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13 April 2012

The nation as a family

As well as introducing us to Jonathan Haidt’s work, David Goodhart’s review is an important article in its own right, exposing the extreme universalism of Britain’s cultural elite:

  • “My fellow partygoers were all too representative of a part of liberal, educated Britain. Shami Chakrabarti, of the human rights group Liberty, has argued: ‘In the modern world of transnational and multinational power we must decide if we are all ‘people’ or all ‘foreigners’ now.’
  • Oliver Kamm, the centrist commentator, said to me recently that it was morally wrong to discriminate on grounds of nationality, ruling out the ‘fellow citizen favouritism’ that most people think that the modern nation state is based on.
  • And according to George Monbiot, a leading figure of the liberal left, ‘Internationalism… tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington… Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How… do you distinguish it from racism?’”

The obvious answer – at least to a conservative – is that the nation is analogous to the family. One presumes that Chakrabarti, Kamm and Monbiot feel a particular attachment and responsibility to their own families, but does that mean they consider people in other families to be of lesser worth? Of course not.

If such a principle can apply to one’s family, then why can’t it apply to one’s country?


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