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Political Mental Map: Young Britain Version

Here’s a comment from a young reader in London:

Born 2001, so I’m still very much in my formative years. Britain is very politically volatile at the moment (Brexit, Corbyn) but insofar as I can claim to have a coherent political worldview, it is one more influenced by my personal circumstances than my perception of ‘events’.

1. My ethnic and geographical background. I was born in Japan to a white British father and an Anglo-Indian mother. My parents really loved Japan, and still speak Japanese to each other, eat Japanese whenever they can and constantly watch sumo on the TV. They moved back to Blighty so my brother and I could have a proper education, but I think they both left bits of their hearts behind, and associate modern Britain primarily with shabbiness, materialism and debased sentimentality (as evidenced by the Princess Diana sobfest and bullying of public figures who prefer to maintain ‘stiff upper lip’ like the Queen, McCann family or Theresa May) in contrast to Japan’s respect for tradition, excellence and self-discipline. I feel I’ve inherited that perception, but at the same time watching my parents’ despondency has awakened me to the futility of the ‘global citizen’ lifestyle. Moreover, the fact I’m the son of a white man means I have zero time for ethnic-minority journalists and intellectuals who spend their lives whining about ‘white privilege’ etc. My mother’s family didn’t come to England to impose Indian culture on native folk. If anything, they came to escape it. My grandfather still doesn’t hide his view of India as a cesspit of bigotry, corruption and misogyny. He and my mother are infinitely grateful for the privilege of living in Britain, for all its flaws. So I’m not exactly keen on multiculturalist paeans to ‘diversity’ and cultural relativism.

2. My education. I go to a great private school in London, where I’ve received a proper education in the humanities. I’ve been particularly influenced by the Irish head of history, who’s a lovely man and an authority on Victorian Catholic intellectuals. He’s introduced me to Russell Kirk, Joseph Ratzinger, JCD Clark and other Catholic-Right thinkers, for good or ill. He’s a neocon, not a paleocon, so there’s some deviation between our worldviews. He’s certainly no fan of Brexit. Equally, though, I’ve been affected by the negative influence of young left-liberal teachers in other departments. There are a lot of humanities teachers in my school who constantly lecture their classes on inequality, diversity, elitism etc. without ever acknowledging their own unforced decision to spend their lives teaching modernist poetry or the Aeneid to mainly white upper-middle class boys in a fee-paying school. They’re all nice people and great teachers, but the main consequence of my contact with them is that I associate the left-liberalism which dominates political and cultural discourse in Britain with hypocrisy and an unlovely lack of self-awareness. If your general opinions contradict your life choices, that cancels your opinions, not your choices.

3. Corbyn. That sensitivity to leftie hypocrisy has accentuated my disgust at the present Leader of HM Opposition. Jeremy Corbyn speaks endlessly of the need for a ‘kinder and gentler politics’ and the boundless badness of ‘the Tories’, but it’s a matter of objective record that he has spent the greater part of his life producing vile apologia for Third World dictatorships (Iran, Venezuela, Russia) and terrorist groups (Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA). He’s also spoken fondly of blood libellers and 9/11 conspiracy theorists and appeared alongside deniers of the Holocaust and the Srebrenica massacre. So a nasty piece of work, all in all. This summer Russian military-intelligence officers attempted to kill a political dissident on British soil with a chemical weapon. Whilst Theresa May (and, to his credit, Donald Trump) rallied the international community against this despicable violation of basic standards of morality and sovereignty, Corbyn publicly entertained wackjob conspiracy theories. Consequently, I guess that for all the Tories’ incompetence and unseriousness, I’ll happily queue to vote for them as soon as I can.

Let me take this opportunity to invite readers who live outside the US to offer your own stories of how your political mental map was formed.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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