The gay brexiteer

Are LGBT people generally anti-authoritarian? Increasingly, no- and this is a good thing.

Jonathan Haidt speaks up for Authoritarians. I am globalist and cosmopolitan. I started this blog saying this:


John Lennon’s Imagine says the same. Immigration has created an expansion in British tolerance, and I am its beneficiary. After Niemöller- first they come for the immigrants, then they come for the queers. Thank God for the Empire Windrush!

Most globalists count it a virtue that we value freedom and diversity. For most of us, that comes from lack of existential threats. Feeling safe, we can desire that safety for all humans, and seek to welcome refugees. But not me. I am a benefit claimant on a former council estate in the middle of nowhere, about to be driven out as house price profiteers shove up housing costs hoping London commuters will come from ever further away. I am globalist because diversity is a primary survival value for me: I have to express myself as trans, or I will wither and languish.

William Blake’s cosmopolitanism- “Everything that is, is holy”- came from mysticism and moral insight. I am not entirely with Haidt: but globalism in me is not necessarily a moral advance.

Haidt argues that globalists see themselves as morally superior to nationalists, and believe preferring British people is racist. Nationalists value their unique national culture. You love your spouse more than other people, and this is a healthy, natural bond- nationalism is a similar bond to a much larger group, less than all people. Our social contract with our own nation promotes trust and understanding (see my first beautiful morality, above). Even “racism” is divisible: Haidt says the Nationalist’s dislike of difference is understandable if it is fear of others’ alien values, incompatible with ours.

Here he introduces the Authoritarian, and cites Karen Stenner. Stenner argues that authoritarianism is a psychological predisposition to become intolerant, feeling a need to protect the in-group from threats to group values, norms and authorities. When there is no perceived threat, there is tolerance. They believe in conformity and obedience over diversity. They are different from the conservatives, who fear change: in Trollope’s analogy, conservatives pull the brakes rather than hold the reins of the national coach. Brexit, or the Mexican border Wall, are not conservative, but authoritarian. Praying five times a day, or fasting in Ramadan, is not a threat and can be accommodated by a reasonable employer seeking the best worker for a job- though employers free to give zero hours contracts would feel no need to do so- but is seen as one.

Stenner: [T]he increasing license allowed by those evolving [globalist] cultures generates the very conditions guaranteed to goad latent authoritarians to sudden and intense, perhaps violent, and almost certainly unexpected, expressions of intolerance. Haidt’s solution, advocated as the way to get authoritarians to accept immigration, is to abandon multiculturalism and seek assimilation- eg teaching “British Values”.

I was surprised to hear on Radio 4 a young gay man expressing such authoritarian views. On the Briefing Room, Christian, a hair-stylist from Wakefield aged 23 is proud to have voted out, as 30 years in the EU has not accomplished much. “I think as British people we are strong and we know a lot of things so why couldn’t we be in this world on our own?” Immigration and the budget contribution are big issues for “a lot of people”, he says.

I will stereotype- he sounds camp to me. In one way I am delighted he is not driven to valuing diversity above all other things by authoritarian intolerance of LGBT. He sounds comfortable speaking for “us”- leave voters, the people of Wakefield or of Britain. While I consider globalism more morally, even evolutionarily, advanced, I fear I have been forced into it by my personal need for diversity. I would correct his authoritarianism, if I could, by taking away his causes for fear and mistrust, by giving him a feeling that the country has a stake in him. The right wing demagogues who have Taken Control will not do that.

Jonathan Haidt. The “American Interest” allows non-subscribers one free article per month.
The Briefing Room.

Bruegel, the peasant and the nest robber

2 thoughts on “The gay brexiteer

  1. I looked up Haidt’s article. Exhausting. Intellectual acrobatics to justify/appease xenophobia. In his upside world, the responsibility for xenophobia isn’t placed on xenophobes or (more importantly) on the political figures who exploit xenophobia ad nauseum. No, the responsibility for xenophobia lies with rejecting xenophobia.


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