The Radicalisation of David Goodhart

I’ve been meaning to get to this. Now, he’s bound to be out telling us to give up this or that to fight the terrorists, so here goes. OK, who’s this?

The fault lies with our leaders, not with the people who came for a better life. There has been a huge gap between our ruling elite’s views and those of ordinary people on the street. This was brought home to me when dining at an Oxford college and the eminent person next to me, a very senior civil servant, said: ‘When I was at the Treasury, I argued for the most open door possible to immigration [because] I saw it as my job to maximise global welfare not national welfare.’…I was even more surprised when the notion was endorsed by another guest, one of the most powerful television executives in the country. He, too, felt global welfare was paramount and that he had a greater obligation to someone in Burundi than to someone in Birmingham.

We are ruled by a secret cabal of cosmopolitans, who control the media. I, as a special intermediary who can travel among them, alone bring you the horrifying truth. Here’s some more:

they seem to feel few national attachments. Indeed, they feel no less a commitment to the welfare of someone in Burundi than they do to a fellow citizen in Birmingham. Perhaps they even feel a greater commitment

Not only are they cosmopolitan, they are denational, anti-national.

Here’s some more, again.

Intellectual sophistication is, more generally, associated with transcending the local, the everyday, the parochial, and even the national. Replacing the nation with other allegiances seems an attractive, even morally superior, alternative – chiming with globalisation’s market freedoms.

It’s the intellectuals. Scheming with the merchants. To replace the nation with immigrants. There’s actually a word for that in German (Umvolkung) and the people who invented it are who’d you think.

Here’s some more.

I believe it is necessary to do something to break with the lethargic consensus in which we are trapped, even if it is a sacrifice…While I defend everyone’s national identity as long as they stay at home, I protest against the outrage that aims to replace our nation!

I kid, of course – it’s taken from French extreme-rightist thinker Dominique Venner’s suicide note, issued before he blew his brains out, in front of 1,500 worshippers, on the altar of Notre-Dame, in what was frankly a rather queeny effort to protest gay marriage. The translation is mine.

But the first three quotes are from hyper-respectable establishmentarian thinktanki, David Goodhart. Here’s some more Goodhart.

Who could say confidently that 5 million or 10 million people would not turn up in the space of a couple of years, especially to a country with the global connections that Britain already has?

I can’t find the reference at the moment, and there’s no way I’m spending more than the absolute minimum of my time typing things like “Eurabia GRECE ships founder conquest immigration” into search engines. But Goodhart is either knowingly or unknowingly quoting a founding text of the postwar extreme right in Europe here – a book, published in about 1968 by one of the founders of Venner’s thinktank GRECE, about the inevitable decadence of democracy, that would end when 5 to 10 million (inferior, animal, hypervirile – you know the deal) African immigrants suddenly sailed for our shores in the space of a couple of years, on rusty tankers, and we didn’t have the balls to just sink them on the high seas. I’m hoping one of my readers, probably Chris Williams or Phil Edwards, can remind me of the title.

Or I was. Then I did the obvious thing and referred to Venner’s own blog. It’s Jean Raspail’s Camp des Saints.

In the same piece of Goodhart’s, he specifically says that he wants to end the notion of refugee status for people fleeing, say, famine, natural disaster, or even war so long as the persecution is not directed at you as a named individual.

But many of the largest groups, such as Somalis, applying to enter Britain and other rich countries as refugees are not facing individual persecution but rather are caught up in regional conflicts or civil wars or even natural disasters. They have usually been granted “exceptional leave to remain” or what is now called “humanitarian protection”. There is no reason why the leave to remain should be permanent.

He is actually borrowing from French practice here; until the early 2000s, the French government didn’t recognise being persecuted by, say, the Taliban because you are a woman, rather than being persecuted for some individualised reason like (say) this or that celebrity dissident, and tended to dodge the issue by suggesting you might want to sneak on the Eurostar and get rid of your papers before the UK border control, nudge nudge. I suspect that the sources of this view in French administrative law are not ones you’d want to look at too closely.

Anyway, here’s some light relief. More Goodhart.

In the mid-20th century, political elites in the liberal democratic west began to embrace what the sociologist Geoff Dench has called the “universalist shift” – the belief in the moral equality of all people.

Geoff Dench?


Surely it is a notable fact that the director of Demos has self-radicalised, and is arguing for a program whose sources and whose content can be summed up as travail, famille, patrie?

Of course, the man who this reminds me of is Martin Amis, and I wonder if the same person turned both of them on. Perhaps it’s that one, you know, that one person who goes to North London dinner parties and indulges in casual anti-Semitism in front of rightwing newspaper columnists?

8 Comments on "The Radicalisation of David Goodhart"

  1. I’d never heard of Le camp des saints, as it goes. But I was strongly reminded of Christopher Priest’s second novel Fugue for a darkening island – published the year before Raspail’s – in which the end of civilisation is brought about by the appearance off the south coast of boatload after boatload of hungry Africans. I’ve no idea about Priest’s politics – and while its depictions of humanity in general are bleak as hell, the book doesn’t offer any particular comfort to the racist reader – but I think he tapped into something.


  2. It interests me a great deal that Goodhart and Jonathan Portes, from two incredibly similar backgrounds – massive amounts of WKAY effect in British economics royalty – turned out so different and argue so much. I think his real problem is impostor syndrome; Portes actually does have the technical ability that DG must have hoped he might inherit.


  3. I can think of two reasons why the Kantian (also, Christian…) ideal of the equal moral worth of all humanity went from being a wacky idea held by a minority of intellectuals, to being a policy imperative. The first was World War One; the second, World War Two. We did internationalism and human rights for a reason.

    If we decide that ‘persecution as a class or category, not as a name’ carries no entitlement to refuge, where does that leave the Nuremberg Laws? Hans Franck didn’t know Sophie Elias’s name, but he murdered her, and millions like her, all the same.


  4. And another thing… These dinner party civil servants of decent recall don’t seem to have left much, or indeed any, mark in the written records of UK government in the 1950s and 1960s. Quite the reverse, in fact. Clearly the ‘Burundi Beats Birmingham Brigade’ didn’t have anything to do with the Commonwealth Immigration Act, IND’s virginity tests, the failure of the Met to pay the slightest bit of attention to the racial harassment of thousands of West Indians, the eviction of the population of Diego Garcia, the death squads, murders and torture in Kenya… What were they doing?


  5. Priest’s novel was published in 1973 so I am guessing that both he and Raspail’s are drawing on some common source, possibly something like Ehrlich’s 1968 “The Population Bomb” or one of the many books/articles that work is derived from/inspired.


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