Rights, not tribes

The Financial Times published on 18 March 2017 an article by David Goodhart with the title “How I left my London tribe”. It prompted me to write  my first letter to the FT, which to my surprise was published on 27 March 2017.

“Sir, David Goodhart writes that “for the first time in my life I have had the confidence and experience to work things out for myself” (“How I left my London tribe”, Life & Arts, March 18). This must have happened when he was well into his fifties. What it shows is he was ill-equipped by his upbringing to develop an autonomous voice and his own thoughts. While a regrettable development for him personally, what he has “worked out” are the shallow, superficial resentments of an ageing privileged baby-boomer. It is neither “anywhere” nor “somewhere”. It is simply the attempt to negate a moral and legal order that has been built against the backdrop of the horrors of the second world war, colonialism and discrimination against women. In his life’s “bubble” those struggles might have been only the subject of dinner party conversations. Across Europe, including the UK, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Cultural Convention and the European Social Charter, as well as the jurisdiction of the EU, have brought essential rights and equality for millions of citizens where they live. The “Brexit/Trump” backlash was not prompted by an excess of equality under the law but rather by the destruction of the very foundations of modern democracy: access to equal life chances and a better distribution of wealth. The risks for democracy were the result of laissez-faire capitalism and uncontrolled market forces rather than of a liberal legal and social order.”