Following on from yesterday’s post about Elizabeth Warren, I’m reminded of my own childhood history, during which I lived in three places in Africa (west, north, and east), two places in Brazil, and in Barbados in the Caribbean. I crossed the Atlantic a number of times on first ships, then noisy propeller planes, and finally jets. I visited the Pyramids in Egypt, and sailed down the Suez Canal. And so by the age of 18 I was what is now called a “globalist”. I saw myself as a citizen of the world. And as a result not quite English, even though I’d been born in England, and lived there as long as I’d lived anywhere else.
And though I continued to travel in subsequent years, mostly in Europe (but straying as far as Japan in 2005) I continued to regard myself as a citizen of the world, even if I carried a British passport.
But it’s not as if I have been indifferent to any of the countries in which I’ve lived. They weren’t all the same. They were all very different. And I also found that wherever I went, I rapidly put down roots. I can put down roots within hours of arriving anywhere. I can feel “at home” in a day, and feel that I have lived there all my life. And one result of that is that when I have been uprooted from any of these places, I feel “homesick”. And it’s a homesickness that never goes away. So I still seem homesick for the beach of Bandeirantes in Brazil, and the beach of Fajara in the Gambia, and the deserts of Libya, and everywhere else I’ve ever been. I always retain a deep interest in all the peoples and countries in which I’ve lived, because I count myself one of them in a small but significant way.
But the process of putting down roots never stops. And so the longer that I have lived in England, the more rooted in it I have become. And so I’ve largely ceased to be the globalist I once was. I no longer see myself as a citizen of the world. I see myself as English, and becoming gradually a little more English every day. I’ve gradually become what jet-setting Barack Obama calls a “bitter clinger”. I’ve come to a stop.
And I suspect that much the same is true of anyone who has lived anywhere in the world for their entire lives: they come to completely identify with it. They may in fact come to identify themselves as belonging in a single room in a single house in a single street in a single town (as I managed to do for 27 years).
And I think that the world is increasingly made up of people who are either rooted in one place, or who have become rootless wanderers of the world, and who don’t identify strongly with anywhere. And this has become one of the deepest political divisions throughout the world. It’s almost entirely a product of fast and cheap travel: first ships, and now aircraft, and – who knows – next rockets and spaceships.
But it remains the case that relatively few people travel very far. Most people remain rooted to wherever they happen to be born, and will strongly identify with those places. These “localists” remain the majority, with “globalists” a minority. And I think that it’s inevitable that localists will always outnumber globalists, simply because it requires hard work travelling everywhere to become and remain a globalist, and it’s far easier to simply stay in one place and put down roots.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that U2’s Bono is a globalist, who sees localists like Salvini and Orban as “devils” –
Bono Dresses Like a Demon, Calls European Populists Salvini and Orban the Devil
because he’s a globetrotting rock star who no longer belongs anywhere at all, and can’t understand anyone who does (the same thing happened with the Beatles many years before U2). In fact, neither Salvini nor Orban are “devils”: they are just speaking up for the peoples of their own countries, who have been forgotten and ignored by the jetsetting globalists in Brussels, and by the European political class.
And I think it’s almost certain that it’s going to be Hungarian and Italian localists as well as English and American localists whose voices are going to become the loudest in years to come. Such people are simply patriots who love their own countries, and feel rooted in those places. It’s going to be their voices that will be heard more and more, for the simple reason that most people in Hungary and Italy and England and America will be people with a deep attachment to their native land.
Forgotten and ignored peoples have a habit of eventually making their voices heard. And this also is going to be true in the case of the forgotten and ignored and despised smokers scattered all over the world