David Goodhart on Anywheres v. Somewheres

David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere, on the new political divide that explains a lot more than the old ones:

As with most ideas that are controversial but correct, I predict this one will go through a three-step process of gradual, grudging acceptance:

Step 1: "He's wrong."

Step 3: "Blah, obvious everyone knows this, totally unoriginal, tell me something I don't know."

I left out Step 2, which is "Oh, wait, he's actually right". Because everyone else will. Human nature, folks.

4 thoughts on “David Goodhart on Anywheres v. Somewheres

  1. I liked Goodhart’s articles in Prospect, but here I think he lost the overview a bit and only speaks for certain parts of society while casually ignoring the whole picture.

    Where does this analysis fit in with, for instance, the results of the constitutional referendum in Turkey? If you read all the analyses you’d get the impression that the Turkish “Somewheres” massively voted in favour of a more authoritarian system with the same arguments. And yet somehow the German “Somewheres” are not very happy about their Turkish counterparts. Cynically speaking, it seems like the “Anywheres” of the world get on well with each other, whereas the “Somewheres” might smash each others’ heads in.

    And where does the international prekariat fit in here? They’re certainly “Anywheres” in this analysis, yet they’ve never felt particularly represented by an economic establishment that’s not so much culturally, but economically liberal and mostly tied to the Hayekian orthodoxy of the past 30 years. On the other hand, the vanguard of the “somewheres”, i.e. the new right-wing parties like UKIP, AfD, FPÖ, the Dutch PVV or the Swiss SVP don’t really strike me as speaking for the underclass. Their economic platform is ultra-free market, and they criticise “the establishment” for being too statist, i.e. not liberal enough.

    Some further obvious flaws in his analysis:

    The technical jobs weren’t wiped out by academic expansion. It’s rather the other way around. In Germany, more companies want employees to have an academic degree and a grammar school education, so more people need to go to universities. And in Britain and the USA, many jobs that only require a technical qualification in Germany are taught at unis/colleges. Likewise, new developments in technology made former jobs obsolete. No matter how many young kids there are out there willing to perform traditional manual labour jobs: there simply aren’t enough jobs out there for them.

    Also, feminism did not endanger the traditional family. That’s a myth, and it’s mostly propagated by such diverse groups like conservatives/right-wingers in the West, Islamists in the Middle East, and Hindu Nationalists in India. The credo of liberalism always was “anything goes”, which means that people can live the kind of lifestyle that they choose. Again, Goodhart fails to see the grey areas here: There are many, many families out there who have culturally liberal “anywhere” positions.

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  2. In addition to that: in Germany, the most prominent critics of cultural liberalism, immigration, feminism, etc. are the people active in publications such as Die Achse des Guten or Tichys Einblick, or think tanks like the Hayek Gesellschaft – people like industry big wig Hans-Hermann Tiedje or former Die Welt columnist Henryk M. Broder. These are usually the kind of people who denounce proponents of the minimum wage as nostalgic communists. Hardly the “fanfares for the “common man”.

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  3. But the belief of the “common man” in the welfare state seems to be receding. Partly because there is a perceived abuse of the welfare state by so-called scroungers, but increasingly also as a direct result of uncontrolled immigration. Immigration is such a central political issue nowadays that the economic platform on which a party runs seems to have become a minor concern for voters.

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  4. But the belief of the “common man” in the welfare state seems to be receding. Not really.

    Immigration is such a central political issue nowadays that the economic platform on which a party runs seems to have become a minor concern for voters.
    At least not in Germany, if one considers the polls. Afd around 10%. Seemingly, 90% of voters have also concerns in addition to immigration.

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