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The Economic, Social and Class Privilege of the "Global Citizens"

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The notion that 'there are no arguments at all for Brexit' (therefore the working class must be driven purely by the bestial fury of the mob) is part of a broader outlook on the world which presents the local and particular (supposedly the bread and butter of the 'narrow and bigoted plebeian outlook') as intrinsically perilous and indeed evil; while the superficially and misleadingly transparent 'global' and 'universal' is the locus of all true virtue: the power and glory rest upon the noble scepter of the Global Citizen. They may have their 'wash pot' in Kansas but their 'footstools' are in Brixton and Peckham.

The moral superiority of the Global Citizen is such that, once more, they see no conceivable arguments against it. By necessity, any questioning of the self-evidently purer and ineffably pristinely virtuous character of the Global Citizens and their worldview is to be taken not as a sign of a difference of opinion, but of the narrow, crudely chauvinistic and otherwise vile and vulgar brutishness of the idle cavillers.

However, if someone opposes something, it's important to understand their standpoint: their identity, their position in society, their hopes and dreams and fears and anxieties and aspirations and passions of every kind. This is not only a dusty intellectual matter: it also requires an intuitive rapport. And such rapport with the 'plebs and proles' cannot merely be artificially induced. Telling the 'Red Guards' to go down and learn from the country folks is not necessarily very instructive; the rural people are raw material, whom the Global Citizens think must be purged of all their crude, rustic barbarity. The 'organic intellectual' is truly thus named; for the Global Citizen is a great intellectualizer, and the bearer of the seeds of lights that the barren plebeian cannot truly understand.

(The reader will understand that the paragraph just past has nothing to do with Communist China; she is very far from being the target of my criticism here!)

While intercultural criticism is not illegitimate per se, I affirm that here, I would far rather criticize the vulgar-humanist elitists of the UK and other Western nations. My parable I have just spun pertains purely to the privileged Global Citizens (are there any other boxes to check here?).

Those who float idly upon the sea of life never have to get their hands dirty in menial labor, or indeed the hard labor of prisons or labor camps. Those who skim lightly over the pains and torments of this world have no prerogative, far less a divinely-anointed duty, to sneer at and dismiss the dreams and nightmares of those who, unlike the Global Citizens, do not have the good fortune to live in the eternal noontide comfort of superior illumination and ineffable virtue of all self-appointed princes of enlightenment.

I do not care about what one tells me about their family, or their ancestry, or how hard they had to work to be a self-made Global Citizen; a precious pilgrim whether of the earth itself, or of the world of thought and sentiment. I care only about how oblivious the Global Citizen is to their own privileges.

I also have privileges, and in this series, I have tried to come to term with this as best I can. I who have presented academic work in China and Japan, and studied Chinese for some years, and who am from a humble background (boastful as that may be, or at least appear); I have never once fallen into the trap of elevating myself above my roots. Or so I do so very much sincerely hope. Perhaps others had best be the judge of that?

When one is rootless and cruising the stratosphere, the distance from ones current place to any desired point on the map is always as short and as quick and as easy as it can be. But from ones Olympian vantage point, one can nevertheless see very little through a dark glass, and never once face to face, (even when you are in the same room! your dismissal of 'the working class' or 'the proles' or the 'plebs' or indeed 'the barbarous, ungovernable mob' taints your classy, sophisticated self-ascribed emancipation from all freedom and bias.

Everyone is a Global Citizen until the cadres arrive! Or the Ayatollahs! Or the nationalist strongmen!

One's perspective is class privileged and racially privileged to the core. The 'Globe' does not exist for one's amusement. A secular reading of the Quran might tell one that the world is indeed not for sport. A secular reading of Confucius might tell one that those who do not have roots are like the birds and the beasts.

And yet, the Global Citizens look down upon the curiously exotic wildlife who does not share their privileged outlook. Any rationale one can provide for the Global Citizen's very selectively and self-interestedly sketched map of the Kosmos is ultimately lacking.

By all means, do oppose nationalism and racism. But please don't pretend that some mere cynical inversion of these visions is any kind of panacea. A true progressive won't ever just selectively reject and oppose one bad term of a sinister dichotomy. Sometimes, a more radical critique can and must be at stake, for any serious thinker and reasoner.

Mere logical symmetry is hardly the be-all and end-all for serious critique or activism. And if one doesn't understand that, one doesn't understand anything at all.

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Jonathan Ferguson is a socio-economic liberal with strong libertarian leanings in some key issues.

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