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HelenDC #FBPE @Helenreflects
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Thread: I've been thinking of recent discourse that pits cosmopolitan citizens from nowhere against real, authentic, deserving people.
This discourse is mainstream in left and right since Brexit vote.
What is less known is that it has its origin in anti-Semitic tropes 1/
A recent example is Gordon Brown who argued that the UK needs to take a tougher stance on migration, because that would address "concerns about stagnant wages, left-behind communities, migration pressures, sovereignty and the state of the NHS" 2/…
paradigm case is May's Conservative Party Conference speech in 2016 where she said "… today, too many people in positions of power behave as though they have more in common with international elites than with the people down the road,... the people they pass in the street. 3/
"But if you believe you're a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what the very word 'citizenship' means."
- when people protested against this, Conservatives were quick to point out it wasn't against people who felt international 4/
No it was against those "international elites" - interestingly, citizen of nowhere, international elite, and rootless cosmopolitan were anti-Semitic slurs that pitted Jews (who were seen as rich, international, and not loyal to the places they lived in) against the real people 5/
See for instance here: Soviet anti-semites in the 1940s and 1950s used the term "rootless cosmopolitan" to refer to Jewish intellectuals, who were regarded as not being committed enough to the Soviet Union 6/…
We can go even further back to the Weimar Republic, where Hitler and others used cosmopolitanism against Jews, pitting them against the natives, the "...people are bounded to their soil, bounded to its fatherland, bounded to the possibilities of life that the state ... offers" 7/
" It is a small, rootless, international clique that is turning the people against each other, that does not want them to have peace. It is the people who are at home both nowhere and everywhere, who do not have anywhere a soil on which they have grown up..." 8/
" but who live in Berlin today, in Brussels tomorrow, Paris the day after that, and then again in Prague or Vienna or London, and who feel at home everywhere." See here: 9/
So it is surprising, and quite frankly, alarming given all the anti-semitism we have been witnessing (e.g., in Labour party) that people like May and Goodhart use very similar tropes: the rich, international expats who are at home everywhere and nowhere 10/
Take another case, Goodhart's distinction between the "somewheres" and the "anywheres". See e.g., here… 11/
According to Goodhart, the anywheres (aka international elite, aka citizens of nowhere) dominate discourse because of their education "Such people have portable ‘achieved’ identities, based on educational and career success" 12/
By contrast, there are the somewheres (aka, the real, authentic people, the rooted ones), who are "more rooted in geographical identity – the Scottish farmer, working-class Geordie, Cornish housewife – who find the rapid changes of the modern world unsettling." 13/
So unsettling they voted for Brexit. Now the debate has shifted. The cosmopolitans are now deemed less deserving, and need to make place for the real authentic people.

Some people see Brexit as a welcome swing back from a state that advantaged cosmopolitan, well educated 14/
But I am skeptical. I worry that neither left or right seems the least bit troubled by the equation of
authenticity = white, British person who was born here
working class = white, British people 15/
That's a hugely problematic discourse that is conducive to racism and will not help the white working class. All this concern for the left behind at least in the Conservative party is fake. Otherwise they would've ended austerity now. 16/
who I see benefiting are white, well-off conservatives who already now have great economic power, & who can use this discourse as an means to stack the dice against enterprising, well-educated immigrants who would take positions they've exclusively reserved for themselves /17
The Gordon Brown remarks can also be seen in this context: "Don't worry, white authentic native people who feel left behind! We've got your back! We will deport those immigrants if they can't find jobs asap, we'll take a tough stance so they won't steal your jobs" 18/
I am oversimplifying, but lots of anti-immigrant nativist rhetoric of the left can be interpreted in this way, a way to address felt concerns of the real, authentic white British folks so that they don't go to UKIP or the Conservatives 19/
Given the anti-Semitic origins of this kind of discourse, that makes a false and simple dichotomy between real authentic natives and international Jewish elites who don't care about their surroundings, it's surprising that politicians left and right now so eagerly embrace it 20/
Global problems such as refugee crisis and climate change need to be addressed globally
Heck, even Brexiters want "global Britain"
so this dichotomy between people of the soil and internationals is fake 21/
Also, those politicians who try to turn British-born people against their Polish plumber neighbour, are the ones who use tax havens to put their money away, thus further undermining the structure of the nation state, as brilliantly argued here:… 22/
As Dasgupta argues, nativist discourses are not a revival of the nation state but indicative of the crisis it's in "Today’s failure of national political authority, after all, derives in large part from the loss of control over money flows." 23/
But the "rootless cosmopolitan", the migrant who so-called doesn't care about the country she lives in, is a handy scapegoat to attract attention away from this. Brexit will allow the rich to continue putting their money in tax havens.… 24/
You've got to admire the chutzpah with which politicians and other British stakeholders point the finger at your Polish plumber, Italian lecturer, Indian IT worker, while meanwhile syphoning their wealth away from HMRC. All from the anti-Semitic playbook. It worked before /ends
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