Why do most people hate Liberals?
If you belong to this tribe, that’s not even a question. That is just wrong, you would say. We will come to that.
Let me start with British journalist David Goodhart’s proposition: Anywheres Vs Somewheres.
Anywheres are well educated, mobile and tend to view the world as a global society. Therefore, they advocate universal human values such as secularism, feminism, environmentalism, freedom of expression, etc. It does not matter much to them if they live in Delhi or Bangalore, New York or London. If an interesting opportunity comes, they move. And they stay aware about the global events.
Somewheres constitute the majority of the population – around three quarters and sometimes more. They see the world from the point of view of the society they live in. They have their own values depending on the community they live in. So, for them, religion might be more important than secularism, or, their own tribe more important than humanity. They don’t look much beyond their immediate surroundings.
The two groups live in their separate worlds but these worlds constantly collide with each other, especially in politics. It must be noted that Anywheres, despite being a global minority, occupy important positions in politics, media and businesses. This is due to their education and high mobility. Besides, since they are globally connected, they use these connections to their benefit. Somewheres don’t have such privileges. A Somewhere of Bihar won’t get any support from a Somewhere of Texas.
Somewheres see Anywheres as elites, or cognitive elites perhaps, who lecture them on morality, mock their ignorance and call them bigots for being concerned about their own community rather than the global society. They feel that Anywheres don’t care about culture, religion or any kind of traditional values. Instead, they are hell-bent on destroying the traditions. In the name of improving the society, they criticise it every single day without really caring about it.
Somewheres don’t resent wealthy elites as much as they resent Anywheres. This is because, they know that they can be rich or powerful, but Anywheres will never accept them in their tribe since there is difference in values. Take Modi, for instance. He is the most powerful man in India but Liberals won’t accept him. People notice that. So, Liberals can show as much sympathy as they want towards poor people, but the same poor people would go and vote for Modi and wouldn’t give a hoot about those elite concerns.
What happens with such insecurities?
Here comes right-wing populism. It defines Anywheres as Liberals (perhaps most of them are in fact liberals) and mobilises the society against them. Liberals respond with their global network and go hard against right-wing. This, in turn, proves right-wing’s point. And Somewheres see this attack on themselves, on their own values. So, they (and they constitutes majority in any society) hate these people, whoever they are – Anywheres or Liberals. There seems little difference anyway. And majority does like simple explanations.
What is the solution?
For starters, one needs to be rooted in society. If you want to change a society, especially for better, you first need to convince people that you belong to it. If they see you as outsider, no matter how noble your intentions, they won’t accept your beliefs. First show your love, instead of hate. And whether you like it or not, you will have to make use of your identities such as religion, nationality and culture.