team at the weekend. 

The local family business in my constituency that’s been serving the community for more than 50 years. 

The servicemen and women I met last week who wear their uniform proudly at home and serve our nation with honour abroad. 

A country of decency, fairness and quiet resolve. 

And she added a few words about the importance of citizenship:

Now don’t get me wrong. We applaud success. We want people to get on. 

But we also value something else: the spirit of citizenship. 

That spirit that means you respect the bonds and obligations that make our society work. That means a commitment to the men and women who live around you, who work for you, who buy the goods and services you sell. 

That spirit that means recognising the social contract that says youtrain up local young people before you take on cheap labour from overseas. 

Media elites and politicians have contempt for the public. May declares that it has to stop:

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. 

They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal, your attachment to your job security inconvenient. 

They find the fact that more than seventeen million voters decided to leave the European Union simply bewildering.

Some parts of May's speech are less than inspiring. She is, after all, a politician. Yet, at a time when the cosmopolitan elites are clamoring for open borders, she makes the case for national identity, for national pride, for patriotism, for citizenship and for civic virtues.

As in this:

That’s why the central tenet of my belief is that there is more to life than individualism and self-interest. 

We form families, communities, towns, cities, counties and nations. We have a responsibility to one another. 

And I firmly believe that government has a responsibility too. 

It is to act to encourage and nurture those relationships, networks and institutions - and to step up to correct injustices and tackle unfairness where it can - because these are the things that can drive us apart.


Sam L. said...

Somehow I missed that she had become PM. Dang good speech! I await Ares' contradiction.

Brookside said...

A Rabbi spoke about how young people now believe in loving all cultures and people equally.
He made the case that you cannot love anybody let alone the whole world without loving family and the people closest to you first.

Ares Olympus said...

Saying "a citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere" is a worthy perspective, but it seems to risk a false division, that is to say we might all admit there is a continuum involved, and it is an abstraction to imagine there are merely two scales "local" and "global."

Wendell Berry has talked about something similar, or he considered all modern people as living in "colonies", i.e. a place without self-determination which is being controlled by those outside of it. He saw this in regards to modern economics and materialism where the essentials of life have to be imported, while local work has to be done to meet the needs of distant people.

One example Berry used was that traditionally farmers first grew food for themselves, than each other, and only if there was surplus in local food production would food be exported. And this "market competition" accomplished its stated goal - to reduce the price of food, and moving food production to the largest scale farms that use the most fossil fuels and chemical inputs, and the least care for the land. I recall as well one of the primary effects of NAFTA in Mexico was to undercut small local farmers, who were previously self-sufficient in a subsistence way at least, and when their "businesses" failed, they were forced to move into the cities to look for work, and expanded the supply of "unskilled labor" and reduced the cost that manufacturers had to pay labors. Of course a decade later, all the new cheap labor was undercut by Asia anyway!

Stuart mentions "Anglo-American and Western values" as a sort of common denominator to define who belongs and who doesn't belong, but when she says "international elites" she is by-in-large talking about people who came from "Anglo-American and Western values", and are most of all interested, along with making money, in spreading "neoliberalism" to the entire world, which basically seeks to override local culture and local citizen or governmental control with privatization where people of European "values" have all the money, and all the influence, and it all sounded great as long as empires like Great Britain were gaining all the advantages.

So if we admit this neoliberalism was a mistake for a way to dominate the rest of the world, we can admit it is not a good way to run a democracy or a republic either.

But just like the cosmic turtles, localization goes all the way down, and localization is a great virtue. All you have to do is admit a "race to the bottom" isn't in your best interest, and put up trade barriers, even against other cities or states, if they're outcompeting your local workers in prices for local needs. And it also means giving up on fossil fuels to run your local economy, unless you happen to have your own fossil fuels to produce. And if you do have your own fossil fuels, probably selling it to others is a bad economic strategy since it'll help them better compete against you.

And as best I can tell the end of this process is feudalism, and it is the natural process that happens when centralized systems fail, either through resource depletion, or war, or the diminishing returns of complexity or corruption.

Japan and the United Kingdom stand tall as island nations, so their ability to expand is limited, and they may benefit the most from setting up trade barriers that protect local workers from international competition, leading to a net decrease of standard of living BUT a rise in collectistic good spirits, knowing your labor is helping your neighbors, people you know and trust, even if some of them do not have your racial or religious heritage, they will share the same land, and your fails are intertwined.

Anyway, they don't have to build walls to keep people out, although they still have a lot of shore line to watch for viking raiders and such.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. It looks like Prime Minister Theresa May's speech has context also for Hillary's secret speeches given to bankers, and released by wikileaks. If it wasn't for the Trump tapes, perhaps this would be top-news?

So whatever else, her "open borders" is a neoliberal goal that benefits the wealth class to keep no loyalty to any country, and move their money in and out, depending on where ever they can get the best tax deals. Open trade and open borders weakens national governments to control their own billionaires after all.
“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”

And on health care, something that the UK now has, but perhaps has to give up because too many poor immigrants are taking advantage too much? (I've not heard May's position on this.) But it looks like nothing Hillary would be ashamed of - Bill himself was just speaking against the failings of ObamaCare after all.
“If you look at the single-payer systems, like Scandinavia, Canada, and elsewhere, they can get costs down because, you know, although their care, according to statistics, overall is as good or better on primary care, in particular, they do impose things like waiting times, you know. It takes longer to get like a hip replacement than it might take here.”
“We're in a learning period as we move forward with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. And I'm hoping that whatever the shortfalls or the glitches have been, which in a big piece of legislation you're going to have, those will be remedied and we can really take a hard look at what's succeeding, fix what isn't, and keep moving forward to get to affordable universal healthcare coverage like you have here in Canada.”